Tuesday, 07-10-2014. Day 48.
A Hike in Freycinet
As the name Wind Song would suggest, the Lodge (that's the name of the room we're staying in) was buffeted by strong winds for much of the night. We hadn't heard such a racket since way back in New Zealand during a windy night in the camper. But by sunrise, all was quiet. I opened the drapes to see what sort of weather we'd be up against for the day, and saw a wallaby looking right back at me.
After a required amount of delightful squealing because of cuteness, we ate a light breakfast in the room and then struck out for a day of adventure in Freycinet National Park.
Before we got too far along the Tasman Highway, we came to an unusual bridge called Spiky Bridge just off the road. We couldn't resist checking out something called Spiky Bridge, and we pulled in right behind another car, the occupants of which seemed a tad put out by our arrival. Oh well. We were there to check out the bridge, and it was big enough for the both of our groups.
According to the adjacent plaque, this bridge was part of the road that connected Swansea to the north with Little Swanport to the south and provided access to the road that led to Hobart. It was built by convicts (like many of the structures along the east coast of Tasmania), but it's not known why it has spikes of rock jutting up from the sides.
The other group turned out to be a pair of geocachers. They dawdled, trying to wait us out, but when it was clear that we weren't moving along as quickly as they liked, they went on their hunt. It wasn't really clear what their deal was until they started digging around under a tree on the opposite bank.
Moulting Lagoon Game Reserve
We commenced to cruising along the Tasman Highway, making good time on these winding cliff-side roads, when a sign telling us about a scenic lookout popped up. Not ones to easily pass up scenic lookouts, we pulled off and checked out the Moulting Lagoon, a large wetland area at the north end of the Great Oyster Bay.
This area is home to a great many waterfowl and a stop-off for migratory birds. As we looked out and read the plaque there, about five other cars pulled in along this narrow turnout. It seemed to be apopular place.
We drove on to the small town of Coles Bay, the last stop before we entered Freycinet National Park, to pick up some food from the IGA for a picnic lunch. The hardest part about shopping for groceries here is selecting which chips and candy bars we want to try. There are so many things we've never seen before, it's a real challenge narrowing down the options.
Freycinet National Park
Freycinet National Park, named by French navigator Louis de Freycinet after himself, occupies most of the Freycinet peninsula (ditto) on the east coast of Tasmania. Samantha and I were here 15 years ago, and the girls were looking forward to visiting it. We pulled into the visitor center (which sells a pretty good supply of hiking and backpacking gear, in addition to the usual tourist trinkets) to pay our entrance fee, and Jackie discovered the stuffed animals ... Tasmanian Devils, Wombats, and Echidnas. This was the beginning of the chapter of our adventure we call "The Demise of Valencia" (the stuffed alpaca Jackie picked up at Sheepworld).
We paid our fee and drove deeper into the park, heading toward the Wineglass Bay Lookout car park. Right before we got to the trail head, we saw an echidna just snuffling along at the edge of the forest on the side of the road. We couldn't get out and take a picture because of all the cars around, but it was a cool thing to see, even if all we saw was its butt.
A few moments later, we pulled into the car park ... and this is where the cuteness overload began. I remember this place from our previous visit a gathering spot for wallabies—and it still is. The animals here have become inured to human presence and stand around the car park, being all photogenic and stuff.
These seemingly tame critters congregate here in good numbers to beg food off the tourists that are hiking to Wineglass Bay. Here are some of the things we saw people feeding the wallabies while we were there:
- Udon noodles
This is bad, mainly because if they don't eat their regular diet (mostly grasses and leaves), they can get a disease called "lumpy jaw." Yes, a silly name, but quite serious—it can cause them to starve. So we didn't feed them or pet them. We got pretty close to them, though.
We hiked up to the Wineglass Bay lookout and enjoyed our lunch. It wasn't a long hike, maybe three kilometers, but it was quite enjoyable. There are a lot of stone steps along the trail ...
... but once we reached the lookout, we had some great views of Wineglass Bay below.
After we hiked back down to the car park and fended off more wallabies, Samantha decided she wanted to take the wheel and try this left side of the road business. She did a great job, but I have to say as weird as it feels driving on the left, it feels even weirder riding in the front seat of a car driving on the left.
We got back to The Lodge and noticed that our table had been set for dinner, and, shortly after we arrived, Jane (one of our hosts) brought us our first course of pumpkin soup, which was delicious. She told us there were a lot of wallabies on their property beyond the garden, so after we finished our soup, we took a walk back there and scared up a herd of the things. They move pretty quickly when they have to.
After scaring the pajeebles (Jackie's word choice; this is also where Jackie first uttered her new signature expression, "Hot Jigglin' Babies!") out of all the wallabies, we got back to The Lodge in time for the main course of roast chicken (with stuffing!), which was quite delightful.
After dinner, in front of our roaring fire, we watched the fourth Doctor in Revenge of the Cybermen, on VHS as it was intended.
- Kilometers driven: 220
- Kilometers driven by Samantha: 110
- iPadographers seen: 2
- Wallabies seen: 11
- Echindas seen: 1