More bushwalking, this time to
some of the amazing dolerite cliffs on the Tasman Peninsula.
I haven't walked so much in years, but seem to be getting
into the swing of it.
It's been great to be able to park
Wothahellizat (the mothership) so Chris can sit in secure
comfort while I'm off walking.
It's also great to have it to return
to after a walk, to have a shower and a beer at the trail
head is a definite luxury.
This very scenario was one of the
main factors in the truck's design, and it seems to be working
Till next time then, and remember,
Don't Dream it, Be it!
Sat 15 Nov 2003
It seems that I left the reversing camera on a couple of weeks
ago. Result, flat battery.
I get the battery charger from a bin and carry
it around to the front of the truck, or at least that's the plan.
The charger is quite heavy and I have my head
down as I struggle along the side of the truck.
BANG! (sound of head hitting immovable object)
I had broken a cardinal rule when working with
trucks, ALWAYS CLOSE DOORS.
I had walked straight into the cab door, my forehead
connected with a sharp edge, resulting in a deep gash, and blood
all over the battery charger.
Chris hands me a towel and I hold it on the wound
while continuing to connect the charger with the other hand.
Later I inspect the damage, a one-inch cut in
my head that will never grow hair again.
Loic (one of the photographers from the Tarkine
trip) comes over and we have a look at his photos from the walk.
He's got some nice stuff, but we're competing for space in the book,
maybe I should spill some beer over his slides.
Fri 22 Nov
We've been parked in Glen and Annette's driveway for a month now.
Of course I was away in the Tarkine for half that time, but Chris
is getting a bit stir crazy.
It's taken the last week or so to prepare my photos
for submission, that's now done, so tomorrow we'll get the truck
ship shape and ready for the road.
Sun 23 Nov
Just as we're packing everything up the main computer dies. We decide
that this should be looked into while we have power.
After some time wiggling wires and trying to reboot
the machine we pull it from it's cupboard and open it up.
After wiggling more wires it worked. Good thing
I've had so much experience with computers.
This puts the wind up us though, and we decide
to stay another day do a backup.
Mon 24 Nov
We're very grateful to Glen and Annette for hosting us for the past
four weeks, but we're getting itchy feet.
Today we leave the driveway that's been home for
a month, and head north.
After several hours we round a corner and are
presented with a marvellous vista, a lovely beach and rocky headland.
Across the bay we see Cape Freycinet, our first glimpse of this
Our first view of the Freycinet peninsula
It looks great and we pull over for a cuppa.
I'm tempted to stay right here, but Chris wants
to get into Freycinet National Park today, so we head off.
An hour or so later we pull into Friendly Beaches,
within the park, but just out of the main tourist area.
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday we were
in the 'burbs looking over the neighbour's garage; today we're in
a beautiful national park, looking over pristine beaches and granite
Wothahellizat settles into a campsite with ocean views.
A seagull flies along the rocky shore.
As we sit and watch the waves, an eagle floats
past, closely followed by a seagull. There's obviously some history
between the two, because the gull is harassing the larger bird.
The raptor tolerates this small annoyance, and
settles on the beach.
After a few minutes it takes to the air again,
my but it looks beautiful as it floats on the updrafts, majestically
edging its way over the water. It swoops, and with a single, powerful
movement, it plucks a fish from the waves.
Such grace and precision is truly a wonder to
behold, and it starts me thinking.
You know...I don't think I've ever seen a baby
Tue 25 Nov
This morning we explore the foreshore and find some spectacular
The amazingly orange lichen on the rocks
Later I return to the rocks with my camera, and
almost step on an echidna. Now normally, as soon as a human approaches,
an echidna will hunker down and try to bury itself, so as to present
a ball of spins to the intruder.
This one however seems not to mind my presence,
and continues to rummage for grubs. He is a bit camera shy though,
and constantly presents his backside to my lens.
A part of an echidna, I'm not sure which part.
The bull kelp is quiet accessible here and makes for some
...and so I said to the Wicked
Witch of the West,
"Seaweed, yeah right, I bet you can't even spell
Wed 26 Nov
Adrian & Carrol arrive this morning. While we hadn't specifically
planned to meet up here, they did know we where in the neighbourhood,
and thought they'd drop by to see if we are in residence.
The Thornycroft settles in near Wothehellizat
Chris and I go for a walk along the beach.
For just a second the light reflected off this seaweed
Fri 28 Nov
I spent most of today programming, chatting, and watching the scenery
from the lounge room.
At around three however I have a conscience attack
and feel I should at least go and look for some photos. I wander
along the rocks trying to avoid looking at the orange ones, they're
to photogenic, and I've already burned enough film on them.
There's a fantastic amount of material to photograph in these
When I reach the next beach I spot a group of
seagulls sitting on the sand, they allow me to get quite close and
I sit with them for a while.
The Silver gulls tolerate my presence to within a few metres
Moving on I find a tidal pool and am about to
walk past when I notice movement on the bottom. I look closer and
find that the pool is populated with what I assume is some kind
of sea slug.
With fleshy "horns", and a slow side-to-side
movement of their heads as they graze on the seaweed, they looked
for all the world like tiny cows. So I named them "pool cows".
A "pool cow", some kind of sea slug. Very cute
One of the pool cows slugged it's way right up
to the shore of the pool next to my feet, and lifted its head up
towards me. I accepted the implied (and probably imagined) invitation
and gently picked it up.
