Being a South Island boy, with an embarrassing excess of world-class scenery on my doorstep, I was a doubting Thomas at the excitable reviews I had come across about Tasmania's "awe-inspiring natural beauty". Could its coastlinesand mountain wilderness really set my heart aflutter?
Shame on me for being of so little faith. Because, as I soon discovered, nature has endowed Tasmania with some unforgettable scenery.
Heading out of Launceston, follow the signs to the Great Western Tiers, a chain of rugged mountains, limestone caves and historic farming communities. You will pass through quaintly named villages such as Mole Creek, Chudleigh and Deloraine, home to roadside inns, coach houses, churches and stately heritage homes.
Continue west to Tasmania's World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair National Park, a wilderness region that boasts ancient rainforests, Tasmania's most famous walk, the Overland Track, and the state's landmark, Cradle Mountain, shaped like the sliver of a new moon.
My lightning-fast trip to the national park precluded me from undertaking the Overland Track, a 65km blockbuster that takes six days to complete.
On a shorter trip, spend a night or two at the Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge in the national park. This bush-clad property, comprising the main mountain lodge and a smattering of luxurious cabins, blends harmoniously with the wild beauty. From the moment of entering my elegant cabin, complete with log fire, I could feel the stress of a day's driving melt away.
The lodge offers a range of dining options, whether it be the premier cuisine experience in the Highland Restaurant, or a more informal, laidback pub meal in the cheerful Tavern Bar & Bistro. Whatever your fitness level, the lodge is bracketed by beautiful walking trails. They also offer a complimentary guided walk, the Enchanted Stroll, a fabulous introduction to the vegetation and wildlife.
In fact, at dusk, the property was teeming with binge-feeding wombats.
But the piece de resistance is the Dove Lake Circuit Walk. The three-hour walk, graded easy, wends its way through the rainforest to Dove Lake. Situated at the base of Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake acts like a giant reflecting pool. Heaven. For more information, see www.peppers.com.au/cradle-mountain-lodge/