Driving from Hobart towards the Tasman Peninsula these days provides sobering reminders of the bushfires which devastated the area around Dunalley in January.
There are huge areas of burnt bushland although it is good to see that much of it is already coming back to life. I stopped beside the road on the Hobart side of Dunalley to look at the regrowth. The town itself looks far better than it does in these photos taken immediately after the event but there are still burnt-out buildings to be seen.
Dunalley sits just north of the narrow neck of land joining the Forestier Peninsula to the rest of Tasmania (see map). The next narrow isthmus, between the Forestier Peninsula and the double-lobed Tasman Peninsula, is Eaglehawk Neck. It became famous because it is where the 1830s colonial administration set up its final barrier between the Port Arthur convicts and the uncertain freedom of the mainland, a heavily patrolled dog line. Some of the convict-era buildings are preserved but the Neck is now a popular holiday destination because of its natural beauty. The Tessellated Pavement is a little to the north and the Blowhole, Devil’s Kitchen and Tasman’s Arch are a similar distance to the south, around the capes bracketing the Pirates Bay surf beach.
A sign near the Pavement explains its formation: silt became stone, then was split in three different directions by movement of underlying rocks; the mineralised cracks are eroded by wave action near the edge of the rock platform to leave “loaves”, but resist the effects of salt (which stays longer on the surface nearer the cliffs) better than the sandstone to form the edges of “pans”.