After a brief contraction into a ball, the pool
cow opens out and looks up at me again, then proceeds to explore
my hand. What a cute little thing. I'd love to keep it, but I don't
think Chris would believe that a three-inch slug followed me home.
As the sun sets we sit and watch the fishermen
catch seaweed. Eventually they give up, pack their gear and head
back to their camp, walking past Wothahellizat in the process.
"Catch anything?" I ask. "No"
was the predictable reply.
"I hope you weren't relying on that for dinner",
"No, we have some cheese".
I hope he's joking.
Sun 30 Nov
Adrian & Carrol are having afternoon tea in our lounge room.
Shortly after they leave they are approached by a tourist. It seems
that this fellow had been watching us with binoculars from the beach.
He couldn't see the truck's wheels or cab, but had seen the veranda
and us drinking coffee in the lounge room. He had assumed there
was a cafe on the hill.
When Adrian set him straight he was quiet disappointed
and took off, presumably into town for a cappuccino.
Evening light on the beach just below our camp.
A lone surfer tries to catch some waves before the light goes.
The gulls appear to be finding something to eat amongst the bushes.
Mon 1 Dec
Adrian & Carrol leave this morning. It was good to catch up
with them and I'm sure we'll run into each other again before long.
It's a small island.
In the afternoon I go for a final sweep of the
coast with my cameras. The light is dull and I don't see anything
photogenic, but I do sit with my little "pool cow" friends
for quiet a while.
As I sit down at the side of their pool a crab
spots me and hurriedly buries itself in the sand, leaving just its
I stay still for maybe a quarter of an hour, not
for any particular reason, just because it's very relaxing watching
the pool cows. Eventually however the crab decides that I'm too
boring to be dangerous. He emerges from the sand and walks right
up to my feet, before hurrying off.
It's hard to imagine two more different creatures
sharing the same space. The soft, slow, vegetarian pool cows, and
the fast, clawed, armour plated crustacean.
At around five I notice someone videoing the truck
so I pop my head out to say hello. We get talking and appear to
have many similar thoughts on subjects such as corporate greed and
many other things.
John is his name, he's over here from the US and,
while away from home, is running his business from internet cafes
and the back of a rented hatchback.
"It's just a small business I usually run
from my bedroom" he says, "turns over about a million
I guess in the corporate world that is small,
but as they say in London, it's a "nice little earner".
If you're reading this John, and feel like a career
change, ever thought of selling photos :-)
At about 11:30 this morning I noticed some birds
milling around about 300 metres off shore. I investigate with the
binoculars and find that they are actually heading south, and there's
hundreds of them.
As I sweep the binos northward I see a continuous
stream of them. There aren't hundreds at all, there's thousands.
That was hours ago. It's after 5PM now, and the
birds are still going. They're either performing an enormous circle,
the other side of which we can't see, or this is a massive migration
of some kind.
Tue 2 Dec
Today we leave Friendly Beaches, or at least that was the plan.
As it turns out neither of us could be bothered leaving. "See
how we feel after lunch" Chris says.
I've got some orders for photographs to fill,
so we spend some time packaging them, then I ride into the post
office at Bicheno.
This print (inside the tube on the motorbike) is off to California,
a couple of days later I receive a phone order direct from New
Zealand. Just a few years ago this would have been unheard of
As most of my readers know I run a small business
selling photographs from this web site.
It still blows me away that I can be camping in
the Australian wilderness, while running a business that has, for
example, a photo taken in Africa, printed in Perth, and shipped
to places such as the US, England, Belgium, Algeria and the Ukraine.
The marvels of modern technology.
With business attended to I return from town and
promptly nod off in my chair, waking at about four.
I guess we're not going anywhere today.
Wed 3 Dec
It's raining this morning, we planned to move the truck around to
Coles Bay today. But it costs $11 a night there, and if it's raining
we'll just sit around inside the truck anyway.
We can do that here for free.
I guess we're not going anywhere today either.
Thu 4 Dec
We finally leave Friendly Beaches. Heading back down the highway
we turn off at Orford and make for the Wielangta forest drive, a
shortcut to the Tasman Peninsula.
The drive is very scenic, but hilly and a dirt
road, so the going is slow. At about 4 we pull into the Marion Bay
lookout and decide to spend the night.
Fri 5 Dec
The lookout is not far from the highway and before long we're back
on the bitumen.
We drive down onto the Tasman Peninsula and turn
down another dirt track to Fortescue Bay, arriving to find that
the campsites are a bit small.
While walking around the area looking for a suitable
site, I start to notice some telltale signs that this will not be
the quite bush camp that we prefer.
Firstly there are the boats, every camp has a
boat or trailer, then there's the large piles of fire wood and the
long rows of Eskys,
but the most obvious sign is the empty beer bottles.
We eventually find a nice spot.
Two extremes, a tinny
and a huge motor launch, moored in Fortescue Bay
Shortly after we arrive someone turns a radio
on. It's just a few minutes before 11 o'clock, so we hope they just
want to listen to the news.
By 11:30 it's apparent that it's the cricket that's
of interest to this camper, and if it's important to him, then why
wouldn't everyone else want to listen to it?
Later, while searching for a position where the
mobile phone will work, I get talking to three fellows with a table
covered in empty beer bottles.
