In the year 1600 and something…

In the year 1600 and something… or was it 1700 and something… Bruni De’Encastreaux  explored the stretch of water that lay between Van Dieman’s Land and the island now known as Bruny. Bruni lent his first name to the island and his second to the water. What a generous chap. I’m sorry for the dodgy history lesson, but I’ve read so many interpretive signs of late my head is swimming and without research that I am currently unprepared to commit to (it’s late), that’s the best I can do.

In any case, Bruni was not the only European to drop by all those years ago. Captain Bligh dropped in, presumably before the mutiny, as did Captains Cook and Furneaux, Tasman and others. When they did, at least a few of them pulled up to fill their water barrels from the stream at Two Tree Point in Adventure Bay. Two Tree Point was named after the trees that stood at the mouth of the creek – and they’re still there albeit substantially larger today than in the painting by George Tobin, Lieutenant General no less, and chief expedition artist. I love that, to think those same said trees link such vastly different times.

Two Tree Bay painting by Tobin
Two Tree Bay painting by Tobin
The two trees at Two Tree Bay
The two trees at Two Tree Bay

Today Adventure Bay is home to Pennicott Wilderness Journey’s Bruny Island Cruises, a wonderful addition to the live tourist trade. To be sure it cost a pretty penny, but ‘twas also a pretty fine experience. I bet Bruny would have given his right arm for a tender with three 300 horsepower outboards. Hang on to your hats people.

Out of Adventure Bay we shot, round Penguin Island (nope didn’t see any) before one of quite a number of stops below Bruny’s sea cliffs, caves, blowholes, rock towers and kelp gardens. At one point the hooter sounded as we crossed out of the Tasman Sea and into the Southern Ocean. To be sure the day was still, but the Ocean wasn’t and a lazy but sizeable swell swallowed us down into the depths before the crests pulled us back up again. We were all at sea, I mean ocean.

Looking to the Southern Ocean
Friar Rocks – Southern Ocean
Watching...
Watching…

Friar Rocks, kilometres out off Bruny itself was the turn around point but only after we awoke several hundred sleepy sea lions to pose for the cameras. After that we went further offshore, in search of albatross the skipper said. Sure enough albatross we found, by the dozens along with shearwaters and a bunch of other remarkable birds on the wing. And then, just when I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, a pod of at least a hundred dolphins started chasing us down from all directions. Does this happen every day? Apparently not, but who were we to complain. The birds swooped, the dolphins leapt and we wished it could go on all day.

On display
On display
Dolphins
Dolphins
Dolphin
Dolphin
Albatross!
Albatross!
Splashed by a dolphin!
Splashed by a dolphin!

Alas all good things come to an end. We consoled Amy and Oliver with berry ice cream from the berry farm. I consoled myself by insisting on double portions of daddy tax.

Food on Bruny is as easy on the palette as sea cliffs on the eye. We found another very fine cheese maker in the Bruny Island Cheese Co, which also baked wood fired sourdough. We paid $7.50 per loaf, which sounds a lot until you visit the corner store and pay $5.50 for a loaf of Wonder White! We’ve all been spoilt and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to go back to Bega Tasty. Amy and Oliver (and me too) just won’t have it!

Bruny Island Cheese
Bruny Island Cheese
Bruny Picnic
Bruny Picnic

Even our home prepared meals stepped up a notch. Amy and Oliver having mastered the art of making fire, without even paper to get it started, soon had a bed of coals which inspired damper coated in leatherwood honey, followed the next night by chocolate damper. Hmmm, chocolate damper…

Campfire damper
Campfire damper

Of course too much chocolate damper has the potential to unduly expand the waistline so we all hiked up Fluted Cape for a bit of exercise. The walk description says it is unsuitable for children. Something about walking along the edge of cliffs 270 metres high with slippery causarina needles underfoot.

Fluted Cape - up to 270m high
Fluted Cape – up to 270m high

Amy and Oliver solved the matter though by ‘skiing’ down instead. I was cool as a cucumber, not worried in the slightest, until I peered over the edge. Then they ‘skiied’ a little further inland. Oliver also took pleasure in pointing out when I was a setting bad example by approaching the edge too closely – usually in pursuit of photos for the blog. Risking life and limb and diminishing myself in my children’s eyes. It’s ok, you can thank me later.  Oliver continued his rock cairn building on a beach on the way back to Adventure Bay – as you can see he excelled himself!

