29th November, 2017.
The weather forecast for late in the week was not looking promising but Thursday seemed a possibility for us to do an Arthur River cruise which was highly recommended so the decision was made to drive directly to Arthur River from Ulverstone. I am still amazed by the relatively short distances we cover getting around this State but at 174 kms this was the longest drive we had had moving from one campsite to another.
We arrived around lunchtime and checked in at the Ranger station to book for 2 nights. The adjoining campground was really only suitable for small rigs but the Manuka Campground a few hundred metres back along the road is huge with almost 80 sites. As the wind was howling we looked for a sheltered site and chose 52 – we were the only campers in this section.
Once set up, we drove out to the Edge of the World lookout. The access road is dirt but curiously this is where the dump point is located. Not a place to take a caravan as there would be no room to turn around if there were cars in the car park. The views from the lookout were stunning; made all the more so because of the wind whipping up the seas.
Looking back to the mouth of the Arthur River with the town and one lane bridge spanning the river in the distance.
Heading back to the van, we stopped at the car park from which the two Arthur River cruise boats depart. As we were still unsure of the next day’s weather, we were reluctant to make a booking. Everyone we had asked for a recommendation had said the red boat was the one to take and reading the notice at the boatshed that we could pay as we boarded reassured us that we could wait till the next morning to decide if the weather was suitable.
We returned later in the afternoon to have a look at the boat itself and were happy that there was enough outside space for Erich to be able to get good photos.
The photo below is not very good quality but I’m including it as I believe this is a Green Rosella which occurs only in Tasmania, King Island and Flinders Island.
30th November, 2017.
There was a 5% chance of rain but the next day was forecast to have 95% chance of rain, so our decision was made to take the chance and do the boat cruise.
On arrival at the boat, we had a quick chat with one of the owners and found that there were only 4 passengers booked so no problem for us to go along as they always cater lunch for a few extras.
It was still very windy when we left the jetty but as we motored further upriver the force of the wind abated somewhat. Along the way we were given great commentary about the history of the river and the adjoining forests. As we rounded a bend, we were greeted by the sight of a huge male White-bellied Sea Eagle sitting high in a tree waiting for his breakfast.
Each morning the Captain prepares a sizable fish by injecting it with air so that it will float when he throws it into the water. The bird swoops down and carries his prize back to the nest to feed his two hungry chicks. The female bird has not been seen now for some weeks and the crew believes that she has met with an accident and probably drowned. So the chore of feeding the chicks rests solely with the male bird.
Circling to come in for the fish.
He must have been having an off day as it took several passes before he got hold of the fish.
After this bit of entertainment, we were circled by a huge Wedge-tailed Eagle, apparently a different strain from the mainland bird.
The Arthur River system is one of seven major river systems in Tasmania but is the only one that has never been logged or dammed so what we were seeing is exactly how it has been for thousands of years.
The exception to this ancient landscape is the tracts of Foxgloves growing here and there along the river. These plants have become a weed but are not invasive and should pose no risk to the pristine temperate rainforest. The plants were introduced by Chinese miners working in the area of Balfour on the Frankland River (which feeds into the Arthur River) who extracted digitalis which they used to regulate their heart rate giving them more stamina to work long hours in the mines.
Little Black Cormorants.
The hollow at the water line is the entry to a Platypus burrow.
Moored at our lunch stop.
The fine leaves of the Myrtle Beech tree which is so abundant along this river.
Our lunch venue.
This little Pademelon joined us for lunch.
While waiting for our BBQ lunch to cook, our skipper took us on a short walk through the rainforest and imparted some of his many years knowledge of the area.
A Black Currawong, another exclusively Tasmanian and Bass Strait Island bird, keeping an eye on us.
A Yellow-throated Honeyeater, also confined to Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands.
We had a wonderful day and were very lucky with the weather as light rain only started around 5 pm once we were back at the van.