I never caught their names, but somehow Larry,
Curly and Moe seem appropriate
I mention that I'm going to walk out to Cape Huay
(pronounced hoy, as in "ship ahoy") tomorrow.
"Oooo that's a tough walk" one of the
more rotund of the three says, "last time we did it we had
to leave half of our beer on the track".
Hmmm, after that report on the track condition
maybe I shouldn't go.
Just then a boat owner comes up and asks if someone
can drive his car up the ramp, while he attends to the boat.
"Yeah no probs" says Larry, he reaches
into the Esky for a refill, and follows the boat owner.
A few minutes later he's back, looking a bit shaken,
"It's a bloody automatic" he says, "I put it into
'R' for run, and the bloody thing went backwards, almost
put me in the drink".
Another camper comes over to look at the truck.
He's a thirty-something local with the wife and kids in a pop-top
"How much fuel does this use?" he asks.
I tell him. "That's nuthin', I used $300 worth in two days
in me boat", "and the cruiser
uses heaps. I could slow down of course, but I'm not into slowin'
We talk for some time as he desperately tries
not to spill his beer while balancing on a large rock in an attempt
to get closer to our window.
Later I see him driving his boat, and realise
how he uses $300 of fuel in two days.
As the daylight fades the fires bloom, the beer
flows and the stereos boom. The voices get louder, in the usual
"talk louder to be heard over the music, then turn the music
up to hear it over the talking", upward spiral.
Fortunately it's cold so we can close the shutters
and isolate ourselves from some of the racket.
In contrast to the apparent redneckedness of the
people who frequent Fortescue Bay, the graffiti in the toilets is
Unlike the usual unprintables, there's conservation
oriented slogans like "Tasmania, beautiful one day, deforested
the next" and "Forestry Tasmania, chipping away at our
Sat 6 Dec
The forecast is for fine weather so we're off to Cape Huay today.
I plan to camp there for the night, but Chris will come along for
a day walk.
It's fairly steep going and we're both a bit puffed,
but after about an hour we are rewarded with our first sight of
the coastal cliffs.
There's still another 40 minutes to go, and it
gets rougher from what we can see of the track on the next hill,
so Chris calls it a day, content to sit and watch me struggle on.
Before long I reach a sign that reads "Track
ends in 50 metres", a very welcome sign indeed, but why do
the walkers need to know that.
Why?, because if you walk 51 metres you'll be
walking on air, 100 metres above the Tasman Sea, and getting closer
by the second.
The scenery is stunning, these huge cliffs are
made of dolerite columns, many just hanging in there as if waiting
for that little extra nudge to topple into the sea. Like the weight
of an 80-kilogram bushwalker for instance.
Cape Pillar seen from Cape Huay. The boat is checking cray (lobster)
pots near the base of The Monument.
I am very nervous when close to the edges.
The most famous of these columns is the "Totem
Pole", a 70-metre solitary spire rising from the sea. It's
a grade-27 climb, and a much sought after trophy for serious climbers.
Unfortunately, despite all the great photos of
the Totem Pole in the camp office, it's very difficult to see much
of it. You can lean out over an edge and look down on the top of
the famous pillar...
The top few metres of the Totem Pole (lower left). This is about
as much as you can see without being a rock climber
...and from another location I manage to see
about half of it, but, unless your seriously into rock climbing,
that's about all you'll do from the land. The best views would surely
be from a boat.
I spend the afternoon exploring for camera angles
and talking with other walkers.
I don't really like being on the edge of a cliff,
but can tolerate it if need be, especially if looking through a
camera which has the affect of removing one from reality a bit.
While taking a photo of a nearby cliff, and with
my eye to the camera's viewfinder, I inch forward until the composition
is just right.
I take the photo then remove the camera from my
eye, only to look straight down to the surf, several seconds of
free fall below.
"Oh ****" I exclaim out loud, as my
feet try to push my rigid toes into the rock, in an attempt to provide
an anchor. I inch backwards until I feel happy to stand up.
Two-hundred metre high cliffs at Cape Huay
I have found a good campsite, but it's right on
the track so I'll make camp after sunset when, presumably, there'll
be no people to struggle past my tent.
Two views from near my campsite.
Meanwhile I meet a nice ex-pat English couple,
he looks and sounds very much like my brother-in-law who, as is
happens should have landed in Aus today. He's been over here for
thirty years (this fellow, not my brother-in-law), and neither he
nor his wife have walked the Overland Track yet, but they plan to.
They're using this walk as a training exercise, with rocks in the
packs to make up the weight.
As the day wears on I meet another group. We seem
to have a similar sense of humour and we chat for a while on the
cliff edge. Bronte, one of the group, relays a humorous story about
her Mum. It seems that she went sky diving for her 50th birthday,
but blacked out and doesn't remember much of the experience.
Bronte also made an insightful comment, to the
affect that having an interest like photography would cause one
to go places and do things one might not otherwise do.
She's right, my motivation for going to many places
is photography. I go there because I want to get good photographs.
Slowly the people leave, and the light gets better.
I return to a spot I identified earlier as a good
location. It's still too light for the photo I have in mind though,
and I don't feel comfortable on the narrow ledge, so I retreat and
fill in my time photographing other parts of the coastline.
Lovely patterns in the water
As the light drops I return to the ledge and nervously
photograph the Candlestick (one of the massive columns) and part
of the Totem Pole.
