The Hobart

250 Million Years of History at Fossil Bluff

by Peter Carey
250 Million Years of History at Fossil Bluff

Keen on our geological, botanical or marine biological environ­ment, and are confident of tackling a moderately steep incline on foot? Then the Fossil Cove Conservation Area, just off the Tinderbox Road, and about three and a half kilometres south of Blackmans Bay, is worthy of a look.

According to the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service it represents two significant stages of landscape evolution. Firstly, there’s fossil rich Permian Mudstone about 250 million years old and the second stage involving significant volcanic displacement, predominantly of dolerite, entering into the mix around 180 million years ago.

Having recently tackled the track myself with two of my sons, we discovered the early part of the trek offered a smorgasbord of different native plant species. According to Professor James Kirkpatrick of the Geography Department at the University of Tasmania, and former lecturer of myself many years ago; it includes Musk Daisy Bush, Native Cherry, Large Leaf Bush Pea, Long Leaf Wattle (albeit this one is an introduced species) and Christmas Bush, just to name a few.

The highlight from a geological point of view however includes some of the most magnificent coastal rock formations at the bottom of the track near the water’s edge – much to the geo­physical interest of my eldest son Tim. The pictures speak for themselves but suffice to say, one can’t help but marvel at how many millions of years of coastal weathering from both wave refraction and the attrition factors intensified by wind action, have created such unique examples of nature’s own art, espe­cially the rock arch.

To add extra to the mix, the plethora of fossil material to be dis­covered by just foraging around the rocks is guaranteed to tease the curiosity of any amateur palaeontologist. For those familiar with graphic art and keen to build on their personal library of texture images, we can recommend checking out this vast array of fossil samples, just as my second son Sam often does whenever the opportunity arises.

While we were there the arrival of a diving group – all enthusias­tically equipped with wet suits, masks and flippers – was a firm indication that there is an abundance of marine life in the region close to shore, to be explored and appreciated. While I haven’t ventured to that extent personally, we’re reminded that this is part of the D’entrecasteaux Channel and just six kilometres further south, one can find the Tinderbox Marine Reserve with an interpretation trail, which extends 700 metres along the shore and out to approximately 300 metres from the high water mark. Originally established in the early eighties under the direction of then Parks Minister, John Clearly, it remains very popular with dive clubs for both social gatherings and dive training.

I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Professor James Kirkpatrick of the UTAS Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, in identifying some of the plant species.


Love this


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Exploring Tassie These Winter School Holidays
We know that staying indoors with the family isn’t always fun. And while it’s obviously cold outside, you’re only a puffer jacket and beanie away from being comfortable and ready to explore. There’s lots of family fun to be had in all sorts of weird and wonderful places across the state these school holidays.
Sand Surfing on the Peninsula
The half-day walk to Crescent Beach in the Tasman National Park offers so much- including epic sand dunes for surfing and incredible views.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
July 2022

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!