049. Week coastline and lots of it…
Day 36. Saturday 18th April 2009.
I was up just at dawn and although there was some cloud around, the day looked promising. You can never be too sure in Tassie as the weather is changeable and you can experience four seasons in one day. On top of a cliff overlooking a bay near the Caravan Park I watched the sea birds catching breakfast in the clear clean water.
Being this close to Bruny Island we would be disappointed if we did not take the time to have a look. The trip over on the vehicle ferry was quick and a surprise. Whilst in the queue I read the price list for 7m vehicles. $40. Hmmm! At $80 for a return voyage it was a little pricey but OK by price comparisons with other things in Tassie. Overall, not too bad. Imagine my surprise when the ticket lady said, “we only sell return tickets”. Whaaat? Only twenty bucks each way? In that instant, the price changed from a “not too bad” to a good deal.
The island is hilly, mountainous and a little flat ground around the coastal fringe where most Brunyites live. For some reason the roads are sealed in and around population centres and the ferry. Then suddenly it becomes gravel. The local opinion of good gravel road and my opinion of good gravel road are widely different. We tried to drive to the lighthouse on the southernmost tip of the south island but after only one klm decided to give it a miss. We travelled on better gravel roads to Cockle Creek. After a bit of explore around the East Coast and having a fresh oyster lunch we set up camp at “The Neck” where the north and south islands join. This is a Freedom campsite run by Parks & Wildlife. Actually it is not a freedom site or free site. Unless you have a parks pass or pay $22 per day it can be costly. We have an 8-week parks pass, which gives us free entry to National Parks and camping if permitted.
We were lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean nearby and another camper playing guitar and quietly singing Simon n Garfunkel tunes.
Day 37. Sunday 19th April 2009.
Day begins with Simon n Garfunkel and a small Robin who thinks our windows and mirrors are another bird in his territory. His chittering war cry was on about the same volume level as the balladeer and was just quiet background sound. Thank goodness there were no thumpy thumpy high volume stereo systems being used at 6am!
We were booked on a boat ride with Bruny Island Charters – rated as one of the Greatest 100 Trips of the world. We were somewhat surprised to arrive at base to find another 100 or so people waiting to go.
Three boats (worth $500,000 each) were needed. The boats are an open plan, seating 42,
with three outboard’s, each 300 HP. The travel information suggests warm clothes and a rain jacket. As well as our warm clothes we took beanies and gloves and within minutes of leaving the dock gratefully accepted full length wet weather gear. The boats are fast and even in the up to 2metre swell we skimmed within only 2 metres of the dolomite cliffs rising out of the ocean, most of the rocks covered in bull kelp. The trip wove in and out of bays and nudged into caves and got up close and personal with blowholes
and even skimmed between cliff faces and rock formations with only a metre to spare. Highlight of the trip was a colony of Australian Fur Seals
who make rocks look comfortable. Unfortunately our trip was cut short as a passenger sitting next to us got seasick and stood up as a large swell lifted the boat and he hit his head and was knocked unconscious. By now we were shivering with cold and my hands could no longer adequately manage the camera. My fingers stayed numb until we got back to the bus and heated up some left over spaghetti and hot coffee Donnis had prepared earlier.
Although there was lots more to see on the island we headed back to the mainland, arriving at a caravan park at Triabunna after dark.
Day 38. Monday 20th April 2009.
We did not take the time to look around Triabunna although the port looked of interest at night. We had arrived after dark the night before and found a converted caravan dockside advertising fish n chips from “fresh fish off our own boat”. It seemed the sensible thing to do. After a forgettable meal, made acceptable by the addition of our own salad we wondered when we will ever get a good fish dinner other than those we prepared and cooked ourselves. We stopped at a tidy seaside town called Swansea and took a walk through an old general store, established 1834 although much reduced in floor space. We then continued on to the Freycinet Peninsular and camped at a place called Moulting Lagoon. I will now take an indulgence to have a bit of a rant. This campsite is owned by Nat Parks. They have signs saying bring your own firewood and do not cut or collect wood, even fallen trees and branches as it is all home to animals of one kind or another. Fair enough. Why oh why do people need a fire? I saw people pulling up logs and cutting with an axe just so they could have a fire to sit in front of. It is actions and attitudes of people like this who will get these sites closed down. One person we spoke to said he was doing Nat Parks a favour by cutting overhanging branches with his chainsaw and picking up fallen wood, in his words “to reduce the fire hazard”. Geez!
This afternoon we walked the beach and watched the stately Black Swans. For much of the afternoon we took the opportunity to just do “nuffin”!
Day 39. Tuesday 21st April 2009.
