Saturday, 20 October 2007

Labillardiere Peninsula - 20th October 2007

Coast on western side of Labillardiere Peninsula, Bruny Island, Tasmania - 20th Oct 2007The walk around the Labillardiere Peninsula (Map here) on Bruny Island looked like a good walk for a cool winter or spring day. We decided on the 20th, and the forecast was for fine and 20 degrees C. Actually it would have been better on a day when it was going to be 11 degrees. The sun was pretty hot, and although the wind brought cool air in places, it was warm for a walk. The air temperature probably fit the forecast, but the radiant heat in the sun warmed us quite a lot.

Coast on western side of Labillardiere Peninsula showing the bluff below Mt Bleak, Bruny Island, Tasmania - 20th Oct 2007Nevertheless, this is an interesting walk, with lots to see. The walk starts at the Lighthouse Jetty Beach Campground. This is equipped with water tanks and toilets, and plenty of space for camping or picnics. Don't drive right down to the end of the road on the beach, but turn into the camping area at the main turnoff. You can drive in and park right next to the walk start, which is on the left as you drive down to the main parking area.

Boulder beach on western side of Labillardiere Peninsula, Cape Bruny behind, Bruny Island, Tasmania - 20th Oct 2007The walk is a circuit, and clockwise is recommended to make looking at the scenery easier, and to use the shade in the afternoon inside the forest. The track heads uphill moderately at first and joins an old firetrail. This meanders up and down along the western side of the peninsula and is easy to follow. It comes down to the coast at a rough, steep, boulder beach looking out at Hen and Chicken Rocks. This place is quite spectacular, and would be an "interesting" place to be in a storm.

Boulder beach on western side of Labillardiere Peninsula, Cape Bruny behind, Bruny Island, Tasmania - 20th Oct 2007The track then climbs quite steeply up Mount Bleak (143m) and passes close to the highest point, before descending more gently to Hopwood and Butlers Beaches at the end of the peninsula. The first part of Butlers Beach looks out at Partridge Island, named apparently because d'Entrecasteaux's explorers saw brown quail (Coturnix ypsilophora) there and thought they resembled partridges.

The sheltered eastern coast of Labillardiere Peninsula, Bruny Island, Tasmania - 20th Oct 2007At the far end of Butlers Beach, the track enters the scrub, and gently rises and falls along the eastern side of the peninsula. The vegetation quickly becomes good tall forest, which does provide useful shade for warm days. This track returns to Lighthouse Jetty Beach, where the scrappy remains of the old Jetty can be seen. The total circuit is around 17km, and is, as the Walking Club would say, a "good leg stretch". There was plenty of birdlife on the way too, wedge-tailed and sea eagles, swamp harriers, martins, black cockatoos, gulls, bronze-cuckoos and others.

Some Historical notes: Many of the placenames in this part of the world derive from the visits of d'Entrecasteaux in 1792-1793. Huon, Recherche, Esperance, Bruny, Labillardiere, and others were given to features noted by this expedition, which was actually in search of the lost expedition of La Perouse (another local name). There's an interesting book put out by ANU which looks at d'Entrecasteaux's expedition in terms of their interaction with the aboriginal population.

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