Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tasmania: A snowy Mt. Wellington sunrise.

In November, when the rest of Australia is usually well into the mid-late 20s, Tasmania still remains quite cold. Martin's brother messaged us two days before we were due to leave, to let us know that as Hobart wouldn't be warmer than 12ÂșC, we could expect snow atop Mt. Wellington. We would be leaving for Canada and its beautiful white winter 4-5 weeks later, but we couldn't help it: we had to see it.

After reluctantly leaving the warm comfort of our sheets, we put on three layers of clothes and left at around 4:45am for our Mt. Wellington sunrise. The drive was dark and the roads were winding, but as we got higher, there it was, sure as day—freshly falling snow and lots of it. At first we thought it was just rain, but we realised it made no sound as it fell onto the windscreen, the soft bodies of each snowflake melting away the moment it hit the glass. Before long, the road began to change, the entire surface covered in white that hadn't yet been marked by tyres. We would be the first up here this morning.

Totally excited now, we kept driving. The wind got stronger and stronger. We arrived at The Pinnacle and noticed there was another car there—but it didn't look like it had been moved for hours. As we opened the car door we were rudely awakened by the sheer force of the wind. Any loose snow on the ground was blown around our feet, making it look as if white mist was rising from the ground and swept over the mountain's edge. Clearly we were in some kind of snowstorm, and until it passed and this big white cloud moved away from the mountain, we wouldn't be seeing the sun. Nevertheless—this was a stark contrast to our first trip up Mt. Wellington.

The one thing we didn't have on this trip was gloves (because who knew we'd need it in an Australian spring?). Our fingers froze within moments of getting out of the car. I could tell my nose-hairs had frozen together, too. After some moments outside, totally frozen but incredibly giddy, we sat back in the car to defrost. Another car arrived, and another couple—dressed in hoodies and shorts, no less—got out, clearly doing the same thing we were. The sun started showing its beautiful, yellow face, casting purple and orange hues across the clouds we were so close to. We got back out and braved the cold, walking well away from the car in earnest towards the observation decks. Making it to the doors of the observation shelter (which would be locked until 8:30am), we hid from the wind cutting into our bare faces and fingers. I got to know the true meaning of feeling cold down to my bones—every bone in my fingers screamed at me, so I kept them as warm and as hidden as I could in between photos.

The other couple, who had already ventured out towards the boardwalks, ran past us back to their car. As we exchanged shivering glances, still huddled at the doors of the shelter, the man said, ”fuck, it's cold”. We laughed—couldn't argue with that, although choosing shorts for that morning was perhaps one of his poorer life decisions.

Mustering our courage, we walked swiftly to the boardwalks, totally exposed to the elements. As the clouds cleared, we saw the moon, distant and high in the sky, fading as it bid us goodbye for the day. We looked down on Hobart, still sleeping at the bottom of the valley. The sun lit the clouds before us on fire. We stayed for as long as we could to savour this moment, knowing we would have to go back to the car soon, for the sake of our extremities. Yes—this was a sunrise worth getting up early (and practically freezing over) for.

1 comment:

  1. I feel like I can feel the cold myself through your photos. Martin's hands look frozen on the wheel!

    Another beautiful series of images as always :) I've enjoyed reading every post.