Hitching and Pitching across Tasmania

When Tom first suggested we hitch across Tasmania, I was hesitant. Tom (23), and me (36) met thru-hiking the length of New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail last year, where we hitchhiked out of necessity from the trail into towns and back. I was broke when I was twenty-three as well. But with a steady income and enough money for a bus ticket, I felt somewhat fraudulent and immoral to live like a vagabond with no roof over my head or means of transportation.

Our only direction and objective were to explore as many of Tasmania’s nineteen National Parks as possible during our thirty-day visit on the cheap. All I was carrying was a five-kilogram rucksack, and with no itinerary or agenda in my back pocket, I felt as light as a feather. But I had some hesitations about the unknowns ahead. Where we’d eat, sleep, and shit each day would be in the hands of the stranger behind the wheel.

Upon arrival we stood by the roadside on the outskirts of Launceston (or Lonny as the locals refer to it), holding our thumbs out with bright eyes and eager smiles. My arm began to cramp within the first few minutes, and I couldn’t help but become doubtful of our success, sweating in the unseasonable temperatures the island was experiencing in the final week of January this year, when bushfires were raging through half the state.

I was about to suggest we catch a bus, when a red pick-up truck pulled over, driven by a local man with his four-year-old daughter in the back seat. He mentioned he’d driven passed us twice already, deciding to swing back because he felt sorry for our unfortunate position along Highway 1.

“You’ll never get a ride here,” he told us bluntly, before driving us ten kilometres south for a better chance.

This first ride led to countless others, from people as varied as the vehicles they were driving.

I’d arrived with preconceived notions about the types of people who would stop for us, assuming they’d be driving painted vans with prayer flags and wearing colourful clothing with wooden beads in their hair. But during our 1,500-kilometre journey across Australia’s forgotten state, these stereotypes were demolished, replaced by the constant surprise of the vastness of people who stopped.

There was Carl, the baker from St Helens, who’d just finished his overnight shift at the Banjo’s franchise. A seven-year-old boy named Ancus on a weeklong trip from Hong Kong, who was forced to translate for his Chinese father. There was the Korean couple with their Dutch friend heading to a campsite in Swansea, Leanne from Ballarat in her campervan who made costumes for the local theatre, Jimi from Hobart battling depression, Beth and Barb touring the hops plantations near Mount Field, Davo the eccentric millionaire from North London, and Karly the debt collector, who was a single mother with a two-year-old kid.

Coles Bay, Freycinet National Park

Though we witnessed the sparkling blue waters of Wineglass Bay, the breathtaking cliffs of Cape Pillar, the rusty-orange rocks along the Bay of Fires, and the sun dipping its head beneath the horizon from the summit of Cradle Mountain, my greatest memories of Tasmania are the people and their stories. The state developed a certain charm and character, painted by the portraits of the people who drove us north and south.

Summit of Cradle Mountain

Every ride opened my eyes to something different. I learned about patching phone calls in Australia back in the 1960s, where to buy the best pizza in New Norfolk, how to sew the arm of a costume so that it slides off in an action sequence, and the best place to camp on the Three Capes Track. But everyone we met agreed on the same very thing. They all loved Tassie. If they were local, they wanted to keep the state a secret, and if they were from the mainland or travelling, they were making plans to move there.  

I discovered so much more than if we’d rented a car and remained in a tourist bubble. Why people stop to pick up strangers remains a mystery to me, but there’s something to be learned from these generous people, and I look forward to returning the favour some day soon.

21 thoughts on “Hitching and Pitching across Tasmania”

  1. A great post and wonderful observations of a beautiful island and real people. Your experience makes Mutti and me want to return again soon as our experiences have been very similar.

  2. Another adventure under your belt…
    Nothing like getting up off the couch.
    You never know what you will see, who you will meet and the memories you will make.

    Thanks for another look at this part of our beautiful Mother Earth . You are a great ambassidor for her 🌏

    1. Thanks Lyndella and great to hear from you! No doubt you’re having some fine adventures of your own! Ain’t this Mother Earth grand?! Much love! 💗

  3. It’s always refreshing to see adventures done right! The Muk Muk way! No baggage, literally and figuratively. I’m ready to step into this world. I said goodbye (or maybe so long depends) to my successful career as an architect, which I loved, but it’s not all my life. I am ready for adventures, freedom, or even just something new. Life is too short to just commit to one thing. I’m finally starting the PCT. 3 years ago I said it’d be three years, and in about a week it’s…wallah!! time..From there I’m looking forward to just figuring it out as I go….Gromit

    Oh, and I’m starting my blog on wordpress “trailingfootprints”..it isn’t up yet but should be in a few days (I hope).

