Tasman Peninsula

Our plan for today had been to spend the morning on the Pennicott cruise from Port Arthur around Tasman Island and then explore the local area. That plan was erased when I had a call at lunchtime yesterday to say that the cruise was cancelled for today because of the weather. Instead, weather permitting, we hoped to do some of the walks suggested by our hosts last night.

Soon after 8:00 am we were eating breakfast of muesli with fruit and yoghurt, eggs with bacon, tomato and mushrooms, and fresh baked bread with home made jams washed down with coffee. That done we packed for the day and were out the door.

By 9:00 am we were parking at the entrance to the Cape Raoul and Shipstern Bluff walking tracks. The weather was overcast and misty and there had been occasional light rain as we drove but it was not raining as we  arrived. We put our umbrellas in my backpack in case we might need them and set off up the hill through the forest.

The track was not especially steep but it was almost entirely uphill with just an occasional short level stretch. The trees in the first section were tall and straight but further up they became shorter with twisted limbs. There were more small flowers than we expected for the time of year and some yellow banksias along with numerous bushes covered in small red berries. At one point we found an elaborate wooden seat that offered Majella a welcome rest.

After a bit more than 30 minutes of walking we came to the fork where the paths toward Cape Raoul and Shipstern Bluff diverge. We took the left trail toward Cape Raoul, intending to go as far as the lookout which was signed as 15 minutes away. Just beyond the fork we began to see large white bags filled with heavy rocks. Eventually we came across some machinery and three men who were working on upgrading the path by building sets of steps with the rocks. They told us they had been at it for a couple of weeks and hoped the funding would keep them working for another month. Some of the materials, including the large bags of rocks, had been airlifted into place.

The view from the Cape Raoul lookout was spectacular despite the cloud and mist obscuring the distance. We did not stay long but headed back down hoping to make it before there was any serious rain.

David had suggested that it was possible to walk to both lookouts and return in about 2 hours. To my surprise, when we reached the fork on the way down Majella decided we should go to the other lookout. Before long she regretted that since the track began to descend, meaning that we would have to climb up again as we returned. 

As we reached Shipstern Bluff lookout the rain intensified a little. We paused only briefly and I pulled out my umbrella to fend off some of the rain. Majella needed both hands for her poles and strode on without the shelter of her umbrella. We made good time on the way back and finished in close to the 2 hours suggested.

Majella was already thinking of lunch and had targeted the Lavender Farm which had been recommended by Sylvia. On the way we diverted toward Remarkable Cave. That took us behind the convict site and along the coastline. It was raining when we reached the car park so we settled for a quick look at the sea and cliffs from the lookout, avoiding the 15 minute walk in the rain to see the cave

Lunch at the Lavender Farm was good. Majella had salmon with lavender hot chocolate. I had the beer battered fish and chips with a cider. The lunches were large enough that we knew we would have no need of dinner.

After lunch we drove north to the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo, so named because the animals other than devils are allowed to roam freely. Our timing was good and we did not have long to wait for the feeding of a pair of ageing devils retained for presentations. They put on a suitably fierce display, growling and gnashing at each other and leaping against the enclosure until the attendant eventually tossed in two chunks of wallaby. The male devil grabbed one and ran off to the back of the enclosure to eat it. The female stayed in view with hers and consumed it all, flesh, skin, and hair, leaving just a small piece of cleaned bone. We could have stayed longer to explore the collection of native plants but that was not especially attractive in the rain so we drove on.

Rather than drive back the way we had come we took the other road via Nubeena. Along the way we diverted up Saltwater River Road and visited the Coal Mines Historic Site. That was more expansive than we had expected and the signs offered a variety of walks, some of which were described as taking 3 hours or more. We opted for a short walk of less than a kilometre to the living area where we saw some ruins of what would have been an impressive stone barracks building.

Before heading back to the main road we drove on to the Lime Bay Reserve which was marked on the map as a photo opportunity. We found a small bay with crystal clear water that would have photographed better on a sunny day.

Just before we reached Nubeena on the way back we turned off and drove to Roaring Beach which was signed as a surf area. The road ended a hundred metres or so from the beach. Between there and the beach there was a system of dunes. I climbed the nearest high dune for a view over the series of dunes to the sea which did appear to have waves that might interest surfers.

On the way through Nubeena we stopped at the supermarket and bought some cheese and crackers and a chocolate bar. That would be enough for a light snack after our big lunches.

Back at Storm Bay we enjoyed a cup of tea and a short chat with David and Sylvia before retiring to our room. There we watched the sunset colours outside and caught up on what had happened elsewhere before winding down for the night.