Here is a part of the world that feels far, far away. For us, this island of Australia was also one of these places that we had to go to in our lifetime. We added it on our list with no hesitation nor second thought. Obviously, the Totem Pole is what we knew about it, but after searching for infos, there is much more than just this. Friends that went there told us to stay max 10 days there, being enough to see “everything”. We took our ticket for 2 weeks in the island, rented a little car to tour around, and booked a Airbnb to have a “home” again for 2 weeks.
When we left NZ, we did a quick stop in Melbourne for few hours to pick up and drop off some things we left at Steve's (so we don't travel with everything all the time). We landed in Hobart, biggest city of Tasmania at 5pm, hoped in our 3rd rental car of the day (funny fact uh ?!) and drove to Carlton where we were greatly welcomed by Julie, our Airbnb host. And here we were, in Tasmania, the first "first time" destination for both of us!
We opened the guidebook and let ourselves be guided by the pictures, showing some incredible rock, inspiring to adventure. We noticed pretty quick that almost everything we wanted to hit requires a lot of hiking, like 1h minimum, but we more than willing to do these, as it usually means that the rock is more remote, away from the invasive crowds.
We actually started the easy way with the Organ Pipes, a sector that is just above Hobart and has only a 20 min approach, yet super steep uphill. We headed directly to a rock called “Alberts tomb” which is a self standing pillar! After a sketchy approach to reach it, we were doubtful how the pillar was standing, with a very small base on a narrow ledge. With no warm-ups close by, we attacked one of the route we came for:"Slap Dancer", 27/ 7c. It was a strange style of climbing, between compression, balance, heel hooks and bad smear feet. We needed one try to figure out the sequence and get use to the airy surrounding, and then we both did a precise send. We obviously said “Hi” to the gnome laying on top on the pillar. Then we tried a route to the left around the corner, a 29/8a and even if both stayed a while in it, we simply couldn’t figure out a sequence in the middle. We learned later that the route has been done only once years ago by the local wizard, Garry Phillips. To finish the day we got a little epic while hiking out at night. Indeed we didn't take the good trail down, ended above a little cliff band, and we had to simo-rappel with the rope around a big bloc, actually a little pillar.
Our ultimate goal of this trip being the Totem Pole, we didn’t waste time and took advantage of the first weather window we got and headed to the Tasman peninsula. Here are Cha’s insights :
“To be honest, I had a pretty bad first impression… I think with all the pictures I’ve seen and stories I’ve heard, I idealized something impressive, majestic, wild, remote and epic to get to. The hike is 1h30 up and down big hills, on a hikers track, aka "a highway" and we walk by dozens of other hikers, all going to the same point. People seeing us with the climbing gear were like "Oh you gonna climb the Totem Pole, yes there are people on it already"... Meaning hikers could just watch us climb like spectators. There was indeed other people down there (8 total, some in the Totem, some in the Candlestick, and some in the "departure ledge". Also, part of the bad first impression was that the Totem Pole is that tiny (yet unique) pillar stuck between big cliffs.
The bad impression disappeared when I started rappelling down, being alone with the rock and the mad water below. It was amazing and intimidating, making me feel tiny in the chasm. When I reached the end of the rappel, I had to swing above the water to access the Totem Pole which was few meters away from my position. First try, I didn't even go half way, making me think "holy crap, I'll never do it, I need Josh!" but I looked behind and saw that my rope was stuck behind a little flake. So I jumped again and almost smashed into the Totem Pole, so surprised that I missed the bolt I was suppose to attach my sling in! 3rd go, did it... and got welcomed by some good splashes from the water a couple meters below me! Josh came down and climbed the first picth which had surprisingly pretty with some cool moves on a black-ish rock. I joined him at the anchor and started the 2nd pitch. This one was mixed, including a few gear placements, but we took advantage of the previous climber, Alex, who left his gear for a second ascent later on. This pith was again very pretty and super technical on an awesome rock.
I couldn't resist but do the last 5 meters to go to the tip top of the pole! To reach the “mainland” we have to set up a tyrolean with the rappelling kept with us. Again, Alex left his tyrolean so we didn’t experience the Tyrolean set up, but it was still a pretty impressive tyrolean! “. And that was it, just like that we had climbed the Totem Pole!
