Bruny Island December 2016
Nerida and I were travelling in her rented campervan. After we left Cockle Creek, we drove to the extreme south of Bruny Island. The attraction here is the one-day walk around the Labillardiere Peninsula.
The entire Labillardiere Peninsula is National Park. The camping area is at the end of the road (marked orange) to the south of Great Taylors Bay. You can see to the immediate north of the camping ground is a small bay, known as Jetty Beach (not named in the above map). Long ago, before vehicle access to Bruny Island, the jetty here was used to build and then service the lighthouse at Cape Bruny. Although the light is still emitted during hours of darkness, the lighthouse has now been un-manned for many years. This lighthouse was the first built in Tasmania, to guide sailing ships coming from the west along Tasmania's south coast. Most of these ships were headed for Hobart, with crew anxiously looking for the turning point to head north.
Also note the road to Cloudy Bay (featured in the photograph below of the famous "toilet with a view").
Bruny Island is NOT accessible via a road bridge, so all vehicle traffic arrives by ferry. Land use is a mixture of farming, State Forest, residential (holiday and retirement) housing, with a small national part in the far south.
Dennes Point, in the far north of Bruny, is typical of the island's housing.
This is my idea of the correct balance as far as shed size goes: a small house attached to a large shed. Bliss! (no, I am NOT a horder!)
The island's farmland is dotted with picturesque ruins... I just love ruins...
There are walking tracks through the State Forest around Mount Mangana. There had been rain just before our visit, and the forest was wet and lush. Patches of tall eucalypt forest remain, and are impressive.
The water in the forest's small stream was running clear.. but most of these small waterways dry in summer.
The forest floor, deep in leaf litter, supports many colourful fungi.
The shoreline at Cloudy Bay, looking west. The hill in the middle ground is a nesting ground for burrowing seabirds: short-tailed shearwaters and little penguins. This should really be fenced off and inaccessible to tourists: perhaps it would be if the Parks Service was better funded.
There is a free camping area at Cloudy Bay called "The Pines". Here a group of campers had lit a fire on the floor of the pine plantation. A stupid thing to do, as the floor is a combustible
'carpet' made of pine leaves, several centimetres deep. The campers had left, perhaps the previous day, leaving the fire smoldering. Depending on weather conditions, the fire could have spread, engulfing the plantation and nearby houses and farm land. If we had 100L of water and a spade, we could have put the fire out ourselves. We phoned 000, and also talked with a local farmer, Jason Evans.
There is a well-known toilet at Cloudy Bay. It's built of corten steel sheet, so has rusted a nice shade of brown.
But the highlight is a one-way mirror window, giving the occupant a view of the beach.
We spent the next three days at the Labillardiere Peninsula camping area, thankfully in company of only a few other campers. This camping ground becomes a nightmare during Christmas and Easter holidays.
The camping ground has good views to the north.
Above, Jetty Beach, the setting of the camping area, in this photo (looking west) the camping ground is hidden from view just past the wetland in the middle ground.
A closer view of the wetlands, home to ducks, frogs, lizards, snakes ... and others...
I first started visiting this area in 1999. Back then there was virtually no 'sea lettuce' on the foreshore rocks, just brown kelps. Sea lettuce is an algae which thrives in water with elevated nutrient levels. In the intervening years there has been a massive expansion of salmon aquaculture in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel (between Bruny Island and Tasmania). Nutrients from this industry have had a huge impact on the local shoreline ecology. In many places the brown kelps have been entirely replaced.
The industry may be monitoring these impacts... if detailed information is available it is not easy to find.
On some mornings, hundreds of large crabs appear in the shallow water off Jetty Beach. I wondered why they came, where they usually lived, and what they were eating here. They certainly appear to be extremely vulnerable.
Our first excursion was an exploration of the southeast corner of Great Taylors Bay.
The first thing we noticed was live oysters... entirely missing from Jetty Beach (presumably all eaten).
We constructed rock art. Mine had more rocks than Nerida's: however her's had more artistic merit. At least that's what she said...
Soldier crabs... in their thousands...
They waste no time in digging themselves into the sand...
When we reached the final beach, it was without human footprints... no doubt soon to change with the coming of the Christmas crowds. A dead seal lay washed up. Unfortunately fishermen still shoot seals. In my view, no amateur or professional fishing boat should be permitted to carry firearms.
The next day we set off on the circuit walk around the peninsula.
I was not expecting so much colour ... from young leaves and brilliant flowers..
The southern shoreline looked healthy, with plenty of shining kelp, moving to and fro with the waves...
With no trace of sea lettuce, presumably due to the southern shore's ocean and tidal currents, being outside the Channel.
The top of this pebble beach, near the western tip of the peninsula, was over 8m above the low tide mark... a testament to the power of storm waves coming from the Southern Ocean.
The wonderful colours and patterns of coastal lichens...
... and the sky...