Working Remotely From Tasmania

Can you imagine an even more remote place to work from than Tasmania? I can’t — for now.

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Me and Tasmania — Tasmania and me

Last February, I was lucky enough to spend 4 weeks on that “small” island South of Australia’s main land. Yes, I wrote Australia. Tanzania is a very different story. Please stop asking me about life in Africa.¬†ūüėÉ

During my time in Tasmania, I worked 4 days a week and had 3 days a week to explore Tassie with my little family — my favorite travel companions.

We changed apartments once to explore as much as possible and therefore stayed 2 weeks in the North of the island, then 2 weeks in the South. Tassie is an island on which you can easily end up in very remote spots, like we did in the North. We stayed in a small cottage in Riana. Our next (human) neighbors were 500 meters away. To get to our house by car, we had to open and close 3 fences to prevent the cows from changing the fields that surrounded our cottage. It’s been a remote dream!

Our cottage in Riana, Tasmania

Moving down to Hobart after 2 weeks almost felt like a shock. People. Cars. Buildings. A city center! Though admittedly, our cottage in Hobart with a view towards Mount Wellington was in a calm neighborhood. Only a few wallabies visited our garden each evening.

That clocks are ticking differently in Tasmania can be seen on dialogues like this one (with Gerke, the landlord of the Riana property):

I: “So how come the street you live in has actually your family name? Is it pure coincidence?
Gerke: “Nah. At one point, Tasmania decided that all roads got to have a name. So someone suggested to give it my family’s name as our house is the oldest in the street.”
I: “And when did that happen?”
Gerke: “A few years ago.”

Makes me wonder if they actually had internet access before they had a road with a name… but I forgot to ask!

Please click through the 2 albums below and read the captions to learn more about our fabulous four weeks in Tassie.

North (Riana and around)

South (Hobart and around)

What other remote work places would you recommend?

My standards would be:

  • a reasonable internet speed
  • the modem nearby, to be able to turn it off and on again if needed
  • an affordable place to rent for work and living (I’m working from home, not at the beach like people tend to think)

If you like this post, you might also like¬†Dancing Butterflies In Tasmania… (also not in Africa!)

Getting Lost: Rarotonga Cross Island Walk

Being avid hiking fans, our Cook Islands¬†trip wouldn’t have been complete without a trekking experience. The most popular hiking track on Rarotonga¬†is the Cross Island Walk, leading from one side of the island to the other.

Despite of the heat, 10 kilometres sounded like a reasonable distance; after all we knew we would spend most of our time in the shadow of the lush forest, and we were going to end up right at the beach, ready to jump straight into the turquoise lagoon if needed.

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On the first kilometre of the island crossing in South-North direction.

On an almost cloudfree morning we therefore took the clockwise bus – yep, only two bus directions exist on Rarotonga; clockwise and anti-clockwise – and asked the bus driver to drop us at the beach where the track for the island crossing starts.

As we decided to cross the island from the South to the North, the¬†official starting point of the hike was at Wigmore’s Waterfall, which we reached after a 15 minutes walk along a small road for cars leading in-land.

Till now, we had deliberately ignored all travel guides mentioning that it would be easier to do the crossing in the North-South direction since the way would be better marked. Can’t be that difficult, we thought; and so we shrugged once more our shoulders as we passed a warning sign that it’s strongly recommended to begin the hike on the other side.

The first kilometre went fine.

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Crazy rock and tree formation along the path. This could almost be out of a movie scene, don’t you agree?

Then we reached a point where many people before us must have gotten confused and formed tracks in all possible directions. Even the stream that we had followed seemed confused and separated into two rills.

We decided to follow one of the “caved paths” and regularly turned around watching out for the little orange triangle marking the track from the North-South direction.

Spotting no triangle after 200 metres we thought we took the wrong junction; but how to be sure? Mr ae.i headed forward in the hope he would find the treasured plastic marker signaling that we were on the right track.

He told me he would be back in 5 minutes. He wasn’t.

I followed his path before I had the brilliant idea to call his name. No feedback.

I followed his path a little longer, but when the track became dodgy I tried calling him again. There he was, yelling he is on his way down.

Yay! Not!!

He must have made a wrong turn. At the end of my tether I started calling him again 4 or 5 times before I realized I had lost him again. I honestly started to panic a bit. And my imagination ran wild.

What if he had slipped and needed help?, I thought just the moment when I heard someone screaming my name from far behind me. Well, how did he do that? He clearly left in the other direction.

