Tasmania is expansive and magnificent yet sometimes daunting. As I stood atop the state’s peaks and battered west coastline, I sensed that I was almost at the end of the earth.
To a certain extent this is true. Indeed, it’s possible that the island’s remote location provides an easy explanation for its emptiness. Despite being discovered and named by Abel Tasman before the mainland, today it’s only home to roughly 2% of Australia’s population.
Tasmania’s past has also been blighted by the settlement of penal colonies where life was harsh. Sites such as Sarah Island and Port Arthur are a constant reminder that hundreds of convicts arrived in the early nineteenth century, to camps that were completely cut off from society.
Of course, there are also untold benefits of this low population. Roads are few and far between, lush countryside abounds and nature has almost been left to its own devices. In spite of controversial attempts in recent years to develop protected rainforest and use the beloved Huon pine for commercial gain, Tassie’s raw beauty is yet to be destroyed.