The Candlestick (right of centre), one of the Lanterns (left)
and the Totem Pole (lower right).
The island off the cape catches the last rays of sun.
Returning to my pack I attempt to erect my tent.
The spot I found is not really large enough for it, and I have some
trouble, also the ground is mostly rock and I can only use one tent
My camp site, not much room for a tent, but I forgot my bivvy bag
Eventually I get squared away and settle down
for some dinner.
The moon has risen and I sit on a ledge near my
tent, watching the surf fluoresce at the base of The Lanterns.
It's been a tiring day though, and before long
I'm heading for the rock ridden two-square-metres of Cape Huay that
will pass as a bed for the night.
Just as I'm settling down I hear rustling noises
outside the tent. I stick my head out and discover a possum, it
stares into my torch beam for a moment, then waddles off. I had
been thinking earlier that there wouldn't be any such animals out
here on the cape because there's no water. I guess I was wrong.
As I lay, S-shaped with a six-inch high boulder
in the small of my back, I wonder...what the hell am I doing here?
Then I think of tomorrow's sunrise, and how, according
to my compass reading, the early light will strike the cliff at
just the right angle, creating a beautiful photo.
Sun 7 Dec
I've got some good news, and some bad news. The bad news is that
I slept in and missed the sunrise.
The good news is that it's overcast, there wasn't
a sunrise to miss.
The sunrise I didn't miss
That's life I guess. I have breakfast, go for
a brief walk along the cliffs, then pack up and head home.
The down-hills of the inbound trip are now of
course up-hills, but it's cool and I just plod along. Before long
I reach the high point of the walk, from here it's all down.
Now that I'm not gasping for breath and watching
my feet I look around and notice the wildflowers. There's orchids
and bright eyes, yellow things and purple things, but it's not until
I spot a young banksia cone that I'm tempted to stop and get the
Cute young Banksia cone
Banksias have had a bad rap, thanks to May Gibbs
and her "Snuggle Pot & Cuddle Pie" books. Most Australian
kids (at least of my vintage) will have had a nightmare or two after
reading about the "big bad banksia men", and seeing their
multi-mouthed caricatures in the book.
But this one looks so cute, and nearby are two
that look all soft and hairy and benign.
Cute fuzzy Banksia cones
Then I find their big bad cousins.
Big ugly Banksia cones.
Hmmm, Ms Gibbs may have a point.
After a couple of hours walk I reach the camp
ground and Wothahellizat, the mothership.
I spend the rest of the afternoon watching the
antics of the seagulls. It's quiet fascinating to watch the body
language, and obviously different characters, of the birds.
Seagull scramble for crumbs
Mon 8 Dec
We leave Fortescue Bay and make our way past Port Arthur. We've
been to the historical convict settlement before, and rumour has
it that they now charge $22 per person to enter, so this time we'll
give it a miss.
After inspecting the carpark at the Cape Raoul
trail head, and deciding it's not suitable as a camp for Chris while
I'm on the walk, we drive to Lime Bay.
Lime Bay however is eminently suitable, and we
park within three metres of the water.
Campsite at Lime Bay
Tomorrow I'm meeting Glen Turvey (one of the Tarkine
photographers), he's supposed to pick me up but he's got car problems.
Just by chance though his parents are camping right here at Lime
Bay, not twenty metres away.
I go up and have a cuppa around their camp fire,
and we arrange to borrow their other car and do a swap.
Tue 9 Dec
Glen arrives at about nine. He talks about a test he had to sit
for entrance into an "Outdoor Rec" course at university,
his dad then relates a story about an old bushwalking friend.
I'll pass on the bushwalking story in the form
of a multiple answer question like the one Glen just sat, and suggest
that it should be included in the university entrance test.
You step over a log and feel something bashing at your lower
leg. Looking down you notice that you've placed your foot on a Tiger
snake's head, and the bashing you feel is the rest of it's body
threshing around in an attempt to get free. As you know Tiger snakes
are deadly and very aggressive, and, although there's no scientific
evidence that standing on their head makes them more aggressive,
you assume that it doesn't help.
- Slowly bend down, undo your boot laces, extract
your foot while maintaining pressure on the snake, then jump free
and retrieve your footwear when the snake has got over it and
- Maintain pressure on the snake, reach back
for your knife, slowly bend down and cut off the snake's head.
- Maintain pressure on the snake, reach back
for your knife, and cut off your foot, making sure that the cut
is clean so the appendage can be grafted back on once the snake
- Lower your pack, crouch down, jump as far
as you can, then run like hell. You can return for the pack later.
One of Glen's reasons for wanting to do this walk,
apart from the fact that he hasn't been to Cape Raoul before, is
to get a feel for using a large format camera in the field.
To this end I'm loaning him my Tachihara. He already
has a pretty heavy pack and, after we insert another seven kilos
of camera it's all he can do to lift it.
Still, he's young and fit.
After another cuppa with his parents we head off
to the trail head.
The map shows an uphill walk to a lookout, then
a bit more uphill, then downhill to the plateau at the top of the
cliffs. There's also a lake shown. Glen plans to fill up there,
but I don't trust that it will be OK, or even there at all, so I'm
carrying six litres of water, a burden I'd rather not have.
Right from the moment we leave the carpark it's
uphill, and it stays that way for about an hour until we reach the
Here we stop for a welcome break and a snack.
