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Meet the team: Shelby from our Tasmanian Operations

When she's not scouting for new routes, refining our itineraries and making sure everything is smooth sailing for our trips to operate, Shelby Pinkerton likes to hit the trails herself – the longer and more challenging the better! Read on as she shares the places that shaped her, what she can never leave behind on a camping trip and why preparation is key when on a trek.

Like many of us, Shelby had a case of itchy feet and went on a mission to work in a different US state for every season, ultimately travelling across 28 states in the USA. (At one point she had seven jobs in one year!) Her travels eventually landed her in the Australian state of Tasmania where she guided for three seasons, before taking the reins of Operations and Logistics Manager for our Tasmanian programs.

Expanding my hiking resume is what gets me giddy... Some of my highlights would be walking the Camino de Santiago, the Kumano Kodo, the Appalachian Trail, the Larapinta Trail and the Jordan Trail.

Shelby on the Larapinta Trail

While Shelby holds a strong passion for long-distance trails, you'll often find her climbing up crags when she gets the chance. A hiker at her core, Shelby's love for the outdoors is fuelled by a sense of responsibility to protect it.

What inspired you to pursue a career in adventure travel?

I got my foot in the door back in 2014. I studied Entertainment Business Management at uni and was working as a travelling popcorn maker for Cirque Du Soleil. The travelling awoke the adventurous side of me and I became an enthusiastic rock climber.

I fell deeply in love with climbing that I wanted to do it 24/7 and so the logical step was to turn it into a job. I started out guiding at Via Ferrata in West Virginia, USA and somewhere along the line, my passions turned to hiking and so I reflected that in my pursuit of my ideal career.

Walking out to stunning coastal views |  <i>Shelby Pinkerton</i>

How do you assess and manage the risks involved in an adventure trek?

I personally get a lot out of a trek if, at some point along the line, I feel like I may not be able to complete it.

When the option is to give up in the wilderness or to keep going the mantra by Kurt Hahn echoes: ‘There is more in you than you know’.

I find that taking on a challenge brings out a new level of resilience and strength that I thrive on.

Plenty of laughs and smiles guiding a group in Tasmania's east coast

In terms of assessing the risk involved, preparation is key.

Knowing you can ride a storm, as well as having strong navigation and back up communication allows you to push your limits a little bit more each trip, which will expand your capabilities continuously.

I am not one to recommend going from zero to a hundred, however, I think you should always assess your risk based on the ability of your least experienced group member; allowing for them to feel challenged but not overwhelmed, and having the means to de-escalate a situation.

What are your favourite gear items?

Most of the personal travel I do these days is based around distance hiking, so I like to keep it light. A couple of simple items I would never leave behind are my camping pillow (I know! Total sucker for comfort!) and my insulated mug.

What's a destination or adventure that has shaped you and why?

In 2016 I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail solo. Those six months on the trail changed me irrevocably and I find it is a difficult experience to summarise.

It taught me so much about community, how a shared experience can bind you closely to a stranger and how willing people can be to offer kindness and help for no gain.

It also taught me, as a young woman, to embrace myself and celebrate my body for its physical capabilities and achievements instead of picking it apart for superficial flaws.

Taking on a long distance trail not only builds experiences in the natural world, but opens up a chance to learn about yourself

I gained a lot of satisfaction and self-confidence from the experience as well as a connection to nature and simplistic living that I have strived to maintain through my subsequent adventures and lifestyle.

What are your favourite Tasmanian trips?

I just love the Overland Track, it was my first experience of Tasmania and I think everybody should get out to see it for themselves.

My first trip on the Overland (though, I've done it a dozen times by now) was with my closest friend who loves being in nature but is not a strong walker. She would take the day ambling to the next hut taking rests and photos and I would go climb the mountains on the side trails and meet her at camp, both of us exhausted at the end of the day.

I think that the Overland Track is an amazing trail for all levels of experience and physicality, it would also be impossible to spend a week in those mountains and not feel a sense of responsibility to protect it.

How would you best describe Tasmania?

For me, it is a place to discover your limits and significance.

What are some preparation tips you can offer to someone interested in taking on a more challenging trek?

Being physically fit is always going to be important, but being mentally prepared for a challenging trek is just as paramount.

Be prepared to be uncomfortable and pre-plan your solutions to common problems.

For instance, it is likely you will get blisters and sore knees, so pack some first aid and use hiking poles. Having easy solutions to common problems once you are in the field will give you a sense of control over a situation rather than feeling helpless. This will help you keep your head in the game and your morale high for the challenges ahead.

Be supported by a team that will make your adventure special. Browse our range of guided and self guided Tasmanian holidays.

What makes rafting the Franklin River so special?

The quick answer: because you almost lost the opportunity to do it! Though, there is plenty more appeal when seeking a rafting adventure along Tasmania's iconic Franklin River.

In the late 70s, Tasmania’s hydroelectric scheme had its sights on building a dam on the Franklin River. The very name ‘Franklin River’ was dividing the community – the country – between those who wanted the dam and those who didn’t. Bob Hawke didn’t want the dam. Hawke won the election.

Since that period, it seems that the ‘Franklin River’ has been synonymous with bringing people together. Experiences shared on the Franklin are memories entrenched for life between you and the crew on your trip. Not only does the wild and remote beauty draw you in, but also the stories of how this special part of the world might not have been here today – with thanks to the ‘No Dams’ campaign and figureheads in the movement, like Bob Brown, David Bellamy and Geoff Law.

In 2012, Outside magazine in the US listed our trip on Tasmania’s Franklin River as the ‘Best white-water rafting journey on earth’, nudging out other contenders from Tibet, the US, Bhutan, Peru and Zambia. In the same year, the Editor of the Australia’s Outdoor magazine, Justin Walker, went down the river and proclaimed, “The Franklin River trip was probably the best trip I have done since being Editor of Outdoor – I would do it all again tomorrow!”

