Tag Archives: Kookaburra

Starting out from Blackmans Bay on Stage 13

Once I was off the bus at Blackmans Bay, the Kookaburras started laughing at me  (again like at the beginning of Stage 12). Ha. Ha. Ha. H.H.H. Ha. Ha. Haa. Was this an omen that I was about to do something foolish? My goal for Stage 13 was to walk to Fossil Cove, and then walk another day for a final stage to the mouth of the Derwent River at Pearson’s Point. If you have already read my posting on the 25 February then you know I reached Pearson’s Point.  Future postings will give more details about this change of mind and destination.

As I turned left from Wells Parade into Hazell St towards the Blackmans Bay Beach, a screech of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos circled overhead. I was on the beach at 7.45am. The water was calm and I looked over the Derwent River towards South Arm beach on the eastern shore.  The Iron Pot lighthouse on the rocky outcrop just offshore from Cape Direction, on the southern tip of the South Arm peninsula, seemed to stand up from the water like a fat thumb.  Back at Blackmans Bay Beach, the fresh sunny morning was complete with power walkers and dogs leading their owners on a walk. Public toilets are located half way along the Blackmans Bay Beach.  These are the last public toilets for anyone walking further south.

How fortunate Tasmanians are to have morning views along beaches such as that at Blackmans Bay.

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I turned southwards and at 7.51am had reached a tiny yellow sign on a post indicating the Suncoast Headlands Walking Track was ahead. A few minutes later I reached the main sign.

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This sign was accompanied by another nearby.

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I followed the good wide dirt track and initially thought how easy it would be for Mums with prams or people in wheelchairs to follow this path. But not so. Not much further along, I needed to climb rough dirt and log stairs and I encountered such interruptions to a smooth walk a number of times.  There were occasional splits in the track without signage, so it is possible to walk a little way off the main track before you realise what is happening.

How gorgeous the morning was.  For example, the photo below is looking back to Blackmans Bay Beach.

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In the photo below, the rocky outcrop at the far end of the beach is where the Blackmans Bay Blowhole is located (my Stage 12 walk there was described in Nudging my way into Blackmans Bay on Stage 12 of my walk along the Derwent River).

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Onto the ‘proper’ Alum Cliffs track near Taroona Tasmania

After walking across the Shot Tower carpark I had one last look back to where I had been. The sky was amazing.

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In the trees then and often further again along the track, Kookaburra birds laughed at me many times. Ha Ha Ha Ha!  Ha Ha Ha! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.  Their feathers camouflaged perfectly with the shadows from leaves and the colours of tree trunks and branches.  They were impossible to photograph. Ha Ha Ha Ha!  Ha Ha Ha!

A sign seen at 10.08am indicated the start of the Alum Cliffs track.

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Then I began the careful descent on a steep 100 metres or so length of a four wheel drive wide smooth gravel track. Partly eroded. Basic stairs were irregularly constructed on one side of this incline.  Bush either side.  A small wallaby surprised me bouncing through the undergrowth.

At 10.15 am I reached the creek crossing below. Peaceful.  Looking up, an even longer climb on the other side was rather dispiriting. On the trek uphill I stopped and sat for a while to take in the view of dense gum tree foliage. There were smooth gum trunks as far as the eye could see.  No wind. Trickling creek below. Peaceful.   As I walked higher, the Shot Tower came into view bit by bit over the trees.

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It was 10.33am when I reached a picnic table and lookout at the top of the Alum Cliffs.

Passing white crowned toadstools with sharp white gills when open, I walked along a shady path which was quiet except for the occasional birdsong, rustling water in the creek below, or the soft voices of other walkers. I learnt from one of the walkers that the Alum Cliffs track used to follow the edge and in order to cross creek gullies, ropes were installed up and down the cliff to steady yourself during the climbs.  Part of those walks included rock hopping along the shoreline as well.

At 10.45am I reached the turn-off to Taronga Road – I did not want to exit the Cliff walk so I continued on. At 10.53am I reached the junction with the Brickfields Track – another time I will return to this area and walk that track to look at the remains of any social history along the way.

A few minutes afterwards, I felt I was identifying exposed alum rock.  I decided it was the rock which had partly oxidised into a greenish colour in places. Whether or not it is the real deal I cannot say.

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Despite tree roots and rocks intruding on this track, the well-trodden dirt with a slight leaf covering made for very easy walking.  Off to the side of the track walking would not have been quick and easy.

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I loved the colours on gum tree trunks as bark peeled away naturally.

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I loved seeing the signs of insects which once burrowed their way under the tree bark.

