Sunday, September 11, 2011

3 Days on the Island - 2

Thursday. More rain. We decided to get on the road for the first half of the day and pick out some good wave-ski spots for when the sun appeared. We got down to Cape Bruny lighthouse, a handsome building designed by John Lee Archer (who also did Hobart's Parliament House among many others). In the 1830s it was lit by whale oil, and burned a pint of it per hour. It was manned for 158 years.

Around the lighthouse area are a few of those "no entry" signs showing the silhouette of a man with severe stomach cramps. Either that or he is making a beeline to give someone a good telling-off.

From there we took a side-road to have a look at Jetty Beach. So named because in the 1830s all the materials for building the lighthouse were landed there at a jetty and hauled overland about 10km to the cape. Apart from a small smelly dead shark, it was quite a beautiful spot.

There is a dirt (mud) road over Mt Mangana to Adventure Bay, so we took that in the hope of having a good view on the way over the top. The alternative is a much longer drive back through Alonnah. Unfortunately the road is pretty bad, it was raining harder and we never quite found the lookout. The road runs through dense tall trees and you really see nothing until you get back down to the coast.

Adventure Bay is really something though. On a better day it would have looked like this:
(Image stolen from Tasmania i-Drive)
Although it does not have a pub, it does have a general store, café, bowls club, caravan park, the Bligh Museum and Bruny Island Cruises. Until we drove past their sign we had forgotten all about those guys, which is surprising because they are a very high profile phenomenon. Elf ran in and booked us on a cruise for the next morning - it was pricey but very highly recommended to us by everyone who has done it.

We went into the Bligh Museum, which is an oddly masonic-looking stone building near Captain Cook Creek. It turns out this whole area of coastline hardly had five minutes peace between visits from Tasman, Cook, Bligh, Flinders, Furneaux and Bruni D'Entrecasteaux (who got the place named after him).

The museum is one of those classic enthusiast-run places with amazing journals and artifacts just sitting about, intermingled with bad photocopies of other documents and photos. Most of the explorers had some sort of South Pacific connection, which explains the startling rack of war clubs from Fiji, Tonga, the Solomons, Hawaii and New Zealand.

Something I thought was very interesting was a hand-coloured version of this map by Sir John Hayes.

I have never seen the old name for Tasmania, "Van Diemen's Land" applied to only part of the island. It is quite clear on the coloured version that Hayes considered this name as a Dutch claim to the part of the coast west of South East Cape. The other side of this point he considered to be his to name and claim, and he called the part south of the Derwent ‘New Cumberland’ and the rest ‘New Yorkshire’. He also called Mt Wellington ‘Skiddaw’. None of these names stuck.

So - forgive me if that seems really dull, it struck me as interesting. From the museum we ducked into the funny little general store for some general stores for lunch, then went into the Penguin Café next door for a pick-me-up. It is also a funny little place, crammed with crafts. The chunky knitted fish was a highlight. After coffee we drove back to Alonnah the saner but longer way.

After lunch, with the rain in recess, we got it in our heads to walk to the little Alonnah shop. It took about 20 minutes each way, along a narrow sometimes-dirt road, with occasional cars sending us lurching into the long grass. We got a few things and some lollies to keep up morale and struggled back again. At one point I could see along the beach to our neighbouring shack's boathouse, and I got everyone to follow me to try this great shortcut. Halfway there we realised we couldn't ford the creek without getting wet to the shins, so we retreated to the road.

Our shack had a great little woodfire, and we spent quite a bit of the holiday sitting around it, drying. That night we went to the pub (by car) for a counter meal. Today Tonight (junk current affairs for nongs) was on the TV. Exciting news, new university research has found an appetite suppressant that is helping people lose a kilo per week! It turned out to be a product already in the shops, made by Swisse, an incessant advertiser on this very channel. Sigh. Elf noticed a couple of days later that it was sold out in the biggest pharmacy here.

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