So, why this river? 

Its pure, unspoiled wilderness. Despite commercial rafting on the Franklin starting in the late 70s, those who raft it today will agree that the river is in fine shape – better than ever, perhaps. You can still drink the tannin-stained water straight from the boat; not many river journeys can boast that simple pleasure. 

Then there’s the genuine expedition feeling of being somewhere truly remote. Packed with everything you need for the trip in barrels and dry bags – typically over nine days, once you drop-in there’s pretty much no way out. As you forge your way through the rugged southwest of Tasmania, through deep gorges, quiet pools and magnificent temperate rainforest, the sense of isolation becomes apparent. It dawns on you that, apart from the Aboriginal paintings in the Kutikina Cave, you will have seen very little evidence of human impact along the river.

And, of course, the history. Named after the early explorer Sir John Franklin, The Franklin River holds a special place in Australian history. From lost convicts to modern day politics, the river has inspired a conservation movement, best-selling books, iconic images and of course all those who experienced her unique beauty on a rafting expedition.

It doesn’t hurt having a bit of ‘cool’ factor as well. Slipping out names like Thunderrush, The Sanctum, Jaw Breaker, Sidewinder and the Great Ravine, The Cauldron, The Churn and Nasty Notch, will only add to your epic holiday tales!

Only the bravest, or most foolish, souls would ever consider tackling the Franklin on their own. Safety should be considered above all else and it pays to travel on the river with someone who knows the difference between their eddy and their river right. 

Too little water, you can’t raft, too much and you’ll be getting the kit out to portage around tricky sections and rapids that really should be avoided by anyone who has no river knowledge. Lose your luggage because it’s not properly secured and you’ll be shivering for the rest of the trip. 

We offer a 9 day Franklin trip as well as an 11 day version that includes a 2 day side-trip to Frenchmans Cap. It’s an iconic Australian trip that everyone should do at least once.

Tasmania's East Coast Exploration

Multi-activity adventures can be a great way to experience new or preferred activities. It is also an opportunity to immerse differently into the destination and pick up a new hobby such as cycling.

A great way to experience Tasmania’s East Coast is on a multi-activity adventure where you cycle, kayak and walk the region’s best sites. Toni in our groups team had a multi-activity adventure in Tasmania on her holiday list for years. When the opportunity came up to join the 6 day Cycle, Kayak and Walk Tasmania multi-activity adventure, Toni jumped at the chance.  

We caught up with Toni on her return to ask about her experience.

Amazing views of Wineglass Bay

What makes the East Coast of Tasmania so special? 

I absolutely love the East Coast of Tasmania. Its diversity is astounding - from the pink granite and red splashed rock of Freycinet Peninsula, to the white beaches and crystal waters at Coles Bay, to the forests in Douglas Apsley National Park and the sheep and cattle farm, not to mention the vineyards, berry farms, micro-breweries. My favourite place is Maria Island. The island has a rich history from Aboriginal habitation, a convict penal station, farming and the National Park. The walks to the Famous Fossil Cliffs and Painted Cliffs, and Bishop and Clerk mountain on a clear day is a highlight people will never forget.

What level of experience do you need to have for this trip? 

This trip is graded introductory to moderate – a level 4 on our scale. You need to be fit for this trip to enjoy it fully. Of course, there’s also the option to use an e-bike. The guests on my trip loved the momentum the e-bikes provided. They made cycling up hills (yes there are many hills in Tasmania) so much easier. They’re easy to use, and fun. Another benefit of this trip is that you have the flexibility of jumping on the support vehicle and travelling if you don’t feel like cycling.  The vehicle supports the group the whole way throughout the trip.

This tour caters to a wide range of fitness levels, with the constant support of guides and vehicle, 3 course meals with more of Tasmania’s finest famous produce. 

Getting ready to ride Kayaking in Freycinet Explore the beautiful Painted Cliffs 

Describe the cycling experience down St Mary’s Pass. 

Cycling down St Marys Pass was absolutely awesome, if you love going downhill – and who doesn’t?! It’s around 6kms winding downhill out to the East Coast. The support vehicle follows behind you, stopping the traffic so it’s very safe. You can let the brakes off and peddle downhill. It’s so much fun.

Hidden in Freycinet National Park is Wineglass Bay, frequently ranked in the lists of the world’s best beaches, did you visit this part of the park?

We walked to Wineglass Bay to find the beach exactly as we’d seen in travel magazines, with white sand and azure waters. Many people believe Wineglass Bay derives its name from its circular shape that resembles a wine glass but another theory has it that the name is due to its dark history of the 1800’s, when whaling stations practices turned the water red.   

The walk into the bay has over 1,000 steps, so is pretty tough after you have cycled 45kms in the morning. The beach is totally worth a swim with clear aqua blue water. We saw a wallaby resting in the shade and the lookout is truly spectacular.

Cycling through quaint towns Exploring the old buildings Fossils on Maria Island

On this adventure, Coles Bay is the location for the kayaking activity, how was the experience?

Our Freycinet kayaking guides had great knowledge of the area and throughout the day we had breaks, morning tea, interpretation points and it was a fairly easy leisurely pace.  It’s always great exploring a beautiful place from a different perspective and being on the water gives you that. 

Known as Noah’s Arc for its safe haven, did you have any up close encounters with wildlife on Maria Island?

The wildlife on Maria Island is amazing! There are so many wombats, almost like rocks, wallabies, kangaroos and potaroos everywhere - even at the campsite. We could hear the Tasmanian Devils in the night but couldn’t see them. 

