There has to be more

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There is a saying which I live by: Nothing great is achieved without effort. I would like to use this as the basis for a new saying: Nothing about the land is understood without walking across it.

We expected to explore the coast, rivers, dunes, forests, sinkholes, lagoons and much more of the northern Tarkine.  Nevertheless, our shortened trip has helped me to understand something of the nature of the land north of the Arthur River – I hope you have found my record of my visit to the Marrawah area to be informative and stimulating.  If you haven’t been to Marrawah, there is great deal to see and experience in the locality – and there are many opportunities for walking and swimming.

For reasons of unexpected ill health the extended trip, around the Arthur River further south, did not occur and so a future trip must be planned. This means that while the posts on this blog will cease now, you can be sure they will restart after the next visit.

In the meantime I am always grateful to receive Tarkine related information, so please feel comfortable to send me any leads, articles or other information and I will relay these to other blog readers.

I will leave you with this video showing the glorious Lighthouse Bay and beach at West Point – with wind accompaniment.

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To Nettley Bay

From the West Point lighthouse we took the narrow gravel track along the coast until it ended at an isolated quality shack near Rusty Rocks.   20171226_131722.jpg

20171226_133814.jpgSplendid isolation I thought.  By contrast Jeanette tried to determine a reason why someone would want to stay there. I suggested love was the reason. I loved the tiny inlet from the bay which, although challenging, would let a dinghy out for fishing. I loved the endless irregular rocks. I felt the big sky would liberate and stimulate anyone.20171226_133817.jpg

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20171226_134002.jpg Without the energy to walk and discover, and with my eyelids drooping, the decision was made to call it a day and return to our Marrawah cottage. At the best it can be said that we have a taste of what West Point looks like, but I have not experienced it first hand for any length of time.  Quite simply, I have not explored. I have not walked this land. Another time!

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West Point Lighthouse

This lighthouse was built in 1916 and demolished when Bluff Hill Point Lighthouse (located further south) was built in 1982. We took a side road off the northern side of West Point Road to visit the remains of the West Point Lighthouse (on paper maps this road is named Nettley Bay Road).  We found a concrete structure inserted into a rock mound – the base of the old lighthouse.      20171226_131623.jpg

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20171226_131340.jpgThe view from the top included the following: 20171226_131433.jpg

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20171226_131554.jpg Mt Cameron West could be seen in the distant north.  The Port Hills are the smoother ‘lump’ to the right of the mountain in the photo.20171226_131545.jpgAt ground level there were other concrete remnants and a grass infested lagoon.20171226_131207.jpg

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20171226_131257.jpgWhat did the lighthouse look like? Thanks to the wall of information and photos at the Marrawah Tavern, we have an image.West Point lighthouse.JPG

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Rugged rocks at West Point

According to an ABC new story, ‘the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania said West Point or nungu included a hut depression excavated in the 1970s. It said there was a cremation in the centre of one of the huts and a seashell necklace was also uncovered there.’  We did not know the location of this depression.

Jeanette thought the landscape was rugged. A very raw environment on a serene calm day.  20171226_121738.jpg

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20171226_124605.jpgI look at my travelling buddy’s photos and I am excited by the appearance of these rocks. The upthrusts are dramatic.  I can see orange and yellow lichens have grown on them despite (or is it because of) the dramatic weather and salt that these rocks endure.  Even with extreme weathering, these rocks haven’t developed a smooth rounding making me guess the rock is granite or a similar very hard igneous rock type.

Lately I have been watching movies and documentaries set in New Zealand which have helped me to realise that the geological age of their mountains is so much younger than those in the very old and worn Australian landscape. When I researched the geology of the Tasmanian west coast area, I found it has the oldest rocks; Pre-Cambrian 1000-600 million years old.  This was a time before soils had developed and plants had evolved, therefore the rocks were unprotected and the wearing down process began immediately. During the Cambrian period 600-500 million years, volcanoes erupted across Tasmania. It is possible some of the West Point rocks emerged at that time.  Geological studies indicate this West Point area is fundamentally Pre-Cambrian; incidentally that was a time in history when Tasmania was connected to north America – apparently Tasmania has rock relatives in Montana, Idaho (USA) and British Columbia (Canada).

