On our second full day exploring the Bay of Fires, we decided we would head north again and find our way to Mt William National Park. I had read up what I could find on how to get there and decided that there appeared to be a reasonable hike up Mt William that was well within our fitness level. Eddystone Point (Larapuna) also looked like a good spot to check out, being about 52 Km from St Helens. We took the same road out of town as we had done the previous day but rather than turning off towards Binalong Bay, we continued straight along Ansons Bay Rd. As mentioned previously, there had been significant rain in the area over the last week but we didn’t expect any further issues from water across the road as it had been dry the previous two days. The first part of the road was made up of rural properties and then the second half was dirt road through forested country. We were heading for a meeting with Ansons River where it turned right to head towards the sea in Ansons bay. It was a spectacular sight when we arrived at the bridge to see the amount of water flowing across the road. There were a few cars stopped there so we jumped out of the car to join the other motorists contemplating and discussing the depth of the water across the bridge.
We stopped for quite a while and further cars arrived and joined the discussion. The issue was resolved when a camper van arrived from the other side of the bridge and simply drove across with only a couple of inches water impeding its way. The rest of us got in our cars and headed on over the bridge. I discovered later that this crossing had always been a problem in the constructing and servicing of the lighthouse further along. If it flooded construction materials could be delayed for significant periods.
We decided we would go and have a look at Ansons Bay. There was quite a settlement here of holiday houses but there were no obvious opportunities to get a good view of the bay; there were also no opportunities to buy a coffee as there appeared to be no shop in town for the locals’ convenience.
We finally arrived at our destination which was the lighthouse at Eddystone Point. This was the official end of the Bay of Fires. The history of this area is quite dramatic. As car-driving tourists, flooded creeks are a real deterrent but if you are a sailing ship delivering goods to Hobart or transporting whale products or timber back up the coast and into Bass Strait, the sea off the north-eastern tip of Tasmania is treacherous water. Ship-wrecks in the second half of the 19th century were a regular occurrence along this stretch of coastline. The lighthouse had been planned for 10 years and was finally built here in 1889. It was built from the local granite rock. The lighthouse was serviced from the sea, not the road we had driven along to get here. This required jetties to be built into a very rocky landing point; given the amount of serious storms that batter this coast, it was no surprise to learn that the jetties had to be rebuilt a number of times. The lighthouse no longer requires lighthouse keepers and their three beautiful stone cottages have been restored and now stand in perfect shape to welcome local Indigenous groups and hikers on ‘country’ tours.
After checking out the lighthouse, we then went for a walk down over the dunes to the shoreline. On this walk we experienced some of the most beautiful scenery we had encountered so far on our trip up the east coast of Tasmania. Here are some of the photos.
One of the other interesting things about Eddystone Point or Larapuna as it is known to the local First Nation people is that 7 hectares around the lighthouse have been leased back to the local indigenous people since 2006. A “Healthy Country Plan” was developed for the use of the area in 2015. (See http://tacinc.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/larapuna_17.4.15.pdf) The lighthouse keepers’ cottages have been completely restored for the use of the community and for use by Indigenous tour groups who take people on three day hikes along the Bay of Fires.
Here is an extract from the document mentioned above which gives some history and context to the return of this parcel of land to the local indigenous people.
“The east coast cultural landscape stretches all the way out over the muka (sea) to Tayaritja (The Furneaux Islands). Our people who lived in the north east region considered Tayaritja to be the place they would go when they died. Before invasion, the Ben Lomond people and Northern Midlands people would travel to the north east coast for yola (Mutton Bird) and to hunt seals seasonally. The headland around Larapuna is made up of one large midden which is now mostly covered in coastal scrub. The size of the midden indicates that the area along the north east coast near Larapuna was a place that was used very regularly by large numbers of our people, over a very long period of time.
Most of our people today have ancestral links to the north east coast, because this is the area from which many of our women were taken by white sealers to live on Tayaritja. Once on Tayaritja, the women had children and through the generations that followed, many of our people can trace their ancestral links back to this area.”
After a lengthy exploration of Larapuna, we decided that the day was getting away from us. As there were no significant information signs about how to get to the base of Mt William, we decided to give this section of our drive a miss. When we arrived back at our crossing over Ansons River, it was good to note that the water had stopped flowing over the bridge.