OZ and Tassie travel blog

Coles Bay

24 January

So, along to Dunalley where we spotted a fish market. Stopped and called in, but they had no fresh fish, everything they had was for frying - it was close to lunch time! We and another couple, disappointed, moved on.we carried on the Arthur Highway until at Copping the gps told us to turn right on the Kellevie Road, a direct line north. Ok for a while but we then joined the Wielangta Road which soon became gravel, not in a bad condition but still..... Along the road through the Wielangta Forest, a lovely drive through the eucalypt forest but the road deteriorated from time to time and made it a bit uncomfortable.

We seemed to drive this road forever, but we came to a junction, the Rheban Road, not in the gps plan but it looked as if it ran along the coast so we took the turn. The gps soon acquiesced and we continued. Rheban Bay was very windy, but beautiful, too windy for lunch so we moved on. Maria Island loomed over the view under its own cloud, the clouds had rolled in and the wind had picked up. We continued along the road to Spring Beach where we found picnic benches. Lunch. A lovely beach though the waves were quite big - but there were people in the water!

On from Spring Beach we rejoined the Tasman Highway at Orford and continued north to Swansea where we stopped to buy some food for dinner. Not much on the shelves here, maybe due to the forthcoming long weekend for Australia Day? We found some pork chops and then drove on, not far to Coles Bay and our accommodation for the next week. We found the cabin, a step back 50 years, but they did have a digital tv! It does have fantastic views of the mountains of the Freycinet National Park, the Hazard Ranges.

Unpacked, found the bottle shop, cooked dinner. Watched a crap movie starring Robin Williams, bed.

25 January

A bit overcast and warm already. Forecast is for a hot day and the bushfire risk at ‘extreme’. The fire fighters are at full stretch and hoping for no increase in the number and intensity of these fires though they know they have a really tough job just to try and contain then extinguish the current fires. We keep a close eye on the fire services website.

We drove to Bicheno for grocery shopping, called in at Freycinet Marine Farm to buy some scallops and prawns. Not very exciting scenery and it was very hazy and increasingly hot, about 35 degrees. Arriving in Bicheno the temperature dropped to about 27 degrees due to a strong sea breeze. Finished shopping we drove around a little to look at Bicheno, not very much of interest but they do have a blowhole, which due to the sea-state, was in fine fettle with great blasts and spray leaping more than 15 metres from the hole.

Back to Coles Bay, temperature now 39/40 degrees, still overcast, high humidity, not pleasant at all. Lunch.

We drove into the Freycinet National Park, only a couple of kilometres from here, to the visitor centre to read up about the Park. The tracks going into the interior were closed due tot he fire risk today, including the Wineglass Bay track. Never mind, it is too hot to walk very far, so we drove out to Cape Tourville (the French did a bit of exploring around these parts) which has a new automated lighthouse and great views along the coast. There was a Bennets Wallaby at the edge of the carpark, chomping on a banana skin some idiot had either given or dropped. We walked around the point and enjoyed the views; we could see the entrance to Wineglass Bay, said to be in the top ten of beaches of the world. Looked beautiful from here. Just off the Cape were two small island and several rocks, important breeding grounds for seabirds, ‘The Nuggets’. A skink posed for us on the way back to the car and the wallaby was still lurking around.

We drove back through the Park and parked at the Sleepy Bay carpark. A ten minute walk to the Bay for great views across the Bay and another ten minutes to Little Gravelly Beach. And it really is gravelly, approx 2 mm grains of granite make up the beach. Beautiful setting with huge pink granite boulders and the gritty beach, kelp waving in the swell.

Back to the house for a cold drink and just to relax; it was very hot, still over 35 degrees. Dinner, watched Robson Green in the deserts of South Australia and Coober Pedy, brought back memories of our last trip. The sunset was stunning, due to the cloud cover the whole sky was red with yellows and oranges all around. Absolutely beautiful.

26 Janauary

Australia Day!

A beautiful morning, clear skies and warm sunshine, a very pleasant mid-twenties, but still that breeze off the ocean. We noticed at the visitor centre they had a Discovery Ranger Programme and today it was about aboriginals. We joined a small group and an aboriginal ranger, Hank, who kept up a stream of comments and anecdotes whilst teaching how to make rope/string from flax fibres. I made a string onto which we threaded a long sea shell for Ruth to wear as a necklace; impressive!

