Wednesday, 19 Jun 2019

The Docks to Killiecrankie. Flinders Island.

Killiecrankie

“Top Walks in Tasmania”

Melanie Ball

The Docks to Killiecrankie. Flinders Island

 

Killiecrankie. Prepare for astonishing natural stonemasonry and boundless photographic opportunities on this fun coastal walk and rock-hop.

The Docks to Killiecrankie. Flinders Island. - photo 1

Killiecrankie. Prepare for astonishing natural stonemasonry

Walk:

8.2km A to B

Time required:

4 hours

Best time:

Mild-to-warm, dry day year-round (exposed to wind and rain)

Grade:

Easy–moderate (lots of rock-hopping)

Environment:

Headlands, coastal scrub, rocky bays, beaches

Best map:

This one

Toilets:

Flush toilets at Killiecrankie

Food:

None

Tips:

There are no taxis on Flinders Island so you need to car shuffle or arrange a drop-off at The Docks, and collection from Killiecrankie (ask your accommodation provider).

Leave food in your car at Killiecrankie and use the free barbecues for a post-walk beach feast.

For the best chance of finding Killiecrankie diamonds (actually a type of topaz commonly found with tin, feldspar and quartz), chat to the experts at Killiecrankie Enterprises in Whitemark about how and where to find them.

The Docks to Killiecrankie. Flinders Island. - photo 2

Killiecrankie

     Most photographs of Flinders Island focus on the orange, lichen-washed granite decorating its coast. The prospect of unearthing Killiecrankie diamonds also attracts many visitors. This walk combines rugged, photogenic coastal geology with the outside chance of a ‘diamond’ strike. (You really need to dig and sift for these stones rather than just pick one up but you never know your luck outside the big city!)

The Docks to Killiecrankie. Flinders Island. - photo 3

Killiecrankie

     Your geological jaunt starts at the Docks (a remote collection of handsome bays) off Palana Rd (B85), half an hour’s drive (about 48km) north-west of Whitemark. The turnoff was unsigned at the time of writing, so ask a local for directions if unsure. Initially okay, the 3km access road ends as a designated 4WD track. You might navigate it in a conventional vehicle but may need to walk in. The road ends at a turnaround below Mt Killiecrankie (278m), a massive granite crag popular with rock climbers; ‘B.O.O.B.’ and ‘Toblerone’ are two of the 200 or so routes up its craggy, seaward face. There’s also a walking track to the top.

     Walk south, on a vehicle-wide track marked with a blue sign and distinctive boot-tread logo, into Killiecrankie Nature Recreation Area. Beyond a barrage of age-twisted tea tree, the track approaches and then skirts a rocky bay. You could clamber down and walk along the beach from here but there’s plenty of rock-hopping to come and staying on the track is the easier option. Narrowing to walker-wide, the track then cuts through more old tea tree before presenting a view (left) of a wall with a twin-rock topknot (look for rock climbers) and of beach strewn with iconic Flinders Island boulders, blushed orange with lichen.

The Docks to Killiecrankie. Flinders Island. - photo 4

Killiecrankie

     Having followed the track to another rocky beach, you skirt spines of granite eroded into crazed blocks. Weather and time have also cut caves in the cliffs behind. Tread the ‘beach’ from here or stay on the track immediately above it (there are cairns); either way, you’ll see geological layers in close-up.

     Rock (sculpted and daubed with orange lichen, in the water and ashore) and plants (banksias, she-oaks, spiky grasses, grey-green shrubs, and wind-bonsaied heath) create a kaleidoscope of colours and textures. Some of the boulders look like abstract artworks, some like wrinkled faces above distorted bodies. There’s endless artistry along this walk and appreciating and photographing it slows you down as much as the rock-hopping.

     As you round a cove (with all boulders and no sand) about 1.3km into the walk, note the zipper-like seam of intruded rock running through the granite you’re crossing, and the stone sharks’ fins on the promontory. Walk through cracked boulders, over granite ramps sloping down from the cliffs, past a rock shaped like a giant ice cream cone (see point 1 on map), to a promontory appliqued with multiple shades of sea greenery.

The Docks to Killiecrankie. Flinders Island. - photo 5

Killiecrankie

     About 1.75km into the walk you come to an old driftwood climbers’ hut with no roof and rickety walls. The track going left here leads to a cliff with several pitches including one called ‘Trust Me I’m An Idiot’. Head right and continue above beach rock, enjoying a full-face view of the cliff (left) with its fingerholds and toeholds.

     Water, exposure and lichen have fashioned the rock here into terrazzo flooring. Tread it towards the next headland, essentially keeping to the shoreline. It is fun but slow-going and it’s easy to lose time admiring the rocks and discovering what grows on them and in the pools between. Around another headland you pass under a massive balancing rock like an elongated dog’s snout pointing uphill.

     As you round Old Mans Head, a landmark granite point about 3km into the walk, you get an uninterrupted view up Mt Killiecrankie (left) and, at sea level, a remarkable natural sculpture suggestive of Hollywood’s Alien (see point 2 on map), with head lowered over knees. Then, out of the blue, among the relatively smooth granite you come upon chunks of jagged calcarenite (limestone sculpted by wave action, carbonic acid and the sandpaper-like tongues of feeding shellfish).

The Docks to Killiecrankie. Flinders Island. - photo 6

Killiecrankie

     Roughly 3.8km into the walk you land on a tiny beach. If the tide allows, walk/wade to the end and look through an extraordinary sandstone arch. The track climbs over a rocky divide to Stacky’s Bight beach for the best view of the sea arch. At mid to low tide, this sheltered bay is a lovely spot for a swim.

     Refreshed, ascend the steep steps at the bay’s end onto a sandy track that cuts through wind-pruned tea tree and banksias. A small cairn marks a good spot to return to the rocks if you haven’t had enough yet; alternately remain on the track, towards a house.

     The track deposits you on the beach beyond massed rocks, from where you amble clockwise to Killiecrankie. A short way along, calcarenite has formed a small arch over two pieces of granite; exposed sandstone at the top of the beach reveals different eras of sedimentation, compaction and uplift. But then there is just sand.

The Docks to Killiecrankie. Flinders Island. - photo 7

Killiecrankie

     Five hundred metres short of Killiecrankie village you’ll see a gully opening onto the beach. This is Killiecrankie Creek; it doesn’t often flow down the beach but the tide sometimes comes up to meet it. Anchored fishing boats and cray-trap floats bob to your right as you walk on to Killiecrankie and a barbecue.

 

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