Sunday, 24 August 2008

Freycinet Peninsula - 21st-23rd August 2008

Hazards from Cooks Corner at sunset - 22nd August 2008Had a very nice winter walk down the Freycinet Peninsula for three days. Many of the creeks were flowing, making it a somewhat different experience to my last visit, and to the usual situation. Thursday, and Thursday night, were cold and snowy around Hobart I gather. On the peninsula there was some rain on Thursday night but apart from that it was fine although cool. I even had a coolish dip in the sea on Friday afternoon, then let the sun and gentle breeze dry me off. I walked down to Cooks Beach via Hazards Beach to find myself the only camper for two nights. In fact, I didn't see another person south of the Isthmus Track at all.

Snow on Mt Freycinet summit - 22nd August 2008Friday was mainly spent climbing Mt Freycinet. The actual Peninsula Circuit walk involves walking south along the west coast to Cooks Beach, and then returning via the heights of Mt Freycinet's flanks and Mt Graham. I did this last time, but this time I avoided the carry of a full pack up the nearly 600m climb to Mt Graham, and made Mt Freycinet a morning's walk with just a daypack. Mt Freycinet is the high point of the area at 620m. Snow was forecast down to 500m the night before I think, and, true, I found snow on top of Mt Freycinet. I presume this is not very common, although I did read the warning in the walk registration shelter that walkers should remember to take warm clothing as snow did fall there at times. I suppose it's unusual to think of snow on Tasmania's east coast in such a maritime location. I have to admit that the total area of snow I found still protected from the sun by rock shadows was probably less than a square metre. Flowing water was available in several creeks along the track to Mt Freycinet inlcuding quite high up.

Hazards and Wineglass Bay from Mt Freycinet - 22nd August 2008The views from Mt Freycinet and Mt Graham of the peninsula, Wineglass Bay, The Hazards and Schouten Island are very good. Of course you can also see quite a lot of Tasmania's east coast. Mt Freycinet is the mountain the runners have to climb when the Three Peaks Race visits Coles Bay, and I have to say I admire people who can run up and down this peak, from Coles Bay, especially if they have to do it in the dark. In the afternoon I visited Bryans Beach for a short while, which looks south to Schouten Island. Bryans, which faces southwest, is often rougher than Cooks Beach, which faces east and northeast. However, when I visited it was very calm. I cut short the visit in order to get back to Cooks for sunset on the Hazards, which turned out to be well worthwhile.

Three Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis) in Wineglass Bay - 23rd August 2008Walked out by the low level route on Saturday, stopping to watch Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis) (See here for the best info on Right Whales that I can find so far) lazing around in Wineglass Bay. It was hard to tell how many there were from the shore, but inspection of the photos on return home revealed three in at least one shot - I suspect this is a mother, a smallish calf and maybe another older calf. I don't think father-whales hang around with the family, but I must read up on them a bit more. They were attracting attention from walkers, but it was interesting to see people gawping about the bay without noticing these very large creatures moving about only a couple of hundred metres away. I recall sitting in Wineglass Bay, on the granite near the track-end, on a Geology excursion some few years ago. The teacher was banging on about pink and grey granites while behind him a whale played in the bay. In the end he had to sit down and shut up until the whale got tired and moved on, when the class were able to direct some attention to how The Hazards formed.

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Peter Franklin said...

We were intending to walk to Cape Degerando at Freycinet on the very same days, 21-23 staying both nights at Cooks. However got put off by the weather forecast.
Always hopped to see whales up there too but never have.

Mark said...

Yes, weather was great. Sorry you missed out. Is there any complexity in getting to Cape Degerando?

Mosura said...

That would be a great walk. Wish my knees and hip would behave themselves.

I know what you mean about people walking by and not noticing things (like whales). I was once on a path by the River Ness right in the centre of the city of Inverness, Scotland. A huge seal had swam up river and was swimming round and about. Then it lunged out of the water up onto the grass lawns of the park. People were walking down a footpath just a few metres away totally oblivious to what was happening,

Mark said...

Hey Mosura, sorry for the delayed response. When I saw your note about the River Ness, I thought..."Loch Ness". Which is interesting, because there were a few times looking at the mother whale that she looked like a Loch Ness Monster with small lumpy bits above the water. You can see she has a series of "lumps" (I suppose of blubber) and occasionally she was just a series of lumps sticking out of the water, and did look a little like THE monster. Disclaimer: Of course, I do not mean in any way to judge or disparage the whale, and I understand that in the whale-world, these (blubbery?) lumps are considered appropriately feminine and very sexy! (As they are in the human world, dear.)