Down on the Peninsula with the Devils. Chapter 8.
Sometimes it pays to read up on the places you are visiting, read the captions to the pictures in the brochures or even communicate with your companion on what each others understanding of a destination is.
As we headed down towards the Tasman Peninsula I was looking forward to visiting a quaint, old port with historic buildings, a penal prison built near by, cottages and tea shops just like the ones back home in Cornwall and Devon – it was called Port Arthur (for those of you in the know – I can hear you laughing). My companion on the other hand was unenthusiastic about the whole venture but never articulated why. I was equally excited about calling in to Triabunna on the way there to see the coloured rock/wave formations and take some stunning photos. When we arrived at Triabunna we found a small village on an estuary and no sign of this visual treat. Later on I checked the brochure and discovered that although blurb was about the town the actual picture had been taken on Maria Island. We so missed out.
To get to the peninsula we had to pass through the township of Dunalley where one of the biggest bush fires this season had marched through mercilessly burning all in its path. It was horrifying. But in the midst of strewn tin roof sections and lone chimney hearths standing upright in the burnt rubble of the house they once kept warm, were houses that had escaped unscathed. It was eerie. I have no photographs of this as I have no wish to be a disaster tourist and it was too upsetting to see kilometers of charred forest to want to photograph it.
Moving on we arrived at Eaglehawk Neck a stunning piece of coastline complete with ancient tessellated pavements, blowholes, boiling water crashing against red cliffs and magnificent rock formations.
Set back from all this splendor was the small settlement of Doo Town which, sadly, I found more entertaining than all the magnificent scenery around me. Every single building (including the food van) has a pithy name which incorporates the word Doo. It gave us a well needed laugh after the sobering drive through burnt out countryside.
Unfortunately the ‘Penguins Crossing’ Sign was not get included in this ‘witty’ town’s play on words – so here is my contribution:-
One of my things to do in Tassie was to see the devils and on the way to Port Arthur we came across the Tasmanian Devil sanctuary, hitting the brakes I slew into the car park and bought myself a ticket – the day was getting better and better. The Tassie devils were in 4 enclosures and very active, they found me as interesting as I found them although their teeth and vocal calling was blood curling .
Wandering away I found some other interesting animals in the converted farm, including quarks (totally cute), teddy bear like possums, birds of prey, kookaburra and frog owls (also very cute).
I came to a door weighted down so it shut behind me, ventured in and found myself in a small enclosure with a similar door in front. Popping my head over the fence I made eye contact with at least 25 kangaroos all looking at me and from close proximity. Remember that shot in Alfred Hitchcock’s film the birds where it feels that many pairs of eyes looking right out of the screen and boring into yours?
I ducked back down out of sight but I was not going to be beaten and being the brave person that I am, I hung around until a mother, father and 2 year child strolled casually into the enclosure and snuck in behind them.
We finally arrived at Port Arthur where I discovered that far from it being a working port, with bobbing boats, scone and jam teas, historic buildings scattered amounst fisherman cottages it was in fact an old penal colony that had a very expensive entry fee (well for us anyway) and my companion, who was in the know, had assumed I was too. We left, found a beach to sit on for a while and consider our next move.
It was decided that we would head towards Hobart, find a campsite for the night and hit Bruny Island the next day. It was time to see some Penguins and chill for a couple of days on a beach.