Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Promise of Wilderness

A chap makes many promises in his lifetime, and I really mean 'many', as there  have been now that I am in my Knackered old Shytedom. So many promises are made that a chap, even a Knight, has to prioritise. This one has to be put back to cater for that one: the family and daily 'musts' take precedence. 

For instance, I promised m'self waaaay back when I was a mere lad that I should have a leather jacket. I have one now. OK, I had to wait until many a decade or four had passed before I could keep my promise and by then my girth had taken some of the glamour from it.  But there is no law that says a rotund GentleKnight cannot emulate a Bikie. 

Indeed, an hairy man - slightly less hairy than I - a tattood biker gentleman approached me a few months back and expressed his appreciation of my fine Burgundy attire with its 'wings' and epaulettes, its Lanyard and many pockets. Invariably my sleeves are pushed up, befitting a hard-working chap. He even sought to swap it for his black and well travelled one with 'Hell's Angels' writ large on its back. I suggested that it was 'dignum et justum est' that we kept our own and simply admired each others.

I wore it today as I fulfilled another promise.  One I made a long time ago too.

The Knackered Old Knight under gin-clear skies. 

Tasmania has a huge swathe of Wilderness in the south that is inaccessible by any road.  The Greenies have it all locked up. You can walk into it, and even get completely lost in it. Some have even died in its forests, mountains, crevasses and wild swamps.  Yea, many greenies have perished in the tarns of the wilderness.

And it hides treasures. Like Port Davey, where no immigration or customs port exists (indeed, no port facilities at all), and Bathurst Harbour where no human-built harbour exists. In fact there is bugger-all down there but pristine wilderness. 
And I wanted to go there. 

After all Bathurst Harbour is five times as big a the piddling one that Sydney boasts about and the greenies don't want us there.

I studied the weather - it can get very nasty down there - and the met office predicted a splendid day coming up. That was to be today. So I phoned a small Aviation company - Par Avion -  that goes there in their Britten-Norman Islanders and booked for this morning. As I said: no roads; seven to ten days to walk/get lost/die; a couple of days to sail around to it. 

So, flying was the way, and I like flying. I might have mentioned that.  A belated and well earned Christmas present to myself. You can see the route above.

I say there is nowt down there, but some enterprising aviators have lifted the couple of feet of peat and crushed up the rocks beneath to make a tiny, white as snow landing strip. At Melaleuca.

And boardwalks have been fitted. And some boats brought in and tied up to a small landing area in a river that leads to the Harbour that isn't a harbour.

This enables gentlefolk to go there and take lunch on the vast waters in some style.

As I did.

We flew, we few - there were just four of us including the Pilot - south at 1500 ft so as to see clearly all the small towns, villages bays and beauty spots along the coast, right to the southern-most tip, then climbed to go over the mountains and then along the southern coast. 
My 'umble cave is down there.... but I won't say where.

A Tarn in the mountains.

I have to say this: It was magnificent. Tasmania is a stunningly beautiful place, but rugged and unforgiving in its 'U.N. bloody Heritage' parts. Please do not shout it around.

The landing was smooth until we touched down on the rubble-rock.  Tough little machines those Islanders. We left the plane and while several others came in too, we walked the short distance to the small river nearby and took to the boat. The Pilot was the boatman too. And general 'Host' A fine fellow who is welcome in the Tavern. The river meandered its way with us going at a modestly slow speed (to preserve the river banks)  to Bathurst Harbour where the engines opened up and we scooted across placid waters.

The river was black. It is from all the tannin that seeps in from the peat.  Not that it looks black unless you look straight down into it. The light gets about three inches down before it gives up. And on a brilliant day as was today, it was highly reflective.

The main body of water had a very slight breeze over it adding to the wind from our own speed. But when we stopped for lunch, far out from the shore, it too was reflective.

It wan't alone. I was relective too. The silence (except for the engines, the splash of the water, the running commentary !) was something I am quite used to but here in the middle of a vast body of water and no-one else around.... well. It makes a chap attend. When we stopped and sat and listened, it was almost Holy.

I could go on. It was a splendid day and I will take a few days reviewing all the snaps I took, and pass them around the bar.
Thickets too dense to walk through, except for grazing wombats.
We started as three plus a pilot, but going back we picked up another six 'walkers'.  They were very smelly.  Some were furriners. Of course. We get a lot of them. Their enormous back-packs took a bit of pushing and shoving to get into the small cargo space.  I considered suggesting that they be hosed-down before letting them on board, but generosity and compassion got the better of me.

It is quite usual for 'walkers' to get exhausted and take a plane out of their self-induced misery.  They stagger into Melaleuca, their emergency Tofu rations all used up, a lone dried lentil at the bottom of their bags. Such bedraggeld souls with their expensive but 'green' kit can afford the air fare.
Oh for a road. 

The route back first went to the entrance of the 'inlet' at Port Davey, a wild bit of sea at the best of times, but this time the very best. 

Thence over jagged peaks and miles of forest, scrub, peat bog, hills, mountains, rocks, tarns and thin rivers winding their way to some oblivion somewhere.

Wild Tofu plants are hard to find on the upper slopes.

And back to civilisation. The familiar coast and fields, farms and towns.

To think, I almost did not make it. A promise put off can be put off again and again.  Yesterday was not a good day. My ancient bones were playing up and I could scarcely bend to pick up a fallen sword. A fallen colleague would have had to stay down while I shuffled off to get him a reviving Ale.  My old back and legs were letting me know that it had had enough of carrying the rest of me around. A 'rough' night saw me thinking of having to schedule the adventure for another day.

All hail Panadol ! 

I can recommend the people at Cambridge Airport. It is also not a port and is a bit of a wreck of a field but the people at Par Avion - a first-class little aviation outfit, befitting a 'frontier' place - could not have been kinder to a staggering old shyte, and by the time we were to return home I felt as right as rain..... (which stayed away). Gin clear skies continue as I report.
Perhaps it was something in the water ! 

One day the southern wilderness will be opened up so that many more people can see and experience its magnificence. Roads, or tracks, will be made. Huts or small guest places will spring up. People will be able to meander over hill, mountain, dale and swampy valley, in some comfort, spending a week and adding hugely to the economy. But for that the Greenies will have to be locked up.  We may have to wait for the Chinese to do it.

I could do with a drink and put my feet up.



  1. A wonderful Christmas gift you yourself and to your readers who can enjoy the virtual journey through your photographs. I am looking forward to seeing more photographs of your journey :-)

    Lovely to see you ;-)

    If the area was opened too much it would encourage tourism and then the place would not be as special as it is now. Man made features would spoil the landscape not to mention the hoards of visitors spoiling the peace and tranquility of the area.

    1. That is a problem with all places, unfortunately, but it can be controlled. A placid 'harbour' unseen by anyone or just a very few is a waste. There are 10,000 sq kms of wilderness down there, mainly rock, scrub, peat and more rock. And some forests. Very hilly and moutainous. A road say 500k winding through it, 50 mtrs wide clearance, would confine people just to it and lookouts. A small lodge near the harbour could service boaters and maybe seaplanes too. It could support a thriving tourist industry in the region much better than the very small one already existing.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..