Jason set out on an ambitious 600km trek across Tasmania a few months ago and, spoiler alert, it was a raging success. He’s shared some of the key things he learned on the adventure.
Oh, hi! I’m Jason Reeve – you might remember me from other hit treks such as Hiking the Great North Walk and Hiking Taree to Newcastle. You might also remember that I’m a bit nuts, and a sucker for punishment.
Well, I’m back again to share with you my little meander across the Apple Isle – Tasmania.
This little spot of writing isn’t going to be nearly enough space to share everything I experienced on the trek, so what I’ll do is distill it down to a few real takeaways from the experience and if you find yourself reading to the end and wanting more – then we’ll see what I can do.
1. What seemed like madness wasn’t, it worked!
Back in May of this year, I wrote a short article as I was preparing to set off on the mammoth journey that was the Tasmanian Traverse. This solo endeavour was set to be over double any distance I’d covered in previous hikes, in a location I hadn’t hiked before, and in winter – add all that to the fact that I was I was a slightly ‘chonkier’ version of myself, which essentially means a pre-trek training regime was non-existent.
So, setting off to solo trek the 600km route was, in the words of many – mad.
Read more: 5 Things I Learnt Preparing For A 600km Hike
But training aside, what I absolutely didn’t skip was planning and gear. For a year, bit by bit, I pieced together this adventure with meticulous detail. Every day was a carefully planned battle; breakfast was X or to be had at Y, lunch would be this and dinner, well I’d need to be there by 6pm – any later and I’d miss out.
The expression ‘the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry’ is often at play out on the track. For all the planning, things still go sideways out in the expansive wilderness (where you can certainly feel as small as a mouse). So for all the Excel planning goodness, I was ready to adjust my plans where necessary – and necessary it was, on more than one occasion.
But ultimately, all that planning paid off – to the point where walking 600km wasn’t just achievable – but weirdly not enough. I felt like a marathon runner just leaving the starting blocks and calling it a day. I put it down to a rhythmic pace and utter appreciation for the opportunity to enjoy such freedom and adventure.
2. ‘The early bird gets the worm’ – but the observant bird gets the hot chip!
Yeah I know – that’s an odd title. But bear with me here because it (poorly) represents a profound feeling that hit me during this trek.
I’d just crossed through Hobart and maybe it was the elation of hitting civilisation again (or maybe it was the huge sugar hit from the delicious Daci & Daci lemon meringue tart I shoved in my face while sitting back and enjoying the Hobart Harbour views), but I found myself reflecting on life. But more specifically, the way we spend our time and the way we limit ourselves with ‘reasons’.
Maybe you’ll claim I’m mad based on these events that I do – but I don’t consider myself super fit or special athletically in any way, shape or form. Don’t believe me? I tackled my first marathon about a month before Tassie. Yep, 42km of joy in the very not flat region of Mount Buffalo in Victoria. How did I do? I don’t recall precisely (most likely because I’d rather not) but suffice to say if there were 100 runners, I’d have been around the 85th to cross the line.
My point is that when I think about why I’m able to tackle treks like this, it isn’t because I’m uniquely physically capable. Instead, it’s because I have a lifestyle and a work/life balance that allows it. I owe a lot to my work and the flexibility it provides – but at the same time, the work can be very demanding and requires attention like any other role.
My point here is this; if you’re reading articles like this and daydreaming, wishing and promising yourself that you’ll do it one day – don’t wait too long. If your current lifestyle and work doesn’t allow you to achieve or experience the things you want, then please make a change – even if it’s the first small step of many. Be observant, look for opportunities to steer yourself towards a life that enables you.
As for the fitness part, I’m probably not the best person to give insights on that…
3. I should’ve carried a peg…
I know my last point was a bit #inspo, so let me plummet us all back down to earth for a sec.
The roadkill. Holy wow – there was so much roadkill – such bad smell.
I get it, it happens. Sometimes critters run out and it’s lights out.
