Return to 2006 Australia Trip


Ahhh, a blank white screen, just waiting to be filled up with my scibblings.  How nice.


November 5, 2006 Ė 7:30 PM

Bruny Island, Tasmania


I slept kind of lightly last night, after going to bed about midnight (9 PM, to my body, which was still on Western Australia time).  I was up about 7:30, which did seem kind of early to my poor old body.  The motel-that-time-forgot had a very nice continental breakfast, which included eggs that were sort of between soft-boiled and hard-boiled.  I need some protein in the morning, or I get lightheaded and Iím thrown off for the whole day.  A couple of eggs were marginally enough to stave off lightheadedness.


I was ready to go by about 9:15, and I had the office call a taxi for me.  It was only an A$15 taxi ride to the Budget Rent-a-Car office in downtown Hobart, and I picked up my car.  This is a Nissan X-Trail, another 4WD SUV.  This one is larger than the car I had in Western Australia, and Iím still adjusting to that.


I tried for an internet place in Hobart, stopping at the Tourist Information place to find one.  Unfortunately, the one they sent me to didnít open until 11, and I wasnít desperate enough to wait around until then.  On my way out of town, I saw a McDonaldís sign, and decided to add to my protein load for the morning by stopping there.  It was interesting.  McDonaldís certainly doesnít have control of its product worldwide.  The service here in Australia is far below the level of service at Mickey Dís in the USA.  They stop serving breakfast at 10:30, and I got there at 10:25.  There was one counter-person taking orders, and she filled each one before taking the next one.  There was a line reaching to the door, but the manager was fooling around with the machine that cooks the hash browns, with another employee, not paying any attention at all to the long line.  By the time I reached the front of the line, it had gone past 10:30, and they were now serving lunch.  As it turned out, there were some breakfast sandwiches already made and sitting there, so I got a couple of those.  I have observed repeatedly that the level of service in McDís here is way below the USA standard.  They sure are popular over here, though.


So, having stoked the fires again with protein, I headed out for the day, glad to leave the city traffic behind.  Hobart seems like a very nice little city, and this was Sunday morning, so there wasnít a lot of traffic by any means, but I was still glad to leave it behind.  My destination for the day was Bruny Island, where I am planning to stay for three nights.  On the way, I planned to hit another couple of birding areas, Fern Tree and Mount Wellington.  They are both up in the hills, and there are some species there that it would be more difficult to find on Bruny Island.


By the way, the day was lovely, with sun and clouds, and the temperature was in the 50ís, I would guess.  I loved it.  I drove on up to Fern Tree, which is actually right on the way to Mount Wellington, and I stopped there and walked around a little.  The key bird to try to get there is the Scrubtit, which is one of the endemics that I expect to miss.  All the paths went straight up the mountain, and I didnít care for all the climbing.  There wasnít much bird action, but I did manage to see three Tasmanian Scrubwrens, which was a lifer bird for me, and another one of the 12 endemics.  I had to stand very still for maybe ten minutes, and they were hard to see in the thick underbrush, but I decided that is what they were.  No Scrubtits, though.  In the second place I tried, I saw a bird that I decided was a Tasmanian Thornbill Ė my second lifer of the day, and the second endemic.


I moved on from Fern Tree, going up the road to Mount Wellington.  I didnít like the road at all Ė too narrow, no center line, and I was not used to this new, larger car.  There was way too much traffic coming at me, too, probably because it was a nice spring Sunday.  I stuck to it long enough to get to a viewpoint, and then to what is called The Springs.  I stopped there and walked around, seeing Black Currawongs (lifer and endemic) and Yellow-throated Honeyeaters (lifer and fourth endemic).  At that point, I abandoned Mount Wellington, as I didnít like the narrowness of the road and the traffic at all, and headed for Bruny Island.


The one thing I needed to do was to get some provisions, though, as Bruny Island supposedly had little in the way of stores.  My waterfront ďchaletĒ was supposed to be ďfully self-containedĒ, which means that I would have a kitchen, so I could ďself-caterĒ my meals.  I found a Coles supermarket in Kingston, and stocked up.  I couldnít get anything frozen, because I didnít know how long it would take me to get to my chalet, because I had to catch a ferry to get here.  I also found a liquor store and stocked up on other essentials.


So, all stocked up, I headed for the ferry.  By this time it was mid-afternoon, and I was feeling a little hungry again, so I stopped at a good looking fish market that also makes fish and chips, and got an order to take with me.  I got to the ferry just as it was unloading from its last trip, and as I waited in the ferry line, I ate my fish and chips, which was really excellent.  The ferry crossing was only about 20 minutes, it seemed.  Iíll have to get a picture of it when I go back Ė I took very few pictures today.   I was focused on getting to my new home away from home.


It is about 18 miles from the ferry to the office of the place I am staying, so went straight there, to check in.  In the process of checking in, I mentioned email, and they owner, Michael, kindly offered to let me use his office phone to dial up and check my email.  I did so, and uploaded Ramblings22 while I was at it.  There were lots of birds around the office area, and I hope to go back there and see what I can see.  There was also a peacock wandering around, but I donít think I can count that for my list.  I have counted peacocks for my US list, in Palos Verdes, because they have been living wild there for decades, but I donít think I can count a peacock on Bruny Island.


