SUNDAY 6 FEBRUARY DOVER
Today was a fairly warm day. Yet another abrupt change from the conditions of yesterday.
We drove south, firstly to Southport. I think I had been expecting this place to be a bit larger, but it really is just a hamlet – but a pleasant little place. It certainly features some excellent sea views.
Southport is the most southerly town in Australia – hard to believe, but it was once Tasmania’s second largest town! It began as a whaling station, gained a big convict station and then supported timber milling. There was a substantial port used to ship timber to England.
When the French explorer D’Entrecasteaux discovered this area, in 1792, he called it Baie de Moules (Bay of Mussels). I think this is much more evocative than the prosaic “Southport”!
After driving around the few streets of the township, looking about, we drove out Lady Bay Road, to the east, to Burial Point. There were good rock shelves there, but they were no good for fishing from, because of lots of weed in the water – from the bull kelp “forest” there. We saw a couple of snorkellers in the water – maybe looking for crayfish or abalone. We got some mussels from the rocks for possible use later a fish bait.
There was a fenced off burial area, containing a row of flattish mounds – seven or eight of them. Our guide information did not give any clue as to the origins of these graves. We wondered if they were from a ship that anchored in the bay, before there was a settlement? Or from a whaling station? There may once have been wooden markers, of course, but nothing remains there now. A mystery!
We continued on along the unsealed coast track to Lady Bay, where we were able to park Truck just off the road and have our lunch, looking out over the bay to Bruny Island, where there were, clearly, bushfires. As we ate lunch, watched some wrens flitting busily about.
Continued following the track. It turned inland and became Peacock Road, an unsealed forestry track that turned out to be a pleasant detour to complete our circuit back to the main highway.
Continued south again, on the Cockle Creek road, all the way to its end. Left Truck there and followed the walk track around the shoreline, to a clearing by the sea where there was a bronze sculpture of a whale – a memorial to the whaling days that were so important around here. The sculpture was done by the same man who did the Steppe Sculptures, and the seal on the rocks at Constitution Dock in Hobart.
Although there is no settlement at Cockle Creek now, in its whaling and timbering days, it boasted some 2000 people! The original whaling station was integral to this.
We loved the bronze whale, and its sheer scale.
From here, John wanted to keep walking around to Fishers Point, and I thought that was a good idea. This was a pleasant walk of about two kms each way, along a series of little beaches, with some rocky and boulder scrambles in between these; and finally, a short section through scrub.
At Fishers Point, which is at the southern entrance to Recherche Bay, there was a navigation light, and the brick remains of an old pilot station that was established in 1836. The fact that this was there shows how much shipping there was around these parts at that time.
We explored around the Point for a little while and admired the views, then retraced our steps back to Cockle Creek. The walk back was superb, because we were looking across the bay to the dramatic peaks of the southern wilderness. Just beautiful.
We dawdled by the Cockle Creek for a while, watching little fish swim about in the water under the bridge, and a small penguin (a Little Penguin?) darting around in the water near the creek mouth.
There were lots more campers in the strip alongside the road, than there had been a few days ago. Someone explained that most were probably people taking a four day weekend break, as Monday is the Regatta Day holiday in Hobart and surrounds.
Drove back to Dover. There, we went to the “new” supermarket to buy some snack foods that on impulse, we decided we craved. Also a big tin of baked beans, for tea. I bought some postcards there too – of Adamsons Peak, which is a real landmark, behind Dover.
We drove 118kms today.
We sat outside the van, eating our snacks and having a can of beer. Then M, the park owner came along and gave us two big pieces of fish he’d caught – stripey trumpeter. So we had that for tea, instead of the beans. It was absolutely delicious – a beautiful fish to eat.
After tea, John was snacking on chocolate and broke a tooth on a piece. He took out a big chunk of tooth! It didn’t ache but left behind really sharp edges that were annoying.