    1. Gromit!!! Amazing! Oh my goodness this is fantastic news! As I sit here scribbling draft five of my memoir I’ll be imagining you walking the miles I’m writing about. Your trip is inspiring, and I can’t wait to read your blog… I’m signing up straight away! 🙂

      1. the blogsite is up! I really procrastinated working on this, and greatly misjudged the effort/time involved so it’s a bit of a cobbled together thing at the moment. It is up…and it’s beginning to congeal.
        “trailingfootsteps.com”

      2. Yay go Gromit!!! I understand how much effort it takes trust me! But all we care about is your experience so it doesn’t have to look pretty! I tried to sign up but maybe it’s down right now… I’ll check again later! I’m so pumped for you!!! Happy trails my friend!

      3. Can’t wait to read your book! I just finished Anish’s “Thirst, 2600 miles to home” on her 2013 PCT record run.

      4. Awesome!! I’m dying to read it! Just need to finish my final draft so I don’t get her words caught it my head! 🙂

  4. Kindness and caring folk…that’s what you have found so beautifully with these lovely people…..wow…..I just love hearing about the kindness of people….It is a reminder of Remote Leigh, the young woman who you met on the PCT and she had you go to a Jr. High school and talk to the kids about your PCT experience. She and a good friend are the only women to walk to the Arctic Sea via Canada…They were finding that everywhere they were, there were incredible people who blessed them with friendship and help and support in so many ways….I am so happy to find good people….and it has happened for you also…in fact, seems you have met some wonderful people on all your adventures…that’s wonder-filled…..Just a bit of update from San Diego, Ca….still working on the biography (autobiography, that is)! Long hard slugging along…Sometimes it is too painful to recall and write the truth of the ugly things that happened to me and to my sister..(though she won’t talk about it, so I have to do the best I can to tell her story without her help)..I know you are rewriting and editing and rewriting…..you know, I totally get it…so do I…over and over and over, wondering if I will last long enough to get the story told….smiling…I am able to walk much better than ever…wishing I could do hiking, like PCT….smiling, again….anyway, about 6 city blocks or so is about my limit….but I am trying to keep motivated….I always love to hear from you….been thinking about you as usual….missing you and your wonderful blogs….Know this, my sweet young woman, I love you dearly…love from your old friend in Southern California, San Diego……Barbie

    1. Great to hear from you Barbie and I’m so happy you’re still writing! Even though it’s a lonely experience, remember you’re never alone in your creative pursuits! I’m right here with you! I’m glad you’re out walking too. Walks are my reward for hours behind the laptop. Hang in there, your story needs to be told! With love and respect, Muk 💗

  5. I just wrote a huge reply to your reply and suddenly it disappeared….just know that I thank you for how you encourage me and how you bring me joy… PS…Paradise, 90 miles south of Redding, close to the PCT, burned down…including my house, my son’s house…he and his wife (they have separated for about 9 years, not divorced, but are friends), her dad, and my two grand daughters got out just in time..my youngest has been hit very badly with terrible nightmares….she is 12 years old….so good thoughts and prayers for all of them….it was a shock and traumatic for them..and I was also shocked…but I have always known that living in that little mountain town would burn someday…always knew it wasn’t a matter if it would burn, but when it would burn…so many pine trees…a fierce wind…and PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric Co.) didn’t properly maintain it’s wiring and two wires were down and sparked each other, burn a tiny town called Campo (I think that was it’s name) to it was called the Camp Fire…My daughter went up to the house (Hazmat suit on her with mask because it was so dangerous) and said it was so strange to hear nothing, no people, no cars, only buzz saws cutting down trees and tractors……Thanks for your encouragement….I needed it….I love you, sweet girl, and am incredibly blessed to have you in my old life…Barbie from your old friend in San Diego, Ca.

    1. Hi Barbie, I’m so sorry to hear about your family’s devastation from the fires. I’m glad they made it out safe. What a terrible thing to happen to them and their neighbours! My prayers are with everyone affected. 🙏

  6. Okay, I did the same to another, and looked back here on my blogsite name and realized I sent you the wrong (prints not steps) address…www.trailingfootprints.com

    1. Finally figured out how to add the subscribe button to my blogsite. It’s easy of course once you know how..haha, but I was stymied for a bit. I Begin my PCT journey tomorrow! Thank you Muk Muk, for all the inspiration, and encouragement you have given me. Gromit

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