The View from Mt Wellington

9th June, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Ian writes:

Mt Wellington positively looms over Hobart. When the clouds aren't covering it (and they cover it much of the time), you can clearly see it from the city centre, and the converse is true - at just under 1300 metres elevation, there are fantastic views over Hobart and beyond from the top. Or at least that's how it appears in the photos we'd seen. Only one way to find out for ourselves ...

To get to Mt Wellington, there's a 9km trip to an area known as Fern Tree, at which point you take a sharp right and get on to the lower levels of the mount proper - from there it's a further 12km to get to the top as you wind your way up, up and up the steep inclines. Along the way there are various stop-offs, but we just kept on going (momentum is a good thing when you are driving a heavy old Kombi!). The route to the top is not always open, and the road is divided up into 5 sections that can be closed off depending on the weather/road conditions. Despite the forecast of rain, all sections were open and we managed to get right up to the top.

One of the first things we noticed as we reached the ascent is that the radio started to go doo-lally. Probably something to do with the huge radio mast that sits on the top of Mt Wellington, garnished as it is with heaps of other smaller dishes and transmitters of various kinds. We could only see the first few metres of the mast - the rest was swallowed up by the clouds that were drving across above us, literally within arm's reach (well, with a bit of a jump in the air).

The other noticeable thing was just how windy it got, very suddenly. Working our way round the mount, we'd not felt any wind; we'd noticed that it was a bit grey, and that the clouds were moving in our direction. In the last minute of the climb things changed and now we could feel the wind buffeting the van, screeching through any gap it could find. Looking outside, we saw people taking photos with one hand, holding on to their hats with the other, while their trouser legs flapped rapidly like sail material. That would be us in just a moment or two.

Both of us headed out of the van and immediately felt the force of the antarctic wind. We managed but a few minutes in the cold before admitting defeat and taking refuge in the lookout building (which itself was making a hell of a noise from the winds blasting it).

Rocky landscape atop Mt Wellington - it's too cold for trees up here, just lichen, mosses and shrubs cling on here.

Were the views worth it? Well, we could have picked a better day for it ... but then this is Tasmania, and picking a clear sunny day, during this season, is not something that comes easily!

Hobart and the Derwent River, viewed from Mt Wellington as the clouds close in right above us.

We spent the afternoon walking around the city centre. Much like any other shopping district really, so there's not much to report on that front. A bit of food, a coffee stop, a trip to the Internet Café to update the diary and before we knew it darkness was descending upon Hobart.

Having found a caravan park for the night, about 15 minutes outside the city, we headed back in later to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. We grabbed a 9:30 showing hoping that this would cut down on the screaming, talking kids quotient. As it happens, there were no kids and plenty of seats free, a perfect scenario - and we even got to park on the street almost out the front door of the cinema.