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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Back to base

A short while later we started the return trek. From the northern end it was impossible to see the southern end of the beach, but we knew it was there.20171225_115819.jpgOff we went, one step at time.  It helps that I practice yoga, and that I was familiar with a ‘legs up the wall’ position which re-energises feet and legs.  On the way back to the cottage, I sometimes lay with my legs up the steep dunes and head bolstered by my day pack and a mound of sand.  On these occasions, Jeanette happily napped in the sun. Half way along the long beach I noticed a massive tree trunk had washed up on shore and realised this provided another opportunity.   When I lay with my legs up on the trunk I could feel strength returning.  In this way I returned to the southern end of Marrawah Beach, gathering sand in every orifice and letting it go later in the shower base.

With aches and coughs I knew I was ill and once back ‘home’ I let go; succumbed.  At the cottage, I was showered and in bed by 5pm. I felt sorry for Jeanette who had to cook her own meal and eat alone, and we had no debriefing session that night.

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Arriving at Mt Cameron West

After every 100 metres it was clear there was still hundreds of metres to go. It was as if my critical faculties of measurement and distance had failed.  Reaching the beach end was not concerning rather it was the knowing I had to walk back.  There was no public vehicle access to the beach so if I couldn’t go on for health reasons there was no way I could be assisted.  Knowing I would have to walk the distance regardless of whether my hips, knees and feet wanted to continue, was foremost in my mind; but I was determined to do it. Of course, at the rate of one step at a time, every length can be walked.  20171225_115506.jpgEventually the northern end of the beach was under my feet. 20171225_115935.jpgRocky volcanic rocks edged the crescent leading out to the point, and a massive scree cascaded down the side of the mountain.    20171225_125507.jpg

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20171225_115830.jpgA slight indication of a track encouraged us to walk up into the dunes, where we found the remnants of a 4WD track and lay down on its edge for protection from the wind.  End beach and track into dunes.JPG

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20171225_115903.jpgWhile we munched our picnic lunch and swatted the occasional heavy resting ‘March fly’, having the mountain with its cairn marking the top at my back was somehow reassuring, comfortable.  We snoozed for a while.  After waking, I walked along the track until reaching a T junction at the bottom of the mountain; to the left and heading towards the sea was a track that seemed as if it would extend to the bottom of the scree slope. 20171225_115919.jpgMy only regret for the day was that I didn’t have the legs for more walking and exploration once I was at Mt Cameron West. Somehow, failing to explore made the walk along the beach seem a little pointless. I realise I had learned a lot during the walk, the smooth easy walking surface was incredibly pleasant, and I had loved the purity of the environment  – but I was sad that I did not have the energy reserves to discover any mysteries around the base of Mt Cameron West (I remembered that the aboriginal community did not want people to climb).  I would strongly recommend all visitors to Marrawah walk this way to recharge their spirit, to raise their level of personal confidence, and to understand more completely why such environments need protection from development or ‘progress’.  The peace and calm of a long Tasmanian beach is like none other.

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The last few hundred metres

This wonderful landscape allows you to be alone with your thoughts and be independent. It gives you space to think or not to think, as you wish. You can release yourself from thoughts that confine you.   I found the simplicity of the walk along this beach to be liberating. One step at a time.   20171225_114749

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20171225_115005Nothing stays the same, and you realise this fact as you walk a long beach which at first glance seemed to be the same everywhere. When you retrace your steps, what you see is different.  As Barbra Streisand sings: Everything must change.

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The rock shelf

Along the 6-7 km length of Marrawah Beach, the waves flowed onto a sandy shore with the exception of one area where an extensive very low rock shelf linked the ocean with the land.    20171225_111154.jpg

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20171225_111230.jpgPerhaps the rock was a kind of conglomerate because there were concave depressions seeming to indicate ‘balls’ of other rocks had once been in situ.   20171225_111102.jpg

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20171225_111149.jpg A lime green coloured marine plant grew off the rocks.  I started by wondering what the difference was between algae and seaweed.   According to this site and confirmed by other sites, I learnt that seaweeds belong to the family of algae and technically are not plants. While writing this post I set out to identify this seaweed but, when I discovered over 200 different native varieties grow around Tasmania, I quickly realised that success was unlikely.

Note the Pied Oystercatcher in the second photo below. 20171225_111113.jpg

20171225_111035.jpgNote the cormorant to the right of the rocks in the photo below.20171225_111545.jpg

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