Losing Our Way
T 81 Sloop Reef Cove
Back at the cottage after kayaking Sloop Lagoon, I was flipping through Marianne Robertson’s book From Petal Point to Cockle Cove over a well deserved cup of tea, and discovered a beach that I hadn’t been aware of before. Tucked away behind the big boulders at the south end of Taylor’s Beach was apparently another small cove called Sloop Reef Cove, also known as South Taylor’s Beach.
It was time to go searching – and so we went immediately.
But we couldn’t find a path. Instead, we four, two of us canines on leads, scrambled up enormous boulders and searched around when we got to the top. Faint trails sometimes led to dead ends but we finally found a vague track that led on to a better formed path through the casuarinas and finally dropped us down to a secluded campsite where two men with a van were stoking a fire. Down on the tiny north facing beach four people were enjoying a picnic while the surf pounded in. It’s an intimate cove; we felt we were invading and so we sat only momentarily on the rocks discussing the undercut dune behind the beach. The cove sloped; the surf that day rolled in and and streamed out, deflecting around the corner. We saw the back of the waves as they raced onwards to east facing Taylors. There is a permanent rip here. Swimming in the cove or the southern part of Taylor’s beach looks pretty dodgy because of the criss cross waves you get here. It was a most unsettled sea.
To Sloop Point
We knew Sloop Point well, or so we thought, but yet again, finding a trail from Sloop Reef Cove that would lead us there took a bit of effort. We considered giving up – and considered this several times more during the course of this walk – but eventually the trail we found joined a well made contour path, which I later discovered was an old tramway track.
But why would you have a tram way here? What sort of tram? What was the purpose?
The walking was soft; layers of casuarina curls lay on the ground. We passed beautiful boulders near a point with a sign that read Sloop Rock Jetty and stopped here, contemplating the dreamtime stories that would once have been associated with these powerful formations.
The path came out at the parking place for Sloop Point. Four of us, plus the two canines, had come here on a warm April day and meandered down the path to the massive sheets of lichened granite that make up the point . It has a fantastic rockpool, deep and clear and private, suspended above the ocean and claimed that day by a travelling couple in their twenties. This is the sort of place that’s probably seen a lot of people rip free off their clothes to skinny dip and enjoy the sun au naturale. It’s a highly risky business as others coming after can be as surprised as those caught cavorting in this spectacular rock pool above the sea.
Offshore were the Sloop Rocks, the bay’s most fascinating feature and visible over a vast distance. I call the most spectacular the Sitting Buddha but it probably has many names. I have a friend who calls it the Witch’s Hat.
T 82 Seaton Cove
No amount of searching in the bracken revealed an onward path and so we took the dirt road down to Seaton Cove, another spot we’ve overlooked on our many visits to Bay of Fires. It was astonishing to come to a tiny, rather suburban looking enclave in the coastal forest after wandering through the bush, sometimes on paths and sometimes not. A camper van had settled in here (there is a little bit of camping space) but he was close by a short row of about five houses that looked like they’d lost their way to Launceston. Like Sloop Reef Cove, this is tiny and the boat drawn up on the sand, with only one motor, must rely heavily on good weather, particularly for its return trips, because there isn’t much room for error. It’s rocky here, both above and below the waterline and what beach there is has coarse granite sand and much kelp strewn about. I found some sea glass and a beautiful quartz pebble well polished by the sea.
But a well defined path led on past the bottom of the gardens, following the fence line, and back into the peaceful casuarina forest. Again the path grew uncertain. We’d lose the trail then find it again. Finally we found ourselves in a patch of sand surrounded by boulders and apparently isolated from the sea. Even here, so close to the sea, frogs serenaded near the small soaks in the rocks.
We had been walking along the top of these massive sloping granite platforms and boulders for some 500 m but they were getting to look familiar. Sure enough, we soon saw people on top of the huge boulders we know well – we’d made it to Cosy Corner.
We lingered here, feeling triumphant and wondering whether to head for the main road. It was getting on for 4 pm. This seemed an unadventurous option and so we turned around and walked back across boulders and through the bush to Seaton Cove. I was surprised on this visit to notice the beach was longer than I’d thought before, rocks dividing the cove into a north (hidden from the road in) and south side.
Again we debated resorting to the road we’d walked down before but there was a clear path we could see now, heading around the northern side of the cove at quite a height above the shoreline. We followed it, but it let us down and we got lost in bracken and fallen trees, just pleased it wasn’t snake weather. We could see the tree line along Sloop Point and so we clambered down on to the boulders then bushbashed up the other side when a gulch seemed impassable. Our trusty path finder took the lead. She invariably chose a route better than the ones we selected but she’s getting on and occasionally needed a helping hand over the trickier fallen logs.
This time our choice was clear – buoyed by our progress, we took the beautiful contour path we’d walked before. We reached a dirt road descending to Sloop Reef Cove but noticed the path continued across the road, above a few houses nestled in the southern corner of Taylors Beach. Orchids grew along here, pale purple and unassuming. It wasn’t long before we met the Gardens Road just above Taylors Beach and Sloop Lagoon.
This is the kind of walk I find the most exhilarating – a walk where the way is unknown and sometimes hides itself, demanding a degree of perseverance to continue, but offering up surprises – like another of those branch shelters that we’ve seen at Tinderbox, Dora Point and a few places elsewhere.