Trippin' Through Tassie

Tasmania is an incredible part of the world. To me it’s always been quite a mysterious part of a country I’ve grown up in. It’s a wild place with many faces. Cold, raw and rugged with some seriously dark history, yet pristine and tranquil beyond comparison. The clearest, freshest water I’ve ever seen was in the south of Tasmania.

Jasson Salisbury takes the highline on a right hand point break in Tasmania
Photo: Raphael Beazley

My family had never been before so we planned an epic tour from the South East up the East coast and across to the North West before cutting back down the middle to Hobart in 3 weeks. It was a good stretch of time to explore but nowhere near enough to experience all the gems this place has to offer. Coming straight from warm and cozy Byron and landing in Hobart was a shock, had to bust out the thermal underwear as soon as we hit the ground, frantically rugging up in front of locals wearing boardies and casually smoking cigarettes in the arctic breeze. Different breed down there.

View from a boat looking at Tasmania
Photo: Matt Rabbidge

First off, we hit Bruni Island for a couple of days. My neck had tweaked out, probably due to a combination of climate shock, carrying too much luggage and the stress of crashing the van, so I couldn’t surf, but I watched the other fellas surf a sick right in a bay filled with the most amount of red 'corn flake' seaweed I’ve ever seen! My buddy with long hair and a big beard looked like the predator/wookie post session and spent the next 5 days smelling like a salty animal carcass until he hand picked all the weed from his hair. I don’t know if it was worth it. After Bruni we made our way up the east coast, camping, surfing, eating. By this stage our convoy had expanded to 12 adults and 10 kids… obnoxiously large and most definitely very annoying to anyone outside of our group.

Jasson Salisbury and family and friends at a festival called Panama in Tasmania
Kurt Vile performing in Tasmania at a festival called Panama
Photos: Matt Rabbidge

We all convoyed up to A Festival Called Panama, which is in the bush about an hour out of Launceston. It originally started as a protest rally to combat the growing logging industry in the area. It then turned into a Circus fest before evolving into a music focused event. It still carries some of the charm from its previous lives giving it a really unique feel and good vibes. It’s not massive, but big enough to have a good buzz. The location is deep in the bush on a meandering section of cleared land surrounded by mountains and dense forest. They’ve got local craft beers on tap and food trucks serving wood fired pizza, tempura mushrooms, vegetarian curries, and other locally sourced deliciousness. Music was rad too!

Jasson Salisbury meandering through the Tasmanian forest
Photo: Raphael Beazley

After the festival, our large group split ways and we went west to meet my mates, Josh Keogh, who has been shaping the boards I’ve been riding, and Raph a photographer buddy from NZ. Josh had two new boards in the car for me. A 5’3” twin keel ‘Monad’ and a 5’4” experimental version, a bit longer and narrower than the Monad, like a step-up. For the next few days we surfed a slabby left-hander breaking over a thick kelp bed and a perfect sand bottom right point that peeled along the rocks at the base of a huge mountain.

Banks Journal Comrade Jasson Salisbury tubed on a left hander in Tasmania
Photo: Raphael Beazley

I was standing in my wetty watching Josh surf the point, by himself, when a tiger snake slithered right over my bare feet. I just froze and it disappeared into the grass completely unfazed. When I saw the guy who owned the property run for the car after seeing it, I knew it was a potentially deadly encounter. We found some big dead tiger snakes on the roads, so they were very much on our minds when we had to walk around in the grass. We aborted mission on a surf check that involved walking along a rarely used, overgrown 4wd track in the same area. After a 15 minute discussion about whether or not snake fangs could get venom through a 4/3mm steamer we were too spooked to test it. Probably would have been a lovely walk in nature leading to an epic surf, but we all felt creeped out by the track ahead and decided to listen to our collective intuition making the call to turn back and surf elsewhere. I hated the snakes at the time for getting in-between me and some potentially pumping surf, but it also made me respect the place even more, all adding to the mystery and sacredness of the region. Next time!

Jason Salisbury getting barreled in a speed blur surf photo in Tasmania
Photo: Raphael Beazley

The coolest thing about touring from east to west is the dramatic change in landscape. It’s another world on the West coast compared with the East. East is green and lush and the West is dry and earthy. Super wild in the west, low lying grasses and hardy shrubs, long straight roads with signs cautioning about Tasmanian devils crossing. Crazy lip splitting wind and raw open ocean smashing into the coast. It can go from 2ft to 20ft in hours with the wind (roaring 40s) pushing swell out of the deep ocean. This means you wait for it to settle down rather than pick up, the opposite of what I’m used to, living on the East coast of the mainland.

Jasson Salisbury walking back from a surf in Tasmania
Photo: Raphael Beazley

Dry and deserted in the bush on Tasmania's west coast
Photo: Matt Rabbidge

We surfed a decent swell for a few days until it got blown back out to sea by super strong offshore wind. The flat ocean gave us a good excuse to go check out the old growth forests in the area. There's a lot of logging in the area but also some of Tasmania’s largest temperate rainforests, large areas of protected world heritage national parks and state forests. Some bloody big old trees in those forests. The walks we took lead through pockets of varying vegetation. Vast forests of myrtle, leatherwood, blackwood and pine. Some of the big mumma trees in the rainforests were covered with moss and hundreds of varieties of epiphytes dangling from the branches. When you stand on the moss covered ground below and look up into the canopy it looks insane. Little fairy grotto, ewok tree village type stuff. Having my 3 year old leading the way added another layer of magic, seeing it through his eyes made it pretty special.

Jasson Salisbury foraging the local Tasmanian forest for edibles
Jasson Salisbury and son checking out the local point break in Tasmania
Photos: Raphael Beazley

We parted ways with Josh and Raph and headed through the central highlands. By this stage, the van that seemed excessive at the beginning had shrunk under the unrelenting force of two children and we longed for a space big enough to silence the madness that had soiled the camper. We hiked cradle mountain and camped in the clouds before heading back to the city for a culture fix. MONA, patisseries, delis and book stores. To top it all off, our friends invited us over for pizza, hot showers and wine… how all good adventures should end!

Looking through a natural arch out towards a surfer getting barreled in Tasmania
Photo: Matt Rabbidge

Jasson Salisbury looking out over the Tasmanian coastline at sunrise.
Photo: Raphael Beazley

You can follow all of Jasson 'Salsa' Salisbury's journeys on Instagram below:

Much thanks to the contributing photogs for keeping the snakes at bay and shooting some amazing images:

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