Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Bruny - Day 4 Fluted Cape



View from the top
Next morning, now that my boots, raincoat and jeans had dried out, I tackled the Fluted Cape Circuit. It starts just past Adventure Bay and is acclaimed as one of the 60 Great Walks in Tasmania. The weather was still showing fried eggs and it was under overcast skies, not altogether unpleasant for the task at hand, that I began this walk. It's a long, long climb through rather nondescript vegetation - a few scattered and fire scarred gum trees, bracken fern and those sad looking sags that always make me think of snakes. Knots of people lap me at regular intervals and there are quite a few coming down the other way. They tell me it’s much steeper that way making me glad that I have chosen this route.

At first I wonder what the fuss is about. Sure, there are undoubtedly excellent sea views from the top at 231 metres, but today they are obscured by mist and drizzle and I see nothing but a huge sheet of water.  I imagine a boat cruise – the well patronised Bruny Island Adventure Tours perhaps, would be the best way to appreciate this ragged coast.  I eat my lunch and start heading down.  It is only then that I begin to see why this is such a celebrated walk. At every level there are craggy outcrops which reveal more and more of the  coastline, islands, the amazing headland I have just come down, and huge monoliths that stare out to sea like Easter Island figures. 

Penguin Island lies far below and The Neck, that narrow isthmus that links North and South Bruny can just be seen on the horizon

Stony sentinels gaze out to sea

Layer upon layer of cliffs reveal themselves on the descent
The track now lives up to its promise and concludes with ruins and relics from old whaling stations where I join the shorter, level Grass Point Circuit. My companions on this section are several small grey wallabies and a clutch of noisy rosellas. Fortunately the whales, hunted to near extinction by 1849, are now returning and along with dolphins, seals, albatrosses and sea eagles have become one of the attractions on the popular cruises which depart from this part of the Island. As I'm leaving I am approached by a Japanese family asking where they might see Bruny Island's famous white kangaroo. Alas, I hadn't even heard of it, much less seen one, though I do tell them where they might see  wallabies.
Whaling history - another chapter in Bruny's colourful past is captured in panels along the Grass Point Circuit

Perhaps because I have been carrying my pack, my right arm and shoulder now hurt more than at any time since I tripped over and I am really looking forward to that hot shower.  My wish is granted,  though not without a touch of rancour.
The showers are the coin in slot kind and you pay $4 extra for the key. I assumed the $4 was a key deposit and when I returned it to the office and casually asked whether I would get this back - the usual practice even across the Nullarbor where water is even scarcer, the man behind the counter was outraged.

“No you don’t! Who do you think pays for the power and the water?” You people. You want to stay cheaply in the National Park and then use our facilities. Go back to your bloody long drops.” 

I didn’t mean to complain. I realise that being allowed to shower there at all without being a guest was a privilege not accorded to many. I was just surprised, especially as, when even on the said Nullarbor where every litre of water must be carted in, they are able to run  public coin operated showers at minimal cost. There was no use trying to point out either that the Caravan Park was full last night and I always resent having to pay for a double anyway, when all I need is a shower. Where there is adequate water even that isn't usually a big deal. I just boil a big billy, get out the washbasin and have a head -to -toe wash, but having been on the road a few days now and with no sign of a water tap anywhere  - even those in the community centre are the push -button kind which only allow a trickle of water to run a few seconds for hand washing, I was afraid my water was going to run out and I wouldn't have any left for drinking and cooking.  

I was really grateful for the shower and didn’t want to say anything at the time, but surely with so many visitors-200,000 at last count, some better amenities could be provided. The long drop toilets at the Neck didn’t even have water to wash one’s hands.  I’m not saying that local people should fund these facilities, unless of course they are among the ones benefiting and even then, not exclusively.
What about the companies that hire out campervans – over one hundred dollars a day for one as basic as mine without even a toilet, much less a shower? When you want those as well you are looking at $200 - $300 a day and have to hire for a minimum of ten days in the season. People who valiantly bring their own – public transport being so poor in this state, pay a similar amount for two people to come over from Australia on the ferry and that’s not counting the cost of the local ferry, fuel and food. 
I am sure that visitors who are able to pay $685 for a one day seafood feast, wouldn’t mind paying say, $5 extra to keep those ‘pristine‘waters clean and  to prevent seabirds and dolphins being caught up in plastic bags. Businesses in Margate and Kettering probably also benefit from people stocking up on fuel and food before they get here. What about giving something back and not blaming the visitors or making them feel like milch cows or pariahs? If there was a $2 passenger surcharge on the ferry for visitors and also for those who come by air or boat, it would provide a pool of about $400,000 a year which would surely cover the cost of providing better infrastructure in the interests of hygiene and the environment. 

A backpacker hostel and an RV park that actually has a reliable water supply, a few gas BBQ's, toilets and solar -assisted showers, are surely not beyond the pale. Many communities opt to be RV friendly and provide these facilities free of charge because they know that this enables visitors to stay longer and spend more on other things. A good permanent water supply and sewerage treatment plant would benefit local people also and could provide local employment in construction and maintenance, not to mention additional business opportunities. 


 There. That’s my rant for the day. Freshly scrubbed and wearing clean clothes, I filled up with fuel and decided to be a tourist for the rest of the day. I went to the Berry Farm again and tried their signature desert – Berries in Champagne Jelly with a dollop of double cream. I wasn’t too excited about it – perhaps the previous experience ruined my tastebuds. Still, they had a few small punnets of blueberries that day, so I bought one to make up the minimum to be able to use my card. Cool Cow Ice-cream up the road was tempting and so was the Chocolate Factory, but by this time I was rather desserted out and also anxious to hang onto my remaining cash. Although it said on the internet before I left, that the Neck Campground where I was probably going to have to stay was free, I noticed on the way past that there was now a $10 charge there as well and that it was already very crowded.

Treat for the day - Berries in Champagne Jelly with Double Cream $ 8.95 at the Berry Farm
After another loop around Alonnah to find its well hidden general store, and a pleasant chat with the lady in the Post Office who gave me cash out and told me about the free History Reading Room in the old Court House next door, I bunked up at a lookout somewhere on the Mangana Road, intending to do the walk up Bruny’s highest mountain in the morning, weather permitting, of course. The Reading Room would be a nice fallback if it proved uncooperative. Surprise, surprise. I have signal on my phone at last and  manage to reply to missed calls and catch up on my junk mail.

Dusk on Adventure Bay


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