New Zealand / Australia Diary
Thursday 26 April 2012

Eastern side of the Neck, Bruny Island

Today's adventure demanded an earlier start - we were off to Bruny Island and intended to catch the 9:30 ferry. Luckily this only meant an 8:45 departure so breakfast & packing were still somewhat leisurely and by 8:46 we were in the car and on the road.

Our drive took us south, passing through the delightfully named town of Snug and on to Kettering, home port of the ferry to Bruny Island. The ferry was a simple drive on/drive off type and the waiting cars & vans were swiftly & efficiently slotted into place before we set off, bang on time. We crossed the D'Entrecasteaux Channel (named after Bruni D'Entrecasteaux who explored the area in 1792 - how's that for historical research?) in about 15 minutes and were soon heading south on Bruny Island itself, at an easy pace as we were the last car off the ferry and there was only one road to take.

The weather was decidedly changeable with sunny patches, drizzly rain between them and, as a consequence, quite a few rainbows (although only ever one at a time). I'd been warned that the southern half of the island (where we were headed) was the wetter one so I was bracing myself for more 'bracing' weather but as the day progressed the rain dried up and although the cloud cover came & went things stayed (mostly) bright and (generally) warm and my jacket remained inside my daypack.

The island is (in a very abstract way) shaped like an hourglass with a thin 'neck' joining the two lobes. I was expecting this to be a low causeway of sand but it turned out to be quite substantial with some very tall dunes, one of which had a long, straight staircase leading up it to a viewing platform on the top. The views from up here were spectacular - the beaches either side of the neck, the southern half of the island, appearing out of the clouds & mist, and the other islands (including Tasmania itself) further off in the distance.

The neck is a game reserve for Little Penguins (also known as Fairy Penguins, which is rather cute) and evidence of their burrows could be seen quite high up on the dune. It seemed odd that a flightless bird should nest somewhere so far from the water but maybe they like the views from up there. There were no penguins in evidence but apparently they are only out & about at dusk.

The hollow of stacked stones, Bruny Island

After a refreshing cuppa at the appropriately named Penguin Café we parked near the start of our main walk, a circuit from Adventure Bay to Grass Point and up to Fluted Cape. Starting off on the dark sand at the south end of Adventure Bay we climbed up to a walkway through the trees, paralleling he shoreline and rising & falling with the contours of the land.

At a point where the path dipped down to the sea we came across a little hollow filled with stacks of stones. It seemed like every flat surface had its own little tapering column of sea-smoothed pebbles, from the waterline up to the edge of the forest and even along the limbs of a skeletal tree lying on the beach. It was an intriguing and totally unexpected artwork and after spending a while trying to capture it on camera I found myself observing in the hushed reverence of being in an art gallery. (Later research revealed that this community sculpture has been slowly built up by locals and contributed to by visitors, a tradition that we dutifully observed.)

Reaching Grassy Point we saw a sea eagle soaring over Penguin Island (but again no penguins) before turning to follow the path steeply uphill. As we rose above the sea we were treated to some spectacular views, both of the crashing waves on the shoreline far below and of the dark land masses on the distant horizon. The climb was stiff at times but the path was well maintained and clearly marked and we met a few people travelling in the opposite direction, confirming that we we on the right track.

At one point we crested a rise to reveal a much higher peak rising above it. I jokingly shared my relief that we weren't going to have to walk to the top of that one, only to find myself working my way up it a while later. This turned out to be Fluted Cape itself, 272m high (and it felt like it) with steep cliffs plunging down to the sea below. From here we took a gentler inland path back, weaving through the trees and slowly descending to our starting point on Adventure Bay. After a well-deserved coffee & snack break in the Bruny Island Berry Farm (where we sampled some delicious Taziberries) we drove back to the ferry and from there back home.

Thursday night is circle dancing night in Hobart so after rest & supper we were back in the car and on our way to the hall. In theory part of the reason for me going along was to check out the hall (where I'll be teaching on the weekend) and the sound system but in practice it was an opportunity for me to be just a dancer, to let other people decide which dances to do and just follow their steps. I was kept on my toes (if you pardon the expression) as I only recognised two of the evening's dances but even so it was a predominantly relaxing & easy evening. Excellent preparation for the weekend of dance to come!

Adventure Bay, Bruny Island

Gum trees, Bruny Island

The long stairway, the Neck, Bruny Island

Fluted Cape, Bruny Island

View from Fluted Cape, Bruny Island

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