Getting up close to the natives Maria Island Views Wildlife on Maria IslandWhat is the history of Maria Island? 

Maria Island is truly the most spectacular island. It’s full of wildlife, history and fossils. If you love history, it has a fascinating mix of Indigenous history, ruins of the 1940’s limestone quarry, convict and free settler farmhouses, from the huge community that lived on the island back in the 1800’s. You can wander through the old buildings and National Parks have set up a fantastic museum in the old town. You can even stay in the penitentiary!

Sum up your experience on this multi-activity tour.

It was a fantastic way to explore Tasmania’s stunning East Coast. We had a great mix of people, passionate guides and I loved the variety of the multi-activity mode of transport. Accommodation in quaint cottages was lovely too. Overall, I loved the trip!

View the Cycle, Kayak and Walk Tasmania multi-activity adventure.  

Crystal blue waters of Maria Island Charming accommodation Kayaking in Coles Bay

Explore The Three Capes Track Tasmania

The Three Capes Track in Tasmania’s south east corner is one of the most popular walking tracks on the island. The 48 kilometre track first opened at the end of 2015 and begins at Port Arthur, once a penal colony and now one of Australia’s most significant historical sites.

Cape Hauy with Cape Pillar beyond |  <i>Andrew Bain</i> The buildings of Port Arthur are a dramatic part of Australia's history |  <i>Courtesy of Port Arthur Historic Site</i> Walking at Cape Hauy |  <i>Andrew Bain</i>

Our Cape to Cape Tasman Peninsula itinerary takes in the highlights of the magnificent Three Capes coastal track and adds the convenience of it beginning and ending from your accommodation in Hobart. On this 3 day guided active tour, you’ll undertake two spectacular coastal day walks to the stunning Capes Raoul and Hauy, retreating at night to comfortable cabins outside the park.

 
Heading for Cape Hauy |  <i>Andrew Bain</i> The Tasman Peninsula sea-cliffs are filled with natural features such as the giant Tasman Arch |  <i>Chris Buykx</i> View along Three Capes Walk & Tasman Peninsula |  <i>Chris Buykx</i>
 

Your expert guides will prepare delicious meals for you as you kick back and enjoy the surrounds.  You’ll enjoy a fully guided tour of the atmospheric, open-air World Heritage-listed Port Arthur and a wildlife cruise from Port Arthur to Eaglehawk Neck, beneath the tallest sea-cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere with views of Cape Pillar’s lighthouse. Enjoy gazing at the towers of rock columns, jagged cliff edges and spot the coastal wildlife such as seals, whales and rare sea birds.

Be amazed at the pristine beauty of this remote (next stop Antarctica) park and enjoy the world-away atmosphere on the Cape to Cape Tasman Peninsula adventure.
     

Celebrity River Guides

All our river guides are celebrities to us, but Abigail Nimui deserves special mention. Abigail is a member of the Australian Women's Rafting team and this will be her fifth season guiding our Franklin River trips.

In the off-season Abigail has rafted in far North Queensland on the Tully River and overseas in Scotland, Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Just before Abigail hops back into a raft we asked her more about the Franklin River Rafting experience.

Join Abigail for an amazing guided rafting adventure on the Franklin River

Why is the Franklin River considered one of the greatest white water rafting experiences?

It’s an incredible journey through stunning Tasmanian wilderness, every day is so different and beautiful in her own unique way. Being on an extended expedition it really allows for a true connection to happen, a connection to the land, river and each other really makes space for a truly life changing experience. 

The rapids are ever varying, sometimes they are flat and slow, a perfect time to take in the surroundings to the epic grade 6 portages where we must spend time negotiating how to get through the biggest rapids on the river. The other grades in between are also fun. The Franklin is a wild river that ebbs and flows with the rains, the rapids change day to day. 

Every trip is sure to have excitement and gets you feeling exhilarated.

Stunning waterfall along the Franklin River |  <i>Glenn Walker</i>

It is a strenuous activity, how fit do you need to be?

This trip is best suited to those with at least a moderate fitness level. It requires you to be pretty good on your feet at times, rock scrambling on uneven or slippery surfaces is a definitely a part of the expedition and although no paddling experience is required, it is expected that you will be able to contribute to paddling for at least a few hours at a time (with breaks and snacks!).

It’s also expected that guests help the guides with carrying gear, setting up camp and helping with portages to the best of their ability.

How many hours or part of the day are you in the raft? 

Every day and trip is different. Depending on the section we are going through and the water levels, sometimes we have rest days, but you can expect anywhere between 4 – 7 hours in the raft on an average day, sometimes more, sometimes less.

On our Franklin River Rafting trips there is so much to explore including waterfalls, caves, creeks, canyons and rainforests galore.

All the guides have good knowledge on the area and history and carry resources about the river. You can expect the guides to share their knowledge and passion as you meander through the wilderness. 

What is the gradient of the rapids and are you likely to go into the water?

Rapids are dependent on the rain. Grades 2 – 6, mandatory portages are a part of every trip. The majority of the rapids are in the Great Ravine, portages are what we have to do when we come across un-runnable rapids, we have to work out the best way for the group to get all our rafts, gear and people to the bottom of the rapids safely, a process all the guides are familiar with at the different levels, every portage is different and will be explained at the time.

There are days of lazy flat meandering through stunning rainforest to days of delightfully exhilarating white water, each day brings different adventures, and that’s the beauty of the Franklin River.

Sometimes people fall out, sometimes boats flip over in rapids, this doesn’t happen all that often but it’s something people need to be aware of if joining a rafting trip.

Rafting the mighty Franklin River |  <i>Carl Roe</i>

When is the water high, is the shoulder season November the best time to raft as the water is high?

