“Are we going up there?” I asked, pointing to the towering, tree covered hill before us.
“I thought we’d already climbed three,” came Steve’s reply.
“I guess that’s the third,” I said, as we forged on.
After a top day on the bikes cruising around Maria Island, we decided to do some rambling, which in the end became more scrambling, as we headed up to Three Thumbs Lookout. We drove through Orford before parking at the base of the climb.
“Up there?” I asked, checking we were in the right place. The start point for our hike wasn’t a path, or even much of a track, but just a steep slope of rocks.
“Yep,” came the confirmation.
OK, up we go. We dug our feet into the rocks and earth to get some purchase on the incline and then saw a track ahead.
Up we went, through the quiet bush, with just the rustle of leaf litter around us as lizards darted behind rocks to escape the oncoming trudge of feet. The gums stretched above us, their twisting, skeletal limbs reaching arms and fingers over the track ahead. This is Australia. This is Tasmania. Those glorious gums, with their striped and patterned trunks, both rough and smooth. They just invite you to stroke them; to pat them and say thanks for still being there after all this time.
We continued up, before carefully edging down. In settings like this, Steve and I share equal advantages and disadvantages. I have the disadvantage of short legs, which makes getting a step up onto high rocks quite a challenge, but with this comes the advantage of small feet, which can step easy peasy in and out of tree roots and rocky crevices on the downhills. Steve on the other hand, has the advantage of long legs on his 6’5” frame, which he uses to step up onto boulders with all the ease of Gulliver stepping into Lilliput. His feet, on the other hand, are the size of water skis, quite a disadvantage when needing to navigate inclines full of those tree roots and holes, just waiting to trap those big clompers and fell the Big Fella. We both heaved ourselves up or edged our way down, aware of our bodily pros and cons, but nevertheless giving a stumble here or a lurch there, with each of us calling “Y’oright?” at various times when we saw the other trip or flail.
The walk was great, but the track was, at times, non existent and in some places nothing more than an uphill collection of rocks. It was a case of just following the orange markers on the trees, to keep heading in the right direction.
Then we saw that big, tree covered hill ahead of us. Nope, it seemed we hadn’t already climbed three of the Thumbs, we had the third staring down at us.
“Do you want to go all the way to the top, or turn around here?” asked Steve. It did look a bit ominous.
“We’ve come this far,” I said. We both agreed it was worth finishing and getting ourselves to the top.
The view appeared every now and again through the trees, to encourage us to keep going and when we eventually reached the top, it was indeed worth it. It was a top vista, looking down on Orford, across to Maria Island and out onto The Hazards at Coles Bay. Magic.
We found a spot in some rocks to pause for a snack and take in the view, with the lizards bravely making an appearance and enjoying the warmth of the sun on the rocks around us. Then it was time fore the undulating, down-up-down of the “three thumbs” for the return scramble.
Only a few hundred metres into our return trek, the day threw up yet another magic moment.
“Echidna,” said Steve, pointing to the little brown bundle that was now shuffling towards a log. I followed quietly and watched the dear little thing, sitting in a bundle of fuzz and flattened quills, face into the hollow of the log, using its tactical, “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me” technique. I stayed still, watching and waiting and eventually that sweet, cute little face emerged from its hiding spot, with little eyes squinting into the light and its long nose flaring and sniffing the air. Echidnas are another of our special little animals that you don’t see too often, so this was special. They always remind me of our version of Mole from Wind in the Willows, with their little dark eyes, blinking and squinting, just like Moly. I must have made a sound, because it suddenly reversed and went back into its hiding place with its quills springing up in defence. I apologised and waited again until the little face reappeared, the quills flattened as the little echidna felt safe enough to face the world again. I carefully retreated and left it in peace.
The surroundings had been wonderful, the view gorgeous, but that moment with the little spiky bundle, was worth the hike in spades!
We continued our scrambling descent, carefully navigating the rocks and crevices, with the peace of the bush and the majesty of the view, our only companions.
Another top spot to spend our time. We have never considered ourselves “bushwalkers” and we have never ventured anywhere too rugged, but we do enjoy our plods and scrambles in the Tasmanian outdoors and we are usually guaranteed fabulous views or peace and tranquillity of nature and sometimes, just sometimes, a special moment with a little local creature. Wombats one day and an echidna the next. Perfect. Our little island had delivered once again and I, for one, beamed with gratitude.