Our group of four started the walk from the marked car park 11kms from Murdunna on Hylands Road. With hindsight, we wished we had driven down to the limited parking at the beginning of the track to shorten our 10km round trip, particularly at the end of the day! As it was, we enjoyed the morning stroll along Richardsons Road where clear felling and fire has resulted in colourful re growth of Melaleuca, Hakea and Patersonia (Purple iris) under eucalypts and banksias.
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At the end of the road, just past a Forestry Tasmania barrier, the sign indicates Cape Surville 2 hours return. This proved highly optimistic as the track was in places steep and rocky, with fallen branches impeding progress. Initially the track wound gently uphill with tantalising glimpses of the sea until it emerged above a cliff face to give views through some Blue gums (Eucalyptus globulus) south to Cape Surville. The track continued upward past a small stand of Oyster Bay Pine. In this vicinity we were able to see, if not catch on camera, a Crescent Honeyeater, Grey Shrike-thrush, and a Dusky Woodswallow with its beautiful dusky brown/pink plumage.
The climb became steeper and the less agile of the party were grateful for their walking poles. ( The track would be slippery when wet). A battered hollow eucalypt provided a lunch spot before a steep descent into damp rainforest. At this point the party split, with the more intrepid pair continuing through a charming sheltered valley with rainforest species such as Sassafras, and an under story of Tree Ferns, Native Laurel and Dogwood. From here it was a short climb to the rewards of Cape Surville itself.
Shortly after resuming our walk the track begins this descent through south-facing forest with a distinct change in the ecosystem. Subject to the prevailing westerlies and violent southerlies, the taller and thicker forest canopy included Dogwood, with ferns and a lone Dicksonia antartica in a gully.
The forest floor was covered with mosses and lichens that also grew on tree trunks giving them a distinct patterning. Here the track, often indistinct, was marked with faded tree markers. The last section of the descent drew closer to the coast and the sea could be glimpsed through the progressively stunted eucalypts, acacia and banksia. We emerged above the cliffs of a small inlet where the view expanded: to the west Bruny Island, while beyond and to the north, the bulk of Mount Wellington. And for the first time a view was revealed, over vegetation to Tasman Island and Cape Pillar in the east.
The exposed cliffs overlooking Sisters Bay south of Cape Surville have three distinct layers: sandstone on top, granite in the middle and dolerite beneath. This is a sedimentary and igneous rock formation unique to Tasmania, the only other occurrence being in Antartica At the end of this cliff several stacks known as Sisters Rocks complete the spectacular view. Walking along a narrow ridge from this viewpoint, with cliffs falling steeply away on both sides, walkers are rewarded with a glorious vista from the summit of Cape Surville north to High Yellow Bluff as far as Maria Island.
Helen and Steve Hitchen November 30th 2006