I’m a bit keen on echidnas. I used to work with one called Milligan. I saw his Bruny Island cousin the other day. He – Bruny, not the cousin – was fawn. Craig-the-Driver-Guide thought he/she/it was white. On inspection of its retreating arse it turned out to be pale brown covered in dust. I saw a beautiful brown and gold tiger snake’s retreating bum too – if snakes have them – but I’ve never worked with one of them. I saw dishes of oysters – pass! ‘all alimentary canal’ my Biology I lecturer called them – and huge, wonderful Hothouse Cafe scones – not as good as mine and not on the same dish as the oysters.
When you visit Hobart you must look at Bruny Island. I had two choices: career around (on the sea) is a yellow speed boat or take a leisurely drive (on land) in a twelve seater with free Minties. I was driven overland to look at the stringy bark-ish scrub – it changes from two-storey to three-storey with changing aspect and therefore rainfall – and beside the rockpools with Sooty Oystercatchers. Geology I (passed on a re-sit) told me the cliffs were basaltic – ‘dolerite’ Craig said – not surprisingly since the exposed hillsides around Hobart include columnar basal organ pipes. I would like to have wandered into a little patch of wet eucalypt forest. Next time.
Haematopus fuliginosus Bruny
The bloke in the front seat (not Craig) out-knew me on The Ring but I scored points being able to quote, ‘When German bands from music stands played Wagner imperfectly, I bad them go, they didn’t say no, but off they went directly…’ (Princess Ida, Gilbert and Sullivan!) Lunch at Hotel Bruny (the one that’s half inverted) was memorable because a. the grilled fish was superb; b. the bloke opposite lined all his chips parallel then apologised for his OCD but I have no idea why.
Craig-the-Guide knows the sea. He can spot the snout of a seal at 50 metres in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, and knows how to relocate them – the whole seal, not just the snout, and knows the island history because he lived in light stations there. He knows enough forest ecology to fool me (not difficult). He can tell the bum of an echidna from that of a tiger snake. He can drive on hilly roads (and that is something I do know about) and he knows about great cheese.