Tasmania and the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk
On February 15th we flew from Christchurch NZ to Hobart, Tasmania. I’ve always had an image in my head of a remote, rugged, last frontier sort of place. I realize you all know Tasmania is an island state of Australia, but you’d be surprised how many people aren’t sure. Tas is the 26th largest island in the world and has a population of over 500,000. Hobart, the name of a great little college in upstate New York, is also the name of the Tasmanian capital city.
We made our way to the beautiful Hotel Lenna on the harbor in Hobart. There we met up with OWR friends David and Lindy from Sea Flute, Andy, Deb, Janis and Hugh from Meteorite, and Tiggy and James from Miss Tiggy. Tiggy and James, both originally from Tasmania, operated a very successful touring company and have planned this trip for our group. We were in for a fantastic Tas Tour.
By the way, if anyone is wondering why we’re not sailing, we’re still waiting out the cyclone season. This is not only prudent planning, it is mandated by our boat insurance company.
So we had a few days to check out Hobart. It is a great town with lots of shopping, great restaurants and museums. Hotel Lenna is owned by Tiggy and James’ friends Lloyd and Jan. We had met Lloyd previously in Nuka Hiva when he was sailing a leg on Miss Tiggy. The hotel rooms were beautiful, especially the penthouse, which the Meteorites took over. The views of Hobart and the harbor were amazing. And there was a guest laundry!
On Saturday we checked out the Salamanca Market, featuring local artists, local cuisine, etc. Then the girls set off to mountain bike down Mt. Wellington. It was cold and foggy, but we had a lot of fun. It is a nice way to check out Hobart.
We took a ferry out to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). This is a strange place, the installations are weird and many seem to be there for shock value. One exhibit is a guy named Tim. He is covered with tattoos and just sits there so people can check out his back. He has a contract with the museum, and one can debate who actually owns his skin. Yeah. Another notable exhibit consists of a hundred or maybe hundreds of plaster castes of vaginas. I didn’t count. Love or hate this museum, the facility and grounds are cool.
From 1788 to 1868 about 160,000 convicts were transported to Australia from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This was seen as a solution for overcrowded prisons. I read that approximately a quarter of the prisoners died during the voyages. About 20% of Australians are descendants of convicts, including some very prominent people. This was seen as a shameful black mark in their history, the “hated convict stain”. Historical research shows many of these convicts were women and children, political prisoners, or just innocent people wrongly convicted. In last century Australia has embraced the convict era with pride, many of the former penal colonies are now National Heritage sites. We did a day trip to Port Arthur prison station museum and the beautiful grounds where they have preserved the penitentiary and outbuildings.
There is also a memorial at the Port Arthur site to commemorate one of the world’s deadliest shooting sprees in 1996. 35 people were killed and 19 wounded by a single gunman. Australia has very strict gun laws as a result of this tragic event. As we travel around the world, Ken and I are constantly confronted by people about the shootings and gun laws in the USA. People around the world think Americans are crazy about guns.
After Port Arthur we all jumped on a jet boat for a ride in the Tasman Sea and around Tasman Island. Seals, penguins and amazing rock formations. Freezing. For dinner we stopped by Tiggy’s friends, Angela and Clive’s, home for dinner. Right in Hobart they have converted their old barn into a “Speakeasy”. It‘s sort of a quasi-private bar/event venue they can rent out. It’s a lovely space with lots of funky old things like antique suitcases and old farm equipment.
A Hobart highlight was celebrating Tiggy’s 60th birthday with her daughter and local friends at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. Followed by Thai takeout in the hotel penthouse.
James picked up a van and trailer to carry us and our equipment on a road trip across Tas to our next adventure, the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk. On February 19th we loaded up the trailer with our gear and then climbed into the van to begin our Tas Tour Road trip to the northeastern corner of the island. Picked up some oysters, wine and beer on our way out of town. We were headed to Oxford, to visit Lloyd and Jan’s vacation home or “shack” as they are called in Australia. Great place right on the water, sea food feeding frenzy, a great day. We stayed around the corner in a charming B&B.
The next day we continued on, making a lunch stop at friends Keitha and Wayne’s shack, Salt Works, in Little Swanport on the east coast. The boys went fishing while we walked along the gorgeous coast. Feasted on fresh caught flathead fish cooked on an open fire pit. Then on to Binalong Bay where we were entertained by yet more old friends, Richard and Samantha, in another beautiful home looking out at the sea. Made a stop at Nature World to check out some Tasmanian Devils and Kangaroos.
From there we headed to Edge of the Bay Resort in Coles Bay so we could spend a day in Freycinet National Park and hike up Mount Amos. Getting our legs ready for the next adventure. The resort was lovely, right on the beach. Little wallabies hanging out on our deck.
February 22 - we arrived in Barnbougle where the Bay of Fires van picked us up and took us to our starting point, Mt. William National Park. Our group had the coastline to ourselves. The beach and rock formations were stunning. Our young guides described the history of the area, including the genocide of the indigenous people, Aboriginal Tasmanians (Palawa), after British colonization began in 1803. These Tas young ladies were very emotional about the plight of the indigenous people. The Palawa population was “severely depleted” by diseases spread by the English, as well as warfare and private violence. The Bay of Fires name comes not only from the red lichen coating the rocks along the shore, but also because of the many coastal Aboriginal fires the English spotted when they first entered the bay. After walking about 14 km we arrived at Forester Beach Camp, tucked right into the dunes. A semi-permanent tented camp within the National Park, white sand beach, private. Delicious local wine, cribbage, fantastic dinner.
After breakfast at the camp we continued to walk south along the coast for about 18 km, reaching the Bay of Fires Lodge by late afternoon. Gorgeous structure on a hill looking out at the pounding surf, fantastic coastal views. We sat on the deck, soaking our feet, enjoying a drink. Another beautiful spot, wonderful food.
Day 3 day consisted of more hiking and then kayaking down the Anson River and across Anson Bay. Hanging out at the beautiful lodge, eating more terrific food, etc. Day 4 more hiking (really?) out to the road to meet a van. Back to Barnbougle.
Barnbougle & Lost Farm Golf Links, near Bridgeport in northeast Tas is a gorgeous resort owned by yet more buddies of Tiggy and James, Richard and Sally. We spent a beautiful day either golfing (with poisonous snakes) or strolling on the beautiful beach. I was able to indulge in some “shell seeking” for my OWR shell collection, which was great because we were not allowed to pick up anything on the Bay of Fires walk.
Back to Auckland to check on Altair, have a quick hernia surgery, meet up with our new First Mate, Harry Marchant, and get ready to head to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix!