|Bush with X factor|
|The landscape you see from the highway|
Yet there is another little secret here. Just off the road at Bagdad, 40 km north of Hobart is the Chauncy Vale Sanctuary. It was Tasmania’s first private Wildlife Sanctuary established in 1946 by author Nan Chauncy and her husband Anton.
In 1930 she travelled to Europe, living on a houseboat on the Thames and spending her winters teaching English in Sweden. On the return voyage in 1938, she met and later married a German refugee, Helmut Anton Rosenfeld. Since all things German were treated with suspicion due to the war, regardless of which side you were on, she did not take his name, but that of her maternal grandmother. They then returned to the timber and concrete hut built by her father and her brother at Bagdad in 1918/1919. It had no electricity and no running water, but it was here between 1947 and 1969, at the manual typewriter that still stands on her desk, that Nan Chauncy wrote her twelve novels as well as radio plays and articles about wildlife.
|It's a long way up|
At first sight the bush around Chauncy Vale does not seem very hospitable. It looks sparse and drab with a few cutty rushes, straggly she oaks and wattles and signs of recent bush fires. Though home to a great variety of wildlife and plants, especially orchids, it’s a bit early in the day for the fauna and a bit early in the season for wild flowers. However, once we heroically embark on the Winter Track it gets progressively more interesting.
Stunning views of surrounding hills and valleys unfold as we climb higher and higher. A shrub with dainty pink flowers scents the air as I brush past and at last - after an accidental detour (be sure to take the right fork after the little bridge - not the left, which peters out in the rocks), we come out at the summit where the wind has carved bizarre land forms including the famous caves. No doubt the Aborigines had their own stories for these caves and imbued them with their own forms of spirit and magic. It is as if they speak and whisper of things which the eye cannot see. Of geological time, of tribal memories perhaps, of bushrangers, of long gone children and those who have visited since.
|View from the verandah|
Although Nan Chauncy died in 1970 and her husband Anton died not long after, they have left a sanctuary for animals and a legacy for others to enjoy and their hospitality lives on. There are picnic shelters and barbecues and you can even camp overnight the better to appreciate the wildlife. According to Maree the caretaker,“It’s a regular mothers' club of wombats, wallabies and possums and their offspring."