My favorite thing about traveling is feeling small. In our everyday working lives, we are the center of our own universe and it’s exhausting. There is nothing like escaping our mental congestion by traveling to an unfamiliar place and feeding our souls with wonder and fresh air. A big piece of my heart resides in little known Tasmania. Tasmania is an island state of Australia, though its geological cousin is actually Antarctica rather than mainland Australia. Tasmania is a haven for people who like untouched and diverse landscapes, being active, seeing few people, eating everything locally produced, and breathing the purest air on Earth. I lived in Tasmania for a year and a half and I can easily say that I felt more in touch with myself there than I have anywhere else.
I was reminded of these feelings when I was recently on safari in Kenya. Flying over vast plains, star-gazing at skies uninterrupted by pollution and lights, and sitting in the middle of the Great Wildebeest Migration, I felt small again. It’s these experiences, when we are forced to respect nature and succumb to its rules that we can reconnect with nature and with ourselves.
One of my favorite things about Tasmania, which is less doable in Africa, is the ability to move freely through the outdoors. Tasmania is only the size of West Virginia, yet it is peppered with 19 national parks. These parks are incredibly accessible; they’re well-maintained and easy to navigate. You don’t need to walk with an armed ranger to feel safe. The animals are unique and interesting, and also incredibly uninterested in humans. So if you’re like me and just want to skip through mountain trails and twirl through the open fields like Julie Andrews at your own free will, Tasmania is your oyster.
By traveling around the state, it’s amazing what kinds of experience combinations are available. For example, when my brother and sister came to visit me, we spent a morning walking through Wineglass Bay and Freycinet National Park before going on an afternoon wine tour of a few nearby vineyards where every wine was paired with Tasmanian oysters, cheese, olive oil, and other local delicacies. That night we drove to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park where we camped before climbing the iconic Cradle Mountain the next day, the beginning of the famous Overland Track. (That’s for my next visit!)
Tasmania offers the perfect climate for producing some of the most amazing food and wines. Everything is local, organic, and fresh. The land offers the ingredients and its people turn them into something artisanal. Tasmanians take great pride in their locally crafted products and do their best to showcase and support the work of their neighbors. From the Taste of Tasmania food festival, to the Salamanca and MONA markets, to summer’s Mona Foma or winter’s Dark Mofo art and culture festivals, Tasmania celebrates all that it creates. And personally, I think Tasmanians are some of the nicest people on this Earth with an amazing sense of humor.
From the parks to the people to the food, Tasmania has so much to offer. It’s been a well-kept secret, but one that should be shared with those who truly want to embrace diverse wilderness, taste the fruit of its Earth, become best mates with those who turn those fruits into works of art, and to feel small again.