After a big drive from Sydney followed by a night on the ferry from Melbourne, more driving to Strahan and a punishing two day car shuffle across Tasmania by Stuart & Campbell, we were finally paddling out of Maquarie Harbour on a sunny day with a fair forecast.
|Getting ready to head out to sea (Photo by Shaan)|
Discussions were had about what we'd do if we found ourselves on top of a Breaking Bommie as we constantly scanned the sea for the humps of water which might give a clue to the presence of one of these underwater hazards. Although I had the latest chart on my GPS, many of these reefs were not marked as much of this part of the Tasmanian coast remains unsurveyed. I'm told the most up to date charting in some places down there was done by Captain Cook!
After 41km we arrived at what was to be our first landing, Birthday Bay. After looking at the waves going into this reefy little beach I was steeling myself for another 40km to the next possible landing! Luckily Stuart Trueman had been here before and armed with that all valuable experience and a weatlh of intelligence gained from the likes of Matty Watton, Jeff Jennings and Laurie Ford, Stuart assured us it was going to be fine as long as we made a dash for a big rock, got behind that without getting cleaned up on the waves hitting the outside of it, wait for a break in the sets and go hard across some rocks before turning 90 degrees and going straight into the beach. The landing went well overall even though Mark got rolled and Campbell had to capsize to stop himself from a hard smash into some rocks on the North side of the beach.
The next day we paddled to a small cove on the inside of Hibbs Pyramid where we had lunch before heading off again to land at Hartwell Cove, which was about the only place I'd picked out from Google Earth that we could actually get into to! After negotiating a few rollers and breakers on either side we paddled through a small gap into a magnificent amphitheatre of a bay. This was a wild and pristine place - problem was there was only a very small clearing for our communal area and it was difficult to find tent sites. Despite this I was thrilled to be there.
|Mark, Shaan, Stuart & Campbell - They didn't seem to have the same feelings for Hartwell Cove as I did!|
|Mainwaring Inlet, one of the best camping spots of the whole trip (Photo by Campbell)|
|A good camp and safe landing in a slot that I would never have picked as a safe landing (Photo by Shaan)|
Unfortunately things got a bit too strong and Stuarts sail ripped at about the same time his rudder pedal failed. We had to down sails to keep together and so couldn't take full advantage of the conditions. It was exciting none the less and as we paddled passed The Coffee Pot things were really lively and just as I mounted my camera on the back of Marks boat I got picked up by a steep breaking wave and engulfed in the wave face, I braced hard. The wind, now at around 30 knots, just caught the tip of my sail and along with an almighty stroke I managed to bring the bow round and shoot down the face of the wave, the last thing I saw was Marks boat with the camera pointed right at me. This was going to be some awesome footage - too bad the memory was full and we got none of it!
We all dug deep, especially Stuart as he now had no rudder, and rounded Vincent Point into the shelter of Port Davey. Now with a head wind we plodded onto Bond Bay where, again thanks to Stuart's intelligence, there would be a hut complete with bath waiting for us. We pushed on into a strengthening head wind until we were about two k's away and then, into the full force of what must have been in the vicinity of 35 knot winds arrived to a beach which was supposed to be where our hut was. We split up and scoured the coast. I saw a horizontal line through the bush so got out to take a closer look. There I found the ruins of some shack and the burnt out vegetation of recent bush fires. All in all a depressing place that I didn't think much of. I got back in the boat and went down the beach to find the others who were still looking for the hut. "How was it?" Stuart asked. "Depressing. We'd be better off camping in the bush" I replied. "So no hut then?", "No" I answered. "No bath either then" someone joked. "Well actually yes, there was a bath".
|The right Hut - complete with bath (upturned and discarded in the bush) Bond Bay|
The next day, still with strong winds we headed up The Davey River as far as we could.
|Up Davey River towards The Davey Gorge|
|Mt Rugby - backdrop to my solitary two days at Balmoral Beach.|
|The strom passed. Spain Bay.|
|Seals have taken over the dilapidated landing spot on Maatsuyker Island|
|Was hard work getting the boats up|
|A truly amazing place and an absolute privilege to visit|
In high spirits and feeling on top of the world we headed off past De Witt island and onto Deadmans Cove where we had one of the highlight meals of the trip - seven abalone that was given to Shaan by some fisherman we met on the way.
|Good landing and excellent camping at Deadmans|
|Mark Schroeder, Campbell Tiley, Shaan Gresser, Stuart Trueman, Matt Bezzina|
|Strahan to Cockle Creek including side trips to the Davey Gorge and Melaleuca|