In the top compartment of my backpack, secured by a zip, I had stored a permanent marker. The trail, starting 80 kilometres (ca. 50 miles) from Hobart, wasn’t reachable by bus during the holidays. And so we did what we did years before when we wanted to explore Italy on a budget; we hitch-hiked.

In the grocery store, on our quest to buy some instant coffee, I had ripped apart a cardboard box that packed 60 cans of beans in tomato sauce. ( or “to-mah-toe”, as they say). An hour later I sat there, on the side of the road, on my knees in my unflattering clear jeans and gray shirt, writing our destination in big black capitals. ‘EAGLEHAWK NECK’ adding a little smiley face as to seem friendly to the passers-by.

We absolutely had nothing planned out. Except for the trail, of course. We were equipped with a brand new pair of hiking boots each. (Which husband failed to walk in when we were back on the continent.) And two big-ass backpacks with some clothes, a tent, two sleeping mats, a deck of cards, food, and a tiny burner.

We didn’t have to wait too long to get the first lift that took us out of Hobart. A nice lady coming from a family Christmas celebration driving back home, but it was our last driver that made for an interesting anecdote:

A man of a certain age in a white pick-up truck, unshaven and probably unwashed. He lit cigarette after cigarette while conversing with us about the trail we were planning to hike. “I am not too far from Eaglehawk Neck, but it’s at least another 40-minute walk from where I am going.” He mumbled from underneath his moustache. “And you are probably not going to find another ride.” He paused as Fabrice and I looked at each other, searching each other’s expressions for a reply to his information. “Nobody really lives there. You’re at the end of the world here, you know that?”

“Well, that’s exactly why we are here.”

“You young people…” He uttered. We tried to reassure him that it wouldn’t be a problem to walk forty minutes to get to our destination, as that would be all we were going to do for the next week anyway. But he wasn’t convinced and had a far more interesting offer for us.

“You see that old cabinet in the back of the truck?” Making a movement with his arm and gesturing to the piece of furniture with his thumb. “I’ll have trouble unloading that thing by myself, it took two of us to get it in there.. I doubt that I can manage by myself when I get home. If you two help me unload that thing into my garage, I’ll bring you to the start of the trail. What do you say?” And so, without so much as thinking about it, we accepted.

Anyway, no scary murder stories here, everything went just fine. After he drove the truck up this little dirt road leading up to his home and we helped him with the antique cabinet, he drove us to the start of the trail and wished us good luck.

“Don’t die out there, kids.”


By the time we got there it was starting to get frisky and we got pretty hungry. So it was at the start of our hike, in a place called “Devil’s Kitchen”, that we decided to cook our first meal. It was still accessible by car, so you could expect there to be a few tourists lurking around. But there weren’t. 

At the end of a little sandstone path, we stood on a platform surrounded by iron fences high enough to reach my shoulders. Over and through the fences, we could see the first dramatic view of our trip. We were standing on the top of a rock formation in the shape of a large U, on the top formed a forest, and some trees grew on the side of the cliff, holding on for dear life. All the way down-the rock arose from the dark blue swirling water. There was nothing romantic about this landscape, it was melancholic, mocking. The sky was grey and cold, and howling sounds suggested all the lives lost on sinking ships. Still, I couldn’t help smiling. This is it. This is where it begins.

Right there in the middle of Devil’s Kitchen, we set up our own little fire; a small hiker’s burner with a blue pan where we cooked a handful of rice, which we mixed with some white beans in tomato sauce from a can. A real campers’ meal. The first of many, or so we thought.

The next morning we woke at sunrise in a place called Waterfall Bay. I knew this from a hiking map I carried with me. There was nothing left of the high fences. We left those far behind. Since then, it was only nature. Our ridiculously amateurish tent which we bought at a K-mart – and the cheapest, smallest version at that - was pitched on the top of a cliff. Just a safe enough distance from the edge to sleep without worry. Close enough to sit speechless when opening up the tent in the morning. 

The sunrise was without colour, but the gray turned slowly into a palish blue. The rugged shoreline was rid of any humans or their cultural and artistic traces, it was hard to imagine anyone else ever being there.

It was as if we were the only ones ever, sipping our instant cappuccino in the cold morning dew. 

I could have sat there all day, observing the waves, and the birds, watching the light change as the sun moved around from east to west. But we had a trail to walk and days to go. 


I didn’t think I could go any further. I wanted to stop right there and then. The densely wooded trail just kept going up and up. I had way too much weight on my back, and my legs started to tremble with every step I took. It was only our first real day of hiking. What was I thinking? My legs couldn’t support the weight of my body and my pack any more. My muscles started to burn up. I really wanted to sit down, stop. 

But I couldn’t. I didn’t have a choice. There is but one way to go, and that way is up.

We wanted to take our time, only hiking as far as we could go every day. There was no rush. Except for the fact that some freshwater access points, from my hiking map, were dried up. We had filled up our water containers only a few kilometres from where we slept that morning. It was the first waterfall we came across, and even though it was just a little one, I felt like quite the flower child, filling my bottle and sipping on the gift of Mother Nature. Every other source after that was either gone or dry. So there was only one thing we could do: Hike nineteen K that first day to the first camping ground. About six down and thirteen more to go…

Oh! The solace I found when I crumbled to the ground and lay there with my back against the warm stone, breathing heavily -in and out. Tears in my eyes from relief. I made it. I let the sun warm up my skin as it had done the stone. Once I came back to my senses I could finally appreciate the backdrop of my victory: Skies as far as I could see. There was no more “up” left. Looking down I could see that deep blue water, that was, viewed from this distance, quiet as a lake. “Come on, hun. We don’t have too much time to sit around. If we go now, we can take another break in a while.” I knew he was right, we didn’t have time to lose. And the thought of a snack break got me motivated to get up. (Those who know me, know that food can motivate me to do almost anything.) I placed a small pebble on top of a stack of rocks that were made by those who came before us and took a few seconds to breathe.

Once we had reached the top, the hiking became a lot easier. It felt like I was floating, not having to lift myself up with every step. The trail was going slightly downward, the shrubbery made a natural archway for us to march through. Almost effortlessly, we arrived at a clearing, giving way to a heart-stopping view. The wind rose, and due to exhaustion, I felt like I had to hold on tightly to the boulder that stood there, sturdy, on the edge of the void. I could imagine myself plummeting to my death. Drifting away to the Arctic. “Let’s go,” I announced steadfastly. I didn’t want to go anywhere near the Arctic. I wanted to finish the day, and sleep.

Eight kilometres and two-and-a-half hours later, the sky had turned to a pale orange, and we finally arrived at a beach. A beach with a camping ground: Two showers, a toilet, and a reception desk. 

The few Tasmanian families that were on site, with their big jeeps, pick-up trucks, and roll-away barbecues, seemed to have seen us coming from miles away. We must have looked like aliens with our big packs storing that tiny green tent. “Excuse me?” I asked a friendly-looking lady that was reading in front of her camper, but who was observing us from the corner of her eye. “I am looking for the reception desk.” The lady had long dark hair that she had tied together on the top of her head.

“Oh sweetheart,” she said. “The office is closed this time of day and the camping ground is booked solid.”