A whimsical place

Tasmazia is basically a giant maze with seven other mazes within it. It is said that Tasmazia is the result of “relentless ingenuity, craftsmanship and humour to overcome adversity and achieve the creator’s dream”. Brian Inder wanted a maze so he built one. Or eight. 

Tasmazia’s Great Maze (one of the world’s largest botanical mazes) was planted in 1985 and it has taken years to grow to its current adult head-height. The other mazes are the Hampton Court Maze, the Yellow Brick Road Maze, the Hexagonal Maze, the Cage, the Irish maze, the Confusion Maze and the Balance Maze. Half of the mazes are the traditional hedge formation; the other half, as their names suggest, include a balance wall and a yellow brick road. An interesting fact about the Hampton Court Maze is that It is a replica of the design of the original maze at the Palace with the same name in the UK. The maze retains all the salient points of the original and is exact to the last metre (1km).

Additionally to the mazes, this place is also the home of The Village of Lower Crackpot which was created, as well, by Brian Inder. The village are tiny buildings, built to a scale of one-fifth normal size. 

The newest section are the Embassy Gardens which are next to the Lavender Field. This area contains sixty buildings and icons dedicated to over 40 countries. 
Everything in this place is made with a dry sense of humor. It is definitely a quirky and sometimes politically incorrect venue to revive your inner child and reminiscence in your travels around the world as you see some iconic buildings in miniature. 

Find a way or make a way!

The motto of the visionary who made the West Coast Railway in Tasmania possible. Originally built to transport copper from Queenstown to Strahan, the railway was finished in 1896 and was open for 67 years. It is considered a feat of engineering and of the most intense labour. The work was hard and unrelenting made even more miserable by the weather. 

The hard work paid off. Not only for the mine in Queenstown but also for its workers as they used the train to get a break from the arduos mining work to have picnics in the forest.
The 34.5 km train line runs through Tasmania’s wonderfully wild west coast. It is no surprise that in 1963 it was shut down as there were cheaper road transport to go from the mine to the port of Strahan. 

However, intensive lobbying saw the Federal Government provide funding for the steam railway’s restoration. Work began in 1999 and lasted 3 years; it is said that the restoration was pretty much building the railway all over again. Costing more than 30 million dollars, the West Coast Wilderness Railway is now a journey through dense rainforest and past cavernous gorges, rushing rivers and toy-town stations. Very much worth a ride!

A beer and a view

A short 3 km walk (40 mins return) is rewarded with stunning views of the Franklin Gordon National park and Frenchman’s Cap from the Donaghys Lookout. 

The National park is named as such after the two rivers of those names that run through the park, it is also Part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area since 1981. Much of the Wild Rivers landscape has been shaped by ancient glaciers. The park is also home of ancient Huon Pines that grow to an age of over 3000 years.

The Franklin River itself has become synonymous with Australia’s largest conservation battle to save the Franklin River from a proposed hydro-electric power scheme which would have flooded the river.

I digress. The walk climbs a small hill at an easy grade to a sheltered viewpoint to the lookout which is an excellent spot for a picnic and a beer when one is well prepared. 

Sleeping water

In the western side of Tasmania is the deepest lake in Australia. Its maximum depth is hard to know as different sources cite different depths; it is somewhere between 160 and 200m (700ft) deep. Lake St. Clair is part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area and it is the headwaters of the Derwent River. The lake is the result of the actions of ice (glaciers) over the last two million years. 

The Aboriginal people of the area called the lake Leeawuleena, meaning “sleeping water”. After seeing its still crystal waters, the name is actually pretty accurate. 

Wildlife watching is abundant around the lake. Especially at night when quolls and wallabies are easy to spot. It is said that platypus is also abundant in the lake, but I cannot testify for that. 

What I can testify is the most amount of stars I have ever seen in the clearest night sky. 

Tall people – beware!

This seems like any other beach but it is not. It is the beach at The Neck in Bruny island. Where North and South Bruny join there is a narrow isthmus of land known as The Neck. Here penguins and shearwater birds share the hill to nest in their burrows in late summer after a massive migration from the northern hemisphere. This migration is a journey of about 15 000 kilometres in each direction annually. They have been known to fly this remarkable distance in six weeks. 

Mutton birds, Yolla to people of aboriginal heritage, are truly impressive oceanic fliers. However, if what we were told is truth, as impressive fliers as they are, shearwater birds are not very good at landing. Often these birds will miscalculate their landing and do a less than graceful decent to land and knock themselves semi-unconscious. Sometimes, with their miscalculations, they might even hit tall people wandering around. Good thing I’m small!

Real Wasabi

We found out about Masaaki’s sushi from a (sort of) Norwegian visitor. Apparently the small sushi shop had featured in a magazine or some sort of documentary. I must admit that finding gourmet sushi in the midst of rural Australia was a real surprise. Especially as it is the only sushi place in the Huon valley. The restaurant only open Fridays and Saturdays and they have a stall in the market on Sunday. We were lucky. Timing worked, and we got a booking! You might wonder why is it a big deal but they only have 4 tables! The lunch rush begins when Masaaki’s opens his doors at 11.30am and finishes when sushi is sold out. 
Additionally to having magnificent sushi, we learnt about wasabi. It is made from a plant from the horseradish family. Fresh Tasmanian wasabi or Japanese horseradish is served at Masaaki’s. Apparently in some restaurants they substitute real wasabi for horseradish with green food coloring. 
And why is it here, in a tumbledown town in the south of Tasmania – literally in the end of the world?! It is a love story. Masaaki met Lucy in Japan, where she was teaching English. The sushi chef was one of her students. So he packed his bags, moved to the Southern hemisphere, embraced country life and makes sushi. 

Remarkable cave

At the end of the road in Port Arthur there is a natural and unexpected surprise. A cave with two entrances due to earthquakes. One of these entrances, at the right angle, has the shape of Tasmania. But what is so remarkable for me is the beauty surrounding and leading to this cave.  

 

Decadent brunch

Roadtripping in Australia has to include a stop in a winery, or two or three. Not only because the wines in Australia are great but also because wineries make great spots to have a rest  and a decadent brunch while taking in the beauties of the world around us. With the pinot noir and sparkling wine being some of their most famous wines, Tasmania is easily amongst the top wine regions of Australia and the world since the 1800s. 

  

Good spotting

In an island off the coast of Tasmania wombats can be found. Maria island is a place with limited traces of the people that have been as visitors are obliged to carry on and/or off all your things, food, rubbish, etc. But in such a remote place, a looong walk can be done to view amazing sights. And if you are observant you will notice that it actually is a prime location for wombat spotting. Along the way you are able to get up close to these little marsupials who are the only ones whose pouches face the wrong way around. This is because they live in burrows and thus dig their homes. If you still dont get why their pouches are downward facing… Just have some imagination.

 

Hobart in the distance

From the top of Mt Wellington, at 1271 meters, Australia’s second oldest capital (after Sydney) can be seen in the distance. Well, when the sky is clear and sunny. It began as a penal colony in the beginning of the 1800s as the king did not want to stay in the same land as convicts.An interesting fact about the port of Hobart is that from there the next stop is Antartica!