Skiing down Fluted Cape
Skiing down Fluted Cape
Oliver has been working hard!
Oliver has been working hard!
The Neck - the middle of Bruny Island
The Neck – the middle of Bruny Island
Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Bruny Island
Bruny Island looking toward Lighthouse

 

Faster than Usain Bolt

Did you know that a wombat can outrun Usain Bolt? I know, who would have thought? It’s true though, the man at the Bonorong Wildlife Centre just outside of Hobart said so and he looked like he’d know. Apparently they can run at up to 40 km/hr.

What I am just now pondering however is how they work that out. I mean what could possibly stir a wombat to move that fast? We know traffic doesn’t do the job, more’s the pity. So how would you work that out?

The cheeky one year old wombat!
The cheeky one year old wombat!

It matters not. We went to Bonorong to see Tassie Devils, not wombats. As you are all probably aware there are fewer than 10% of the original population of Tassie Devils still roaming in the wild so chances of seeing them are now slim. They’re cute little buggers, though with a jaw four times as strong as a pit-bull it’s probably not advisable to get too close. That’s what keepers are for and we applauded their bravery in dragging the Devils out of their den with chunks of meat for our viewing pleasure. Yes Bravo I say.

Enticement
Enticement
The red 'devil' ears
The red ‘devil’ ears

Bonorong is also home to some of the best mannered kangaroos in the country. They loved nothing more than a good scratch on the chest, arching their heads backs in delight and no doubt cursing their own absurd lack of elbows – what a design flaw!

Friendly roo
Friendly roo
Loving a scratch!
Loving a scratch!

After setting a new record for number of photos in a day (came in a little over 200) we left Bonorong and met up with Pete and Ann Tinson at our van park near the airport. Hello again Ann and Pete and hope you enjoyed the Mona. It was wonderful to catch up.

Spotted tail quoll
Spotted tail quoll
Tiger snake up close
Tiger snake up close

It rained the next day. Then it rained some more. And after that this strange wet stuff fell from the sky, rain I think it was. Perfect! We’d walked far to many walks it was time for rainy day stuff like museums and so off to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery we went. To the curators of said institution I tip my hat. What a fabulous display and all for nix. Love it.

Weighing at the TMAG
Weighing at the TMAG

We learnt all about Muttabutasauruses, Antarctica, environmental campaigns, bark canoes and on a less than satisfactory note the systematic slaughter of the Tasmanian Aboriginal population. Blood curdling stuff, especially as the exhibition stands in the very building from which most hunting expeditions, and I use that term advisedly as there was a five and two pound bounty respectively on each adult and child’s head, set forth.

Old Hobart Town
Old Hobart Town

We also visited the maritime museum. More than 1100 ships have been wrecked along the coasts of Tasmania. 1100! The map of wreck sites rings the coast like a wreath. One of those wrecks includes a cargo ship that rammed the bridge over the Derwent. I’d love to tell you how that happened but unfortunately Amy informed me at that point that I had lost her camera and so a search ensued (found thankfully). I’ll just assume the skipper was drunk.

IMG_2373
Shipwrecks – there were more after 1900!

After a time the wet stuff stopped falling, or perhaps it was before it started… I can’t recall now. In any case when the sky was clear, and while we in Hobart for the second time we also drove the 22km required to reach the summit of Mount Wellington. It’s a big hill. A lot bigger in fact than it looks and at the top you are 1270 meters above the CBD. From here you can just see a row of icebergs floating off Antarctica. Well I could. Nobody else would believe me I’m sure– so I didn’t mention it. But you could see clear across to the Tasman Peninsula, right down the Derwent to the Southern Ocean, up and down the length of De’Encastreaux Channel and across the entire Bruny Island.

Ahh, Bruny Island. But that’s another story.

View from Mt Wellington
View from Mt Wellington

Lookin for fun

So much we’ve seen since last we wrote, I scarcely know where to begin. My favorite activity over the last few days though has got to be our night time strolls amongst the tall trees at Mt Field National Park. We nearly didn’t even come here, having over-shot the mark on the way to Hobart from the west coast and initially ending up in New Norfolk.

I’d never even heard of Mt Field until we got to New Norfolk, but the guidebook said it abounds with tall trees, eucalyptus regnans or swamp gum in particular. I love a good forest so we back tracked up the hill and have now been nestled in a campground at the base of a forest of trees up to 90 metres tall for three days.