You never really know what water level you’re going to get but generally November is the time for higher water.

What flora and fauna can you expect to see?

Lining the banks in sections are endemic Huon and King Billy Pines and many other rainforest species. Depending on the time of year you can see the endemic Tasmanian Waratah and Leatherwood trees flowering, also beautiful are the Eucalyptus forests and Fern Gullys.

Often the White-bellied Sea Eagles join our expedition, and we might see Wedge-tailed Eagles, Platypus and Quolls.

How do you keep your items dry?

On the trip each person is provided with a specially made waterproof bag that’s sure to keep all things dry if used correctly. A hard Pelican case brought on the trip to keep cameras, sunglasses, snacks etc. to keep them safe and dry.

What’s the one piece of equipment you always take on a rafting adventure? 

I like to bring my tin whistle and a notebook for writing in. It’s nice at the end of the day to unwind to some music or self-reflective drawing or writing, but everyone is different, a pack of cards, a book to read, something small that you can enjoy down the river.

Make sure to read the list given by Tasmanian Expeditions and bring everything on the list.

What’s it like sleeping by the riverside?

It’s my personal favourite, I love going to sleep listening to the water, sometimes soft and lulling other times raging and wild. Every camp is so different, sometimes we are sleeping in caves, other times enclosed in rainforest surrounded by glow worms, other days sunning ourselves on sandy beaches.

Rafter looking out over the Franklin River |  <i>Glenn Walker</i>

Are there areas along the river where you feel enclosed by the rainforest?

Absolutely, it’s a common theme for our river adventure.

What type of meals can you expect on this trip?

Three meals a day of delicious goodness, all our guides are experienced expedition cooks and enjoy preparing an array of different dishes throughout the journey, we also use a lot of Tasmanian produce in our cooking.

Breakfast consist of cereals, muesli, porridge, bacon, eggs, haloumi. Lunch is usually a cold dish of wraps, pasta salad, cous cous, sushi and dinner is a 2-3 course hot dish.

Throughout the trip there’s always plenty of snacks during the day for extra fuel, energy and enjoyment!

Expect delicious dinners on the Franklin with us |  <i>Glenn Walker</i>
 

Join Abigail and our celebrity guides on the Franklin River this season.

Tasmanian Expeditions operates three expeditions on the historic river throughout November to February each year.

Franklin River Rafting
Franklin River & Frenchman’s Cap
Franklin River World Heritage Expedition with Geoff Law

Win 1 of 5 Wild Australia Magazine

As the first commercial operator on the Franklin River in 1978, this pristine and protected area holds dear to our heart. 

Tasmanian Expeditions continues to guide on the Franklin River entering our 41st year of rafting and whilst four decades has passed, the surrounding wilderness and river remains unchanged.

Wild Australia has released their latest magazine issue themed on the Franklin River, full of history and photos from the 'Saving the River' campaign and we have 5 issues to giveaway. 

Wild Australia Magazine - Franklin River Special Issue

Competition ended 10 November 2019 and the winners have been notified.

Congratulations to our lucky winners who answered the question correctly: Andrea J. Ewa M. Cathy G. Samantha K. and Tony B.

Tasmanian Expeditions operates three rafting adventures during the season including one with environmental conservationist legend and key member of the saving of the river campaign Geoff Law.

Giveaway Terms and Conditions - click here
Rafting through the World Heritage wilderness along the Franklin River |  <i>Justin Walker/Outside Media</i> Guides rafting wilder waters on the Franklin River |  <i>Glenn Walker</i> World Expeditions beach camp on the Franklin River rafting adventure, Tasmania |  <i>Ivan Edhouse</i>
Why visit the Tarkine?
Tasmania’s Tarkine (indigenous name: takayna) located in the north west is Australia's largest single cool-temperate rainforest with extraordinary natural wilderness beauty.

Our walking expert Toni Wythes visited the Tarkine to find out why this destination is one to add on your must places to visit list.

Balfour Track in the heart of the Tarkine wilderness region |  <i>Peter Walton</i> Bracket Fungi |  <i>Holly-Mae Bedford</i> Crossing rivers in the rainforest |  <i>Holly-Mae Bedford</i>
What is so special about the Tarkine?  
The cool-temperate rainforest is magical, and the old enormous Eucalypts and Myrtle trees are breathtaking to walk amongst.

What can our walkers expect to see and do on the new Tarkine Explorer trip? 

This trip will be an unforgettable exploration of the remote pristine wilderness, where you’ll walk through the ancient rainforest from Gondwanaland, see unique flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world, one being the giant inland Freshwater Crayfish. Board a river cruise for a sail down picturesque Arthur River. Stay in unique cabins and cottages with delicious local Tasmanian food and be led by our exceptional guides whose knowledge of the surrounds highlight the pressures of human interference.

