The north-east coastline of Tasmania

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.




In The Bag

Friday 10, Saturday 11 January 2014

We start slowly, the weather couldn’t be more perfect, the distance a mere 30km.  Retracing our steps back to the kayaks, we laugh as we load.

This is IT… the day we “cross” Bass Strait, our time to land on the mainland of Tasmania.

Our launch spot couldn’t be more heaven-sent, such a pristine place.  We follow the lines of the island for as long as we can, once we leave it there is little until we reach our destination, Bridport.  Wide open blue sky, flat wide blue sea – this is Bass Strait in another mood.  We spy a kayak and divert to have a chat with a local kayaker out on a fishing trip for the day.  I insist on a silly photo and video shoot, just to prove that Bass Strait isn’t all about life-threatening waves and intimidating winds.

The Furneaux Explorer tracks slighter closer to us to check us out as she heads to her home port of Bridport.

With such you-beaut conditions we head directly across Anderson Bay to Bridport, a long dune-backed beach to our left, Bass Strait shining to our right.  Finally, the gap closes and I spend those last ten kilometres reflecting on the past few weeks: the crossings, the challenges, the discoveries.  It has been quite an adventure.

We reach the busy beaches of Bridport and cruise along, hoping to find one without too many holiday-goers.  We choose one, luckily it turns out to be the beach closest to our contact’s home.

Driving the bow onto the wet sands, I cheer – Bass Strait crossed.

Bass Strait - crossed!

Bass Strait – crossed!

Jeff finds us, gathers us up along with all our gear, brings us to his home, shows us the hose and the clothesline, leaves us to unpack, sort and clean while he orders pizza and opens a bottle of chilled white – this is a man who truly knows sea kayakers and their needs!  Not surprising this, given Jeff is a Tasmanian sea kayaking legend who combines his love of photography with the ability to reach some remote and stunning locations.

We take a rest day with Jeff and are treated to a tour of north-east Tasmania – a local art gallery-cafe, a scenic lavender farm and the local club.

Waterhouse Island to Bridport

Waterhouse Island to Bridport

Paddling 30km to Bridport

Paddling 30km to Bridport

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Days 18 & 19

Paddling Day 8

Friday 10 January 2014

Distance covered: 30km



Rest day: Saturday 11 January 2014