As Getaway viewers know, Ben Dark loves a challenge and adrenaline-pumping feats are right up his alley. Seems he's always wanted to be in a car race, so we sent him to Tasmania on a reconnaissance tour of Targa Tasmania.
Targa is Italian for "plate" and the Tasmanian event borrows its name from the famous rally of the early part of last century when Vincenzo Floria conducted a great annual motoring event around Sicily. It ran for 69 years. No prize money was awarded people entered for the thrill of competing and the opportunity of receiving a magnificent Targa trophy.
Targa Tasmania is an International Classic, a tarmac rally with competitive stages on closed roads for the best touring, sports and GT cars in the world. Its inaugural year was 1992 and it caters for up to 300 select cars, many from overseas. It covers around 2000 kilometres of tarmac roads over a period of six days.
It is certainly not a slow-motion re-run of the original it is a genuine motor sport competition.
There are four competitions. Shannons Historic is for veteran and vintage cars up to 1930 and post-vintage between 1931 and 1946. Shannons Touring Classic is for thoroughbred vehicles from the period 1947-1961 and early classic from 1962 to 1965. Tasmania Classic category caters for historic cars up to 1946, thoroughbred between 1947-1961, early classic 1962-1971, late classic 1972-1976 and post-classic 1977-1981. Targa Tasmania modern is for early modern vehicles between 1982-1990, late modern 1991-1997 and contemporary between 1998 to the present day.
So Ben got hold of a V8 safety car and took off along the Targa Tasmania route.
Devonport, often referred to as the gateway to Tasmania, is on the north coast and one of the state's largest coastal towns. Many tourists cross Bass Strait by ferry and begin their Tasmania adventure here. They are greeted by the Mersey Bluff Headland and Lighthouse as they enter the Mersey River.
Ben left Devonport but was just 12.5km down the road when he arrived in Latrobe, a large country town and centre of a rich agriculture and mining area. Its first dwelling was built in 1836 and land sales began 20 years later. It was a bustling port and much of its past remains, with 76 heritage-listed buildings in the town centre.
Sunday markets bring the town to life. You can buy everything from antiques to premium chocolate, fudge and praline from Anvers Chocolate Factory. They welcome tours and offer tastings!
Latrobe is home to the Australian Axeman's Hall of Fame and Australia's most successful and well-known chopper, David Foster.
This extraordinary man won his first World Championship in 1979 and since then has won 182 of them. The Axeman's Hall of Fame began in 1891 and amongst its many displays are 4000 ribbons and 1500 championship trophies donated by the Foster family.
After being soundly beaten at chopping his way through a log by a spritely octogenarian, Ben hit the road again, heading for Strahan. Until 1932 the area was accessible only by sea, but now it is one of Tasmania's most popular destinations.
Ben had an unusual experience when he met Troy Grining, who runs Wilderness Cruises along the Gordon River. They are spookily very much alike and had some fun with the townsfolk, who thought they were seeing double!
Troy's backyard is Tasmania's World Heritage Wilderness, one million hectares of rugged mountains, wild rivers and the world's last great temperate rainforest. It houses some of the world's oldest plants and rarest creatures, accessible to all but the hardiest of bushwalkers or kayakers.
Visitors can enjoy the splendour aboard the world-class Discovery, a brand-new, purpose-built vessel with very special levels of comfort and luxury. The ship takes just 24 passengers in 12 cabins, who can enjoy seeing old convict ruins on Sarah Island, a settlement pre-dating Port Arthur by decades, sailing through Hells Gates, the narrow entrance to Macquarie Harbour, high-tech aquaculture where salmon and trout are farmed, as well as the serenity of the Gordon River and surrounding park.
Ben's next adventure was fishing, west-coast-style. Dale Trippett of Strahan Seaplanes and Helicopters takes visitors to the usual scenic places Cradle Mountain, Hells Gates, Teepookana Forest, Frenchman's Cap and along the Franklin and Gordon Rivers. But if you want the adventure of a lifetime, similar to the one Ben enjoyed, talk to Dale. He will fly you into one of the most remote places on earth and leave you there to camp and fish and then of course collect you when you wish!