75 Miles And Counting..


Kookaburra in Sydney Botanic Garden


Well there’s a bit of catching up to do. A few days relaxing over the festive period combined with some dodgy internet access and I’m running behind with the posts.

The journey back from Kangaroo Island to Adelaide was fine. No awkward appeals this time for passengers to please use the facilities ahead of the flight. Very little turbulence at all in fact. So our aerial adventures were at an end, right?

Wrong. From Adelaide the plan was to transit to Sydney, where the weather recently has been making headlines of its own. *Crackle, crackle*. An announcement at the departure gate to inform us that the flight would be delayed 15 minutes due to thunderstorms at the destination. It wasn’t to end there. No, it was to be the flight from hell. In the air not one but two screaming children in the seats directly behind us. Just as the decibels had reached a level sufficient to induce actual physical pain cue another announcement: a further delay of 30 minutes to allow yet more storms to pass through Sydney.




The plane descended, eventually, to an arrivals hall in chaos. The backlog of flights disgorged a horde of passengers none of whom had the slightest idea of where to find their luggage. Out of five baggage carousels four offered no flight information at all with Carousel 1 apparently handling three incoming flights, including ours, despite it being stationary with not a single piece of luggage in sight. Mike took on the watch while yours truly went on a recce. By sheer chance (what are the odds?) while passing Carousel 3 I spotted one of our cases. And, miraculously, the other two in quick succession. But how then to manhandle three suitcases, plus a carry on, single handedly through a heaving airport to reunite, somehow, with Mike?



Sydney. In festive mood.

It was a brief stopover in New South Wales but I did something I’ve been pondering for a while. I bought a Fitbit. It was half price. In fuchsia pink. There may be linkage between those last two statements. Oh well, at least I won’t easily lose it.

We’d been doing so much walking but was it enough? How close are we to tracking the recommended 10,000 steps a day? Frankly, I’ve been amazed. In the couple of weeks since I sprouted a hi viz wrist we’ve apparently covered almost 75 miles. Sheesh. If only all that exercise automatically leads to good quality sleep. It doesn’t. The Fitbit tells me so. Sigh.



Wineglass Bay, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

The walk up to the viewpoint is pretty steep. But, if you can fight your way to the front through those ubiquitous selfie seekers, oh so worth it.



Rather grotesquely the name comes not just from the shape of the bay or the clear water contained therein. It also dates back to the time this area was a centre for whaling. The water turned red from the slaughtered creatures’ blood.



From the lookout it’s possible to walk down to the bay itself and on around the headland passing glorious hidden coves like this one.



The path winds through woodland and across the top of sheer cliffs. Pure tranquility. Fewer people come this way.



Dipodium roseum, the rosy hyacinth orchid.

It is a saprophyte, meaning it is leafless and derives its nourishment from decaying wood or plant matter, usually in association with a fungus.

The weather was rather mixed for our first few days. Given its southerly latitude Tasmania can be cool and wet, even in summer. And how. The Bay Of Fires is another stunning location on the north east coast but after a long drive up there all we saw was torrential rain. Through it all the sea was trying so very hard to be turquoise. Next time.



From the Freycinet Peninsula we travelled inland to the equally stunning Lake St Clair, the destination for Christmas and, with the weather thankfully improving, more glorious walks. On Christmas Day itself the Fitbit app exploded into a screen of stars as it reported 35,000 steps. Almost 14 miles. When the daily target of 10,000 steps is reached the device vibrates, sending shock waves into the wrist. You could have scraped me off the ceiling when it first happened I can tell you. Or rescued me from the top of the nearest gum tree more like.



The paths across the surrounding hills wind up and down through native forest, for the most part left unmanaged as nature intended. Conditions can be wild in this mountainous region, littering the ground with fallen branches and even some pretty awesome trees. It isn’t without reason that the gums are called widow makers. A conveniently passing blogger provides scale. The diameter of that trunk came close to matching my height.



When a tree falls across a path the National Park rangers simply cut a section through it and leave the rest of the trunk to rot down naturally.



Cyathodes parviflora, the Pink Mountain Berry



At higher altitudes the landscape changes to alpine scrub.



Cradle Mountain

It wasn’t just the Fitbit accumulating miles either. So was the car. Tasmania is much, much larger than we thought. Massive in fact. I remember reading somewhere, many months ago while researching the trip, that it takes just two hours to drive from one end to the other. So much to my subsequent regret I hadn’t bothered checking distances between each and every place. Cradle Mountain is in the same National Park as Lake St Clair. Eyeball the map and you’d guess maybe half an hour. Wrong. Three hours each way. We went anyway. And I’m so glad we did. For me it was the main highlight of Tasmania, even if it did only allow for the two hour walk around Dove Lake, pictured above.



The Little Mermaid

Ho Ho. Platypus spotting on Lake St Clair. Alas no, not a one. So disappointing.



The Christmas decorations at Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair: Telopea truncata, the Tasmanian Waratah.



With perfect timing it blooms in December and January



Platypus Bay, Lake St Clair

They’d gone into hiding there too… wretched things. Don’t they know how far I’d walked to get there?