Thursday, March 03, 2016

Bruny – Day 5 Mt. Mangana



View from the Lookout at first light
I’m awake at first light, but it’s too early and too hazy to see anything from the lookout. No matter. I plan to do the one and a half hour walk to the top of Mount Mangana, the highest peak on the Island, and watch the sunrise from there.

Despite the flagging tape on this side of the road, the track actually starts on the other side
I drive to the parking area on the left though the sign is on the right, along with some pink flagging tape. That’s not the track though. That starts at the bottom end of the carpark. From there it winds gently upwards through moist forest rich with ferns, mosses and berries.  Near the top, the track gets rockier and flattens out a bit and you think that at any moment you are going to see the most spectacular vista.
I love the smell of rainforest in the morning

It's berry season in the bush too

Not so. After a long haul you emerge at a very ugly clearing with a very large communication tower. That’s no doubt why I had such a good reception last night, but it’s still a disappointment.

The reward for all my efforts
There was another smaller track veering eastwards just before I got to this point, so I head off in that direction thinking it may give views to the South and East. Far, far down I could faintly make out the outline of the coast, but what loomed largest on my horizon was another monstrous aerial. This  one carried a red warning sticker saying,” Radiation within five metres.” I didn’t even stay long enough to take a photo and faintly wondered if the locals were having a bit of a joke at the expense of tourists.
  
The only sign of wildlife is a leech firmly stuck to my arm. Don’t worry, they aren’t poisonous, unless you happen to be one of the unfortunate people who are allergic to the anticoagulant that leeches use. Most likely the worst that will happen is that they will drink their fill and then fall off. If you knock them off prematurely as I accidentally did, the tiny wound will bleed freely, which technically should flush away any germs.  If you want to hasten the falling off process, a lighter, a match or some salt applied to their extremity is supposed to work. 

At least it was a pleasant bushwalk. As I drive down the last part of Coolangatta Road, lo and behold, a large white kangaroo jumps out of the bush. It turns out that about 10% of the Island’s kangaroo population is white so at least that wasn’t a myth. I turn around at the end of the road, hoping to get a photograph, but by the time I come back, there is quite a bit of traffic and absolutely no sign of the kangaroo. While trying to turn around again at the entrance to someone’s drive, I’m pleasantly surprised when a man behind the gate waves cheerily and gives me a friendly smile.
Alas, it’s case of mistaken identity. His step -daughter drives a similar vehicle and he thought she was coming to pick berries. I apologise for using his driveway and we fall into conversation. I can’t remember the exact words but I wanted to know if Bruny Islanders had a problem with tourists.
‘Not really, “he says, “But I think they may be a bit resentful of people dining and being able to do things they can’t afford to do.”  No surprise there. I feel a bit that way myself. To make up for some of my less joyful experiences,  he takes me into his magic garden and fills a container with raspberries, apples, tomatoes from the greenhouse and peaches straight from the tree. He flatly refuses to take any money.  
 “Can’t I give you anything? “I ask. He smiles and says “I am that rare creature, a man who has everything and is perfectly content.”  To top it all off he fills a bucket of water from his water tank and tips it into mine, so at least I’ll have water for coffee. It makes my day and completely changes my perspective. What a difference a friendly face makes.
There is another walk in the north of the Island - the four hour Cape Queen Elizabeth Walk, but when I get within striking distance it’s hot and I am a bit tired from my morning excursion. Instead I call at the Cheese Factory to buy the bread.  Despite my not being able to afford the cheese as well, these are delicious, the setting is lovely and the staff are friendly and enthusiastic.  It’s obviously a very popular tourist stop.  Although I am not a huge seafood fan, I am disappointed that Tassal’s Salmon Farm is not open to the public and presents only a bleak face to the road.
North Bruny is considerably drier, more pastoral and less populated than the South, possibly ideal for those who prefer a little quiet and seclusion. The only significant township appears to be Dennes Point so I follow the torturous corrugated dirt road to the little village at the end, catching a glimpse of the Iron Pot Lighthouse along the way.  As I plunge down the last long hill, the van is buffeted by strong winds.  Never very aerodynamic it lurches and weaves like a drunk on pay night.


One of my last glimpses of North Bruny - That's the Iron Pot Lighthouse, Tasmania's first, up there on the right


There’s a coffee shop and a gallery, but I feel as if I've been wrestling bears for the last half hour. I end up having a Nanna Nap (one of  the great advantages of having a van, along with being able to make coffee),on the foreshore under a giant macrocarpa which offers a little shelter from the wind. I also make a mental note to henceforth keep an eye on those little flags on the weather report  that tell you how strong the wind is going to be.
It’s late on a Friday afternoon as I re -enter the main highway. The next surge of visitors has obviously just come off the ferry.  While waiting impatiently to get into the line of traffic, it occurs to me that I will probably be competing for campsites with all these newcomers for the whole weekend.  Suddenly I feel really tired. As I turn back towards the ferry terminal where lines of returnees are already  queuing up for the next one,  I console myself with the thought that the Reading Room and the two big walks I haven’t done will surely keep until next time and who knows, maybe I'll even have better luck with the weather. 'Bye for now Bruny. Hasta la vista!

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