Thursday, April 15, 2010

Peninsulas etc.

Arve River

My first stop after leaving Hobart was the Hartz Mountains - as many froggers will know, this is the area where one of the most recently described Australian frogs was discovered. It's a very nice spot in its own right too, of course, however the weather when I visited was pretty ghastly. I walked up to the peak but was only ever able to see about 30m in any direction, while the biting wind almost froze the rain as it lashed any exposed skin.

Bryobatrachus nimbus, the frog in question (or, as the generic status is sometimes in doubt, Crinia nimba) is a pretty cryptic little frog from the south-west of Tasmania which avoided discovery until 1994. Unique amongst its close relatives, the species lays its eggs on land amongst vegetation and the tadpoles do not feed at all. While atop the Ironbound range on the South coast track, I heard some of the little blighters but wasn't able to find any.

Whilst walking in the Hartz I came across a patch of boggy moorland that looked about right so stopped and imitated the call. Pretty soon a couple of the frogs replied and I was able to triangulate and spot two of the little guys without much trouble.

Bryobatrachus nimbus (Crinia nimba)

I did a nice bit of walking on the Tasman Peninsula - an overnight walk from Fortescue bay down to the tip of Cape Pillar, then around to Cape Hauy via Mt Fortescue and back to the Bay. The sea cliffs on this walk were terrifyingly awesome. From one stop I looked out to sea with my binoculars and watched dolphins play. While eating lunch on the Blade I could see seals just across the channel on Tasman Island - swimming and diving, sunbaking on the rocks, fighting, slipping in and out of the water... idyllic!

Tasman island from the Blade

I then visited the Freycinet peninsula and did some day-walking there - the Mt Amos scramble and a loop encompassing Wineglass bay and Hazard beach.

At Friendly beaches, I was treated to a spectacular sunset over the beautiful lichen-covered boulders and clear waters.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bruny, Bushy and Beyond

After the walk, where better to relax than Bruny Island? I spent a couple of nights over there but didn't take any photos, so you'll have to just take my word for it. The best part of Bruny was the eastern quolls. The North Island is crawling with them and they were very very nice to see. Also spotted a long-nosed potoroo which was a new one for me. Penguins, Shearwaters, water rats... it's a good place for a spotlight. Also some very nice walking though it's rather tame comparatively.

I found work on a hop farm out at Bushy Park in the Derwent Valley which is were I've been for the past three weeks. My plan is now to see a few bits and pieces while heading back north and over to the mainland again. From there I'll go west!

South-west walk

Bathurst Harbour and Mt Rugby

At the start of March I was joined by a couple of friends and we did an 11-day, 155 km walk together through the South-West wilderness, departing from Scott's Peak Dam (Lake Pedder) and walking to Cockle Creek via Melaleuca. It was a great experience - beautiful country and a very satisfying achievement. The weather was pretty good to us and though we had a bit of rain here and there it didn't inconvenience us greatly.

The first section of the walk, the Port Davey track, is skipped by many walkers who instead fly in to Melaleuca and walk from there (the South Coast Track). We did the 70 km in four days so there was a fair amount of walking. It was pretty muddy despite the dry summer and I went in above my knees a couple of times. In the first couple of days the track skirts around the base of the Western Arthurs then follows the Crossing river. On the final day, Bathurst Harbour grows in the distance into the sizeable body of water that it is, then the 'Bathurst Narrows' are crossed by rowboat. Finally it's onwards to Melaleuca where the walkers' huts were offered welcome luxury.

I would heartily recommend this track - there are some really nice scenes and the final day was simply beautiful.

Astacopsis tricornis

In the evening at Melaleuca, despite the 26 km day that had just passed, we went out frogging and were stupefied when we came across the beautiful Tasmanian Treefrog, Litoria burrowsae. What a cracker!

Birdwatching in the morning we saw quite a few of the rare orange-bellied parrots that birdos fly in to see (not always successfully). We also got good looks at a few Ground Parrots here and there.

The South Coast Track was nicely varied - beach walking, a few hill climbs, a river crossing, bays, points, inlets and the notorious Ironbound range crossing. The seven days of walking was taking it fairly easy. Our plans to visit Louisa bay had to be scratched as bad weather was predicted and we wanted to get across the Ironbounds when we could.

Atop the Ironbounds

All up, a very satisfying adventure. The South-West is indeed a special part of the world. I'm keen to do some more long walks!

Prion Beach