Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bruny Island - Day 2 Labillardiere Peninsula



Bruny – Day 2 Labillardiere Peninsula
Ranger time 5 hours according to the original sign, 6.5 is probably for normal bushwalkers. My time - around 7 hours, not counting the false start
I stayed at the Jetty Beach Campground in the far south of South Bruny overnight. It’s lightly timbered and sheltered from the sea. Even the long drops are light and clean, don’t smell and have a little tank and tap at the back so you can wash your hands. They have come a long way from those that were on the Franklin, but one of the tanks is already empty and there are no bins. Rumour has it that this year there were 200,000 visitors on the island, though many of them were probably day trippers.

Wild seas and rocky headlands are the order of the day
The wind howled and the forecast said as it had for the past two weeks, “Possible morning shower.” There is no specific weather report for Bruny and there is no signal here so what I had was issued two days ago. It seems that the Weather Bureau has been having a bet each way lately ,”50% Chance of showers,” appears quite frequently, so they can’t be accused of being wrong. There had been no rain for two days before I left and it was sunny that morning – that was until I got to the ferry terminal.  Now it’s raining again so I read a while until the weather started to clear and a cheeky scarlet robin started doing acrobatics in front of my windscreen.
There are two walks here – the two and a half hour Luggaboine Circuit or the 6.5 hour Labaillardiere Circuit which covers the whole peninsula. Labillardiere was  Bruni d’ Entrecasteaux’s naturalist  on his search for La Perouse. He collected many specimens of plants and animals and produced the first comprehensive work on the flora of Australia. I have no idea who or what Luggaboine was.

Someone asked me recently if I was a fast bushwalker. I am definitely not that – not even a good bushwalker, more in the category of dogged - a heroic plodder. The description says, “Long but easy.” Now that’s my kind of walk. What’s more since both walks covered the same ground initially, I could see how things went, and if the weather turned nasty I could take the shorter one and come back.
I made it to a bend where I caught my first seaview. Then bam, I was slapped in the face by a blast of hail. Raincoat on and thermal underneath, I started racing back to the campground. I was almost there when the sun came out again as if nothing had happened and I felt a piker for having given up. I turned around again and kept going, despite the frequent changes that followed. I got wet. I dried out. Put the sunhat on and took the thermal off. Then it was on again, off again. We are used to changeable weather in Tasmania, but I have never had to change that often before.

Ten foot waves hammer the cliffs. They look so impervious, but then I remember how London Bridge and one of the Ten Apostles, a series of imposing coastal landforms in Victoria, fell down in my lifetime
 The fierce wind which was driving all those changes made for spectacular seascapes with the spray  spilling high over rocks and headlands.The walk  progressed through coastal vegetation – mostly low banksias and teatree  huddled, rather cowering together against the wind. Down the track went into dips and then up over the headlands. Flowering plants were small and few, but I did see two echidnas and one long thick black snake, mercifully heading off into the bushes. Whenever the sun came out I was accompanied by pretty brown butterflies.

Towering waves and boiling seas
 Towards the northern end of the peninsula, the rocky outcrops were punctuated by beaches which would no doubt have been lovely in better weather.  As I was running across them to beat the onrushing tide and before I was dashed against the rocks, I tripped on a rock and landed face first in wet sand. Not much damage. A few bruises perhaps. Wet clothes.Ugh! There was no option but to keep going.

Seaspray is whipped up over 10 metres
 In the more sheltered bays at the tip of the island, there were oyster beds and fish farms and the trees gained more stature. As I turned south, I was cheered by the sight of a rainbow. The pattern of hillocks and dips continued, but now they were more richly clothed – some native cherry, she-oaks and ferns filled out the understorey.  While I was relieved to be out of the wind, I could still hear it roaring overhead, lashing the branches of the trees which groaned and moaned and creaked, making me pretty uneasy. We may have snakes and crocodiles, sharks and poisonous spiders, but falling tree branches probably claim more lives than all those put together.

As I walked I kept wondering what was making all these holes - rabbits? Bandicoots? Snakes?
Here's the culprit - one of two echidnas I saw, busily digging for ants
I also saw a dead stone fish. Their spines are poisonous even when dead. Another item to add to the list of things which can kill you in Australia

Fish pens dot the horizon in the more sheltered portions of the bay
A rainbow brings small comfort as I finally turn south
I was almost dry now, but the weather had the last laugh. Just as I passed the junction with the Luggaboine Circuit, there was a final squall which drenched me to the skin and filled up the pockets of my raincoat. Luckily I was on the home straight now and not too far from the campground. Apart from  an Asian couple whom I met when I was turning back and whom I remet as they turned back, I saw no one else for the entire seven hours it took me to complete the walk. I was very relieved to be back at Jetty Beach though I still don’t understand how I could walk up the western side and back down on the east and then come out on the far side of the beach to the west of the Campground. I would  like to see a detailed map of that.

There were few people in the campground but it was hard to find a spot without overhanging trees. The wind hadn’t abated and as I lay down listening to the clashing branches, the van shook. After  a while I realised that the ground was shaking because the wind was trying to tear the trees out by the roots. I would not have wanted to be in a tent that night or in a boat at sea. By that time though, I was too tired to care and drifted off to sleep, glad of dry clothes at last, some food and to be out of that wind..
  

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