January 10, 2014 by Dan
“So let me get this straight,” said Julie. “You’ve taken me to Australia, which is an island. Then to Tasmania, which is a smaller island. And now we’re going to South Bruny Island off of Tasmania?”
“Yep,” I said.
We woke as early as we could inside Pocketspace, and drove through Hobart’s version of traffic (taking a wrong turn and getting slightly lost on the way) to the ferry dock at Kettering, getting there about five minutes before the 9:30 am scheduled departure.
Yes, I thought. Made it!
“You didn’t make this one,” said the cheerful woman at the toll gate. “But we’re running some extras, so you’ll get the ten-fifteen.”
Not too bad. We drove our little rental car up past a large line of vacationer automobiles, parked, and waited. It was a beautiful day, and there was a gift shop/cafe. After a half hour of pastries and coffee, I saw movement on the water.
I don’t know if you know this about me, but I think that car ferries are amazing. This was no less so. It was basically a huge square two-story boat with a ramp that let you drive up or down. We were on the down side, and after getting everyone on, we crossed the straight to Bruny, about a twenty-minute voyage.
Our plan was to go for a quick nature walk and then find something to eat. Bruny is a legendary (for Tasmania) vacation destination, dotted with little restaurants and B&Bs. There’s basically one long road that goes from North Bruny over the spit to South Bruny; you drive on gentle hills past farms and thousands of sheep. We cruised along Adventure Bay, taking a quick break to see a monument to the immortal Captain James Cook:
And from just beyond there in Adventure Bay we started our walk to Fluted Cape. It was supposed to be an easy hour and a half or so, and it certainly started out that way, on a deserted beach with lapping cold-water waves:
As we walked along the trail turned muddy, and we took a right where a sign told us to go, and things got ugly. The mud didn’t go away, a fly took a liking to Julie’s head and followed her, buzzing madly, for nearly forty-five minutes, it was hot, the trail itself just switched back and forth up through an uninspiring eucalyptus forest. We were both grumpy.
“If this stupid trail doesn’t get better in ten minutes, we’re turning back,” I grumped.
Here’s the thing: that’s never a good idea. Turning back over bits of ground that we’d already covered – and kind of hated – was not going to make things better. So…even after ten more minutes, we kept going. I could see the horizon through the trees, which mean, (I hoped) that we were getting to the top of something or other.
I was so consumed by my thoughts that I almost ran into Julie, who had stopped short.
“What…is that?” she said.
It was an animal, about the size of a beaver, but with a long snout and spines all over. It looked at us and immediately pretended to be a rock.
“It’s a wombat…a hedgehog…an anteater…”
“You have no idea what that is, do you?”
True. We stood still for a couple of minutes, hoping for it to come out of hiding so that we could see its face again. Eventually, it looked up, saw us, and dove into the rocks again. We moved on, wondering what the hell it was.
We were in slightly better moods at this point – seeing Actual Weird Tasmanian Wildlife definitely had something to do with that. And then ahead we could see blue sky, the humidity broke, and we walked out onto a cliff a thousand feet over the sea, with views of Port Arthur to the east, and nothing but Antartica in front of us:
“Well, OK,” said Julie. “I think this is worth it.”
It’s hard to describe the indescribably beautiful. But that cliff, on that day, with that view – things don’t get much more perfect than that. The trail made its way down the cliffside from there, with stunning overlooks every few minutes, looking down to Penguin Island (yes, another island off the coast of Bruny) and water so blue it hurts to think about it.
We ran into an Australian hiking couple and described our mystery animal.
“An Echidna,” said the husband. “Did you get to see his cute little nose? The use it to eat ants.”
We hit the bottom at a rocky beach, with small waves and not a person in sight.
The hike had taken nearly three hours, and we were both worn out and exhilarated. It was a short drive from the trailhead to South Bruny Island Premium Wines, where we feasted on burgers (mine was made with wallaby and lamb)
And then…we went home, driving back north to the Ferry and then to Hobart. Bruny Island was a wonder; I hope to someday see that bluest of blue seas again.
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