After I did my email, Michael said he would lead me to my chalet, as it was easier than trying to describe how to find it.  As I followed him out of their driveway, a couple of other cars came along, and I let them get in between me and Michael.  They went around a curve ahead of me, and when I came around the curve, I wasnít sure if one or more of the cars had passed Michael or not, but I thought I knew which vehicle was his.  I followed that vehicle, and it headed back toward the ferry landing.  I had thought that my chalet was near the office location, and when the car I was following got about a third of the way back to the ferry, I decided I had made a mistake, and I turned around.  I waited, so if it was actually Michael, and he noticed I had stopped and came back, I would see him.  He didnít come back, so I went back to the office.  When I got there, Michael wasnít there, so I looked more closely at the pages I had printed from their website, and, oops, the chalet wasnít located at the office location, but was halfway back to the ferry landing.  As I started out again, Michael came back, and I apologized and then followed him to the chalet Ė nine mile farther away from most of the places I wanted to go on Bruny, including the potential internet places.


The chalet is very nice.  It seems new, and is located on the bank of a lovely bay, with great views across to the mainland.  I only have two problems with the place Ė it is farther away from the places I want to spend time than I had realized (my own fault, for not realizing), and it doesnít have a microwave oven.  I guess I donít really need a microwave, but I am so used to having one that it seemed a shock to not find one here.  I need to do laundry, and there is a small washing machine, but no dryer, so Iím not sure what Iím going to do.


There is a bench overlooking the bay, so I sat out there and had a couple of beers and decompressed from my somewhat stressful day (driving a strange car, too much traffic, narrow roads, etc).  It really is a very relaxing spot.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention, as I pulled out from the office area, the second time, I saw a pair of Tasmanian Native-hens with a chick.  Lifer and endemic number five for the day.


While sitting out on the bench overlooking the bay, I saw a Forest Raven fly by Ė not an endemic, but lifer number 6.  It is the only corvid (crow) in Tasmania, so it was always going to be an easy one.  They also live in Victoria, though, so it isnít a Tasmanian endemic.  Across the little bay, I saw a gull and put my scope on it.  Kelp Gull.  Not a lifer nor an endemic, but another one for my trip list, at least.  Then, in a tree nearby, I heard some squawking, so I put the binoculars on the tree, and saw some Green Rosellas being harassed by a Yellow Wattlebird.  Two more endemics and lifers.  I wasnít even birding, and the birds were insisting that I see them.  What an amazing place.  A little later I went for a short walk along the road, more to stretch my legs and get a tiny amount of exercise than to bird, and picked up the Black-headed Honeyeater Ė still another endemic and lifer.  So, without really trying very hard, and not spending very much time on birding today, I had added 10 birds to my trip list, 9 to my life list, and had seen 8 of the 12 endemics of Tasmania.  Amazing.  Two of the other four are going to be tough, I think, but there are a number of other species here on Bruny that would add to my trip list, or even my life list.  Even if I had seen all the birds by now, I would still want to explore Bruny Island, as it seems very interesting and very beautiful.


So, for dinner tonight I had some canned chicken and vegetables with pasta, and some cheese and crackers.  Since I had had the excellent fish and chips about 3 oíclock, that was plenty.


Bruny Island is a very long (maybe 40 miles) island that is divided in the middle by The Neck, which is a thin stretch of low lying land, joining North Bruny and South Bruny.  Iím north of the neck, as is the ferry landing.  South Bruny has more birds, they say, and has more places to explore and see, too.


Tomorrow I plan to start out doing a couple of things here on North Bruny, then head to Adventure Bay, the tiny town near the north end of South Bruny.  There is supposed to be a place there where one can get online.  If I canít connect from there, to upload this and send/receive email, then I will stop at the office where I got online today, and see if I can repeat that tomorrow.  Depending on how much time I have left after that, I will do some South Bruny things.  Then, the following day, I plan to hit whatever is left of South Bruny.  I didnít take many pictures today, and I will try to do better in the next couple of days.  There seems to be a lot of scenery to take pictures of here.


Tomorrow I also have to take care of some business with respect to reservations.  I guess Iíll have to phone the Cradle Mountain place, as they havenít responded to my cancellation email, and I was originally booked to arrive there on Tuesday.  I also have to decide if I want to stay here at Angelís Retreat (the name of my chalet Ė click here to see info about it) for another night, or move to somewhere else on the island on Tuesday.  I would love to have a phone line or a nearby place where I could get online.  On the other hand, it is a pain to pack up and move for one night.  Iíll see if anything tomorrow grabs me.  I still have two nights at the end of the week that are not booked anywhere, too, and I have to look at my literature and make some decisions.  I wish I could research it online, but I canít do that, it seems.


I donít know if I have mentioned my Achilles tendonitis and bursitis in these Ramblings.  My right heel started hurting a year ago, and in November last year, I noticed that I had a big bump on my right heel, and it was hurting more.  I saw several doctors over the next months, but nothing helped, and I had to wear shoes with no backs, as it just hurt too much to wear regular shoes.  I couldnít walk for exercise and I put on weight.  In August and September I had cortisone shots into the bursa, and it pretty much made the pain go away.  The bump almost disappeared, too.  Well, in the last week or so, the heel has started to hurt more, and the bump is coming back.  That isnít too surprising, as the effects of cortisone injections are often only temporary.  So, it is going to be interesting to see how bad it gets and how much it slows me down for the rest of my trip.


So, that is my Sunday report.  Iíll see if I can post it to the website tomorrow.


Barry Downunder