Piling into a campervan with her sister, Megan took on the 62km takayna Trail Run, which became a highlight of their road trip around Iutruwita / Tasmania.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Palawa people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Let’s Start In the Middle (said no runner ever)

As I plodded up the final hill of the 62km takayna Trail run, the only thing keeping me going was the thought of stopping. I could almost see the end, but my thighs had become bricks hours ago, and there was a weird pain in my hip – I just wanted to sit somewhere and not move for a while, perhaps ever.

Then I could hear cheering and see the finish line and its rows of welcoming chairs. I’m not usually a crier but I almost did, partly from gratitude for these lovely encouraging people, partly with exhaustion and relief.


This Destination Trail Run is the Perfect Excuse for a Road Trip, Megan Holbeck, Takayna, Tarkine Rainforest, Tasmania, takayna trail, trail runner, solo runner, running event,


Australian environmental legend Bob Brown (founder of the Greens, the Wilderness Society, and Bush Heritage Australia) was waiting to give me a hug – despite pushing 80, he’d been standing in the rain for hours – doling out hundreds of cuddles to sweaty strangers.

Then my twin sister Laura moved in for a congratulatory hug, giving me a seat, some soup, and her down jacket – even offering to take off my shoes. What a sister!

Running for the Rainforest

This was day three of our Tassie road trip – the day that involved running rather than frolicking – and the motivation for the whole adventure. The takayna Trail is an adventure run through the stunning takayna / Tarkine Rainforest in the north-west of the state, with 22km, 62km trail runs or a team relay event on offer.


It’s way more than a trail run; it’s an exercise in sports activism and a weekend of immersing yourself in an awesome, inclusive community.

Organised by the Bob Brown Foundation, every runner raises funds to protect takayna / the Tarkine Rainforest. This gives the event a real focus, especially as the campaign aims to save the very forests you run through.



This focus is intensified by the event setup: Race HQ is the Men’s Shed in the tiny town of Waratah, with delicious vegan feasts provided on Friday and Saturday nights, and most people camping outside.

It’s two days of running, eating, and absorbing the atmosphere of support, before leaving with new friends and a love of the natural world (takayna / the Tarkine in particular).

The 2023 event is happening next month, reserve your spot.

Read more: Sports Activism Is Gaining Traction, Here’s How You Can Move With It

Ok, Back to the Beginning (Road Trip Time!)

As well as the warm vibes of this particular event, destination trail runs provide great momentum for organising road trips. This was the second year Laura and I had hired a campervan to explore Tassie – turning the takayna Trail destination run into a mini holiday.

It’s easy with a hired campervan that has bedding and cooking gear provided – you can just pack a carry-on bag and hit the road. Which is exactly what we did, making it as far as Evansdale (ten minutes from Launceston Airport!) before stopping at the gorgeous Clarendon Arms for lunch.

Technically, cooking gear is included with the campervan, but we’d have eaten boring sandwiches instead of locally-sourced delights washed down with riesling, and campervans aren’t exactly known for their ambience.

Then we headed to Cradle Mountain – driving two hours through small towns and farmland, past forests, and mountains. We pushed past Liffey Falls, Mole Creek, and other intriguing signs to arrive at Cradle Mountain Discovery Park (just outside the national park) in time for a quick Enchanted Stroll – the name of the short track along the Pencil Pine River from Cradle Mountain Lodge – before dinner at the pub.



The next morning we unrolled from the campervan’s rather small double bed for a two-hour stroll past Lake Lilla. It was sunny and warm, perfect for displaying the area’s beauty. From Dove Lake’s sweet shingled boatshed to the buttongrass plains, and stunning mountains.

Next up on the itinerary was the trail run, followed by me limping around afterwards with the definitive knowledge that I was never going to run again.

After a night alternating between sleeping like I was dead, and not being able to sleep because every muscle hurt, we spent the morning milling in the sun with our new group of friends, before throwing everything in the van and heading to the town of Penguin for coffee and a slow, stiff walk along the beautiful beach.


Same Run, Different Road Trip

The previous year we’d chosen a different adventure by flying into Nipaluna /  Hobart rather than Launceston. This meant a lot more driving, but more choice of campervans and flights. I’ve now hired three campervans for trips, with the Apollo Hitop Ultra the most functional and comfortable.



This trip felt rather epic. According to Google maps, our loop taking in Mt Field, Lake St Clair, Queenstown, Waratah, and the Central Highlands should have taken 11 hours, but it probably took twice that – the roads are windy, there are animals everywhere, and we took it slow.

We also managed to cram a lot in: camping beside Mt Field National Park’s lovely Tyenna River; walking the gorgeous Three Falls Track and seeing glow worms; reflecting on Lake St Clair’s beauty before driving through the post-mining curiosity that is Queenstown; then gaining a feeling for takayna / Tarkine’s vast forests on our way to Waratah.

After the run, we drove back to Nipaluna / Hobart across the Central Highlands in the sleet, before running the tracks around Mt Wellington’s Organ Pipes, and a night celebrating in the city.

Both Tassie trips felt much more substantial than their time frame. Maybe it was the connections I formed – with my sister, new friends, and nature – along with the exercise, the captivating beauty of the environment or the excitement of new experiences.  Each time I arrived home, both exhausted and invigorated, I felt ready to get on with life, and eager to include more in it – more fun, more adventure, more new people, and places.

takayna / the Tarkine is Under Threat

This vast wilderness is the largest temperate rainforest in Australia, assessed as meeting seven of the ten criteria for eligibility to become a World Heritage Site. Areas only need to meet one criterion to be listed, with only two sites globally satisfying seven or more criteria. However, the vast majority of takayna / Tarkine is still open to mining and logging. The Bob Brown Foundation continues to campaign for its protection.


More Destination Trail Runs

There area bunch of other ‘destination trail runs’ that lend themselves to great road trips all over the country. Here are a few suggestions to inspire you: