Road Trip Tasmania

Touring the island of sheep in a campervan

Road Trip Tasmania

Touring the island of sheep in a campervan

Hendrik sits exhausted in a cave, his arms wrapped around his mud-covered legs. He gazes straight into the daunting Tasmanian darkness. Next to him: Photographer Franz Walter. His posture and expression the same. Silence.
For several hours they had fought through exhausting undergrowth, jungle branches, leeches and an ever-thickening mist – far from civilization, in the middle of the harsh Tasmanian wilderness. 

They were checking out the location for a photo shoot and figuring out climbing tours. ORTOVOX graphic designer Sebastian and film maker Markus wanted to join them a short time later.
But now, hours later, Hendrik and Franz are sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a cave. No food, no phone signal. Only the sound of dripping water and unknown animal noises disturb the silence of the night. There is no sign of Sebastian and Markus.

  • A JOURNEY TO THE ORIGIN

A JOURNEY TO THE ORIGIN

An invitation from Tasmanian merino wool farmers

Five weeks earlier, ORTOVOX marketing boss Hendrik had called Sebastian to his office. “Wastl, do you fancy going to Tasmania?” With a wide grin and a spark in his eyes, Hendrik told him about the invitation from ORTOVOX’s merino wool partner in Australia. They would get to know the farmers and their working conditions, see the animals in their natural, wide-ranging environment, and above all: See for themselves the unique beauty of Tasmania.
A short time later, Hendrik, PR manager Martina and graphic designer Sebastian were sitting with photographer Franz and drone operator Markus at the airport. The plan: A nearly two-week road trip through the land of the Tasmanian devil. From visits to the Montecute, Rothamy, Lewisham and Ashby sheep farms, to a photo shoot and climbing in the most beautiful parts of the Tasmanian wilderness.
The five-person crew set off for an unknown country, which has more sheep than people, fully laden with camera equipment, climbing gear and a great sense of anticipation. 

THE ORIGINAL CONVICT ISLAND

An island at the end of the earth that could not be more diverse

At around 70,000km², Tasmania is the largest Australian island and is in the south east of the continent, some 240 kilometers from the Australian mainland. The island, which has a surface area roughly the size of the Republic of Ireland, was formerly an island for convicts. Then it became a country whose resources were recklessly exploited: The wood industry, mining and the damming of rivers were important sources of revenue. Thanks to vehement protests and the fight for Tasmania’s virgin forests, today around a quarter of the country is under protection. The western part in particular is under conservation: The Tasmanian Wilderness UNESCO World Heritage Area can be found here. The Tasmanian landscape is defined by contrasts: From tropical rainforests and eucalyptus forests, wide grass plains and endless sandy beaches, to wild mountain formations, the island offers near limitless diversity.
Roadtrip Map

SHEEP, MAN AND SOLITUDE: THE ROAD TRIP BEGINS

The farmland is perfect for sheep
Tasmanian landscape Tasmanian farmer

After over 26 hours in the air, the ORTOVOX team lands in Hobart, the Tasmanian capital. Almost half of the around 500,000 inhabitants of the island live here. The small city at the mouth of the Derwent river in the south of Tasmania is characterized by Victorian buildings around the fjord-like port and is strongly reminiscent of the colonial era.
Suffering slightly from exhaustion and having picked up the huge, luxurious camper van, the five-person team can begin their road trip: At the Montecute farm, the two farmers Richard and James – the fifth generation to manage the farm – welcome the crew. Over 25,000 merino sheep live on over 8,000 hectares of land. An impressive expanse and unlimited freedom are not just for the benefit of the animals. The rules of life here are determined by nature. The day begins with the first rays of sun and ends with the last.
From the sheep herds, the sheds, and living together, to the motocross tour and a shared evening meal: The ORTOVOX crew are not treated as guests, but rather spend their time on the farm as members of the family.
Two days, one drone collision with a tree, and a hole in the campervan roof later, the journey continues: The Rothamy, Lewisham and Ashby farms are next on the list. At each of the farms, Martina, Hendrik, Sebastian, Franz and Markus experience the friendliness of the people, the coexistence of man and animal, and the feeling of contentment.

The reason why the merino sheep are happiest in Tasmania – and therefore produce the best wool – is down to the diverse landscape and the climate. From snow-capped mountains and moors through to luscious heath, Tasmania offers the perfect environment for a diverse range of the most unusual animal and plant species. The eastern part of the island is perfect for the sheep: Protein-rich sources of food and moderate temperatures.

CLIMBING SPOTS

A broken water tank, a hole in the roof: It’s still unclear to this day which ORTOVOX employee was responsible for what. But Hendrik, Martina, Sebastian, Franz and Markus didn’t let that hold them back: After five days in comfortable surroundings, the longing for rugged rocks and wild climbing tours is great.
Totem pole – that’s probably the first expression that comes to mind when (non-)climbers think of Tasmania. A giant rock needle that shoots straight up out of the sea. But Tasmania has a lot more 

to offer than just this: From deserted alpine climbing tours by black lakes, endless cliffs right by the sea, through to well-drilled granite climbing tours on red rock.

Climbers Hendrik and Sebastian quickly agree: The road trip should start with an excursion to Ben Lomond in the north east of Tasmania. Then westward to the Tyndall Range, before ending with a short stop in Bare Rock. 

  • Ben Lomond

    BEN LOMOND

    The climbing range Ben Lomond is in a national park, which is roughly 200km2 in size. The massif is noteworthy for its bizarre rock formations and its rust-red dolerite. Dolerite is a subvolcanic rock and harder than granite. The climbing range is about three or four hours from Hobart and is one of the best alpine and trad climbing ranges in Tasmania. The area is well known for crack climbing routes in particular – so don’t forget your friends!

    The best time for climbing: December to March.

  • Tyndall Range

    TYNDALL RANGE

    The Tyndall Range is in the west of Tasmania and is characterized by a multitude of impressive glacial lakes. The rock is conglomerate: a coarse type of rock. Round, smoothed stones transported by rivers form powerful gravel deposits that are then pressed together by other layers. The pressure causes the formation of rocky conglomerates which, as in the case of the Tyndall Range, provide excellent climbing. The 300-meter tours of the Tyndall Range can be reached from Hobart within four hours. What’s special about this range are the lonely, remote and exposed climbing tours high above the lakes.

    The best time for climbing: December to March.

  • Bare Rock

    BARE ROCK

    Bare Rock is a 200-meter, black and orange rock face around three kilometers south of Fingal. In the last few years the range has come to be very popular among climbers. There are very steep, overhanging climbs here. Along with countless sport climbing routes, Bare Rock also offers traditional multi-rope routes. The dolerite stone is also of the highest quality. The range can be reached from Hobart within two to three hours.

    The best time for climbing: February to July (closed in spring). 

In the middle of nowhere

Climbing Tyndall Mountain

After arriving in Ben Lomond, Hendrik, Sebastian, Franz and Markus stand at the foot of rust-red dolerite stone walls up to 200 meters high. The endless hand and finger cracks are strung together, rising menacingly into the sky. It’s no surprise that Ben Lomond in the north east of Tasmania is one of the first-rate crack climbing ranges out there. Hendrik and Sebastian look at the first route in awe and respect. “Start steady,” says Sebastian. Hendrik nods. An approach that proves to be a good decision, given the demanding tours and ever-worsening weather that are to follow.

On the second day Hendrik, Sebastian, Martina, photographer Franz and film maker Markus explore the area. Here in the east of Tasmania the landscape is a little smoother, the climate milder. In the west, on the other hand, the rocks are wilder, nature rougher, and locations more sparsely populated.

It takes them over seven hours to drive to the second spot, the Tyndall Range. Past locations like Interlaken and Flintstone, the Little Pine Lagoon and Lake King William, through an ever-denser jungle, into the former center of the Tasmanian mining industry. The streets are empty, the houses deserted. It’s the end of the world. Rock landscapes, lichen, dwarf shrubs and

Climbing Ben Lomond

ruderal plants dominate the area around the Tyndall Range. In the early evening, the ORTOVOX crew arrive in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere. Hendrik and Franz want to check out the location and wait in a cave. A cozy bivouac with wine and pasta. Sebastian and Markus will follow on later. Well, that’s the idea.

Two hours later and it’s already getting dark as Hendrik and Franz take a quick rest. 10, maybe even 20 leeches have bitten into their legs. They keep fighting through the jungle. Every step is harder and the darkness is menacing. As they arrive at their bivouac spot – an uncomfortable, cold, dripping cave – the light drizzle turns to showers.

Two hours later, Hendrik and Franz sit huddled together in the cave. No sign of Sebastian and Markus, who have the gas cooker and wine in their backpacks. After trying light signals, shouting and searching, Hendrik and Franz give up – the other two have probably found somewhere else to shelter from the rain. Exhausted, the two of them fall asleep.

As the first rays of sun reach the cave, Sebastian and Markus are suddenly standing there: Covered in mud, tired and

On the top of Ben Lomond

exhausted. They couldn’t find the cave in the darkness and set up an emergency bivouac. There’s no time to relax: The sun is rising and the rock is calling.

They arrive at the cliffs, where a 300-meter rock face extends beneath them in front of an almost pitch-black lake. The climbing routes are airy, exposed and on the best conglomerate rock. “How Hard Can It Be?” is a 165-meter, seven to eight-grade climbing route that Hendrik and Sebastian want to climb. They abseil down, Franz gets in position to take photos, and Markus gets the drone ready.
The location seems surreal: Hendrik and Sebastian climb 300 meters above a dark-green, near-black lake – surrounded by the best, most solid rock and endless jungle. They each enjoy every maneuver, every movement, and every look down. They climb in the seclusion of Tasmania. No rope team in front of them, none behind them. The climbing bolts are the only clue that someone must have been here before them.

After the climbing tour they sit on the brink of a rock outcrop and look silently into the distance. The sunset, the view and the solitude of the Tasmanian wilderness: No words are needed here. 

GOODBYE TASMANIA!

And see you again

After a short visit to Bare Rock, the five of them reach the end of their Tasmanian road trip. An unforgettable journey full of new acquaintances, experiences and indescribable events. The ORTOVOX crew don’t know when they’ll next come to Tasmania – they only know one thing: They’d come back again and again!