Hugging a 800 year old ancient Myrtle tree in the Tarkine |  <i>Toni Wythes</i> Unique flora in the Tarkine |  <i>Toni Wythes</i> Explore Australia's largest cool temperate rainforest |  <i>: Tourism Tasmania & Alice Hansen</i>
What are the top three highlights of visiting the Tarkine? 
  1. The feeling of detachment where you step into a magical and mystical forest. An untouched world and staying overnight in the Tarkine is truly wonderful.
  2. Spotting the distinctive flora and fauna as we explore the captivating rainforest.
  3. Walking amongst the giant and old Eucalyptus trees. One Myrtle tree we found was over 800 years old and it needed a hug, which took over 10 people to stretch out their arms to reach around the trunk to hug the tree.
Being the world’s second largest area of cool temperate rainforest, what type of flora and fauna can you expect to see in the Tarkine?
The Tarkine is the largest wild natural region in north west Tasmania and is a vital haven for flora and wildlife. There are more than 60 species of plants and fauna that are either endangered or rare. It’s home to the Tasmanian Devil, Platypus, Echidna, Wombat, Bandicoot, Possum, Glider, Southern Bell frog, Spotted-tailed Quoll, Eastern Quoll, Tayatea – Giant Freshwater Lobster and many more species. The lichens and fungis are uniquely different and exceptional. The Myrtle, Leatherwood, Eucalyptus and Pine Trees dwarf you as you explore the rainforest.
The pristine environs of Tasmania's Tarkine region |  <i>Peter Walton</i> Tall Timber 2 PROCESSED |  <i>Peter Walton</i> Fungi growing at the base of a tree |  <i>Holly-Mae Bedford</i> The Tarkine is not a protected area, how can we help to save this precious wilderness?  
The impact humans have incurred on the forests from mining, logging and deforestation has in turned threatened our flora and fauna, limited our opportunity to explore the wilderness and is damaging our environment with pollution contamination.  
To help conserve this significant wilderness, please join our Tarkine Explorer trip so you can  experience this incredible place, obtain the knowledge of why this region needs protection and contact the Federal Minister for Environment & Energy (PO Box 6022 Parliament House Canberra, ACT 2600 Ph: (02) 6277 7640)
Below are organisations and interest events you may wish to support to protect the Tarkine:
 
How to photograph Flinders Island

Flinders Island is a beautiful remote island and makes a great location to enhance photography skills. We chat to photographer Andrew Thomasson on his tips for taking great photos.
Andrew Thomasson - Focus 10

About Andrew Thomasson

Andrew has travelled extensively on all seven continents and has led photography trips for the past 30 years. An acclaimed photographer, Andrew has broad and wide-ranging expertise across all types of photography, including digital, new technology and film. His light-hearted communication style has proven to be hugely popular in the photographic courses he offers through his business, Focus 10.

You have been in the photography industry all your life, what is it about the world of photography that inspires you to photograph and teach?

I love the ever-changing nature of photography. It’s gone from film to digital and continues to evolve.  I like to see people realise their potential and nurture their creativity and digital photography allows that.  It makes it possible for almost anyone with a smartphone to take photos virtually zero cost.  People can now learn new skills, experiment, be creative with equipment they have already.

Fantastic coastline plus spectacular rock outcrops at the Dock, Flinders Island  |  <i>Dietmar Kahles</i> Walking on Flinders Island |  <i>Graham Freeman</i> Tip of the point at Killiecrankie Beach |  <i>Stu Gibson</i>
 

Flinders Island in Tasmania is the location for your upcoming photography tour. What is so special about this place and what can a participant expect on your photo tour?

This is a great destination offering a wide variety of fantastic subjects and is unique to the world. Australia has some of the world’s weirdest and most unusual animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.
The challenge on this tour is to capture something unique to the destination. When shooting animals, for example, go in for a wider shot that captures the animal’s natural surrounds. I particularly like Australian backlight, which is strong and rich and the way it can highlights an animal’s unique shape. Try to shoot wildlife in inclement weather, of which Flinders Island has plenty. Shoot with water as a major eye-catching attraction in the shots.
I’ll be providing expert photographic guidance to all the guests on the photo tour, ensuring they get the best photo with their camera equipment. It’s a great opportunity to combine the holiday with on-location learning and gain a new skillset. 

What is the best time of day to take a photograph?

Sunset and sunrise are the best times to take photographs because of combination of colours – a vivid blue sky emerging from pastel hues of pink, orange, purple - all the colours of the rainbow.
There are a lot of differences between shooting at dawn and dusk.  At sunrise the air is definitely clearer in urban areas and there is usually less wind. Sunsets mean more lights are on in cities and there are more opportunities to take light trails.
Generally, the rule of thumb is to shoot in early morning or late afternoon sunlight or twilight for exterior landscapes. Early morning light gives cool, blue tones with low contrast.  At sunset his light is replaced by a much warmer golden light which is excellent for front-lit and side-lit buildings or strong silhouettes. Aim to shoot landscapes with water vistas in the morning with sunlight when the water will be still and blue rather than choppy and grey in the afternoon, especially if there is a strong breeze.

You’ll be camping on your photography tours within the wilderness, can you explain how to use long exposure to take a photo of the stars?

Way back when we used film, photographing the night sky involved lots of trial and error.  Today, because the digital sensor’s response is linear, it’s much easier to get great star images.
If you like the look of long star trails, you might want to try what’s called image stacking, whereby you capture many consecutive short exposures of a star-filled nocturnal landscape and combine these exposures using stacking software. Use post-production to get it just right. Consider bringing along a digital compass to log GPS data, as well as to determine your orientation in relation to the heavens. This can prove critical when shooting star trail images.
It’s important to remember that making long exposures at night is taxing on camera batteries.  A lot of people don’t realize that cold temperatures can cause batteries to deplete more quickly as well, so it’s a good idea to have extra batteries and chargers on hand to shoot.  Another tip is to disable the electronic controls on your camera such as Live View, the LCD screen or image stabilization as this will also help maximize battery life.

Gunlom Plunge Pool at sunset |  <i>Andrew Thomasson</i>

How do you deal with low lighting such as walking through a rainforest?

A full frame sensor camera allows you to pump up your ISO to give you faster shutter speeds. (ISO is the measurement of sensitivity of the image sensor.)  Another option is to use a fast lens such as a 50 mm f1.8 to achieve faster shutter speeds without having to resort to high ISO’s

What is the best way to take a photo of wildlife?

The most dramatic wildlife photos usually include a very simple and non-distracting background. The goal is to highlight your subjects and make them stand out.

