The Trip, Day 72: Australia (including Tasmania)

Alberto with a fine barramundi from the Hinchinbrook Channel.

Alberto Rey is a longtime Upstate New York steelhead guide, 2021 Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year, and a Distinguished Professor for Research and Creative Activity at the State University of New York at Fredonia. He and his wife have embarked on a round-the-world trip, and they have generously agreed to share occasional updates from their travels.

It is difficult to encapsulate my thoughts about our travel in Australia because of our many experiences during our 18 days in Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns and Hobart (Tasmania). I have tried to write daily summaries on Instagram and Facebook to document the trip more fully. These entries for the Orvis blog provide a more reflective overview of specific locations, videos and  artwork created. 

Monday 29, 2024 – 12:23pm – Bay Village Tropical Retreat, Cairns, Australia – yesterday we went to the Great Barrier Reef, today we go to Atherton Tablelands and tomorrow we go fly fishing at Hinchinbrook Channel / Johnston River. Then we fly to Singapore. Then Japan and Europe. 

We have always tried to balance our days between the cities and the countryside. Although every city is unique in what it offers to the visitor, to experience the true character of a region, we’ve found that we need to explore its natural environment. It is as enlightening, if not more so, to explore the coastline, the rainforest, the reefs and rivers as it is to experience the museums, opera houses, historical landmarks, and restaurants. Fly fishing becomes an integral way to connect with these environments. The more time you spend on the water, the more likely you will be to bond with the environment and increase your odds of having memorable experiences. Hiring a fly-fishing guide can be a critical step toward experiencing the hidden treasures and subtleties that each river possesses. Because we had limited time in each location and wanted to take full advantage of our trip, we always hired guides (when available) and have never been disappointed with that decision. 

A lovely Tasmanian brown trout.

 There is a tendency to believe that since you’ve traveled thousands of miles, you should catch a fish relative to the size of your travel effort. The reality I have experienced is that not all streams hold trophy-sized fish and even if they do, there is no guarantee that you will catch one due to countless reasons, most of which might be out of your control. Luckily, each river possesses its own beauty and uniqueness that makes it unlike any other stream you may have fished before. I have always found it important to travel and fish with high hopes and low expectations. 

In Tasmania, our guide, Jason Barrett of Miena Fishing Village, provided a full-service experience by picking me up at the hotel; providing waders, boots, and fly-fishing gear; and then driving us two hours to our fishing location on the Tyenna River. Jason put me on the most productive and attractive stretches of the river while positioning me in the exact spots, so I could cast to the residential fish without spooking the rest of the fish on the beat. One of the most memorable moments of the trip was when the rarely-seen platypus came over to us and repeatedly swam a few feet from me as I fished.  Although the fishing was not easy due to slippery rocks and lethargic fish, we still managed to have a memorable trip and landed many fish. 

The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is one of just five extant monotremes, mammals that lay eggs.

On the Australian mainland, in Cairns, I was surprised to learn of the generous number of fresh- and saltwater fly-fishing opportunities that were available. I was fortunate to secure a last-minute fly-fishing trip to the Hinchinbrook Channel with John Snell. As in other locations around the world, rain and high winds (20 knot winds) had limited our fishing options. The Hinchinbrook was our only option, and it provided the opportunity to wrangle with some trophy species, including barramundi and GTs along with several other saltwater species. 

John met us early in the morning towing his 18-foot Hewes skiff, which he had shipped in from the previous owner in Alabama. This sleek, fast boat allowed us to fish many different mangrove outcroppings throughout the day, as the conditions changed with the tides. Additionally, the boat provided protection from the saltwater crocodiles that also ply these waters. A large barramundi hit my fly as soon as my line touched the water, but I was caught off guard and was not able to hook the fish. It seemed like a promising start to the trip, but even though John continually sped us to what had recently been productive spots, it took another six hours and hundreds of casts before I landed my first fish.  After that point, others were landed and more fish were missed. In the end, the channel was incredibly beautiful. I added a couple of species to my list of fish caught, learned a few new fishing techniques with innovative flies, and convinced my wife to take on the role of videographer. 

Alberto and Janeil look great for folks who have spent 72 days on the road.

We continue to feel fortunate that we are in good health and good spirits.  The anxiety that plagued past trips,seems to have evaporated through the sheer repetition of traveling. Although we have been traveling for 72 days, we still can’t wait to see what is around the next bend or what new experiences the next stop will provide. 

Day 72 Stats

Countries visited : 6 (Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Fiji, and Australia) 

17 stops: 

  • Quito, Ecuador
  • Puerto Ayora, in the Galapagos
  • Puerto Villamil, in the Galapagos
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Magic Waters Patagonia Outfitters, Chile
  • Patagonia Baker Lodge, Chile
  • Estancia Caleufu, Argentina
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Rotorua, New Zealand
  • Taupo, New Zealand
  • Savusavu, Fiji
  • Nadi, Fiji
  • Tavewa, Fiji
  • Melbourne. Australia
  • Hobart, Tasmania 
  • Sydney, Australia 
  • Cairns, Australia 

Transportation taken: 19 flights, 10 buses, 13 ferries, two high speed inter-island ferries, 24 taxis, 22 Uber, 6 charter boats, 4 water taxis, 6 inflatable motorized zodiac boats, 26 cars, 15 van, 4 trucks, 3 trolleys,3 drift boats, 1 skiff, 2 horses, 5 jet rafts, 1 white water rafts, 8 aluminum or wooden transport/fishing boats. 

Favorite drink: Frozen Pisco Sour at Magic Waters Patagonia, Coyhaique, Chile 

Favorite B and B: Casa El Eden, Quito, Ecuador 

Favorite snorkeling location: Tintoreta, Isabela Island, Galapagos / Great Barrier Reef, Australia 

Most impressive church: Iglesia de la Compania, Quito, Ecuador 

Favorite church: Motherhood of Mary Chapel on San Cristobal Hill, Santiago, Chile 

Best tourist experience: Redwood Treewalk, Rotorua, New Zealand / Night Tour at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Hobart, Tasmania 

Favorite restaurant: Pulperia Santa Elvira, Santiago, Chile 

Favorite barber shop: Toro’s Barber Shop, Santiago, Chile 

Favorite fly of week: Black beetle, used throughout Chile and Argentina 

Favorite beer : Pilsner, Ecuador / Monteith’s Golden Lager, New Zealand / Fiji Gold, Fiji  

Most Memorable Art Museum: Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Tasmania 

Best Theater Experience: Carmen Ballet, Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia 

Favorite spa: Polynesian Spa, Rotorua, New Zealand 

Favorite live performance: Māori Cultural Performance, Auckland Museum, Auckland, New Zealand and Fijian cultural performances at Coconut Beach Resort, Fiji. 

Number of different beds we slept in: 24 

Favorite view to wake up to: Rio Baker at Patagonia Baker Lodge, Chile 

Favorite beach: Coconut Beach Resort, Tavewa, Fiji 

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