We lazed around camp until mid morning before heading to the main park. The ranger suggested we do the Wineglass Bay Lookout, as this is what everybody comes for. The walk is steep and our walking poles were handy. When we finally got to the lookout with stunning views we were surprised to see at least 20 people sitting on rocks eating their lunch so we did the same. Amazing how smoked oysters, crackers, trail mix and an apple can seem like gourmet fare after such a big walk. We could see why people travel to witness this view.
Of course our own Whitsunday’s can offer stunning views although not so easily accessible.
This little town called Coles Bay boasts a bakery. What a bakery! They make a terrific dark rye bread. Within minutes we devoured four slices with butter. The bakery also makes a popular curried scallop pie. So popular we were advised to get there early in the morning.
Day 40. Wednesday 22nd April 2009.
From Coles Bay I watched the sun
come up on the granite outcrops which overlook this area and dominate the skyline. The rising sun changed the colour of the rock. We left Coles Bay at 10am but made sure we stopped at the bakery for another rye loaf and a couple of curried scallop pies. At $6.65 each they are at least double the price of a regular pie but boy oh boy what a pie!
We drove through the towns of Bicheno and Seymour before realising we needed groceries for dinner tonight. I was planning a combination fried rice. We headed inland to St.Mary believing it to be a bigger town than St.Helens on the coast. We drove 17klms over the steep and winding Elephant Range only to find St.Mary is a reasonable size town but only serviced by a so so IGA. Driving down the range to St.Helens we found a busy and largish town bursting with shops, eating houses, motels and seafood outlets. We have driven out of town to one of many Freedon campsites, Swimcart Beach
in the Bay of Fires Conservation Park. We will probably stay here two nights as we are camped on the beachside with the constant pounding waves lulling us to sleep. We know there are other campers here but unless we make a point of looking for their lights, we cannot see them. We can see the light from Eddystone Point Lighthouse in the Mt.William National Park way to our north. Our solar panels should catch the fist rays of the morning sun which will give us solar input all day.
We have worked out a rough travel plan for the next week, travelling to Scottsdale, then Bridport, George Town, Launceston and finally Devonport. Of course this is all subject to the weather and how long we stay in any one place. At a pinch we can always just use the last day to drive straight to Devonport.
Day 41. Thursday 23rd April 2009.
Dawn. Not cold. Overcast with sunlight in patches. Weather forecast is for rain on the slopes and snow on Mt.Wellington. We will stay where we are on the beach. In two weeks time the campsites along this stretch of coast will jam-packed with campers. The St.Helens Fishing Club have an annual surf n rock fishing competition from this beach. They even have a clubhouse, with fireplace about 50 mtrs away from us. We had a knock on the door a short while ago from a big burly man dressed in track pants and a muscle shirt. I was cold looking at him. He asked how long we are staying as this is his favourite campsite. He has had two hip replacements. He can set up camp and walk to the beach only 10 metres away to set up his surf fishing rod. His best mate usually camps next to him, as the site is big enough for two rigs. He was pleased to hear we intend to leave in the morning. He promised to get up at dawn and catch us a salmon.
Day 42. Friday 24th April 2009.
True to his word the fisherman was up at dawn trying to catch us a fish. I joined him all rugged up including gloves and a beanie. He was still in his muscle shirt. Sigh!
Alas no fish today.
Before we had left the site he had already manoeuvred his vehicle into position to back into our spot, as he did not want anybody else getting in before him. He showed me how he had set up a double 12 volt fitting in his slide on camper. It was loose and as he jiggled it, poof! A cloud of acrid plastic based smoke billowed out. He yanked out two wires before the rig went up in smoke creating a disaster. It’s a good thing I did not ask him, a carpet cleaner, to wire my rig!!!
As we left St.Helens for Scottsdale light rain began to fall. A half-hour along the road turned off to a dairy at a hamlet called Pyengana. The café at the dairy is called Holy Cow. The dairy makes award-winning cheeses, especially traditional crumbly cheddar. We ordered a ploughman’s lunch for one and shared it. No way could one person eat it all by himself or herself. The plate contained two chunks – yes chunks – of a traditional cheese and a sharp cheddar. It also included chunks of glazed ham, wholegrain mustard, butter, pickled cherries, pickled onion, pickled egg, three types of olives, chunks of sourdough bread, salad, walnuts, fresh apple and dried apricots. All this for $16. We ate at a table near a log fire and washed it down with a glass of wine. The rain continued to increase outside. Who cares. We were warm, dry, well fed and wined inside.
All good things come to an end and so it was we headed off to Scottsdale, 98 klms away then our final destination Bridport a further 20 klms. When you read 98 klms in Tassie that equates to a two hour drive over treacherous, winding, narrow and steep roads with the ever present timber jinkers and local drivers who pass on corners and double lines. No wonder Tassie has the worst road toll per capita in the nation.
The rain got worse and as we reached Scottsdale at 4.30 it was already dark and heavy rain was falling. We pulled into a freedom campsite to wait out the rain overnight.