Westward Ho!

Thursday 9 January 2014

From Clarke most sea kayakers cross the notorious currents of Banks Strait, finishing at Little Musselroe Bay in remote north-east Tasmania.  We had set Devonport as our goal.  Despite the extended stay on Flinders, we still had plenty of time to head that direction.  Instead of coming out of Spike Cove and continuing south, we pointed our bows to the west and took aim for an island 50km away.

Madness!

I did consider this plan totally daft.  Why volunteer for yet another long open water crossing with no possible landing when we could reach Tasmania in half that distance?  There’s no logical answer to this, other than it was there, and we could do it.  Weather conditions allowed it, we had sought and received permission to land on the island ahead, and personally, I knew I was up for it.  After everything I had already done, I was confident in my ability to sit in the kayak seat for a 50km crossing.

Calculations had determined that 11 o’clock was the best time to depart, the tide turning our way.  Yet we were ready and eager to leave by 10 o’clock so off we set.  The GPS reveals a slight bow in our path, caused by the tides sucking us back in the wrong direction.  It didn’t matter, the winds were blowing from behind and we let loose our sails.  The waters of Banks Strait proved an interesting place to kayak, occasional tidal races appearing with white caps offering more challenging moments.

There’s not a lot to see out there.  The wind farms on Cape Portland provided a marker against which to note our passage, then the land disappears further into Ringarooma Bay and we continue, ever onwards until we arrive on the only beach on the island.  Harry strips all off and dives into the wind-blown waves in a mad moment of delight while I wander looking for a campsite, observing the resident Cape Barren geese.

This place is a special slice of heaven and we are most grateful to the owner for sharing it with us.

Clarke to Waterhouse

Onwards from Clarke Island

Onwards from Clarke Island

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Day 17

Paddling Day 7

Thursday 9 January 2014

Distance covered:

Launched:

Landed:

Island-hopping

Wednesday 8 January 2014

This was a short day, yet nonetheless it seemed to bring a range of paddling challenges.  Crossing from Cape Barren towards Preservation Island and then crossing to Clarke Island meant we would encounter a number of tidal flows and needed to be aware of which way the tides where headed.

There were serene sections passing by sculptural rocks; there were challenging sections where the white waters could have been due to reefs or to tidal flows and we had to work out which as we moved closer.  There was a tidal flow off the south-west of Preservation that brought me back to my experience in the Gulf of Corryvrecken (Scotland) and finally there were the lichen-coated majestic rocky shores of Clarke Island and the calm waters of  Spike Cove.

With hindsight, I wished we’d planned the day differently and actually landed on Preservation Island and had a closer look at Rum Island.  Having read more of Matthew Flinders’ adventures in this area, and the tale of the wreck of the Sydney Cove, walking the sand and land of these places would have been a special treat.

A sunny afternoon in Spike Cove allowed for wandering and rambling, limited by the dense bush which, despite its low height, proved quite impenetrable.

Cape Barren Island to Clarke Island

Cape Barren Island to Clarke Island

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Day 17

Paddling Day 7

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Distance covered:

Launched:

Landed:

 

Onwards

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Donning all my paddling gear for the first time in six days brought mixed emotions… joy to be moving along again, some nerves at what lay ahead.  The winds eased as predicted and by late morning, with the tides turning in our favour, we took off.  Cape Barren Island loomed large, much larger than I’d imagined it.  We took a brief stop on Long Island before skirting around the north-eastern corner at Cape Sir John.  The high tides helped get us over the reefs and into Thunder and Lightning Bay.

What a place!  After a week in the relative civilisation of Flinders, here we were, back in the wilderness and alone.  No infrastructure, no water tanks, no roads or tracks.  Just us in a glorious place with a sunset.

Trousers Point to Cape Barren Island

Trousers Point to Cape Barren Island

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Day 16

Paddling Day 6

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Distance covered:

Launched:

Landed:

Currarong (Part II)

As the pelicans watched on, the kayakers readied for a trip out along Beecroft Peninsula.
Later that evening the Birthday Girl watched as the sun set then retired indoors to join in the general merry-making which lasted until 11.30pm!

Monday morning and the bikes came out. ET got lessons from the best and braved the mud tracks.


Harry and I walked out to Gosangs Tunnel to enjoy the coastal and bush scenery.


While we all partied and played, Stuart undertook some more serious solo training, paddling north to the Illawarra, camping and returning next day. He came back feeling rather lonely…

The view from my tent

I’ve got a pretty basic tent, a Kathmandu Comet. I bought it on sale and it is small and lightweight enough to suit my needs. It has just one pole, which creates a single ridgeline. Its biggest drawback is that in rain, when I open the fly, water drips into the tent making it really difficult to use without getting a lot of things wet.

Back in January 2007 I camped at Mowarry Point with Mike Snoad and saw how he cleverly used an extra fly over his tent which, though a Macpac, is a similar design to mine. This extra fly provided more annex space and protects the entrance to the tent.
On my Whitsundays trip I finally got around to copying Mike’s brilliant idea and was thrilled to find that not only was my inner tent staying completely dry but I also had a whole new living space! As I didn’t have enough spare pegs, rocks and even my MSR dromedary bags came in handy. Many thanks to Mike. Of course, the view from my tent can make getting up at 6.30am a delight …….

PETER BAY, WHITSUNDAY ISLAND

WHITEHAVEN BEACH, WHITSUNDAY ISLAND