The ledge we're on is over 400 metres above sea level, there's an
immediate 200-metre vertical drop, then a small tree-covered slope,
followed by another 200-metre drop into the waves. It's pretty spectacular.
We continue upwards, fortunately traversing around
the side of Mt Raoul and not over the top.
When we reach the far side of the mountain the
track drops 200 metres to the plateau. It's very steep and I can
only think of having to walk back up on our return trip.
At the the plateau we initially walk through a
forest of Sheoaks, then the vegetation opens out to scrub, and eventually
open grassy areas.
It's here that we find the lake, at this time
of year little more than a large puddle. There's a lot of animal
tracks at the edge, so it looks like we will be able to stock up
Glen fills his bottle and takes a sip.
Phsssaarg! (sound of water being ejected
from mouth and throat being cleared at the same time)
"Oooo, have a taste" he says.
After that glowing critique I'm not sure I should,
and just drop a little on my tongue.
It's almost pure salt water, and we're 200 metres
above the ocean. Good thing I've got the six litres.
We continue and very soon arrive at the end of
the trail. We drop our packs and peer over the edge to see the dolerite
columns leading down to the Tasman Sea, 200 metres below.
It's very spectacular but the light's no good
right now so we set up camp. By this time the wind has picked up
and we have trouble finding a sheltered spot, eventually settling
on a semi-flat dust bowl amongst the bushes.
Once settled we return to the cliffs. It seems
that the best photo locations require one to get very exposed on
the top of some of the narrow columns. With a 200-metre drop, nothing
to hang on to, and high winds, we're understandably a little nervous.
Afternoon light on the sea, and a balancing rock, near the end
of the cape.
A huge column catches my eye and I edge my way
to a vantage point. I get almost to the place I want, then lose
my nerve, anyway the light's still not good.
The huge dolerite finger that caught my eye
We return to camp for a rest.
While exploring Glen finds a stash of water and
equipment just a few metres from our camp. There's a backpack, about
ten bottles of water, a tin with "Research Analysis "
written on the lid, and a tarpaulin.
The entire collection is placed in the dense scrub
and only about two metres from the cliff edge. Did someone take
a fall? We peer over the edge but can't see anything.
The pack is badly deteriorated, it's been here
for a long time. We open it to find that it's full of crushed plastic
bottles. The tin contains several artefacts, some stainless steel
Dyna bolts, two short lengths of chain, a box of matches, and two
The tarp is rolled and rather large, "it's
got something inside" says Glen, "should we check that
"Not today" I reply, "we've got
to sleep next to it all night".
Later we hear the sound of engines, probably a
fishing trawler, their sound can carry for miles.
The noise gets louder and closer, it's no fishing
trawler. But what the hell is it?
We stand up and look around, half expecting a
bus load of tourists or something, but not what actually appears.
Four bright red planes shoot past. They're in
formation, at cliff height, and banking steeply with wings near
vertical. Presumably they are a stunt team like the Red Arrows or
What are the chances of that?, and we haven't
got our cameras out.
As the sun lowers we return to the cliffs. The
light however is still not good, and Glen decides to explore further
The rocks and waves are 200m below.
It's very windy, which is one reason we're hesitant about
photographing from the cliff edges. I choose a safer subject
I also start to wander, but then look at the clouds
and decide that there's a good chance the sun will break through
for a brief period.
I have a particular shot in mind, and so return
to the cliffs and wait. I sit back from the edge, near the spot
I will take the photo from, I'm not going out there until the last
moment, and I'll stay there just as long as I must to get the shot.
The sun brightens and I can see it's about to
peek from behind the clouds.
I inch my way to the edge, the light is right,
I fire off about eight frames, then as an afterthought, another
two horizontals. The light fades, and I retreat to the safety of
the cliff top.
As the sun sets I return to the rock finger.
In about 30 seconds it's all over, I'm shaking,
but happy that I've made a couple of nice images.
The finger catches the very last rays
Tomorrow morning we'll try to photograph the other
side of the cape at sunrise. I set the alarm for 5:00, that should
give us half an hour to setup before the sun rises at around 5:30.
Then I settle in for the night, trying not to
think about the nearby tarpaulin.
Wed 10 Dec
It's light, I look at the alarm clock with sleepy eyes, 37 past!
"Bloody hell". I quickly dress and yell out to Glen as
I run past his tent.
On reaching my vantage point I realise that the
sun is nowhere near rising. I check my watch, 4:40, oops.
Oh well, plenty of time to look for a better spot.
The place I had intended to photograph from was
secure enough, but caused some unsightly rocks to appear in the
foreground. The best spot is just over there, on that square metre
of sloping dolerite column top.
I transfer the camera, tripod and myself to the
platform, gingerly stepping across the intervening gap.
Once there I notice that the light is nice over
nearby Tasman Island, but I need a different lens. I step across
the gap again and collect my 135mm.
Pre-dawn sky and Tasman Island
Then I see another shot that could really do with
a 200mm lens. Back I go, this time hardly noticing the gap.
By the time the sun actually rises I've jumped
to and from the column top so many times I don't even notice the
gap or the 200-metre drop.
Eventually the sun does make an entrance, and
we get just a minute or so of that lovely red light.
Cape Raoul's dolerite columns catch the day's first light
Before it disappears behind the clouds.
