Christchurch is situated north of several extinct volcanoes, which make up the areas of Banks Peninsula and Akaroa. Millions of years ago these volcanoes created cones, which were then flooded as sea levels rose. The resulting hills and harbors are a major attraction for hiking, fishing, and other water activities. The Port Hills in the southern part of Christchurch are the closest for city dwellers and it’s an easy trip to walk or bike to the top and get fantastic views. It’s especially nice at sunset!
The very last stop on my ten month trip through Australia was, finally, Sydney and the surrounding area. I met up with an old travel friend and he insisted we go on the Coast Walk in Royal National Park, which is just south of Sydney. We didn’t have time (or energy, frankly) to do the entire 26k trek, but we did about a third of it. There are gorgeous cliffs, a huge variety of plant and animal life, and swimming holes along the way.
I took a pretty big detour to head up to Ross, which is nearly in the middle of Tasmania. I had seen pictures of the famous convict-built bridge and wanted to see it. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The tiny town (pop. 272) feels completely different from anywhere else I’d been in Tassie and there is loads of history to see. I stayed at the Man O’Ross hotel, which was built in 1825, and it definitely added to the atmosphere.
The bridge is certainly a highlight of the town. It was built in 1836 with excellent craftsmanship and intricate carvings. There are also lovely churches and bakeries.
On my way back to Hobart I stopped at Oatlands, which is home to the Callington Mill. Built in 1837, the mill is still operational today and is the only tower mill of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
Following my day on the Tasman Peninsula I made a stop at Triabunna, hoping to make it to Maria Island. I didn’t realize I was meant to book the ferry to the island in advance, so I wasn’t able to go. However, I did meet some hilarious and hospitable fisherman in the tiny town and I spent a day playing pool and hanging out on their fishing boat. It’s cliche, but that’s the best thing about travel… you never know who you’ll meet or where the road will take you.
After spending some time in Triabunna, I made my way further north to the Bay of Fires, which is consistently ranked among the best beaches in the world. It’s a quiet place with free camping spots and nearly endless walking opportunities. There are fairy penguins and wallabies and loads of other creatures to see, in addition to the striking red rocks along the beach. Contrary to common assumption, the bay is not actually named for these red rocks but for the fires that the European settlers saw the aboriginals making along the coastline.
Near to Uluru on the private Curtin Springs cattle station is yet another massive geological formation known to aboriginals as Attila, to European Australians as Mt. Conner, and to my tour guide as “Fuluru” because many a wanderer has mistaken this mountain for the famous red rock.
As it’s on private property it’s not easy to approach the mountain, but there is a hill near the road where you can get a nice panoramic view of Attila and the surrounding area. It’s also a great place to get up close to the red sand, and even take some home if you’re keen.
After driving past Attila our tour group stopped to see the sunset over Kings Canyon, our next destination.