- Generally, shoot in the morning or late afternoon.
- Concentrate and try to anticipate your subject’s movements so you are prepared. 
- Shoot your viewpoint low and try to get close.
- Remember to also shoot close-ups and macro.

Kakadu National Park |  <i>Andrew Thomasson</i>

How do you capture the close-up photos of flowers?

- Use a tripod for low shots.
- Cloudy days are best with soft filtered light or use a diffuser panel in sunlight.
- Backlight gives a lovely effect with the petals made translucent.
- Freshen up the wildflowers with a spray of water.
- Use a macro lens or compact with macro.
- Use Aperture Priority to manipulate the depth of field.
- Push up the ISO to give faster shutter speeds to freeze the motion of the flowers on a windy day.
- Shield a cluster of flowers with an improvised wind shield such as an umbrella.
- For close up ‘portrait’ macro shots, select a contrasting background such as a black shadow.
- Select flowers that are in good shape that are not wilted or have been chewed by bugs or injured by frost.
- Mix up the viewpoint. A low angle can put the wildflowers against a blue sky and a higher ‘birds’ eye’ viewpoint puts the wildflowers in the context of their location.
- A landscape type shot including the wildflowers is best shot with a wide-angle lens and high aperture number to give a great depth of field. Use a tripod or any support.
- Shoot in the soft early or later afternoon light. It’s best to shoot the flowers in the morning when they are fresher.

If you could take only one lens with you what would it be?

An all-rounder such as a 24mm to 120mm, a 24mm to 105mm, or a 18mm to 135mm.

How do you keep your camera gear dry and dust free?

I have Pelican waterproof hardcases for when I’m shooting professionally in locations where I need a waterproof, crushproof, dust proof (especially in the outback) container to protect my valuable camera gear.

What are your three essential pieces of gear, what are they and why? And do you use filters?

Essential in your kit is a polarising filter, a tripod with a ball/swivel head and camera bag. The bag is to hold all your gear bits and pieces in a tidy and orderly fashion. It needs to have dividers for camera bodies and lenses and be able to accommodate all the paraphernalia such as external flashes, filters, cables & maybe a laptop

Spectacular coastal walking on Flinders Island |  <i>Andrew Bain</i>

How important is your smartphone to you in taking photos?

Extremely important. Smartphones take great 4K video and you can get unusual angles, difference perspectives and aspects as the device is small and light. It has an LCD viewing screen allowing you to visualise and execute the shot without the constraint of looking through a viewfinder. It’s also great to capture action shots where you can track the object with your eyes then press the rapid fire, slow-mo or video as the action comes into the screen.
The ability to share photos instantly via AirDrop on an iPhone is very helpful.  Similarly, the white balance capability and the panorama setting are fantastic on these devices too. And, best of all, there’s always a camera in your pocket.

Any other photography tips you’d like to share?

A great way to have fun, at the same time as extending your creativity, is to set yourself some cool photos projects using your smartphone. It will get you looking at things differently, here are some ideas:

- Shoot a series of images that are the same colour.
- Find an interesting family member, friend or pet and document ‘a day in the life’ of them.
- Choose a time of day and take a shot at this time every day for a month.
- Change your smartphone camera settings to monochrome and shoot only black and white.

 

Join Andrew and the Photography Tour in Flinders Island on 3 November 2019.

Willing prisoners of the wild
A journey down the east coast of Tasmania focuses attention on its distinctive environment and animals, and those who prize them. By Steve White for Action Asia joined the Cycle, Kayak and Walk Tasmania trip.  
 
Article in Action Asia:

The time is rapidly approaching when natural environment, natural unspoiled vistas, are sadly beginning to look like left-overs from a vanishing world. – Olegas Truchanas 

THE EXTREMES OF THE PLANET ARE ‘IN  right now. People from prosperous but crowded places are flocking to prosperous but uncrowded places at the ends of the Earth: Iceland, Hokkaido, New Zealand – and Tasmania. The fervour is fired in part by epics of the big and small screen: from The Lord Of The Rings to Game Of Thrones. Social media has piled on further fuel. Ultimately, what appeals to everyman and location scouts alike is the tranquility, beauty, unhurried pace and invigorating air. Their left-over wildness, as Truchanas might have had it. 

I discovered Truchanas on my most recent visit to Tasmania, between Christmas and New Year. On previous trips, I had hiked at both ends of the landmark Overland Track, bike-toured from Launceston to Mole’s Creek, and climbed Mt Roland and the Walls of Jerusalem. Now I wanted to see something of the east coast and so I joined an enthusiastic group of mostly ‘mainlanders’, tackling five days of hiking, biking and kayaking while learning a little of the animals, people and places that made it special. 

In popular imagination, Tasmania’s modern population is all descended from convicts. But Truchanas came to the island after World War II, one of more than 170,000 refugees Australia brought over from a shattered Europe. He soon fell under the spell of the wilderness and his subsequent story reads like a history of Tasmanian environmentalism in microcosm. 

He took up photography to document his explorations, including a 1958 first descent of the Gordon Splits, a gorge on the river of the same name. Sadly, he lost many of his photographs – and his house in Hobart – to the huge bushfires of 1967. Undaunted, he took a job with the Hydro-Electric Commission, even while taking photographs that helped provoke opposition to their dam that resulted in today’s Lake Pedder. When he realised that battle was lost, he switched attention to the Gordon and Franklin rivers, spurring a campaign to save them that was ultimately successful in the 1980s – a major turning point in the environmental movement. He didn’t live to see this though, drowning in 1972 on the Gordon River, his body found by his protégé, Peter Drombovskis, who went on to be a celebrated nature photographer in his own right. 

