Sunday 12 – Thursday 16 January 2014
Back at the beach the following morning, we load up for the next part of our adventure, along the coast to Devonport. Jeff joins us for a while providing some welcome on-water company.
I hadn’t heard much about this part of the Tasmanian coast, though I do remember the battle Justine Curgenven and her group had into the constant headwinds along this stretch of coast. Harry has previously ferried into Devonport on the Spirit of Tasmania, unloaded his kayak and headed west with Guy, John and Keith until they arrived at Cockle Creek. His first crossing of east Bass Strait had continued from Little Musselroe along the Tasmanian east coast to Hobart. So he was keen to experience one of the remaining stretches of Tasmanian coastline unknown to him.
We have four days of incredibly pleasant paddling along coastline that felt remote, but really wasn’t. We pass small townships and hear, then see, beach buggies and four-wheel vehicles on the long, deserted beaches. On our first day we cover a respectable 31km. For our first campsite, Harry finds a gap in the trees at the back of a small beach just west of Weymouth. The quiet edge of a paddock protects us from the onshore winds. Launching from rocky shore next morning requires us to gather beds of seaweed for under our boats.
One highlight of this stretch of coast is Tenth Island, the one that comes after Ninth Island. This small rocky outcrop, five kilometres off the coast, is covered with seals. Seals of all ages and shapes, making an incredible variety of sounds. We sit in our kayaks, downwind so as not to disturb them too much with our presence, and watch entranced for almost an hour.
On turning back towards the coastline, I immediately spot the lighthouse at Low Head, 20 km away on the eastern shore of the mouth of the Tamar River. I wonder if the many days spent at sea, looking into the far distance along with far fewer hours spent looking at close-range screens and pages, have sharpened up my vision.
Jeff has made the trip to the Low Head lighthouse to greet us. He takes photos from the shore. Sweet, finally some great photos of Harry. A stop to chat to Jeff, then we cross the mouth of the Tamar, observing its flows and incredible depths of seaweed. The campsite on the other side is perfect: a glade under the trees to set up the tent, rock ledges on the beach where we enjoy some nibbles, wine, the evening light and the sense of achievement and enjoyment our trip has brought.
Most Bass Strait kayakers finish at Little Musselroe and get whisked away, racing back to the ferry. We are blessed to have settled weather, time, and a wonderful piece of coastline to paddle – all of which allows us to reflect on everything we have done since departing Sydney on 20 December 2013.
Our next stop is only 11km away, a place a friend mentioned. We could reach Devonport and finish the trip that day, but instead choose to do a short paddle, and once we find a wonderful campsite, decide to have a compete rest day. A day chosen to stop and simply be. We have the time to spare and the weather is great.
One day of complete leisure and then we load and launch for our final paddle into the mouth of the Mersey River. Finding an unrocky piece of the beach with safe passage to deep water is a challenge. The winds rise and provide us sailing delights. Egg Island, and its many birds, is briefly visited. Then its into the Mersey, narrowly avoiding a beaching east of the channel wall. The Spirit of Tasmania is docked on one bank while we complete our 505km journey on the other.
PHOTOS TO FOLLOW