27 April 2017

Southern Islands about Tasmania

Catherine and I had visited Tasmania a couple of times before (and liked it) so decided to do one more trip with a difference; Flinders Island, Cradle Mountain and Maria Island. We went with a variable group - the mainstays were Jim and Rosemary (C's sister) Millar, Doug and Ruth Arcus (NZ friends) and us. Other friends of J and R joined and left us at different stages. The island stages were guided. Rosemary organised it.

Our first stage was a flight to Flinders, a large island in Bass Straight. We arrived in a 60 knot wind and were glad when the aircraft came to the end of the runway and didn't soar back into the sky. C had to struggle to avoid being blown away when she emerged from the aircraft. Anne and Ash, our guides took us to our camp spot on the north end of the island, a delightful spot at the mouth of the NE River. Over the next four days we hiked along pleasant and colourful beaches and climbed granite mountains. Unfortunately I managed to stumble into a rock on the first day and caused a large haematoma on my lower right leg which caused me to hobble for the rest of the trip and miss a bit of the climbing - but I did manage to climb Mt Strezlecki at the other end of the island. The weather apart from the wind on the first day and the rain on the last day was excellent, the food was good and the guides excellent. The camps were good too - the tents perhaps a little strenuous for pensioners. But I'd still recommend this trip to younger folk - our average age was 73. More permanent camps with 'glamping style' cabins are planned.

Coast Near NE River Mouth (Flinders Island)

Boulders Near Castle Rock (Flinders Island)

Mt Strezlecki from Coast (Flinders Island)

We visited Wybalenna, the remains of an Aboriginal community set up of about 160 Aboriginal from mainland Tasmania.  Here, we learned about an attempt to 'Christianize' them. It failed and 47 of them were transported back to Oyster Cove on the Tasmanian mainland where most died. The remaining few were assimilated into the white population. The last full blooded Aboriginal died in1876. The whole story of the Tasmanian aboriginals is very sad and moving - reflecting attitudes of the time. In all a very good trip with pleasant companions.

We moved back to the mainland and up to Cradle Mountain. We had perfect weather and a wonderful day walking around Lake Dove and up to Boulder Lake. We saw several echidna, wombats and different wallabies - great photo opportunities. The National Park was very well managed, the wildlife abundant and the area must be one of Australia's most attractive places.

Cradle Mountain Area (Photo: CHS)


Start of Walk About Lake Dove (Cradle Mountain)

We travelled on to Hobart and then, Maria Island. This visit, organized by Maria Island Walks had everything; excellent guides, superb food and accommodation, beach walks and climbs and lots of fascinating history. We started the trip with scallops, wine all the way, and oysters and champagne for lunch on the last day. Midway on the trip we learned about the interaction of the French, of Baudin in 1802, with the local Aborigines. The interaction was quite successful and resulted in one of the best ever descriptions of Tasmanian Aborigines.

Wallabies Observe Our Lunch Stop
Glamping (Maria Island Style)

Beach Headland Travel (Maria Island)

Lonely Cottage at Darlington (Maria Island)

The last day had its poignancy when we discovered the grave of a Maori chief banished to Maria Island from NZ for "open rebellion against the Queen". He had died of tuberculosis before he could be rehabilitated to NZ with his three Maori companions. His bones were repatriated in 1988 amid much open grieving. Tasmanian did not have a good record with indigenous peoples - although it has to be said - Maori on Maria Island had considerable sympathy at the time from the people of Hobart.

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