The Story 1

 

STRAHAN TO HOBART (NEARLY ANYWAY)

By Lawrence Geoghegan

In January this year Andrew McAuley, Paul Loker and myself paddled our kayaks from Strahan on the West Coast of Tasmania and were trying to reach our destination of Hobart in the south.

Myself in my Pittarak, Andrew in his Nadgee Expedition and Paul in his Mirage 530 

Andrew,Paul and Lawrence at Maatsuyker Is
Da Boys at Maatsuyker Is

What a drive


on with the story

An idea was born


Personally I started training seriously for the trip about 5 months before leaving with regular paddles, a night time paddle from Jervis Bay to Ulladulla with Andrew and swimming, running and bike riding to make sure that I was fit enough.

Fitness is the key for doing a long trip and was a big part of the trip for us all. --------------Anyway on with the story.

Day One

DAY ONE

 

We launched early to head out through Hells Gates, this little entrance had me in awe of the sailors of old and how they sailed their tall ships in thru this small passage is amazing.

I believe there are lots of wrecks about, what a sight for the convicts it must have been.

We stopped at Pilots Bay for Andrew and Paul to try last minute phone calls.

Andrew almost lost his hat after leaving it on his back deck thru the small surf, luckily he had a float attached and he went back and found it floating in the shallows.

We departed the sea wall that protects Hells Gates and finally made our way around Cape Sorell with our first real taste of the West Coast, as we were probably a bit close to the Cape as I copped one wave in the face as did Andrew.

 

We had about a 3 mtr swell running with us as was the wind from the NW;

we actually made such good time on our first leg that we passed our lunch break at Gorge Pt by about 5 km before realising.

 

Andrew noticed a small gap in some reefs and we paddled through these to land at Birthday Bay to have some lunch and hopefully fix my skeg.

We were all excited about finally being in the wilderness of the West Coast sitting back about to enjoy our lunch when Lo and Behold three motorbikes come over the dunes and roared up the beach, shattering our dream of an isolated lunch break.

The skeg cable was definitely kinked and would have to wait till evening camp before I could pull it apart and hopefully fix it.

After lunch it was back onto the water to Hibbs Lagoon for the night, we still had the wind and swell at our backs which was going to be the norm for our trip.

Hibbs Lagoon was an easy landing even though I had read of the nasty surf that can pump into this small bay.

We set up camp on the beach only to find a better camp in the lagoon on nice soft grass and fresh water as well and to even make it worse we found a table and chairs to sit on --pity we were to lazy to move camp-- next time maybe!

We spent the night sitting around the fire finally spending our first night of our trip in the wilderness until the rain sent us off to bed-------

Weather for the day was a strong wind warning and 3-3.5mtr swell

WHAT A FIRST DAY

Lawrence trying to fix his skeg
Damm how do I fix that Skeg

Day Two

Hibbs Pyramid
Hibbs Pyramid

DAY TWO

After a good nights sleep we packed in the morning, Paul doing his best to be on the water at the same time as Andrew and I (actually beating me to the task)

 

weather reports twice daily at 7.00am and again in the evening was fantastic, down this way paddling can be marginal at the best of times, so having this safety device made our decisions that much easier, impressed by it so much I plan to buy one myself.

 

Just off Hibbs Lagoon you can see Hibbs Pyramid which looking at from our direction north to south was quite a contrast, on the northern side it was green and lush but on the prevailing weather side was all rock and weather beaten, typical of the coast down this way.

We had an excellent day with following seas and wind pushing us along.

Around Point Hibbs Paul (Captain Gauntlet) tried his luck thru a small gauntlet, leaving Andrew and me to go around the outside rather than risk it.

Andrew and I learnt that what ever way Paul went it was safer to go the opposite and also if Paul waved you over it really meant that it was dangerous and you should go the other way!!!!!!!!


Around the corner from Pt Hibbs the seas totally calmed revealing the most beautiful big bay with two cray boats at anchor their crews asleep, we were tempted to wake them and ask for a cray fish but opted to let them sleep.

We paddled over to the Spero River with its easy access thru a small tidal opening and paddled up river.