Tasman Island, after the sun disappears behind the clouds
On our return we decide it's time to check out
the tarpaulin. I gingerly approach and unwrap the outer layers to
The strange collection of equipment we found in the bushes next
to our camp
Lucky I didn't do that yesterday, I never would
have slept knowing the gruesome contents of that bundle.
We initially intended to stay here for two days,
but the campsite is not very pleasant, and we've got some good photos
of the cape, so we decide to shift camp to Shipstern Bluff.
We retrace our steps, stopping for about an hour
to photograph the amazingly twisted trees, and peculiarly eroded
rocks, that are common on this part of the cape.
Wind-pruned and distorted bushes.
This is a living plant, next time you think you've got it
tough, spare a thought for this bush
Having put off the climb for as long as reasonable
we continue and soon reach the steep side of Mt Raoul.
Glen's pack is heavier than mine but he still
leaves me behind on this steep section. Still, he is twenty years
younger than me. I just plod along, and actually don't find the
climb very taxing at all, it's just a matter of keeping to your
I find that if I stay within my aerobic capacity
I can plod along all day. But the minute I go over that limit, say
to keep up with someone else, the oxygen doesn't get to the muscles
fast enough, and it's goodnight nurse, I have to rest.
We snack at the lookout, then continue down to
the Shipstern Bluff track junction.
I admit to being tempted to continue straight
to the car, I've achieved my goal to photograph the cliffs at Cape
Raoul, and to now go down to the bluff means another steep descent,
with the associated ascent tomorrow.
Glen convinces me though, and we turn left at
After 15 minutes we emerge from the forest onto
another lookout, this one overlooking the bluff. There's another
plateau about 100 metres below us and we plan to camp there, after
negotiating a very steep zigzag path.
At the bottom of the zigzag section the track
continues to descend, and all I can think of is that every step
I take down is another I have to take up tomorrow.
There's nowhere to camp along the track, but eventually
it meets a 4WD "road" which is wide enough to place our
Those nice Tasmanians, always telling me where to go
We make camp. I erect my tent then unroll my Thermarest.
It looks so inviting that I lie down, and wake up a couple of hours
My tent on the 4WD track
Glen has followed my good example so now we're
both refreshed, and decide to head down to the bluff.
Shipstern Bluff consists of 200-metre cliffs shaped
like a ship's stern, hence the name.
In height they are the same as those at Cape Raoul,
but they're different in every other respect.
The rock here is sedimentary, the cliffs being
made up of horizontal layers, also, here at Shipstern you view the
cliff from below as there's a track to the rock platform at their
Our guidebook states that you shouldn't get too
close to the cliff as there is a real danger of falling rocks. It
also states that we shouldn't get too close to the sea, because
there's a real danger from large waves.
That doesn't really leave anywhere to walk at
all, so we initially just try to stay somewhere in the middle of
The patterns on this platform are weird to say
the least. In places the rock is pockmarked, as though pecked at
by a huge bird while still molten.
In other places there's a lattice of dead-straight
lines, some parallel with each other, others at odd angles, others
forming "Ts" when they meet at right angles. As though
the pavement had been made by a manic concreter.
Scattered at random are "eggs" of various
sizes, embedded oval rocks of a different type to the main body.
An embedded "egg" in the platform
We see thousands of boulders, some as large as
the proverbial house, all of which have obviously fallen from the
Huge boulders that have fallen from the cliffs. They're well
eroded though, must have been here for years
This does lend credence to the guidebook's warning,
but the rocks have obviously been there for centuries as they're
The we find some that have equally obviously been
there just days, weeks at the most, as they have very sharp edges
and even still have dirt in places.
More boulders, these ones are recent falls.
While not as large as their aforementioned house-sized
brothers, some are several tonnes in weight. Others are much smaller,
but let's face it, even a one-kilo rock would deck you after falling
At one point we find a weird star-shaped mark
in the rock. "Wonder what that is?" says Glen as we stand
around it looking down, "Looks like an impact crater"
I reply, "it would have to be something massive to cause that".
We look up, then slowly move away.
Waves drain through the kelp from an elevated pool
There's a cold front forecast for this afternoon
and it hits at about 4 o'clock. With it comes heavy clouds, dull
light and fierce winds. Glen's tripod blows over, and we feel that
we've done what we can for the time being, so we call it a day and
trudge back up the cliff to our camp.
After another lie-down and some dinner, Glen walks
to the top of the cliffs. I've pretty much had it, but follow after
a few minutes just for something to do.
I encounter Glen as he rushes back up the track.
He's all enthusiastic and reckons that the sun will make another
appearance as it approaches the horizon.
"I'm going back down" he declares.
I really don't want to but his enthusiasm is infectious,
and anyway, it's too early to go bed.
We collect our torches and head back down to the
Things don't look too promising for a while, but
then it becomes apparent that, if one cloud moves fast enough, and
another doesn't move at all, the sun will in fact shine through.
With this in mind I look for a composition that
will look nice in the resultant strong side light.
I find a spot with many vertical edges, it looks
dull now, but should be nice with the almost horizontal light. I
set up the camera and wait.
Noticing that I've only got one frame left on
this roll, I rewind it and put a new one in. If anything happens
it will happen quickly, and I don't want to be changing films in
the middle of it.
Slowly the light improves, then suddenly it gets
fantastic. I take several exposures of the scene I had set up on,
then look around.