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At 11.07am I reached a seat with a viewing platform from where I watched an oil tanker motoring up the Derwent, having passed Gellibrand Point on the eastern shore.

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It was a long way down to the River over the Cliffs.

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Then I walked some way with another walker until I needed to stop and start with notetaking and the clicking of photographs.  I continued down across another creek and stopped when I noticed the clay at the bottom.  My earlier research/posting had indicated a connection between the alum rock and clay.

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The track passed through a tiny wet forest area with green pronged tree ferns.  Back up onto a drier track I reached a picnic table at 11.26am. Nearby, a teepee of tree branches and leaves had been built casually.  Would it be better than no shelter in a rainy storm?  Not too sure how long the ‘tent’ would survive much wind.

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Walking past native flowers; pink heath, lots of yellow tiny daisy like flowers, and a delicate 5 petal lavender blue coloured solitary flower.

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I passed smaller tracks off to the left which ended by hovering over the edge of the Cliff, and some to the right which I imagine found their way back into suburbia or onto the Channel Highway.

A glossy scarlet red spider, black legs with a blue iridescent tail crossed my path.  I have never seen one before and knew nothing until I researched once back home; this was Nicodamidae –Red and Black Spider.  Apparently, ‘toxicity unknown, treat with caution’.  Trust me – I didn’t touch it.  The size was that of a woman’s finger nail.

Not long after chatting with a man and his dog, at 11.40am through the trees I could see bits and pieces of Kingston Beach.  My trek across the Alum Cliffs was almost over.

On through the East Risdon State Reserve along the Derwent River

Mostly I noticed the absence of birds (except for a pair of huge glossy Black Currawongs) in the motionless dry sclerophyll forests – was it the buzz of the electricity from the pylons, was it the relative lack of shelter or was it the heating day which might have sent the birds to the shady valleys? The only sound was the relentlessly growling and metallic-sawing industrial sound piercing the air from Nystar over the River. A constant.

At 11.45am, although I saw a tiny track heading towards the River, I continued uphill on the main trail with a Kookaburra laughing at me somewhere in the distance, and tiny moths flitting around my feet camouflaged to the ochre-brown-grey earth but noticeable for their motion. A tiny black jumping spider looked like a small glossy beetle when it landed and stayed still.

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I pondered whether I should have made my own way along closer to the shore by ‘bush bashing’.  The vegetation was sufficiently open to have made this easy enough, however it would still have slowed me down, and since I didn’t know the end game (the time it would take to get to the bus stop), I chose to stay on the main track.  Even when the path split (at 11.50 am)with a red ribbon hanging on a tree to indicate this was a reliable alternative, I chose to stay on the main right hand path. With hindsight the left path may have given me a shorter route to Risdon – but I don’t know.

At midday the road split again.  This time, as a Black Currawong flew overhead with its wonderful tail edging of white (made me think of the black and white dress Audrey Hepburn wore to Ascot in the movie My Fair Lady), I chose the left hand route.  Small clusters of pink native flowers, with fragile connections to nurturing soil, presented posies left and right. Perfection.

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This track dipped downhill to the left soon after, as I could see large water tanks on the hill to my right.  Almost no undergrowth. Evidence of past bush fires through part of the forest.

In the valley, lots of different wild flowers bloomed offering me a visual gift.

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At 12.10 and through the trees, I caught a glimpse of Risdon suburban houses but it was still a long while before I reached the suburb – obviously I missed tracks which could have taken me down more quickly, and instead I took the longer route, Shady. More bird song. Clean fresh smells. A vine entangling other plants with a delicate lilac-blue flower. Scenic it was and I have no regrets.

At 12.23 I took the left of a new split in the road and continued downhill. Lines of cobwebs occasionally floated across my arms and face indicating no-one else had walked here since the spider had swung across the path.

By 12.30 I reached a fenced enclosure for a water storage tank, the East Risdon Reservoir. I chose the road curving downhill on the left amidst a fresh burnt smell from the blackened bush on my right.  At the time I thought it smelt like a cup of tea freshly made – but perhaps that was wishful thinking. Three minutes later I reached a locked bar gate preventing road traffic entry but with an easy walk around. Now I passed houses on my right as I walked the length of Risdon Street down to the Derwent River.

In Risdon at the T junction with Saundersons Road which edges the River, I stood and watched a fisherman in his lunch break, felt overwhelmed by the extent of Nystar opposite, noticed INCAT’s shipyard on Prince of Wales Bay a little further north on the western side, listened to the pervasive roar from industry on the other side of the River, and wondered if I my feet would take me further.

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In the distance southwards I could see the Tasman Bridge.

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