2020 Tas Wombat Cove to a Hike up Balmoral Hill
Wombat Cove to a Hike up Balmoral Hill
But first a short aside. It’s 6.00am here in Portland Harbour, Victoria on Saturday the 25th January. The wind is still blowing a strong westerly but as the Australia Day long weekend holiday is upon us the local commemorations are starting with countless fishing boats being backed down the ramp behind 4X4 trucks to speed off for the start of the fishing competitions. We were in Darwin this time last year. The men have struggled to erect the tents and staging for the Festival of music, food and watersports entertainment (fishing clinics, talks and giveaways, competition results, kayak hire and youth activities, just a few metres away from us on the foreshore. The musical entertainments bill is being filled with D J Noah, Mint, Dean and Damon, J.A.B. Sides and the Vanns and topped with Jon Stevens, no I haven’t either but we soon will.) Meanwhile back to the blog.
We didn’t go right in to Wombat Cove (I have marked in pencil as number one on the chart photo) because it is tiny and we had Nichola rafting alongside for the night, so we anchored in 5 metres on mud, lovely grippy, thick, black, stinky glutinous ouse just like Zoonie dug into in Newtown Creek on the Isle of Wight. The only dragging there would be ourselves to bed.
After supper we cleared away and played games. Mexican dominoes and Up and Down the River, a card game from Bron and Ken and Scrabble and Tri-onimos from Zoonie’s cupboard. We got on so well with Ken and Bron and found we had more and more things in common. Bron has had a life of adventure, domestic trauma matched with joy and has found extreme happiness with Ken since she has known him over the past few years trusting totally in him as a companion and skipper and Ken has a remarkable brain, both artistic and intellectual and having lived for forty years on the little island off the north east coast of Tasmania, Flinders Island he knows and understands well the plight of the less fortunate, especially the indigenous people and has done much to help them in his role on the council and as mayor. We were privileged to share their company.
Nichola moved gently away from us and we followed her along Bathurst Channel towards Casilda Cove (number two anchorage) where the two would wait as we four climbed the 562 metre Balmoral Hill, not quite a mountain!
We all climbed into Ken’s hard tender as we had to find the overgrown gap in the rocky shoreline foliage onto the track and felt Zoonie’s little rubber duck would be too vulnerable from the rocks. Passing through the bottleneck between our cove and Horseshoe cove you can see on some of the photos, we used eight eyeballs navigation to see a way to the shore and what looked like might be a break in the bush. Bingo, after a short scramble we were on the foot wide track that meandered away infront and upwards.
I have previously described the hillcover as moleskin because that is the effect the buttongrass gives at a distance. The hillslopes are covered with it as it thrives in these peatlands. It has a single seedhead that grows on a stem well above the leaves and the round seed head surface erupts into spikes which can and do give one an alarming shock if they are caught by the wind and hit your face. The ancient compacted peat trapped over the quartzite rock is the base to the most beautiful alpine-like garden of flowering plants and we strode upwards like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, ready to burst into song at the top. Well not quite, for one thing the path was uneven with lots of holes to give one a foot grip and for another it was littered with wombat, wallaby and possum poo, so any bursting forth could have been quite messy if not physically damaging.
With her expertise Bron was able to identify the local mammal population by their poo and if I remember correctly wombat poo is cone-shaped. The whole surrounding area reminded Rob and me of Scotland and has since inspired us to cruise that area at home sooner rather than later.
Heather and holes, banksias and burrows. The holes belong to crayfish that climb far away from the water and while unwittingly giving the peat deposits and essential breath of fresh air gain their food by munching on the roots of plants that protrude into their little subterranean homes.
The views from the top were matched by the peaceful silence and the knowledge that this is one of the few untouched wildernesses left. It was hot and windless up there and much cooler down below. We gazed out over nature’s pristine work, a perfect balance of climate and topography, a harmony between the elements and the flora and fauna, what could possibly damage this wonderful, isolated and inaccessible place?
We sat on cushions of buttongrass and ate our sandwiches fully expecting to hear the sounds of a solo piper or be knocked off our tussocks by Jamie and Claire from Outlander galloping up on their steeds. We weren’t disappointed when they didn’t.
There was severe weather forecast for the next day so in the back of our minds as we reached the summit was the need to move on to a safe, sheltered anchorage and so we headed for the uncharted Kings Cove just around the entrance to the right in the harbour itself. Our convoy included Zoonie at the front finding our way down the deepest part of the channel using the chartplotter and eyeball nav, followed by Nichola and then a big, very smart fishing boat that appeared to have the same thoughts as us; shelter. A sea eagle wheeled around above us watching to see if we disturbed anything that might make a dive worthwhile.
(A sturdy fisherman with a coffee to go in one hand and a loaded wheelbarrow in the other followed by two official looking guys with water bottles have just strode down the pontoon, maybe to monitor the competition that started a few minutes ago. It’s all hotting up here for the boys!)