Pioneers and rule-breakers like Truchanas are writ large in Tasmanian history, and it’s tempting to see a parallel with its wildlife. Many of the island’s animals are endemics and evolutionary deadends: the fabled Tasmanian devil; the Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine; the platypus. Far less celebrated is the little penguin, our first brush with the island’s animal characters at Bicheno. After a day on the bike, we headed out again after dark to watch them scurry out of the bush, having come ashore to regurgitate fish for their young hidden in burrows. 

The coast they call home is quite different, geologically, to the rest of the island. Over time its granite outcrops have created a tracery of islands and isthmuses, none more famous than our next stop, Insta-friendly Freycinet Peninsula. There we scrambled up Mt Amos – only 454 metres, but needing close attention with all the slick rock – to fantastic vistas over the scalloped bays. We’d made the right choice. There’s a more common viewpoint on the trail to Wineglass Bay, but it being a holiday, that trail was choked with traffic, as were the car parks. Freycinet’s celebrity status is clearly exacting a cost. 

Next morning we were able to lose the crowds by taking to kayaks to tour Honeymoon  Bay, before heading south to the ferry to Maria Island. An island, off an island, off an island, it would prove an ideal place to ponder the vagaries of Tassie’s fortunes. 

On the trail towards Bishop & Clerk on Maria Island |  <i>Brad Atwal</i>

More than 40,000 years ago it was home to an Aboriginal people, the Pukhikwilayti. Today it is a national park and shows far more evidence of European settlement after it was used as a convict probation station in the first half of the 19th century, then saw unsuccessful de ve lopment b y a n ambi t ious I t a l i an businessman in the 1880s. 

There we camped on the edge of a wide cropped grassy area that looks man-made but is in fact marsupial lawn – a natural occurrence where soil moisture is higher than in the surroundings. The lush growth that results is trimmed down nightly by grazing marsupials and fertilised by their droppings.

Next morning, tour leader Ash led us on a day-hike down the island. Just beyond the remains of an old oast house, the trail dived into a shaded dell. “It’s a bit snaky down here,” said Ash, the words barely out of his mouth when a sinuous shape detached itself from the shadows and slid into the bush. A tiger snake. 

A more strenuous hike followed next day to Bishop and Clerk, a pair of dolerite summits to the island’s northeast. The trail sloped up past the small museum, then turned right at abrupt coastal cliffs to ascend waves of grassland and then dip into the trees. The climb resumed up a scree slope to attain the upper reaches where a jumble of boulders marked the very top, backed by a sheer drop to the sea.

We ended the day – and the year – on a low hill, watching the sun burnish the sea to beaten copper, as wombats and pademelons (smallwallabies) emerged by the dozen. Among the marsupials on their lawn was another animal oddity too: Cape Barren geese, a handsome bird that grazes and rarely swims. Most exciting of all was to see a Tasmanian devil appear in the cooking shelter, scavenging for scraps.

Our group’s final port of call was Mt Wellington. We defied high winds on the summit to survey the panorama of Hobart before I was dropped off on the lower slopes, in the leafy suburb of Fern Tree. There I was staying for one night at a B&B run by teacher Mark Prichard. Wanting to show me the neighbourhood, he led us out onto the fire trails. He was clearly proud of the area and was full of stories about his trips over the years. His interests ranged far wider than Tasmania though, and he told me about a programme he had set up called Cattle For Wildlife that buys young cows in Kenya and later sells them to support Ol Pejeta Conservancy in their efforts to protect rhinos. 

Over 500 native species are found on the slopes of Mt Wellington and Prichard knew many of them, pointing them out and citing common and Latin names as we walked. I wasn’t surprised when he told me he believes Tasmanian tigers – widely believed extinct – might still be lurking in the forest somewhere. 

He went on to describe an arboreal arms race going on around us and across Tasmania, between the myrtles, found mostly in the temperate west, and the gums that mainly grow close to the coast, especially in the east. I’d admired a large snow gum earlier and so he took us down into a gully to see a specific tree. 

Deep in the folds of the forest, it was as though light itself was green. Sunlight dripped like chartreuse through canopy. It even smelt green. We stopped and drank in the heady sight in front of us. 

“The Octopus Tree,” he said. “I wanted to bring you here as you liked that last tree.” A huge snow gum, metres across at its base, crown dozens of metres above, stood erect somehow atop a boulder. Prichard said it has been supersized by being lower down on the mountain than is usual for the species. Limb-like roots as thick as my waist anchored it to its unlikely foundation, looking indeed like powerful tentacles. 

I smiled and looked back up the immense trunk. Hostage to the majesty, we fell quiet. Both willing prisoners of the wild.

Adventure highlights

PEAKS – Much of A u s t r a l i a ’ s most mountainous state is dolerite, an igneous rock formed in the breakup of Gondwana that produces striking vertical features. This ensures that though the tallest of the peak is barely over 1,600 metres, their rugged forms make for challenging hiking and climbing. The classic multi-day walk is the Overland Track connecting Cradle Mountain in the north, with Lake St Clair in the south. Prior booking is required from October-May but off-peak it retains a remote air, especially the middle days of the six that it usually takes. Die-hard trekkers intent on solitude have plenty of other options. Sir Edmund Hillary called Federation Peak in Southwest National Park, “Australia’s only real mountain”. Though it’s only 1,224 metres, the usual route ends with an exposed scramble, 600 metres above Lake Geeves. Also in the southwest is Mt Anne, with its Gondwana-era vegetation, some of the oldest surviving plant species anywhere. It is usually climbed as part of a four-day circuit. The slopes of kunanyi/Mt Wellington – a dual title acknowledging the Aborigine name – are crisscrossed with trails, while bikers have on- and off-road downhilling options. The peak’s most dramatic feature is the Organ Pipes, a cliff of dolerite columns that offers spectacular climbs.