Mt Field is a delight. You can overdose on waterfalls in Tasmania in much the same way you can overdose on churches and cathedrals in Europe. But if this is true, then Russell Falls here in Mt Field is Tasmania’s Notre Dame. A very fine looking waterfall falling over two wide plateaus and surrounded by tall, tall trees smothered below with tree ferns.

_MG_2054
Russell Falls – Mt Field NP

This was the scene of a most memorable nighttime stroll. Along the path to Russell Falls lies a glowworm encampment, hidden away beneath the tree ferns. We made our way through the forest, encountering numerous possums on our path, on a full moon with brilliant white light filtering down through the canopy. After visiting the glowworms we emerged into the clearing at the falls with moonlight highlighting the water and stars twinkling above. The clearing made visible the surrounding amphitheatre formed by the hills and made the trees appear even taller.

Amy clung to my hand tightly, while Oliver tormented her by moaning like a ghost. ‘Beware the dead fox’ he wailed, remembering only too well a recently completed book entailing such goings on. In fact, now that I think of it, Oliver really didn’t stop talking the entire time, with words streaming forth like water over the waterfall itself. One particular comment amongst the myriad sticks in my mind.

‘Well mummy, I would think you would have the good sense not to walk too close to me if you don’t want to get hit by my torch!’

I wonder where he got that from? Said torch was spinning in wild arcs lighting up the forest like a strobe light and scaring off any and all creatures with the exception of the unshakeable brush tale possums – which for that matter climbed all over the van a lot that night.

Evening visitor
Evening visitor

Right up there with nighttime strolls through the forest was our visit to ‘The Wall’. Just outside of Lake St Clair on the road from the west coast is a swanky new building sitting amongst the woodlands. Inside is long hall in the centre of which sits a long double-sided wall. The wall is about three metres tall, two inches thick and made from blonde timber laminated together. Into the timber has been carved a picture board of the story of the pioneers of the region – men and horses pulling logs through the forest and of the construction of the hydro electric scheme.

The ferry on Lake St Clair
The ferry on Lake St Clair

The carvings are extraordinary, bringing out with amazing clarity every muscle and every hair on man and beast alike. It’s like a painting out of the timber itself and refreshingly quite unlike anything I’ve seen before. There are a few side pieces scattered throughout the hall as well, including a block and tackle which looks for anything like it would work if you could just pull one end, and a pair of gloves carved out of wood and draped over a shovel. I just wanted to reach out and pull them on.

Unfortunately photos were not allowed, although the logic behind that eludes me. Equally unfortunate is the proprietors attitude towards children with signs throughout indicating that poor behaviour will not be tolerated. Poor parenting ought not be tolerated I agree, but don’t blame the kids. Grrrrr.

In between the forests of Mt Field and ‘The Wall’ we spent a day in Hobart, soaking up the joys of being back in civilization having emerged from the wilderness of the west. The contrast is quite amazing. I almost felt I could understand how those banished to Macquaire Harbour, be it for work or punishment, must have felt as they returned to the big smoke.

We explored Salamanca Markets, as you do, eating chocolate crepes, samosas, and wood-fired pizza before taking a short drive to visit the Shot Tower – a 48 metre high structure from which molten lead was dropped down into a bucket of water to make musket shots. All the better for terrorising the indigenous inhabitants of the island I dare say.

Chocolate crepe!!
Chocolate crepe!!
The Shot Tower
The Shot Tower
View from Shot Tower
View from Shot Tower

At other times we have just been endeavoring to live up to our collectively adopted theme song – Simon and Garfunkels 59th Street Bridge.

 ‘Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last. Just, kickin down the cobblestones. Lookin for fun and feelin groovy!’

We don’t always manage to succeed. We are slowing down, but we sometimes still move too fast. I’d like to have made the moonlit walk last. Tomorrow we will be kickin down the cobblestones on the way back to Hobart again – lookin for more fun and feelin very groovy.

Eating dinner by campfire
Marshmallows
Marshmallows
Campfire glow
Campfire glow
The Gordon Dam
The Gordon Dam
Beautiful snow gums
Beautiful snow gums
Colours
Colours
Big trees in Styx Valley
Big trees in Styx Valley
Big trees in Styx Valley
Big trees in Styx Valley
Big trees in Styx Valley
Big trees in Styx Valley