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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Freycinet Hike - Day 1 - the Hazards to Cooks Beach

[image]Off to Freycinet today. Getting up early, I had breakfast and packed my gear ready for the hike, stashed my extra gear at the hostel, then went to the bakery which was the pickup spot for the bus service.
The bus (a big van really) came and took me south, delivering a little mail along the way. We went past Mouting Lagoon, which is supposed to be one of Australia's most important wetlands. In the same way that Tasmania has magnificent forests, and logs them, the wetland was dotted with dozens of hides for duck shooting, and the driver said that protected black swans also occasionally get hit.
We drove on, to Coles bay, with views over Great Oyster Bay, which was very smooth and calm. The mountains I'd seen yesterday, are, I discovered, part of Freycinet National Park, and are called The Hazards. They are very imposing rocky pink granite mountains rising up from the landscape which has nothing else like them nearby.
The bus dropped me off at the main Freycinet carpark, on the north edge of the national park, at the foot of The Hazards.

The Hazards are covered with thinly spread dry Eucalypt bush, through which is visible thousands of pink granite boulders, large and small. The track, which is also used by many thousands of day trippers, goes up through this environment, to a saddle between Mount Mayson, and Mount Amos, which is the lowest saddle of the Hazards. Just on the southern side of the saddle is a lookout over the famous Wineglass Bay. It looked pretty, but would look fantastic with a clear sunny day, as the weather was overcast and a bit gloomy.
I continued down the other side of the saddle, toward the Wineglass Bay beach. The track was quite steep in places. When I got to the beach, I first noticed how loud the waves seemed to be, as it was a shorebreak, with a very long length of wave breaking at once. I then noticed some dolphins out in the bay, and sat watching and photographing them for a little while. The spot where I sat had very strange sand the grains were the size of rice probably from the granite. The rest of the beach was a normal fine white sand, but was not too easy to walk on, due to small ridges and waves.

I walked the length of the beach, and was now off the beaten track of the day trippers. There is a fairly large campsite with a toilet at the south end of the beach, and from there, the track immediately starts the climb to Mount Graham, climbing a granite ridgeline through dry Eucalypt bush.
The climb continued for what seemed like ages, and I discovered that I was still not over the Giardia completely, as I couldn't climb continuously, and had to stop for many short breaks. I had lunch in the slightly more lush bush of Graham Creek, then continued climbing. Shortly after lunch, the track reached a plateau, where there were low bushes, and button grass, giving good views. Also in sight was Mt Graham, not too much higher. The track climbed and descended a couple of times before starting up to the summit, where there were great views of the Hazards, and the whole area.

The descent from the mountain, going south was very steep, but had great views south, of cliff lined coast, and Mount Freycinet. Coming of the mountain, the track went back into dry Eucalypt forest, where it flattened out, and travelled for a long time around Mt Freycinet. The bush reminded me very much of that found around Sydney. The track descended toward Cooks Beach, and passed through a couple of lovely patches of wildflowers, which surprised me being out in late Autumn.

Cooks Beach was quite pretty, and had only the tiniest waves since it was on the Great Oyster Bay side of the peninsula. I walked down the length of the beach to the campsite. There was a hut there, but it was pretty dank, and set back some way from the beach.
When I started the walk, I signed in at the registration hut, and noticed, to my amazement, that the person on the line above, was Gaye. I figured I'd missed here by one day, as she had started yesterday. While I was taking photos of the amazingly beautiful sunset over the bay, I noticed a tent that looked like Gayes, but since it was all zipped up, and since I was very tired, and needed dinner, I decided I'd find out in the morning, when there was more light.

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