Late Feb/early March on Tasmania’s East Coast. It doesn’t get much better than this – no wind, blue, blue skies, shimmering seas and blindingly, white endless beach. Welcome to Bush Heritage’s Friendly Beaches Reserve.
Weather in Tasmania doesn’t always live up the ‘friendly‘ tag, but today it did. We were a group of five – Bush Heritage Ecologist Dr Matt Appleby, Board Member Dr. Alexander Gosling, his daughter Louise Gosling, English landscape painter Sarah Charmers and myself – a volunteer with Bush Heritage, who lives in Hobart and happily enjoys an excuse to drive the 190km to the Freycinet Peninsula, where the reserve is located and spend a day out on it.
The day was an opportunity for Matt to check on the condition of the coastal heathland and especially the grasstrees to see how they were faring against the root rot fungus Phytophthera cinnamomi, which unfortunately is prevalent in many areas of Tasmania.
It was also a chance to remove some old Bush Heritage signage, see if a small thistle infestation had increased much and begin to assess when the reserve might next need to be burnt to protect its conservation values.
Although only a small reserve of 121 hectares, Friendly Beaches contains a large area of very significant and biodiverse coastal heathland, as well as areas of Black Gum, Silver Peppermint and Blue Gum.
It also is a very scenically beautiful reserve and Dr Gosling had personally commissioned Sarah to visit Friendly Beaches and Oura Oura to paint some landscapes. She'd have loved to spend many more days soaking it all in, but a day was all we had.
What a good day it was though, and only a few weeks before the world was turned upside down by Covid19. I look forward to eventually being able to visit it again...