The rock platform as the sun shines through a hole in the clouds
The cliffs over there look good, I change lenses
and photograph them. Then the cliff in the other direction look
good, a different lens, and another shot.
The cliffs to the east and west of Shipstern Bluff.
What about that kelp?, I change to yet another
lens, lean over the edge and take another photo.
Cape Raoul form the platform with barnacles and seaweed in the
Just as I press the shutter button the light fades.
I change lenses again and make a photo of Cape Raoul as the last
rays touch it.
The very last rays touch Cape Raoul
In less than a minute I've taken 18 frames of
7 different scenes and swapped lenses half a dozen times. One day
I must buy a zoom lens.
We're not finished yet though. The sun has gone
behind a narrow cloud band and it's obvious that it will reappear.
I search for another scene and wait again. While
waiting I look over the edge into the water, the rock dives vertically
into the ocean and I can see quite a way down in these clear waters.
I'm not a water lover so I'm not comfortable looking
into the depths. The sight of the deeper kelp, writhing like the
tentacles of something I don't want to know about, doesn't help
I step back.
The sun does reappear, but it's so close to the
horizon that the light is very weak. I make an exposure of the seaweed
then swing the camera around and photograph the sun itself.
Final moments of the sun
After it sets Glen and I meet up, the sky is looking
good, but not fantastic.
"I very seldom photograph sunset skies"
I say to him. As the words are uttered I spot the scene over his
shoulder, "Unless there's a great cliff as well" I yell
while running to a better vantage point.
The sky starts to redden
Then the sky explodes into brilliant orange, now
I'll photograph a sunset sky.
Then explodes into a full on brilliant sunset
Finally the light dies, this time for good. We
make our way back up the cliff in the twilight. A cup of hot chocolate
would be lovely right about now, but we're almost out of water,
so we just hit the sack.
It's been a heck of a day.
Thu 11 Dec
It's clear, so there probably was a good sunrise this morning, but
we don't care and sleep in.
After a drier than normal breakfast we ration
the remaining water, pack up, and walk towards the zigzag climb.
I'm dreading it, but just hunker down in my "trudge
mode", and before I know it we're standing at the top.
On this climb I actually think I'm doing better
than Glen, he's 30 and very fit, but carrying an extremely heavy
pack. I joke that now he knows what it's like to be 50.
Half an hour later we're back at the car downing
the content of a bottle of red cordial I'd left behind.
Half an hour later again we're in the Wothahellizat
pub, with a cold tumbler of my "Graywater" lager.
Fri 12 Dec
The rangers come around and chat this morning. It seems that there's
a huge fire in the Tarkine, another one in the Fortescue Bay/Cape
Huay/Cape Pillar area, and Cape Raoul is ablaze.
Bushwalkers are being evacuated by helicopter.
It seems that everywhere I've been lately has
caught on fire shortly thereafter.
It's very dry around here and the locals are praying
for rain, the ranger included. He's no sooner left than it buckets
down, thunder, lighting, the whole lot.
Sat 13 Dec
I've got a get together of Tarkine photographers and writers to
go to tonight, so we head back into town.
We park on a dead-end section of the old highway,
close to the airport, and I ride into Hobart. The Tiger Trails office
is jam packed with people, and I have to lie down on the floor to
watch the slide show.
And what a slide show, still, I guess with the
nature of the participants you would expect the photos to be good.
My photos hold up well against the "competition"
which I'm happy about.
Sun 14 Dec
After spending the morning shopping and uploading the web site we
move out to Seven Mile Beach.
Wothahellizat snuggles into a spot at Seven Mile Beach
Mon 15 Dec
Ever since we arrived in Hobart Chris has wanted to go down to Opossum
Bay, on the map it looks promising as a camp site, with a dirt road
leading out to a point.
When we arrive however we find a narrow street
with nowhere to easily turn the truck.
The dirt road is fenced off, and the point it
leads to is being developed as a subdivision.
So much for camping here.
We now plan to head across town (Hobart town that
is) and camp on the other side. I turn my phone on and find that
I've got a voice mail from someone in New Zealand. They're want
to order a photograph. I ring back and we arrange the details.
We need to organise the printing of the photo,
so decide to hang around near where we are and return to Seven Mile
Another great evening sky
Tue 16 Dec
We don't really know where to go today, and the weather is fine
(32 degrees) so we just laze around at Seven Mile beach.
Apart from some idiots doing donuts in the dirt
carpark, the day is very relaxing.
According to the evening news, there's still a
large fire at Fortescue Bay, all the campers were evacuated a couple
of days ago, and a bushwalker was helicoptered out from Cape Pillar.
Wed 17 Dec
The weather is back to "normal", raining and cool.
We drive over to the showgrounds at Glenorchy,
it's a bit industrial compared to the places we've been camping
lately. Still it's only for a couple of days.
Thu 18 Dec
I meet up for coffee with Chris Bell, one of Australia's best
known landscape photographers.
We talk for a couple of hours, going over some
of the issues that affect people who photograph in the wilderness,
such as photographing in national parks. Many national institutions
seem to think that us photographers make millions from our photographs,
and therefore we should pay large licence fees.
It's a problem that isn't going away in a hurry,
although the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photographers)
has made a lot of progress in the area.
The showgrounds also hosts the harness and dog
races and, at about 8PM, we start to hear race calling on PA.