These rivers were a highlight for me as seeing this part of the coast with it treeless mountains and windswept coast was breathtaking in its beauty, steep and rugged just what I imagined FANTASTIC!!!

We had a lunch break up the river at a pebbly rapid trying to get as much food into us as possible.

Watching Andrew trying to get as much food as possible in is almost as amazing as watching a lion eat after not eating for a month but Andrew does the same after only a few short hours with no food --what an eater!!

 

At first we were speeding along ,then for the last 20 minutes the sea and wind built up slightly too about 3.5-4 meters and 25-30 knots.

The weather was definitely getting more and more exciting each day.

 

The only trouble we had was getting our boats up through the rapid at the entrance of the river.

We looked around for a campsite and found one but looked around for a better site not satisfied with the one we had found, we had paddled 5kms before giving up on another site as this place is really wild with its bush near impossible to walk thru.

Another night of drizzle before the rain really set in sending us to an early night in bed; at least sleep came easy after the day in the kayak!

 

Lawrence off Trumpter Island
Lawrence off Trumpter Island

Days three and four

DAY THREE

The forecast for the day was for NW winds (following winds again!!!) with the swell from the SW.

We left the Wanderer River early, planning to make Nye Bay that afternoon .

We all shot the rapid at the entrance of the Wanderer before entering the sea with its tannin stained colour from the fresh water, not even a small wave to wet us ---great way to start the day NO SURF EXIT!!!



At least we had the wind and swell at our backs!!!




55 kms for the day not bad.


DAY FOUR


Day 5

DAY FIVE


Finally the sun was out and for the first time warming us up.

We had a look at Wreck Bay but decided not to enter after watching huge swells breaking a good kilometre off the beach, so kept on paddling to Alfhild Bight eventually finding a nice sunny sheltered beach to land on.

It was so good having the sun out that Andrew did a roll and Paul tried his luck on a wave for a surf.


 

Still a few miles off North Head of Pt Davey we were nearly thru all the reefs but had to tackle the last little bit when all of a sudden we saw a huge swell break over where we were just about to paddle we regrouped and said lets do it
with Andrew timing the first wave well, Paul was next but I said bugger waiting and also went with him paddling like I had never paddled before, flat out.

It was such a sense of relief to finish this West Coast bit that Andrew and I said that we really felt like we had completed the hard section of the trip

 

Just off North Head we spoke to a cray fisherman and asked him the weather hoping he would throw us a cray at the same time, no cray but we got the weather which was looking good for the next few days so trucked onto Spain Bay looking forward to camp and a day to explore Pt Davey


 

We even kept the big challenge going to see who could make the best damper and the contest was getting harder and harder, even went as far to put our names on top of the damper trying to impress the judge???

 


The stars that night were amazing to look at. I had never seen the night sky so bright;

 

Really made me feel very special being down this way, a very beautiful and amazing place indeed.

The long paddle past SWCape
The long paddle past SWCape

days 6 and 7 sw cape

 

DAY SIX

DAY SEVEN

Lawrence joining the famous South West Cape Rolling Club
Lawrence joining the famous South West Cape Rolling Club

Day 8 sw cape and Ketcham Bay

Finally the Cape came to an end with a big Gauntlet just off the headland where we rounded to get out of the wind and swell.

As this is one of the big capes of the world we thought it appropriate to start a new club SWCRC (South West Cape Rolling Club) which we all become members of.

It was quite surreal after paddling down one side of the cape in wind waves and rebound only to go around the other side to find no wind or swell.


Just down from the end of the Cape we found a herd of NZ fur seals resting on rocks so we put our goggles on and let loose rolling with the seals, if you ever get the chance to Eskimo roll with seals I highly recommend this as they are awesome to watch under water coming right up to your mask for a look at you.


On to Ketchem Bay for the night but not before the wind really kicked up to 30 knots making our last 5 kms especially the last two into a headwind (really) but unperturbed we plugged on wanting to see this next Bay that we had read so much about.


Landing at Ketchem Bay we quickly found the correct camp site something we had become used to not finding!!

