Dec 29, 2017
Take in Tasmania’s natural beauty the best possible way: on foot.
What’s the hottest holiday activity in Australia right now? Walking. Yep, that slow, easy manoeuvre of putting one foot in front of the other. Of course, we’re not talking about strolling to the shops. We mean walking tours: multi-day guided treks, mostly of the high-end variety, that focus on stunning views and intriguing landscapes, matched with impressive accommodation and top-quality food.
From established routes, such as the Maria Island Walk in Tasmania and the Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory, to newer offerings like the Murray River Walk in South Australia’s Riverland and the Seven Peaks Walk on Lord Howe Island, hiking has become the escape of the moment.
And here’s the newest trek: the Wukalina Walk. Launching this month, the four-day, three-night experience has been eight years in the making. The project is overseen and driven by the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania – which has raised $2.5 million, including $500,000 donated by philanthropists, to get it off the ground – and has garnered significant support from the state government.
Why the hype? Well, this high-end, all- inclusive trek is the first Aboriginal-designed, -owned and -operated walk in the country. It centres on Wukalina (Mt William National Park) in the Bay of Fires region of North East Tasmania, focusing mostly on its coastal fringe. Trekkers can anticipate daily views of the beguiling Tasman Sea, white-sand beaches and rocky granite outcrops coated in bronzed lichen. Inland and among the dunes, it’s a blanket of dusty greens: black peppermint, eucalyptus, banksia and she-oak trees.
There’s abundant wildlife, too, including forester kangaroos, wombats, pademelons, Bennett’s wallabies and – if you’re lucky enough to spot them – Tasmanian devils and echidnas. For twitchers, the birdlife ranges from several species of honeyeater to superb blue wrens, black swans and sooty oystercatchers.
While gorgeous scenery and copious wildlife are part of the experience, the walk is really about the culture and home of the Palawa, the Tasmanian Aboriginal people who evolved here in isolation for more than 10,000 years. The tour, which begins and ends in Launceston, is limited to a maximum of 10 walkers. On the journey to Wukalina, guests experience traditional welcome to country and smoking ceremonies, meet and converse with Elders, hear the Palawa creation story and participate in activities such as basket weaving.
The first two nights are spent at the architecturally designed camp site Krakani Lumi, sleeping in traditionally inspired bespoke huts, while the third night’s accommodation is the renovated hotel-style Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage at Larapuna (Eddystone Point). The food highlights native ingredients and Indigenous fare.
Covering 36 kilometres, this adventure is physical; the terrain is a mix of grassland, soft sand and rocky scrub, requiring a moderate level of fitness. But, most of all, it’s an adventure of the heart and soul as you learn about an ancient culture, understand the importance of the land and honour the nation’s First Peoples.
Top image: The sun rises over the Bay of Fires