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Another sleep in this morning, a windy hazy day but with no threat of rain according to the Weather app. We packed up our simple lunches of salami, cheese and savoy biscuits. We drove the short distance to Fortescue Bay, parked the Pajero and started our walk to Cape Hauy. The track has been extensively refurbished as a part of the Three (actually 2) Capes Walk rejuvenation of this section of the park. There is no denying the spectacular scenery offered by the capes and sea cliffs, and is an appropriate venue for this sort of hiking ecotourism. We spoke to several of the walkers who spoke highly of the huts that they use along with the track! Our memory of the walk to Cape Hauy is that it had steep treacherous slopes with abundant opportunitity for tumbling into the bracken or worse. The good news is that the steps are excellent, the bad news is that the descents and ascents are exactly the same. The walk skirts the bay before climbing up into forest, burnt only a few years ago, I suspect, the blackened trunks and abundant bracken, banksia, cypress all saplings proof enough of bushfire. Then the ascent truly begins, wobbly legs at the top! Then the descent to the cape, by now we are in strong wind, the high humidity of the forest forgotten as we both stashed our caps into pockets or backpacks. The final views are terrific,white scarred dolerite launches vertically up out of the southern sea, the Candlestick, the totem pole,and Hippolyte. Jennifer researched the last, Hippolyte was the Amazon who married Thesus in Greek myth and in A Midsummer Night dream by Shakespeare. She pretty well called the tune in Thesus’ city, a lady with attitude, a characteristic in other women Jennifer finds concerningly appealing.image

 

Cape Hauy, Tasman National Park

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Port Arthur

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We having a short holiday at Port Arthur. We have set up the camper trailer at the caravan park here. We have an ensuite!! This makes for a short trip in the middle of the night. We have had some delightful visitors including an orange breasted robin, several green eastern rosellas, pademelons, blue wrens and today, an echidna wandered through. On our walks, we saw two white lipped snakes, one green, one grey, and lots of skinks.

Our first day was very wet so beside a brief walk to the outskirts of ┬áthe historic park, we read and relaxed. Day 2 was spent exploring the historic site. It is our first visit for eight years. Sunny as we walked around, visiting the old church, a splendid lunch at the magistrates house of cheese biscuits and wine with the music of Chopin wafting out the doorway and then the ┬áSeparate Prison with its thick aura of madness and cruelty. It was based on the principle of years of solitary confinement and absolute silence. Invented by an American doctor called Benjamin Rush but it’s full inhumanity was only realised by the ideas of Jeremy Bentham who inspired Pentonville.

We left the prison and walked past the museum, uphill to the old hospital, more buildings including where political prisoners were held. Young Ireland and Chartist rebels were transported for arguing for justice.

 

The commandants house is well restored with furnished rooms and historical displays. It was used as a boarding house so it’s never been allowed to decline as have other buildings. Preservation of the site is first class avoiding the perils of restoration and creating a theme park like Soveriegn Hill in Ballarat. Recreating Port Arthur would be a mistake, the buildings, the exhibits and artefacts, allow each of us to create our own story. It was noticeable that there was no mention of Aboriginals anywhere. Were they gone by 1833 when Port Arthur was founded??

Dinner was at Gabriel’s. Restaurant a nice meal but served dreadfully fast

 

Day 3 was spent walking to Cape Raoul. It has to be one of the highlights, this walk through Tasman National Park to Cape Raoul. A cool day with occasional stabs of sunshine, made for pleasant hiking. It has abundant ups and downs as you approach then skirt along what are the highest sea cliffs in Australia. This fine view occurs at the half way point. The track is only exposed for a short distance, otherwise dropping down through forest then heath, to enjoy lunch at the viewpoint above the tip of the cape.

Day 4 was a relax day, we walked around the coal mining facility near Limestone Point. It only lasted about ten years, but was a byword for cruelty and deprivation. Much less remains of the old buildings than at Port Arthur. In particular we visited the Semaphore station, well at last where it had been. The forest is thick, the sandy soil that was so awful for growing vegetables is more than ample for the many trees that grow here now.

Day 5 ,that’s today, was spent visiting the viewpoints near Eaglehawk neck, such as Devils kitchen and Waterfall Valley. The sky was overcast, drizzling rain we left the car and visited Tasman Arch then walked along the track. Fire damaged trees giving testimony to the horrendous fires only a few years ago that s badly affected much of the Tasman Peninsula.

Bull kelp wafts in the cold water at the base of the immense cliffs and great sea caves while pacific gulls nest or fly above. The sweeping pavements far below us, churn up the incoming surf even on a relatively still day like this.

Back at camp, an echidna  marched around, checking the soil for ants. Wonderful experience of this little Australian.

 

 

 

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