Tasmania: lush ancient forests inside Southwest National Park, alpine vistas bursting from every lookout on the Overland Track, endless coastal beauty surrounding the Freycinet Peninsula ... our state has a well-deserved reputation as a hiker's paradise.
But besides the Bay of Fires and Mount William walks on the coast, Tasmania's North-East is often overlooked as a bushwalking destination.
While Derby and Welborough have proven to be a hit with mountain bikers from across the globe, the walks of the North-East Highlands are seldom promoted to tourists. Don't make that mistake. Here's the perfect day trip from Launceston to the off-the-beaten tracks of the North-East.
Nestled outside the sleepy township of Ringarooma is the Mount Victoria Forest Reserve.
The vast 8269-hectare area is most commonly known for Ralphs Falls. A short stroll will take you to a stunning 90-metre drop over a sheer cliff face: one of the state's highest waterfalls.
Driving in along the gravel road to the start of the walk from Ringarooma in late November, the hills are sprinkled with the yellow blooms from hundreds of wattle trees. Lichen hangs off spindly trees and the greenery of the rainforest colours the view as you approach the falls car park.
The walk to Ralphs Falls itself is a quick 20-minute return trek. It twists its way through the bush as you follow the creek that feeds the falls. A myriad of fern species cover the ground and many of the trees, wrapping the forest in a sea of green. When you reach the lookout, the view sweeps from the plains to the north near Ringarooma, along the New River, past the cliffs where the waterfall flows and finally to the south where Mount Victoria lies.
On the way back you have the choice of adding another loop. Rather than returning straight to the carpark, a short one-hour loop allows you to walk through a patch of paperbark forest to Cash's Gorge. Streams criss-cross the track until you arrive at the viewing point for the rocky outcrop. Then, you follow the boardwalk back to your car across buttongrass plains, with the peaks of Mount Victoria and Mount Albert dominating the view to the South-East.
Retracing the gravel road back almost as far as Ringarooma, a 45-minute drive south from Ralphs Falls has you at the car park for the Mount Victoria summit walk. But be warned - Mount Victoria has notoriously fickle weather. Don't be disheartened if it's too foggy or rainy to embark on your hike, even if the skies are blue everywhere else: it certainly won't be the first time
The hike starts with half an hour meandering through some of the most spectacular rainforest in Tasmania.
A small stream encroaches on the path within the first hundred or so metres, soaking many a pair of unsuspecting walkers socks before the hike is even truly underway.
Looking up, ancient myrtle trees dominate the canopy, while the broken-down leaf litter feels soft underfoot as you slowly climb your way up from the start of the track.
Your eyes quickly learn to spot the odd reflector nailed to a tree, marking the path ahead and helping guide your way.
There's a surprise just before the rainforest section of the walk ends. Taking a detour around a large rocky outcrop to your left will lead you to a small hexagonal dolerite cave.
Emerging out of the forest into the daylight and surrounded by low lying alpine vegetation, you are greeted in summer by the sight of bright red waratah blooms dotted along the narrow, but easy to follow, path.
The beautiful but coarse native plant scoparia, with its flowers ranging from red, pink, white, and cream through to shades of orange, will certainly leave a mark on those who wear shorts. The hardy plant will scratch even the most hardened of legs, giving you an itchy, visible reminder of the hike once the day is over.
Faced by what appears to be an impenetrable wall of mountain to the west, you will be slightly relieved to see the summit point to the east, where at least the climb to the top looks achievable.
As the gradient increases and the vegetation thins out, rock cairns direct you over the small sections of scree as you cross the saddle and follow the path east.
The triangular trig point atop the jagged peak disappears as the path leads north behind the mountain before you attempt the final short, but near vertical, sections of rock - the final obstacle on the hike.
Sitting atop the 1213 metre high peak, an hour and a half after setting off, from the top of Mount Victoria you can look back south to Ben Lomond, and the nearby mountains of Mount Saddleback and Ben Nevis. On a clear day the views stretch to the East Coast and north back across the plains of Pyengana towards Bass Strait. But arguably, the most spectacular part of the view atop Mount Victoria is that of it's neighbour, Mount Albert.
Retracing your steps back down the mountain, the return walk on Mount Victoria clocks in at three and a half hours, including a stop at the top for a solid lunch.
Driving east along Mount Albert Road from the first car park, take a sweeping right hander after three kilometres and try to spot a piece of pink tape on a tree - the very unceremonious start to the Mount Albert climb.
Unlike the previous two walks, the vegetation on Mount Albert is predominantly dry eucalypt: the lush green tones of the rainforest are replaced by white and grey tree trunks and a somewhat more open environment.
On the lower part of the climb, the gums tower high overhead as waratah plants over three metres in height fill the space between the ferns and the canopy.
The path on Mount Albert is at times overgrown; following it means navigating slippery sections of loose red dirt, ducking under the bough of a tree or two, and navigating boulders that are, apparently, part of the trail.
With the forest closing off your view for most of the relatively short but steep hike, you will be rewarded when you pull yourself out of the trees onto the area at the peak of Mount Albert.
The views from Mount Albert and Mount Victoria of the region are fairly similar, but as with the first climb, the most impressive part of sitting on Mount Albert is looking at Victoria's peak back across the way. All in all, this walk takes about one and a half hours without too many stops.
By this point in the day, you'll be exhausted, starving, and thoroughly happy.
With your taste for the beauty of the North-East whetted, there's plenty more exploring you can do: Mathinna Falls, Evercreech Reserve, and St Columba Falls are just a few options for your next adventure. But for now, the best thing you can do is go to the pub and celebrate your accomplishments. Point your car in the direction of the Ringarooma Hotel, and settle in for a drink.