Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Bruny - Day 3 Mixed Blessings


Back at the lighthouse there are fabulous views in every direction - this is looking south towards the Southern Ocean at the very tip of Bruny
Looking West

 I always expect my feet to be bleeding stumps in the morning after a walk like that, but I am in surprisingly good nick except for my right arm which hurts a bit. Perhaps it’s like those massage pits with pointy stones that Koreans walk over to stimulate and tone the body.  Or maybe it’s like the self -flagellation of mediaeval monks. It simply feels great when you stop.

The quaint Lighthouse Museum in the relief lighthouse keeper's cottage offers a glimpse into a vanished way of life
The wind is still blowing and the weather map is still showing “Possible early morning shower or two” with that picture of what looks like a fried egg with little blue droplets underneath. This is not a menu suggestion but  is supposed to  represent  clouds with  the sun peeking over the top, so I take myself off to the lighthouse museum which I had  noticed on my late evening visit two days earlier.

I am glad there’s no one around when I get there. Since most of my clothes are still wet from the day before I am now stylishly attired in long black leggings with too short crop pants over the top, a clean t- shirt, a hoodie and socks and sandals.  Inside there’s a wealth of information on the how and the who of lighthouses – one family raised twelve children here, two of whom became lighthouse keepers themselves; how the lighthouse used to be serviced from the sea; some of the natural history – I am able to identify some of the plants I’ve seen; a list of shipwrecks that precipitated the building of the lighthouse and so forth. It was a fascinating glimpse into a way of life that has now largely disappeared. In 1960 the lighthouse was converted to electricity and no longer needed keepers and in 1996 a new automated light was installed on another hill, leading to its decommissioning. It is now managed by Parks and Wildlife and safeguards an important part of the history of this island state.
Three more cars arrive as I come out of the museum. Their occupants are immaculately dressed and take lots of photos. I sidle away to do the short walk to the children’s graves down by the beach and then drive to Cloudy Bay.
The lonely graves of two infant children of lighthouse keepers - Christina Merrick aged 2 years and 6 months (dated 1875) and the youngest child of Lighthouse Keeper A. Willliams, aged 6 months (dated 1898) hint at the isolation faced by lighthouse families
 Cloudy Bay has a very exposed walk along the beach to East Cloudy Head, 4 Hours return, but I am almost blown over as I step out of the car and the surf is definitely up.  You should hear it roar. It seems like a very good time to look at the interior of the island instead. This is Forestry territory. The sign at the start of one of the few roads that crosses the island says, "This road is not maintained by council” and that some sections may be rough. It didn’t look as bad as some of the roads I have been on lately. After a small red sedan emerges unscathed from it, I too take the plunge.

Cloudy Bay is indeed and though it looks calm and pleasant you should hear that wind and surf roar

 It passes through some tall timbered country with a little rainforest at its feet. There’s a small walking track to The Top Mill, which outlines Forestry’s long history on the island. After that there are one or two lookouts and a track to Mt. Mangana, I am already past them before I notice the signs and there’s nowhere to turn around. Then it felt as if I was going downhill for twenty kilometres. At the bottom of the hill there’s an intersection with a sign warning that the road I have just come down is for 4WD vehicles only. I’m not sure whether to be pleased or annoyed that there wasn’t a similar sign at the other end. I turn right towards “Mavista Nature Walk.”

Rusting machinery at the the Top Mill site attests to Forestry's long involvement with Bruny Island. Currently there is pressure for cessation of logging  to protect the very endangered orange bellied parrot which makes its home here, especially as Bruny Island does not harbour any of its predators 
Tall timbers in the centre of South Bruny
Mavista turned out to be a pretty little walk – around 45 minutes return through ferns, dogwoods, myrtle and sassafras trees which runs alongside a small rivulet called Waterfall Creek. I was rather hoping for a waterfall but there was none to be seen.

This road – Resolution Road, was supposed to be a quick way back to Adventure Bay but as I approached the turnoff there were roadworks and then the road itself came to an abrupt end where  a new bridge was being built.  It would have been useful to have that signed at the other end before getting this far, especially as there was nowhere to turn around. The one place where it might have been possible was occupied by a big mound of dirt. Instead, I had to turn up a real bush track – narrow, with rough rocks and deep ruts, until I found somewhere to turn around. This was made even more difficult by the fact that I encountered another van coming down which obviously had to do the same thing.

Mavista Nature Walk
 Grumbling I drive all the way back to the junction with the Mt. Mangana Road – it probably wasn’t far, just felt like it, and  take the longer road to Adventure Bay. Once there, I try to buy the Bruny Island bread – a nice heavy rye that I buy in Hobart, but they don’t stock it in the town. It’s only available at the Cheese Factory, some distance away on North Bruny. I go to the Berry Farm, but they are out of berries. It just doesn’t seem to be my day. I ask at the Caravan Park if I could pay for a shower. The receptionist says they are full tonight, but if I come back tomorrow during cleaning time, I may be able get one then.
I have lunch on the foreshore where all the signs say, “Day Use Only.” The salmon which is actually produced on Bruny Island is dearer here than in my local milkbar. I hasten to add that I am not blaming the shopkeeper. I was equally shocked on finding out that Tasmanian cheeses cost less in Cairns than I could buy them wholesale for a shop I had on the West Coast. It's ironic that's all, and has to do with volume of sales I understand.

Lots of cars pull up for a while and then keep going, often leaving their rubbish behind. At the end of the road there’s a big parking area with several bins.   I try to put  my rubbish bag in but the lid is so tight – there’s a closure on top presumably to prevent possums from getting at the rubbish, that I have to squash each item individually – the yoghurt container, the empty soup packet and so on, to be able to squeeze them in. Perhaps that and the fact that there are no bins in the National Park are some of the reasons why rubbish is such a problem on the Island.There are better bins and good toilets at the community centre, but it takes a while to discover them because they are set back off the main road. If I hadn’t been looking for the toilets  wouldn't have found them at all. (My Portaloo is for emergency use only because then it has to take up pride of place in the van in the only area where I can stand up).
Afterwards I drive around aimlessly for a while, look for a few blackberries without success, buy expensive free range eggs at a roadside stall and end up parking at a secluded spot on the lower reaches of the Mt. Mangana Road. From this end the road is nowhere near as steep as some of those near my home.With careful driving to avoid a couple of spots where runoff has made horizontal ruts across the surface, it isn't anywhere near as rough as the Council road to Dennes Point either.

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