Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tasmania, part 3: the east coast

After the Tasman Peninsula, we went on to the east coast of Tasmania. We spent three nights at Swansea. Although the local Bark Mill Restaurant is as great as its fame would have it, and although we were happy with our accommodation, next time I would probably stay in neighboring Bicheno. The town is more scenic than Swansea, and at least at this time of the year the beach was much cleaner.

The blow hole at Bicheno. As my wife noted, all blow holes she had seen before including one on this trip at the coast of the Tasman Peninsula "worked" only when there was exceptionally stormy weather. This one appears to shoot water up all the time, even under average weather conditions. And the rocky coast around it was great too - massive boulders covered by weirdly coloured lichens, water pools, kelp forests, definitely worth a visit.

The other full day we went down to Freycinet National Park. This picture shows Wineglass Bay seen from the eponymous lookout. Beautiful but admittedly not particularly interesting botanically, at least not for me.

Another scenic spot in Freycinet, the Tourville Lighthouse.

Remember the weird grassy sculptures in the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Garden I wrote about a few days ago? Here is the real thing: a Xanthorrhoea, or grass tree, directly north of Freycinet. They often flower after fire but this one probably just thought now would be a nice time. The botanic garden where I studied in Germany had two grass trees. When they flowered once every few years that was a newspaper-worthy event, and some people would visit the garden specificaly to admire these exotic plants. And here we are and they are just another plant on the roadside...

Another thing that struck us recently was that certain areas of Tasmania were very much dominated by some species of introduced weed, and that the weed in question varies strongly from one region to the next. When we drove through the Midlands a few days ago, everything was full of some broom (we did not undertake to figure out what species). In some parts the locals tried to unroot and burn them, in others they appeared to have given up. On the east coast, on the other hand, we saw enormous stands of Centranthus ruber (Valerianaceae, shown above). And yes, ruber, that is another thing. As indicated by that name, the species is usually red-flowered but most plants here are white, as the one in the picture.

After the east coast, we made our way west, staying one night at Bronte Park Village which I remember fondly as being our base for the Skullbone Plains Bush Blitz about 18 months ago, when I first visited Tasmania. We were proudly informed that the Village would accommodate another central plateau themed Bush Blitz in the near future. Good for them!

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