We left Hank and drove along to Friendly Beaches, it was a bit further than I remembered, but we found the access road and followed it through dense shrub-land, banksia, she-oak (casuarina), tea-tree (manuka, for you honey fans....), paperbark eucalyptus and various heath plants. We took the first turn out and it lead to a small area of beach with rocks either end, beautiful white squeaky sand, with the surf pounding in, just magical. We drove on to the last beach access point and here the beach was vast and we could see for miles in either direction along the coast. The ocean was turquoise and the sand white with granite boulders in scattered heaps along the way. Very few people, a couple of men fishing on the rocky points, this is just wonderful and so beautiful. It did help that the sky was clear and blue, but little puffy clouds were starting to creep in.

We headed back now as it was definitely lunch time. We noticed another track as we were leaving the area and decided to have a quick look. A couple of kilometres later we found ourselves at the back of large white sand dunes. We walked through to the beach, another beautiful sight and there was no-one else here. Just walking back from the beach when Ruth spotted an echidna! A bit of a surprise to see one so close to the ocean but there was a lot of ground cover for it and after finishing digging where we first saw it, it moved into the undergrowth and out of sight.

Lunch. Delicious prawns we bought yesterday followed by Ruth’s homemade blueberry and yogurt icecream; delicious!

We had noticed, as we were leaving the visitor centre, that there was to be another item on the Discovery Ranger programme; a coastal bush-tucker walk. We joined Hank again and once again he just talked and talked, difficult to get a word in, such was his enthusiasm. He told us about the food his ancestors gathered in the region and then we walked down to the beach to find some. We tasted the base of what he called ‘cut-grass’ (because it can cut hands if not pulled crefully), it tasted like broad beans, slightly sweet. Very nice. Berries from some of the bushes; some were pleasant to eat, others not so, but important for the nutrients they contained. We tried to find shellfish, such as limpets and periwinkles, but no luck. Just two small periwinkles!

He explained about the middens nearby and the importance of them to the aboriginal. We had a long, long conversation about the aboriginal way of life, some of their current issues and how they are being addressed. Fascinating stuff for us and Hank was grateful for us listening and joining in.

Clouds thickening now and getting a lot cooler. Rain was in the forecast.

Didn’t seem to be much in the way of celebrating Australia Day here, beyond it being a long weekend.

27 January

Another fine morning, clear blue skies and warm sunshine, nice cooling breeze. A good day for the trek to see Wineglass Bay. There is a track to the saddle between Mount Amos (454 metres) and Mount Mayson (415 metres) which has a lookout to view Wineglass Bay, apparently one of the top ten beaches in the world. We drove up to the large car park and it was full, as were the roadsides wherever there was a space big enough for a car. Lots of people making their way to the track. We decided against it today; it was Sunday and the Australia Day weekend. Later in the week should be quieter, we hope! Interesting that people here think Wineglass Bay was named after it’s shape, it is a perfect crescent, but the name came from the whalers who had a base there and would tow the dead whales and fur seals into the Bay where they were butchered, turning the bay red! Fortunately this only lasted 20 years; whaling ceased by 1840.

We drove back along the road and parked at Honeymoon Bay, a very pretty little beach with bare pink granite rocks at either end. Lots of people on the beach so it was quieter to walk the track up on to the great smooth rocks at the northern end and enjoy the views across to Coles Bay and back to the Hazards, the sea was a beautiful turquoise and deep blue further out. Back to the house for lunch. Afterwards we drove out to Swanwick, on the Swan River, no sign of any swans, but it was breezy, picking up the waves. The village seemed to principally consist of holiday homes and lets. Building plots were also up for sale; a bit of a mish-mash of building styles here and not all good looking!

On the way back we drove in to look at the Edge of the Bay Resort as they had a restaurant overlooking the Bay and the Hazards. Menu was boring! Had a wander round, took photos of the Hazards, sadly darkened by the heavy cloud cover just now, will have to try again another day. Spotted several wallabies in the bush. Back for dinner, a slow roasted pork shoulder needing several hours to cook on the barbecue. Coles Bay seemed a little quieter now, maybe the weekenders have gone home.

We drove out into the Park after dark to be able to see the stars, but a few wispy clouds blocked out the Milky Way. Saw brush-tailed possum wandering about the car park. Drove back along the Coles Bay Road, clear of the village and by now the clouds had moved on and the Milky Way was brilliant, arching across the sky, just amazing.

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