It didn’t matter. I was surely¬†relieved when we were finally reunited a couple of minutes later and I made the Mister promise not to explore any path without me anymore (!).

After returning to the point where path and stream seamed to separate in all directions we finally spotted an orange triangle that we hadn’t passed yet. After¬†crossing the stream and climbing a steep slope we were back on track. Only 30 minutes lost.

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Back on track, which became so steep that it would have been tough to climb uphill without a rope. See the little orange triangle on the photo? These markers exlsuively indicate the correct path in North-South direction; there are no markers at all the other way around.

We didn’t lose sight of the track markers for a second time that day, although there would have been more occasions. Not everyone was as lucky that day though; more later.

We reached The Needle Рthe highest point of the hike (413m) Рduring  a sunny moment and enjoyed the view over the surrounding green mountains of dense forest down towards the lagoon, reef, Pacific Ocean

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View towards The Needle, the highest point during the island crossing.

While descenting on the Northern side we met a bigger hiking group led by Pa, a local tramping guide who knows these mountains like the back of his hand. There is surely no way getting lost with him.

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Steep descent over big roots and rocks.

After 2.5 kilometres we reached a narrow road, the official starting point of the track when doing the hike in North-South direction. Another 2.5 kilometres along that road – and many taro fields and papaya orchards later – we were back in town, jumping right into… no, not the lagoon… the clockwise bus, bringing us back to our guesthouse and a well deserved nap after our 4 hours adventure.

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Sunbeams made visible by a small (controlled) fire in the woods.

As mentioned earlier, not everyone got that fortunate that day!

As luck would have it, the same evening we met 3 tourists who started the South-North island crossing¬†two hours after us. After having a chat, we believe¬†they got confused at the very same spot like us a bit earlier that day,¬†but they didn’t remember where they had gotten off track or seen the last orange marker.

So they continued and probably created a new path through the forest which might confuse more people in the future. Oups! Eventually they reached the top of a mountain, but they couldn’t tell which one. All they could tell for sure was they were clearly off track.

Instead of trying to find a way down to finish the crossing they simply walked the same way back. It took them 8 hours Рtwice as much as what we needed for the complete crossing. Their worried host had called the police in the meantime.

Each year, several hiking groups face the same problem. They need to be guided out of that tree maze by local guides or police men.

Now we – and you – know why it’s strongly recommended to do the Cross Island Walk in a North-South direction.

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Rarotonga island crossing profile from my GPS watch. We needed 4 hours for 10 kilometres, including an involuntary 30 minutes detour through the wilderness.

I honestly find it a pity that this popular track causes so much trouble and requires local search groups when it would be an easy thing to simply add more track markers in the South-North direction.

And here is the thing: If I would ever do that walk again, I would chose South-North over North-South, simply because the Southern side of the mountains is so wet and slippery that it’s easier to find grip climbing uphill than sliding downhill. Remember, the sun moves from East to North to West in the Southern Hemisphere, which makes the Northern side of the Rarotongan mountain chain much drier and perfect for a non-slippery descent.

For a description of the track conditions and quality please read all image¬†captions.¬†Click any photo to see it in big and better quality. Enjoy – and don’t get lost!

If you like this post you might also like Photo Essay: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

 

 

Photo Essay: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

When winter is coming to New Zealand, a Kiwi’s biggest concern is How to make the summer last a little longer.

Top answer: “Fly to Raro, mate!”

No sooner said than done, the waterproof GoPro, Mr ae.i and I found ourselves back in a time travel machine (aka flight VA173, leaving Auckland each Friday at 7pm, arriving 4 hours later in Rarotonga, on Thursday shortly before midnight).

Being a Pacific Island, Rarotonga is all about white beaches, coconut palm trees, and stunning sunsets over a turquoise lagoon. But the island gets mountainous in the centre, with Te Manga exceeding 650 metres.

That peak is where surprisingly many rain clouds get stuck, which supported the creation of a dense forest (I will write up another article about the island crossing through that forest – stay tuned).

So if you find yourself under a grey cloud on one side of the island, grab your scooter and drive 15 kilometres (half way) to the other side. You will likely end up under blue sky and sun. We explored the lagoon each single day; by kayak, paddleboard or while snorkeling. Enjoy our Top 25 Paradise Photos below.

If you like this post you might also like Photo Essay: New Caledonia