After making camp we all went for a walk up a mountain and it was really up and up and up just what I really wanted to do after 45 kms in the boat but I found great relief for my back and bum after this walk and highly recommend this sort of exercise after along day in the kayak as it is much like a massage for your back- it really gets a workout.

After getting back we had a surprise with two tired campers sitting in their tents absolutely knackered from walking in with their packs on their backs. They ate and then they slept not being very sociable at all really.


We were planning to head out to Maatsuyker Is the next day weather permitting so went to bed early in case we could have a go of it.

 

DAY EIGHT


Wow.


Prospects look good for a crossing to Maatsuyker Is tomorrow.

The crossing

DAY NINE


After all the excitement of this we still had to land amongst New Zealand Fur seals that have a haul out right were we wanted to land, there must have been close to five hundred in the water and on the landing area looking at us like we were idiots (I almost had to agree after paddling thru the wind and waves to get there).


We had to work out where to land, as its all rock and thank God the Pittarak is built strong making landing for me a drier affair compared to my paddling mates who had to step out on to rocks in waist high freezing water .

Still pumped from the crossing we captured the moment on film

 

WE HAD MADE IT!!!!

Paul just making it thru Walker Is
Paul just making it thru Walker Is

top day on the Island


STRAHAN TO HOBART (NEARLY ANYWAY)

Personally I started training seriously for the trip about 5 months before leaving with regular paddles, a night time paddle from Jervis Bay to Ulladulla with Andrew and swimming, running and bike riding to make sure that I was fit enough.

Fitness is the key for doing a long trip and was a big part of the trip for us all. --------------Anyway on with the story.



DAY ONE

 

We launched early to head out through Hells Gates, this little entrance had me in awe of the sailors of old and how they sailed their tall ships in thru this small passage is amazing.

I believe there are lots of wrecks about, what a sight for the convicts it must have been.

We stopped at Pilots Bay for Andrew and Paul to try last minute phone calls.

Andrew almost lost his hat after leaving it on his back deck thru the small surf, luckily he had a float attached and he went back and found it floating in the shallows.

We departed the sea wall that protects Hells Gates and finally made our way around Cape Sorell with our first real taste of the West Coast, as we were probably a bit close to the Cape as I copped one wave in the face as did Andrew.

 

We had about a 3 mtr swell running with us as was the wind from the NW;

we actually made such good time on our first leg that we passed our lunch break at Gorge Pt by about 5 km before realising.

 

Andrew noticed a small gap in some reefs and we paddled through these to land at Birthday Bay to have some lunch and hopefully fix my skeg.

We were all excited about finally being in the wilderness of the West Coast sitting back about to enjoy our lunch when Lo and Behold three motorbikes come over the dunes and roared up the beach, shattering our dream of an isolated lunch break.

The skeg cable was definitely kinked and would have to wait till evening camp before I could pull it apart and hopefully fix it.

After lunch it was back onto the water to Hibbs Lagoon for the night, we still had the wind and swell at our backs which was going to be the norm for our trip.

Hibbs Lagoon was an easy landing even though I had read of the nasty surf that can pump into this small bay.

We set up camp on the beach only to find a better camp in the lagoon on nice soft grass and fresh water as well and to even make it worse we found a table and chairs to sit on --pity we were to lazy to move camp-- next time maybe!

We spent the night sitting around the fire finally spending our first night of our trip in the wilderness until the rain sent us off to bed-------

Weather for the day was a strong wind warning and 3-3.5mtr swell

WHAT A FIRST DAY

DAY TWO


DAY THREE

The forecast for the day was for NW winds (following winds again!!!) with the swell from the SW.

We left the Wanderer River early, planning to make Nye Bay that afternoon .

We all shot the rapid at the entrance of the Wanderer before entering the sea with its tannin stained colour from the fresh water, not even a small wave to wet us ---great way to start the day NO SURF EXIT!!!



At least we had the wind and swell at our backs!!!




55 kms for the day not bad.


DAY FOUR


DAY FIVE


Finally the sun was out and for the first time warming us up.

We had a look at Wreck Bay but decided not to enter after watching huge swells breaking a good kilometre off the beach, so kept on paddling to Alfhild Bight eventually finding a nice sunny sheltered beach to land on.

