Photo from a trip to Tasmania by Megan Miller, Saint Mary's College of CA who studied abroad in Perth
Photo from a trip to Tasmania by Megan Miller, Saint Mary’s College of CA who studied abroad in Perth

Have you ever heard of the infamous Tasmanian Devil? Well, many people have and thus, they have heard of the tiny island off the southern coast of Australia called Tasmania. However, what most people do not know is that Tasmania is a destination for travelers because of its rich history, mining towns, national parks that help make it a hidden gem in Australia.

Tasmania has a rich mining history on which the island was formed.  Long before European settlers arrived, the native Aboriginals began mining the area for valuable resources.  After the arrival of European settlers, the mining industry took off, creating towns and helping to develop the island.  However, recently, the country has begun to stray away from the mining industry and venture to other industries.  This is in part due to an effort to preserve the towns. Tasmania has now focused their attention to creating and promoting national parks for visitors that attract tourists and backpackers alike.

Having an amazing time in Tasmania!
Having an amazing time in Tasmania!

As I flew to Tasmania, I did not know what to expect besides the famous Tasmanian Devil. I had no idea what was to come of my excursion. When I arrived, I was surprised to learn about the history of the mining towns and visit some national parks. One of the first National Parks I visited was Mount St. Clair located on the west coast of the island.  This park is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and I hiked around Lake St. Clair. While on my hike I saw different species of birds and trees while exploring the rainforest.

Lake St. Clair
Hiking around Lake St. Clair

I also learned about the famous Tasmania Tiger, also known as Thylacine, which is said to be extinct; although a few wise tales say they may still exist.  I then hiked to Montezuma Falls which is a 104 meter waterfall.  This was an amazing sight to see; water coming from that height, pounding down below on the rocks. Afterwards I visited Mount Cradle, part of the same National Park, where I hiked around Dove Lake located at the bottom of the mountain. This hike was about three kilometers and also went through the Ballroom Forest.

On the next stop of my tour I went to Freycinet National Park where I finally got to see the famous Wineglass Bay.  When I visited the world renowned bay, I learned how this famous bay got its’ name.  The early settlers would harpoon whales and since they were too big to put on a boat and taken to shore, they would drag them into this bay.  All of the blood from the harpooned whale made the water turn red, hence the name Wineglass Bay.  Imagine a bay filed with red water. The bay was a beautiful sight to see and a must-go on your visit.

Beautiful view of Wineglass Bay

While at Freycinet National Park, I also hiked to Coles Bay lookout, which led me to Hazards Beach, one of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen.  It was hard to tell where the sand met the sea and where the sea met the horizon.  It all seemed to blend together to create perfect harmony. It was one of the most breathtaking beaches I have ever seen.

Hazards Beach
Enjoying a peaceful moment at Hazards Beach

We had to make one last stop before I concluded my trip to Tasmania, and that was the Bay of Fires and Binalong Bay on the east coast.  The Bay of Fires got its name when the first settlers arrived to the area.  The local Aboriginals were doing a controlled burn on the land and the settlers saw the tall flames of the fire and promptly called it the Bay of Fires.  The Bay of Fires and Binalong Bay would be the perfect place to go camping in the summertime.  The sandy beaches and rocky coast make for great exploration as well.

Bay of Fires
Last stop, Bay of Fires

Tasmania was a delightful trip for me because I anticipated the culture and life to be surrounded by and about the Tasmanian Devil. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn more about this beautiful part of Australia. It was one of my favorite trips while studying abroad. The rich history, small towns, and sweaty hikes that led to breathtaking views, made for a trip that I will never forget.

Jill Transou is a TEAN Alum and Global Ambassador at Clemson University. She studied abroad with TEAN at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, Australia