Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
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Bathurst Harbour Day 1

Melaleuca to Forest Lagoon Camp

Three years ago, when I flew into Melaleuca in SW Tasmania to do some bushwalking, I spied some kayaks sitting near the jetty and realised that it was possible to do paddling tours in the Bathurst Harbour area. I thought that it would be something I’d like to do and three years — and a well-spent tuppence ha’penny — later the dream became a reality.

We departed a day late, since the planes weren’t flying on our scheduled day because of very windy inclement weather. Our early start on Monday morning made for some nice light effects over Hobart, but the wind and rain and low cloud were still about as we headed further west, and we encountered a few bumps as we made our way over — and between — the ranges just under the clouds.

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We had barely landed and unloaded before the pilots took off again; it seemed clear to us that they did not want to be stranded there with the weather worsening again! Meanwhile we rugged ourselves up and were introduced to our kayaks and the idea that all our gear had to fit in our allocated compartment (although I had my big camera in a dry bag on the deck). We were also introduced to our stylish kayaking gear, from our bright jackets (very effective, I must say) to our kayak skirts/spray-decks.

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It was then time to pair up and hit the water. Six of our group of nine were couples, making the initial pairings obvious for them, and I became kayaking companions with Louise (who was my paddling partner for most of the trip, and I think we worked well together). Our lone overseas paddler from Spain joined one of our two guides, leaving the remaining guide to paddle a single.  bIMG_6364

The first leg of the trip was only short — about 6km — but the wind had picked up and so there were some stretches of Melaleuca Inlet where we were having to work hard against the strong headwinds that gusted to 25 knots. To further compound the challenge for me, I was in the stern seat and in charge of the rudder, which is foot operated. My own single kayak at home has no rudder and so all my experience has involved steering by paddle, which is generally done on the side opposite the direction in which you want to turn. The foot controls for the rudder, by contrast, work the other way around, and it took me well into the second day before my feet were doing what they were supposed to do and not following my paddle movements. There were some moments on the first day where there were some very counterproductive clashes in directional intent and I’m sure Louise must have wondered whether or not I knew what I was doing.

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It wasn’t wind all the way; there were some calmer moments where we could pause and admire the view, with the characteristic quartzite peaks of the SW looming through the drizzle and mist.

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After a couple of hours of paddling — during which I believe that some of our party wondered if the whole trip was going to be such hard work — we arrived at Forest Lagoon, where we could pull up our kayaks into the trees behind the narrow strip of beach.

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The kayaking company organising the trip — Roaring 40°s Kayaking — has use of a permanent standing camp, with five 2-person “yurts” nestled in the bush providing us with very comfortable accommodation for our first and final nights (and also our second night, as it happened, since the weather stymied the usual plan to move further afield on day 2 as you will see). There is also a kitchen/dining hut where we gathered for our excellent meals (food being one of the many highlights of the trip).

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With the weather very unsettled, and having had an early start and a strenuous morning, most people were content to take it easy around the camp in what remained of the afternoon. In the occasional breaks in the weather it was possible to escape outside. One of the characteristic landmarks of the area is Mt Rugby, and it appeared and disappeared as the wind blew squalls across the hills and water. We could only begin to imagine what the swells might have been like out on the coast; certainly there were at least three yachts seeking safety in the shelter of Clayton’s Corner on the other side of Forest Lagoon.

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And here’s a map to show our first day’s travels. As you can see, at the moment our location is quite sheltered; however, with that big body of water to our northeast — Bathurst Harbour — and a desire to head west — which is where most of the eponymous roaring 40s winds come from — you can understand why we were so attentive to the weather forecasts that our guides were getting by satellite phone, to find out what they might imply for our plans for coming days.

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1 comment to Bathurst Harbour Day 1

  • Mei Jack

    You are amazing! , Helen!!
    So organised and best photographer ., regard all shots proffessional .
    Thanks for keeping such detail of 14-21/2/2017 and sharing the most besutiful memories and experiences .
    You are a treasure!!

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