The Over-Under of Tasmanian Tourist Fun!

After hearing about the sad plight of the Tassie Devils at the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo and learning about the cruel history of the Separate Prison at Port Arthur, it was time to have some fun! Today I’ll take my Coasie friends up in the air at the Tahune AirWalk, and then underground at the Newdegate Cave!

The Tahune AirWalk is, without a doubt, designed for people without a fear of heights. The point of the attraction is to get you up in the air at treetop level so you can see the forest from a different perspective – just in case hiking in the beautiful forests of Tasmania is getting a little too boring for you!

The AirWalk averages heights between 20 and 30 meters (65 and 98 feet), taking you high above the forest floor on a series of walkways that totals 597 meters (1958 feet) of steel structure – 120 tonnes (132 tons) of it in all. The very end, where this image was taken, is a whopping 48 meters (157 feet) above the river!

The Huon River, Tasmania, Australia

The Huon River flows gently through the Tahune Forest Reserve, in Tasmania, Australia.

The river looks so peaceful down there, doesn’t it? Well, it should. Tahune is aboriginal and means “peaceful place by running water”.

Did I mention that the AirWalk is cantilevered? No? Well, that means, essentially, that it’s hanging out in thin air! Swinging in the breeze! Bouncing all over the place! OK, it’s not that bad, but again, if you were afraid of heights, you probably wouldn’t be here.

Take a look at what it looks like from above. See that support post at the bottom of the image? That’s the last support under you as you walk out over the river. There’s nothing holding you up from below – only those cables attached to the post behind you – quite a ways behind you, you’re thinking as you stand out on the end, bobbing and weaving!

Aerial photo of cantilevered platform over the Huon River, at the Tahune AirWalk, Tasmania, Australia – Courtesy of Tahune AirWalk

Worried about it blowing over? Well, don’t be – it was built to withstand 180km/h (112 mph) winds. That’s what it says in the specs, anyway. And engineers never lie, right?

Tahune AirWalk Friends, Tasmania, Australia

My mostly “Coastie” friends with me at the Tahune AirWalk, in Tasmania, Australia.

The Tasmanians are serious about their trails. They always let you know what you’re getting into before you leave the trailhead in the way of warning signs. Here’s my group du jour posing by the warning signs for the AirWalk. I’m on the right, my friend Kara is next to me, and the rest of the group – well, I don’t have permission to use their names, but they sure look cool, don’t they?

After the AirWalk, we had just enough time to rush down to the Hastings Cave State Reserve, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in southern Tasmania. There we snagged tickets for the last tour of the day into Newdegate Cave. Named for Sir Francis Newdegate, the Governor of Tasmania from 1917-1920, it’s the largest dolomite tourist cave in Australia. Dolomite is a calcium magnesium carbonate with a chemical composition of CaMg(CO3)2 that – ha ha, just kidding! I know you don’t care – let’s go tour the cave!

Newdegate Cave Features, Tasmania, Australia

The richly decorated chambers of Newdegate Cave began forming tens of millions of years ago, in Hastings Cave State Reserve, Tasmania, Australia.

Tripods are not allowed in the cave unless you know somebody, and I didn’t, so just when I needed camera stability the most in the very dark cave, I had to hand-hold. Such is life for the photographer. So difficult. 馃檪

Anyway, suffice it to say the cave was pretty and the guide was entertaining. And the best part – we didn’t lose anyone down there!

So, at the end of the day, everybody seemed to have had a good time, and we headed back to Hobart, the crew in the back snoozing comfortably in my rented Kia hamster-hauler. Oh, and there might or might not have been one more stop to play a few games of pool on the way back to the ship. These guys were about to embark on a long voyage south, so I was happy to help them get out and have a good time before they left. Only one more day of fun was left before the big trip!

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