Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bicheno & Freycinet National Park (Days 20-23)

Monday morning we hired a car and set out for our next stop Bicheno. Bicheno is a small sleepy sea side resort known for it's penguin spotting and it's closeness to Freycinet National Park. (He was French so the "T" is silent. ) We had Monday to ourselves as our friends from Ireland were not due to arrive until Tuesday afternoon. We therefore decided to drive to Cape Tourville in Freycinet. A lighthouse within the park which boasted some nice views and we weren't disappointed. Before you enter the park you have to get a parks pass, which is a formality as I do not think there is a restriction on numbers. It costs about $20 for a day pass and $50 for an extended pass.

That evening we ate at the Sea Life Centre Restaurant. If you time your visit to coincide with dusk you will get to see the penguins coming into their rooks at night. There are also penguin tours available.

Here's some pics taken from the Cape on a dull enough day.

On our way up to Bicheno we stopped off in Swansea and had something to eat at the Swansea Wine & Wool Centre. The food was good and fortunately, for me, they didn't sell wool, but only finished garments. We weren't long there when we began to realise that our mobile phones had stopped working. I enquired at the restaurant about a signal only to be informed that Vodafone have no reception up the entire East Coast. This was problematic as we were due to meet our friends and had only made tentative arrangements.

Our friends Norah and Ian did manage to find us however and joined us on Tuesday evening. We had booked a Kayaking trip and were wondering if the weather would hold, and hold it did, but just long enough for the trip to go ahead and for us to end up soaking wet. The kayaking set off from Coles Bay and headed around the bay hugging the maintains until finally you have the cross the Bay itself to get back where you started from. Suffice it to say Sharon and I were not naturals and found it hard work. I think we nearly wrecked the kayak twice. Here's some pics, taken with our underwater camera, from the only respite you get on the trip.

During our break the guides explained how sand is normally made up of different types of stone that erode over time and that really old beaches have squeaky sand. This is because really old sand contains only quartz, the most durable stone, which eventually becomes spherical- in much the same way as a pearl I presume. When the spherical grains rub off each other they make a squeaky noise! At least that's how I remember the story. How is this relevant. You'll just have to wait and see.
The next day we set out for Freycinet National Park yet again but this time to go on a 14km tramp that takes in Wineglass Bay. Before we got there however we decided to stop off for petrol in Coles Bay. We pulled up at the only free pump and I got out and waited for the cashier to start the pump once, I presumed, the person before me had paid. I was there for a while and started staring into the shop, as a none so subtle hint, when the cashier came out to the door and yelled. "That pump never works in the morning." I was dumb founded. Here I was, a total stranger, like so many in Coles Bay and I was expected to know that the pump in question never works in the mornings! My psychic powers let me down that morning I can tell you. The guy on the pump beside me, somewhat bemused too, suggested my pump was a bit like himself in the mornings! I got back in the car and waited for the other pump to clear.
We eventually got to Parsons Cove the starting point of our tramp. Once registered we set off. Estimated time of arrival back about four hours later. The tramp is heavy going especially the first part up to the Wineglass Bay lookout. Unfortunately the day itself was pretty dull. Here's some pics from the lookout and one on the beach.
We had dragged our swim gear all along the tramp so we could have a swim in Wineglass Bay and yes the sand was squeaky. In fact so squeaky it had the same affect as rubbing Styrofoam together, which sends a shiver down my spine.
We were all togged off and the three others were in the water- I was going to get in honest. When two people who happened to be passing by suggested that the others should get out of the water. I laughed and watched for their expression to change, eventually asking, somewhat concerned, if they were serious? It was at this point that the guy took the time to point out the Blue Bottle Jellyfish or, as it is also known, the Portuguese Man of War, nearest to me stating they were everywhere on the beach. I knew the answer to the next question but felt compelled to ask it nonetheless. Do they sting? I enquired and as the reply was a resounding affirmative, I decided to relay the good news to my fellow paddlers. In an instant the reward, awaiting us for our long tramp, was dashed. My last few days in Australia and I still hadn't swam in the sea.
In case you don't believe me here's a pic, there small but they pack a punch.

After Wineglass Bay you walk to Hazards Beach and from there back to Parson's Cove. Here's a few pics of Hazard's Beach including one of a Wallaby.

When we got back to the car park we signed out and sat down to rehydrate. They say to bring two and a half litres of water per person and it is definitely a good idea as we didn't bring enough. At the car park there were some more Wallabies.

Ian and myself set off the next day for Hobart as we were going on a fishing "stag" trip early Thursday morning from Port Arthur. The sea was rough, but some of the guys managed to catch some yellow fin tuna fish. Which was slightly ironic, as after I had deposited my breakfast into the sea, I began to marvel at the fine array of yellow colours my own body could produce. I had to ask the boat to come back into port after only about two hours, and I was best man! Enough said. To be fair though, five out of the ten guys decided to get off.
The girls stayed on in Bicheno and after a recommendation from a very nice waiter at the Diamond Restaurant, decided to visit Diamond Island, tide permitting the next day. Apparently the island was really worth the trip, especially if you want to get up close and personal with some penguins. Here's a few abstract pics of them crossing over to the Island, almost impressionist in quality.

When the girls were on the beach waiting to cross over to the island they met the waiter again who pointed out Jan Cameron, the founder of Kathmandu, walking down the beach. He explained how she had bought a lot of property around Bicheno in an effort to preserve it's charm.
Hopefully she'll succeed!

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  • At 10:50 AM, Blogger Anita M said…

    Just caught up on all your April postings. Well done Cathal - although I am getting worried about the grumpy old man who, god forbid, gets overpriced bad food in a spontaneously chosen restaurant! We will get the guidebooks out before you get home.

    Its lovely reading about your trip, although we miss you both. We caught up with Norah and Ian over a drink on Easter Sunday, can't wait to do that with you. Maybe some highly recommended local emporium, with some micro-brewed natural beverages. I will go straight to amazon to see what lonely planet Ireland recommends...
    You Skype-ing yet?


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