The Road to the Lighthouse…Sleepy Bay
After returning from our trek up to the Wineglass Bay lookout, we exited the car park and headed back to the turnoff that would take us past Mt Parsons, the first of the HAZRD mountains that led us up to Cape Tourville and its associated lighthouse. Halfway up the drive we pulled over at the curiously named Sleepy Bay. This led us to a path that took us about twenty minutes to walk down to a lovely stony beach where the rocks were not only encrusted with orange lichen, the rock-shapes were extraordinary.
We spent a relaxing half hour exploring this beach and checking out the rock formations and taking in some sunshine.
One of the issues that arose for me while visiting Sleepy Bay was the great change in approaches to indigenous heritage issues since I had visited Tasmania in 1973. I remember that our national newspapers had marked the 100 years since the death of Truganini in 1976, the last full-blooded Tasmania aboriginal. I had the vague impression that by then it was all over for Tasmanians recognising the Indigenous history and prehistory of the island. My return visit to Tasmania in 2021 revealed to me that since that time, large steps have been made in ensuring the indigenous heritage of the state was prominently promoted in many of the places we visited. However when we came to Freycinet National Park, I noted that Wikipedia had commented… “The area within the park is also of cultural importance, with many Aboriginal and European sites protected, though deeper investigation into human history within the park still needs to be undertaken.” I wondered at Sleepy Bay whether the markings on one of the beach rockfaces (photo above right) were a remnant of pre-European human interaction with the landscape. The park Information Centre did have the following notes on pre-1773 times.
“This area was once the homeland of the Toorernomairremener Aborigines who hunted and lived along these shores. Every feature was known and named. Today very few places carry Aboriginal names as much of their language was ‘lost’, forced aside, or inappropriately used. Today’s Tasmanian Aborigines are reviving their language. Some European names along the coast are reminiscent of European’s early encounters with Aborigines. Friendly Beaches in the northern section of the park describes the first friendly encounters between two vastly different cultures, while the Bay of Fires to the north of Freycinet, was named by Captain Furneaux in 1773 after sighting many Aboriginal fires burning along the coast.”
The map to the right charts our car journey away from the car-park at the bottom of Mt Amos to the lighthouse. The spectacular views from the lookout at Cape Tourville back down the coast are indicated by the blue broken lines on the map to the right. Like the lookout from which we had viewed Wine-Glass Bay earlier, the lookout boardwalks around the lighthouse were very well designed to ensure visitors got to check out the best available views from this wind-swept headland. It was a path that first took us east of the lighthouse for a view of the ‘Nuggets’, two small rocky Island just off the coast. Local Info boards told us that up to a thousand birds pair up each year and seek a spot to nest on these islands. There are no resident predators such as snakes or mammals. There are ten species of nesting sea-birds that make the ‘Nuggets’ their home when it comes to breeding time.
The boardwalk takes the visitor then round to southern side of the headland giving views back down the coast to Wineglass Bay and Cape Forest. It was good to be able to get a sense of our path over the day. The path then took us round to inspect the lighthouse. This is a relatively new lighthouse having been built in 1971. It replaced an earlier lighthouse that was just down the coast towards Cape Forest
We had already had a big day of exploring Freycinet National Park and it was time to hit the road, but I was reminded that we hadn’t had any lunch. I suspected a plot but it was pointed out to me that we had passed Freycinet Marine Farm on the way into Coles Bay and it was advertising OYSTERS! I have to admit the I enjoyed immensely my seafood chowder while my partner in crime raved about the deep shelled oysters served here, grown just down the track along the shores of Pelican Bay.
It was great day at Freycinet!