The day after the Totem Pole adventure, we were pretty exhausted and took it easy in the morning, but still wanted to climb at some point. We didn’t want to hike a lot again, but remembered that everything has a long hike anyway so we decided to go for it. Our next “destination” was the Moai, reachable from the same parking lot than the day before. The 1h30 hike was nicer because starting on a white sand beach, and much more flat all along.
At the end we arrived above a cliff but could see our goal below us. We rapped down to the sea level, where we could walk on a rock feature to the so-called Moai : an awesome self-standing pillar, few meters away from the water. We climbed the two main routes on it (one being mixed) and it was just so cool to stand up on this narrow ledge on top of the pillar, the waves clapping below us. We climbed the two main routes on it (one being mixed) and it was just so cool to stand up on this narrow ledge on top of the pillar, the waves clapping below us.
One morning we woke up at 4:30am, left the house at 5am and met up with Simon Bishoff at the Cape Raoul Trailhead car park in the Tasman Peninsula. Simon is a local photographer, and after following each other on Instagram, we reached out to him to know if we could do something together!
Here we are, heading to Cape Raoul! What a day! Cape Raoul is probably the craziest feature we saw in Tassie, at least we don't know how it could get any more crazy! It's a cape made of a bunch of pillars stacked together, forming like a dinosaure spine dropping in the ocean.
It’s reachable by more than 1h30 hike on an enjoyable trail, and then 8 hours roundtrip down and up of scrambling/ rappelling/ trad climbing all the way to the Pole Dancer, a gorgeous bolted line at the end of the all feature. A seal colony is installed below it, adding some stink and entertainment.
Our last "goal" was Mount Brown. It's located on the Tasman peninsula just as all the other spots. The main face on Mt Brown, 210 m tall, has a few multipitch routes, and we picked "Talk is Cheap", 9 pitches. The originality is that we first had to rappel down all the way, arriving couple meters above the sea, and then climbed up. It was awesome! The rock was of a very good quality with some neat features! We also enjoyed the hike, which was "only" 1 hour and not too steep.
The Devil is here
A reserve located on the peninsula allowed us to see the famous Tasman devil (unfortunately in extinction) and to walk around in the middle of kangaroos and wallabys!
We did good by doing all our "hits" first, because on the next days, we got 4 days of very rude weather : 2 sunny days with temps between 35 and 40°C, and 2 days of rain. So we didn't stay outdoor much, but worked a lot at home. We spent few session at the Rock it gym in Hobart and had nice time there, nicely welcomed by the owner Rick and his daughter Roxy. We even did two clinics : one with the young squad to prepare their state championship, and a group of adult to help them training for their goals. We checked out the Mona Museum, which is an enormous underground building with crazy art in it. We spent 2h walking around and loosing our directions! We also did the first podcast of the trip! It was awesome to chat with Hanny, the owner of "Find your feet", a shop and company in Hobart.
For the anecdote, on our last night in the island, we witness a bloody moon, doubled by a lunar eclipse. A beautiful show!
Tasmania was a peaceful stop, and irrationally very resting. We had a nice quiet place to stay at, we spent time in some deep wild nature, climbing on some unique rock. We have one regret, is to not have planned more time. Yes, we completed all we wanted in the 10 days that we have been advised, but there is so much more to see! Either it is in developed area like Freycinet, or in some new area on the way, or even in central Tasmania or the South West… There was a lot more that we wish we could explore. In the same time, is it possible to see everything? We would need a life time to dry our discovery thirst.
For now, we will keep dreaming of what is waiting for us: more than a year traveling around the world, the American, African and Asian continent still waiting. There are a lot of various adventures ahead of us, and we couldn’t be more excited to live more of these experiences.
Slap Dancer, Organ Pipes, Tasmania, AUS - 27 / 7c
Pole Dancer, Cape Raoul, Tasmania, AUS - 22 / 6c
Talk is Cheap, Mt. Brown, Tasmania, AUS - 24 / 7a+
The Free Route, Totem Pole, Tasmania, AUS - 25 / 7b
Ancient Astronaught, The Moai, Tasmania, AUS - 24 / 7a+
As part of the “must do”, we had lunch at the Barilla Bay Oyster restaurant next to the airport and it was delicious, just a big platter of oyster, hot and cold and with different toppings.