A BEACH WHERE THE ROCKS USED TO BE

Unveiled beaches and doppelgängers

Saluting the Governor

The sailing season officially opened last Saturday, the 10th October and Hobart’s recreational sailing fleet turned out in good numbers for the annual sail by  the Governor’s vessel Egeria, moored in Sullivan’s Cove.  Some boats adorned themselves in nautical finery.  We forgot to take off our fenders but by the time we realised this we were relaxing at the rendevouz off Nutgrove Beach and having imbibed a wine or two were feeling too mellow to care that we had not kept up appearances.

The geologist and I had invited three friends along, one an able seaman of the four legged variety, our sole adornment in his coat of yellow.  The sky was blue, the sun shone and there was a breeze strong enough to fill sails.  As this was the first time I was skippering on an opening day we stayed on the edge of the fleet, detouring under the bridge, confusing ourselves over the instructions until order was established in the fleet. We snuck in towards the rear, trying our best to keep ahead of the  Beneteau and MONA cat bearing down on us as we headed into the tight conditions in Sullivans Cove, more alarming last year on a larger boat.

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We dropped our anchor at the back of the fleet, by now mostly rafted up together off the beach, and I lined us up with a group of large boulders off Maning Reef, clearly much loved by cormorants. The tide was low and the coastline had a surprise for me. Lords Bay had spread itself out. It wasn’t a little beach at all but a long, thin sandy beach running along the back of Maning Reef all the way to Red Chapel Beach, validating my belief that in earlier days this coastline was one long stretch of sand, at least between Short and Long Beaches, if not beyond. As we drank wine and picnicked and the talk turned to rugby, I discussed its changed appearance with E who knew this stretch in all its variations better than me.

Later I quizzed a friend who lives above this beach for a bit more information, and then, when the tide was low yesterday afternoon I went walking, hoping to find bouquets of sea tulips waiting for me on the jetty pilings.

And here’s the thing. I didn’t find a single one, but I did find numerous other little squirts who looked remarkably like pyura Doppelgangera and squirted just to show me how it’s done.

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Oysters and sea squirts on a jetty piling.

Despite their name they hadn’t contrived to look anything like the elegant sea tulip I was beginning to believe I’d conjured up. They’re squat, rotund, pustular and a mucky colour, probably impeccably beautiful for blending into their surroundings but a challenge for the human eye to appreciate aesthetically.  A Tasmanian native, it’s well travelled, having hitchhiked on boats since ships first came here, making a pest of itself in New Zealand and the mainland.

I walked on, from stormwater drain to jetty piling to rocky outcrop musing about what it really was I’d seen on the hull. Had it really had a stalk? Had it even been red? Chances are it wasn’t a tulip at all but one of these doppelgängers given they are particularly captivated by artificial structures, according to the literature.

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A green tongued stormwater drain.

While thinking about how dramatically we have changed the ocean and the locations of its denizens,  I located Maning Rivulet (I think) which gave me a small thrill.  As I reached the little cove I’d seen from Samos when sailing with my friend the sky filled with tiny floating seeds like small white butterflies.  They made drifts on the sand and  laced  the rock pools, and the next day, around in New Town, the same phenomenon took place beside New Town Rivulet and I saw that they came from tall graceful trees whose name I still need to find out.

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Here are some more photos of the Maning Reef section of the walk that I took with my trusty iphone 5s.

They’re in no particular order.

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One of two stormwaters very close to each other that are probably both linked to Maning Rivulet
One of two stormwaters very close to each other that are probably both linked to Maning Rivulet

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Jetty and the Casino
Looking back at the jetty and Casino
Ducks drinking from a stormwater
The consequences of our filth
Reaching the cove at Red Chapel Beach
Reaching the cove at Red Chapel Beach

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