But there’s two things I want to share here; the first being a little rage at the apparent total lack of effort from many drivers to drive with care. During the trek I spent many hours walking on roadsides, past corpses, after carcasses, after mystery meat, after unrecognisable mush, and each time I got a little more irate, because you could almost guarantee that soon after, some mighty big 4WD would come rocketing around a corner or roaring through a blind bend without even slowing a micro-mini-bit.
I soon found myself mumbling and cursing under my breath each time one of these death trucks screamed past.
So please, anyone, anywhere, in any vehicle – please, especially at night, take care on the roads and remember that even though you’re on a road – we share this space.
Secondly and on a happier note – as I entered Cradle Mountain National Park, I was puzzled by these seemingly random ‘ringing’ sounds from the side of the road. Eventually I realised what was going on – along the road in Cradle Mountain National Park they’re trialing a ‘virtual fence’. It’s a series of alarm units posted 50m apart that are triggered by headlights to warn animals that a vehicle is approaching – brilliant!
So despite the incalculable tally I witnessed during my walk, it’s reassuring to know that a solution is in the works – it can’t come quick enough.
4. Ok, ok, I’ll say it – Tasmania is beautiful!
But for realsies. I don’t just mean Cradle Mountain, or the Three Capes (but damn, they are stunning), I mean the towns, the roadsides, the dirt tracks – all of it.
I really didn’t know how well this route was going to go. I knew so much of it was along the roadside and nothing about that promised beauty. However, I found myself pleasantly surprised by a myriad of scenic views that offered a rather unique walking experience. You could spend a lifetime walking the trails of Tasmania and not see the sights I saw and equally, you could drive those roads daily and miss the detail that walking provides.
I’ve already mentioned the roadkill – that’s not the ‘detail’ I want to talk about here. Instead, the micro waterfalls, the tiny plants and mushrooms, the lizards and insects, the police pulling over to ask if I was ‘OK’ on more than one occasion and even the weird and wonderful discarded roadside objects, all made for a unique experience that caused me to miss a turn more than once.
Looking up from that little world around my feet I’d have deep green forests, yellow pastures or a small township around me. Looking further still and I’d see the beautiful mountains framed by the blue sky – or grey if I was unlucky (time to get out the raincoat).
I always enjoy my treks – no matter where they are. There’s plenty to appreciate but yes, Tassie is definitely up there for its beauty.
5. People Suck, At Sucking!
The truth is, people absolutely don’t suck!
In fact, I found myself floored again and again at the generosity and kindness of people supporting the event.
I’ll start with the dozen sponsors that backed the hike and provided prizes for the fundraising. It’s no small thing for a business to provide stock freely in support of an event, especially one organised by a ‘nobody’ like me! To have not just one, or two, but twelve very generous sponsors totally blew me away.
But those prizes would be pointless if it weren’t for the hundreds of people who made donations towards the three charities that the event sought to raise funds for; Beyond Blue, Wires Wildlife Rescue, and NSW Rural Fire Service. The overwhelming majority of donors were people I’ve never met and maybe never will, yet whether it was in support of me or simply an excuse to do some good and donate, they selflessly provided their own money in one of the most uncertain financial periods in our current history – unreal.
So if people suck, what they suck at is sucking.
6. I Need More
I’m not done. Not by a long shot.
As I write this, my region is in week nine of lockdown – with no immediate end in sight. Maybe five, six or seven weeks and we’ll get to leave the house for more than just groceries or emergencies. Rest assured, when that happens, I’ll be hitting the outdoors again and in time, I’ll tackle my next trek.
I’ve learned that nothing is wholly new – every walk has been walked in some fashion, at some point, by someone. Every view has been photographed and every secret spot has been shared.
But that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t make something your own – put your own spin on it. I mention it every time I put keystrokes to digital paper… Hike your own hike. Do something that will make you proud, make you smile, and give you a cool story to tell.
But, Before I Go
I really didn’t share too much of the actual trek with you. That was deliberate – there’s too much to share in any one format. Even a video can only show a small moment in a single dimension.
That being said, you should totally check out the videos! I’ve released two so far, which covers up to the end of The Overland Track – at which point I’d covered about 180km in four days.
You can find the first episode below.
Enjoy the Tasmanian Traverse! I’ll be here, in lockdown, planning, planning, planning.