The calling seems intermittent though, with just
the ends of some races and starts of others.
I walk up to the track and can see nothing on
it except for the groundsman with his tractor. Maybe someone's testing
the PA, it shouldn't last long.
11PM, they're still testing.
Fri 19 Dec
Chris' sister and brother-in-law (Anna & Mike) have flown out
from the UK and are arriving in Hobart in a couple of days. We'll
be hosting them in the truck and showing them around Tasmania, but
to do that we need a car so today we pick up a hire car.
It's an 80s model from one of those cheap companies,
but a nice car nonetheless, and why pay a fortune?
While on the subject of hire car pricing, we see
all sorts of ads for hire cars with headings like "$35 per
day, no more to pay". But you just try to rent a car for $35
The advertised price is just for the "hire
component", there's also the insurance, the registration recovery
fee, the airport pickup levy, the extras mileage, a minimum 10 days
rental, GST, stamp duty, etc etc.
None of these extra fees are optional, so why
advertise the $35 when the minimum price is actually $70 or $80
This is straight out false advertising!, and I
can't believe its legal.
All the rental companies seem to be guilty of
it, all that is except Brent Auto Rent, they offer older model cars
"from $28 per day", no extra fees of any kind.
We rang (03 6272 6358 mob:0418 121 397) and sure
enough we could hire a car at $28, but we elected for a larger model
Their core business appears to be a mechanical
workshop so one assumes that the vehicles are maintained. Certainly
ours had no problems, and we did a lot of miles in it (no limited
kilometres clause) with some on dirt roads (no unsealed road clause).
Chris hops in and heads off to Friendly Beaches,
she will secure our old spot if possible, while I follow in the
Sat 20 Dec
I received a large email today, a very large email, so large that
it's impossible to download over the mobile phone, especially with
the dodgy reception we have here.
I'm very not impressed as this email will now
block all others until it's been read. I can't use a facility like
Webmail to delete it because that takes almost as long and, as I
said, the connection here is not reliable enough to last for the
time I'd need. Then there's the cost of the call.
So we drive down to Coles Bay, looking for an
Internet cafe. There is none, but we're told that the nearby Freycinet
Lodge has some facilities.
On arrival at the lodge we find that we can indeed
plug into a phone line for as long as required, for the cost of
a local call.
Now that's what I call a bargain.
I log in and start downloading the offending email.
It's about 2Meg in size and still takes nearly quarter of an hour
Finally it appears in my inbox, I open it to find
an unsolicited sales pitch about reversing cameras, complete with
two enormous PDF brochures attached.
I'm normally very polite when telling people not
to send large emails, but this really pisses me off. It's just not
done to send anyone an email that large without asking first,
let alone someone who connects with a mobile phone.
My reply went something like this.
What the #$^@&& hell ^%$#^%#!@%$ you
doing @$&**&^*& 2 mega bytes #@#@$%$#%$ mobile bloody
phone %$#%$#%@ cost me a fortune %$#@%$@%$ drove 40 kilometres
%$%$#*&^% your stupid product &%$^%@(( not interested.
Rude letter follows.
With that out of my system I return to Friendly
Beaches and relax watching the waves.
Sun 21 Dec
We drive down to Hobart and pick up Anna & Mike from the airport.
It's good to see them after three years, and we do a lot of catching
up on the return journey.
The truck is not really set up to sleep four people
so I've set up a tent under the deck as a guest room. Although it's
me that will be sleeping in it.
Because they retire earlier than us, and rise
later, we give them the bedroom so we have the use of the lounge
room while they sleep.
Also, they're not used to sleeping in tents and
I am, I even enjoy it. That just leaves Chris, she makes up a bed
on the lounge room floor.
There's a howling gale tonight, Mike's a sailor
and he estimates force 6-7.
Mon 22 Dec
The wind has gone and it's nice and sunny this morning.
We spend the day just sitting around catching
up some more and checking out some motorhome magazines they brought
over from the UK.
We're thinking of going overseas for a while and
would like to buy a camper to live in for the duration.
Another howling gale pops up this afternoon.
Thu 25 Dec
We're really just in tourist mode at present, showing Anna and Mike
around the state. As such I've not had time to write or photograph
much, but today we drive up to the nearby town of Bicheno and I
take a camera.
Fishing boats in the harbour at Bicheno
There's a very pleasant coastal walk here, from
the town to the blowhole. About half way along is Governor's Island
and the ruins of the old Coal House.
Ruins near Governor's Island, the wall is from the old Coal
house, the ring is attached to the rock below the wall.
As we continue to the blowhole I'm distracted
by the colour of the rocks and stop. The others continue.
More of that incredibly coloured lichen
When they return a few minutes later I've found
an interesting area of Hare's Tail grass and flowers.
Flowers, insects and a dead crayfish. What more could you ask
In the space of about ten minutes I get my my
photo-taking fix for the week.
Later we enjoy our evening meal and a few drinks,
the weather's fine and the view's great.
Anna and Mike polish off their West Australian wine after
Now I see why that tourist thought the truck was a cafe.
The last view of Friendly beaches, although we may return
in the autumn
Wed 31 Dec
As I mentioned, we've been doing the tourist thing with Anna &
Mike lately, and talking till the wee hours, so I've not had time
for any diary writing.
They've returned to England now and we've
moved back to Hobart, so we'll have a quiet New Year's Eve in the
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