FORESTS – Tasmania has some of the last surviving temperature rainforests in the Southern Hemisphere, mostly in the northwest (the Tarkine), and southwest. The rivers that drain those southwest forests include the Franklin which offers one of the world’s most epic rafting adventures in true wilderness conditions. Most trips run for at least seven days through areas well beyond any road access. Bikers will want to focus on the former tin mining town of Derby in the northeast that hosts the Enduro World Series for the second time in 2019. Its Blue Derby network, a web of trails through old growth forest, has redefined the area and is still being expanded.

COASTS – With 5,000 kilometres of coast, there’s something for everyone on the shores of Tasmania, from dolerite cliffs to beaches so clean they literally squeak. Surfers will find breaks around the island, especially on the east coast in places like Bicheno and Scamander. Shipstern Bluff in the southeast’s Tasman National Park is a globally renowned big wave spot with intimidating, stepped waves. For trekkers, the Tasman Peninsula has wonderfully rugged coastal scenery. The multi-day Three Capes Track hugs the cliffs for 48 kilometres, and climbers will find heaps of routes on the dolerite, including the Totem Pole, an iconic stack on Cape Hauy. Ta sma ni a ha s some of t h e b e s t temperate-water diving on the planet. Bicheno and Maria Island are favourite reef spots while the Tasman Peninsula has the last of the once- extensive kelp forests, now sadly decimated by climate change. Their long fronds nurture everything from leafy sea dragons to inquisitive fur seals.

PRACTICALITIES

When to go: The climate is relatively cool with average summer highs in the low 20s. Autumn runs from March to May and brings the most settled weather. Generally though, the weather is characterised by rapid changes, with snow even possible in summer in places. Watch the sun as a combination of clean air and the Earth’s elliptical orbit mean an appreciably higher level of UV rays.

How to get there: Fly on from any of mainland Australia’s major cities to Hobart or Launceston, the biggest city in the island’s north. Alternatively, take an overnight ferry from Melbourne to Devonport.

What to take: Tasmania’s bigger towns and cities are well served by gear shops. Look for Australia’s own Kathmandu and Paddy Pallin chains, and New Zealand’s Macpac, as well as stores that offer rentals or resale of secondhand gear. Bike rentals are available in a number of bigger places. Note that some Tassielink bus services include a trailer for luggage, and bikes may be shipped this way by prior arrangement.

Contacts

The author travelled with Tasmanian Expeditions.

Great Walks of Tasmania

Tassie ✓ 

Walking ✓ 

As your holiday plans take shape, choosing which part of our beautiful island state to explore can be the trickiest part. 

Great Walks of Tasmania is a collective of the finest walking holidays on the island state and can be a great place to start. Each of the Great Walks has been chosen for its uniqueness, its remoteness or for its level of luxury. Knowing which experiences are in the collective takes the hard work away and lets you decide which of these top active holidays are right for you. 

The walks cover less visited areas, ranging from the rainforests of the north west, to the picturesque east coast beaches and down to the more remote and wild landscapes in the state’s south. There are secluded white beaches to discover, cool climate rainforests to marvel at, challenging mountain peaks to climb, historic ruins to explore and delicious local produce to indulge in. Whether you opt to stay in a stylish eco-lodge with all convenience of hot showers and gourmet food or to camp in the wilderness, you’ll know you’ll be choosing from the very best experiences on offer. 

There are eight walks in the Great Walks of Tasmania collective and each provides a different opportunity to enjoy Tasmania’s spectacular outdoors. 

The Maria Island Walk - A gourmet walking experience exploring the flawless beauty, wildlife and rich heritage of Maria Island, with accommodation in a historic colonial home and luxurious wilderness camps. 

Explore Tasmania's Maria Island by foot |  <i>Oscar Bedford</i>

Bay of Fires Lodge Walk - Experience the very best of the Bay of Fires coastline in comfort on this idyllic short escape. Enjoy day walks, gourmet food and exclusive accommodation. 

Explore the magnificent Bay Of Fires coastline |  <i>Tourism Tasmania Anson Smart</i>

Freycinet Experience Walk – walk the entire length of the Freycinet Peninsular on a series of day walks, with comfortable lodge-based accommodation and delicious meals. 

Just another glorious day on the Freycinet Experience Walk

South Coast Track – A challenging, multi-day trek through some of the State’s wildest and most remote landscapes, with opportunities to spot wildlife and get up close to nature. 

Hiker stops to rest on the South Coast Track |  <i>Don Fuchs</i>

Walls of Jerusalem Circuit - A moderate, multi-day trek through Tasmania's only true alpine national park, only accessible by foot. Camp on the trail including two nights at a remote base camp and enjoy delicious meals cooked by wilderness guides. 

Pausing for interpretation from our guide on the Walls of Jerusalem trek |  <i>Ashton Sayer</i>

Bruny Island Long Weekend - An exceptional long weekend of beach and rainforest walks, overnight accommodation in exclusive, luxury tented camps and delicious locally produced food and wine. 

Picnic lunch on Bruny Island Walk

Cradle Huts Overland – Leave the day trippers at Cradle Mountain behind as you continue on the spectacular Overland Track to Lake St Clair, in the heart of some of Tasmania’s most beautiful wilderness, enjoying the comforts of a private hut each evening. 

Enjoy a glass of wine after a day's trek along the Overland Track |  <i>Great Walks of Australia</i>

The Tarkine Rainforest Walk – Explore Australia’s last remaining cool temperate rainforests and the heart of the pristine Tarkine wilderness on a series of day walks.

Tasmania's pristine forests are a major draw card for many visitors |  <i>Peter Walton</i>

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