2020 Tas Four go up the Gordon River Blog plus first of two photo files
Four go up the Gordon River
I must warn you there are going to be many pictures of trees in this blog as the opportunity to enjoy the few remaining areas of thriving temperate rainforest were just too good to ignore, visually and photographically.
The big grey cat, Spirit of the Wild that was moored at the Sarah Island jetty the day before now overtook us on her way up the Gordon to Heritage Landing, where we hoped we could moor in between the two cats’ visits. She soon disappeared around one of the many gentle bends in the river. We were amazed at the depth of the river, in places it reached over 30 metres and anchoring would have been impossible with the steep to banks. All along the shore little tinnies, small aluminium boats motoring gently along parallel with the shore, the occupants fly fishing and waving to us as we passed.
The density of the trees was a real treat having seen so many areas stripped of their entire crop. But it was not just the density, or the fact they reached right to the shoreline, just as the early navigators saw them, nor was it the multitude of shades and hues of green but also the diversity of tree types. We tried desperately to discern the celery topped pines and the mighty huons, the blackwoods and paperbarks and many others we knew were in there, but in the end we just enjoyed the sheer abundance, a taste of what these areas were all like once upon a time from our vantage route deep in the river valley.
Looking at the time tables on the brochures of the two big tourist cats we tried to work out when they would be away from the Heritage Jetty so we could tie up and have a look around the rainforest walk. To confirm I radioed the skipper of the Spirit of the Wild and he confirmed they would be clear by 1.30. So we made our way downstream from where we had been hovering and Rob circled Zoonie in towards the jetty. This wasn’t going to be easy because the piles and lines were arranged for a high freeboard cat not the likes of a sailing yacht.
Bron and I struggled to get a bow line attached at first but then working together I slung the line around the smooth fat pile and Bron caught it, so the bow was safe. Ken had jumped ashore by this time and was about to take a stern line from Rob when the big red cat arrived. Oh dear.
So we cast off quickly and moved away and the skipper this time said he would be just half an hour and then we’d have the jetty to ourselves for over four hours before the evening cruise arrived. I was impressed by their friendliness and despite the fact this is their jetty they didn’t mind us using it at all.
The 600 metre boardwalk rainforest path led us through a tiny section but was a taste of the dense interior. It was also very dry for a rainforest. The tree types were identified with rusted tubular steel shapes of a chair, a punt, canoe and hut etc and I have included a few, but the overall impression was of natural chaos, the rotted, the living and the dying plant life that makes up the ever changing forest. There is a picture of a little mud mound with a hole in it, there are billions of these and they are where the freshwater crayfish live and nibble the roots of plants in their tunnels for food. The raised boardwalk protects the delicate ground surface where these creatures live.
Imagine trying to make an escape from Sarah Island through this undergrowth as Richard Morris and his two mates did.
We were struck by the lack of bird sounds or presence in the forest but then you can read that ‘a riverine forest offers little variety when it comes to food and shelter’, the birds we saw were along the river, shags, cormorants, kingfisher, currawong and sea eagles feeding from the water.
Back aboard Zoonie we made our way back downriver with that wonderful experience tucked away in our ‘bag’ and turned left for Birch’s Inlet where Ken had spotted a nice little place to anchor for the night.
Our minds were turning now to our departure from Macquarie, Nichola would sail up the coast and follow it around along Bass Strait to complete their circumnavigation back to Low Head and their mooring in George Town near the mouth of the Tamar while we would head for Portland on the south coast of Victoria and back on the mainland.
So we listened to the weather forecast that evening broadcast by a lady with exceptional talent. During the forecast we heard a phone ring in the background of her studio three times during the broadcast and heard the male voice answer and deal with the enquiry. She stayed calm and concentrated and kept going, only cutting the transmission a couple of times despite the distractions.
I was so impressed I called her up at the end of the report when they invite callers and commended her on her professional broadcast despite the interruptions. She came back on laughing and thought my praise was ‘cute’ and giggled through the rest of the callers messages.