It was so good having the sun out that Andrew did a roll and Paul tried his luck on a wave for a surf.





DAY SIX

DAY SEVEN


Just down from the end of the Cape we found a herd of NZ fur seals resting on rocks so we put our goggles on and let loose rolling with the seals, if you ever get the chance to Eskimo roll with seals I highly recommend this as they are awesome to watch under water coming right up to your mask for a look at you.


On to Ketchem Bay for the night but not before the wind really kicked up to 30 knots making our last 5 kms especially the last two into a headwind (really) but unperturbed we plugged on wanting to see this next Bay that we had read so much about.


Landing at Ketchem Bay we quickly found the correct camp site something we had become used to not finding!!

After making camp we all went for a walk up a mountain and it was really up and up and up just what I really wanted to do after 45 kms in the boat but I found great relief for my back and bum after this walk and highly recommend this sort of exercise after along day in the kayak as it is much like a massage for your back- it really gets a workout.

After getting back we had a surprise with two tired campers sitting in their tents absolutely knackered from walking in with their packs on their backs. They ate and then they slept not being very sociable at all really.


We were planning to head out to Maatsuyker Is the next day weather permitting so went to bed early in case we could have a go of it.

 

DAY EIGHT



Prospects look good for a crossing to Maatsuyker Is tomorrow.

DAY NINE


After all the excitement of this we still had to land amongst New Zealand Fur seals that have a haul out right were we wanted to land, there must have been close to five hundred in the water and on the landing area looking at us like we were idiots (I almost had to agree after paddling thru the wind and waves to get there).


We had to work out where to land, as its all rock and thank God the Pittarak is built strong making landing for me a drier affair compared to my paddling mates who had to step out on to rocks in waist high freezing water .

Still pumped from the crossing we captured the moment on film

 

WE HAD MADE IT!!!!


DAY TEN




It was a late night with us talking and cooking our dampers for the last time as the next day we had decided to try for Cockle Creek which was basically our last day in this beautiful South Coast Zone.

DAY ELEVEN



After seeing this we kept on paddling around to Cockle Creek camp site where lots of Tasmanians seem to like to camp as there were people there who had wood stacks enough to last them a month and camps to match .

It was a shock to see and hear campers and cars and phone boxes after living by ourselves for 10 days in the wilderness .

It was with much grumbling from Paul and Andrew that we stayed here for the night and the only reason I refused to move was I had put my tent up and un- packed as well.


DAY TWELVE


Lunch turned out to be an afternoon siesta that we all enjoyed with full stomachs.

We pressed on making for Dover for the night with the wind getting stronger that afternoon but we all put our heads down and paddled on and finally we rounded a corner and the sight of Dover in the distance greeted us.

As we paddled over to Dover Paul turned around for some reason and saw this great campsite which we immediately went over to, not the best landing but a great camp site as it had a fire place and old car seats and lots of wood around for us to burn and it was out of that bloody wind.

Later that night we learnt that the wind had been up to 30knots that day


We had a late night that night talking and sleeping around the fire before finally retiring to our tents knowing that we had paddled around the SW Coast of Tasmania


It really was quite satisfying to know we had done it without mishap!!!

 

DAY THIRTEEN

A late start for our last 5 kms to Dover checking out the Salmon farms on the way over.

A slow paddle soaking up the last strokes to what could only be described as an exciting well planned enjoyable trip!!!!!


STRAHAN TO HOBART -----WELL ALMOST ANYWAY


I would lastly like to thank Andrew and Paul for coming with me but most importantly making this the most fun excitable holiday I have ever had.

I now have two extra mates that will forever be in my thoughts as I dream about that day we paddled out to Maatsuyker Is ------cheers

 

DAY FOURTEEN -----DAY SIXTEEN

These were the days spent getting the car back dropping Andrew off at Stanley to paddle back across Bass Strait and finally catching the ferry back to the mainland.


Paddlers involved
Lawrence (MY Pittarak is better than your boat) Geoghegan--Pittarak


Andrew (paddle faster) McAuley------Nadgee