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Into the Arthur River/Pieman Conservation Area

We drove south from Marrawah on the road to Arthur River. After a short distance, a public sign indicated we were entering the Arthur River/Pieman Conservation Area .  Not much further and a sign to West Point pointed to the right. We turned off and headed once more towards the ocean. Before long we were entering the West Point State Reserve.  Read more here.  Dual names for geographical features across Tasmania are now common: the aboriginal name for West Point is nungu.20171226_120806.jpg

20171226_120850.jpgEventually the sea became visible, and we began to see the top edges of a few rock formations. 20171226_120924.jpg   20171226_121023.jpg

20171226_121318.jpgOthers had reached the parking area before us, and were out there (as tiny black dots) on the waves of Lighthouse Beach immediately south of West Point, in their skin-tight wetsuits catching the waves. I was envious. The day was stunningly beautiful. The clarity of the fresh air allowed us to see as far south as Bluff Hill Reserve.     20171226_121752.jpg

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20171226_121750.jpgWhat was my impediment? Why not go for a swim or a walk? I was sick. And weak.  Despite seeing an easy walking track down to the beach and further on, I was fearful of walking more than a few metres in case I collapsed. Damn nuisance, one part of my brain said.  The other part of my brain asked to lie down and go to sleep and heal.  So I sat back in the car and glazed over as Jeanette went off to explore the rocks of the Point.

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Rural reminders

Around a corner we spotted a huge herd of healthy cattle spread across the road, and a farmer gesticulating urgently that we should drive off the road up a side track.  We took the hint, and watched the movement of cattle along the road to their new paddock.20171226_115508.jpg

20171226_115526.jpgI noted how placid the animals seemed. In discussion with the farmer he explained they don’t use snapping dogs, or any goads and so the animals remain calm when being transferred between  paddocks. Happy cows produce better meat. It was a perfectly beautiful day and this stock movement was executed in a perfectly normal fashion for the locals.20171226_115553.jpg

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Persistence

After a cough strewn night, I woke next morning feeling dreadful but still determined to continue on at least for that day.  Nevertheless the decision was made that we would cancel the Arthur River and Smithton accommodation and all the planned treks, and that the next day we would return back to Hobart.  As Jeanette said, ‘if you are not having fun, then there is no point’.

I felt very weak so the compromise for the day was that we would drive and view, and walk little. I had expected to find  a way to walk out to Green Point where no roads go. Dual names for geographical features across Tasmania are now common: the aboriginal name for Green Point is taypalaka. You can see taypalaka as the low lying rocks slightly to the right of the dark green tree, in the photo below.Green point to right of trees.JPGInstead we drove as close as we could and looked across the land past Slaves Bay and Sinking Rock to the end of that rocky  outcrop jutting into the ocean, Green Point. It has been impossible to locate historical information or any information about a number of places in the area including Green Point.  Undoubtedly an aboriginal history is associated with this Point in some way. That one of its name is non-aboriginal, indicates there is a social history created here over the past 200 plus years of settlement.  I cannot find what any of that history is. Green Point.JPG

20171226_113949.jpgAs we drove, we  looked over Green Point Lagoon on a number of occasions.   20171226_113958.jpg

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20171226_115203.jpgThen we headed down a road signposted Nettley Bay Road.  Now there is something wrong. Nettley Bay is marked on maps a little further south and this road did not go there, so the naming is very confusing.   Google Maps names this Periwinkle Beach Road.20171226_115106.jpgWe drove down between farming paddocks until vegetated sand dunes were on our road sides.    20171226_114253.jpg

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20171226_114454.jpgThe road ended at a rocky shore. This shoreline was so intricate; I so wished I had been able to explore it for hours – and of course to walk out to the tip of Green Point.      20171226_114518.jpg

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20171226_114622.jpgTo the north we watched surfers in their black wet suits in and out of the waves of Slave Bay. This video scans across the Bay with Green Point in the distance.  The noise on the video? That’s the wind.20171226_114523.jpg

20171226_114638.jpgAt my feet, hardy plants found purchase between the rocks.20171226_114549.jpgReturning from Slaves Bay, Marrawah Beach with Mt Cameron West was spread before us, arousing memories of yesterday’s walk.20171226_115328.jpg

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