Frederick Henry Bay & Norfolk Bay Beaches: Pittwater Lagoon to Dunally: The Dodges Ferry Coastline – Tiger Bay, Red Ochre Beach, Blue Lagoon Beach and Spectacle Head

Previous post:  Lewisham to Dodges Ferry (Okines Beach)

In 1952 E.T. Emmett wrote, ‘From Sorell to Hobart you have the choice of keeping to the main road which strikes Bellerive at fourteen miles, or of doubling back to Lewisham, ferrying across to Seven Mile Beach, and walking through Rokeby, a distance of something over twenty miles.  I chose the latter.

Lewisham is another old-timer, for this was once the route to Port Arthur, and Pittwater was crossed at Dodge’s Ferry.  Since then three causeways have been built … Lewisham’s main fame today is based on the good fare at the hostelry and the fat flounders in the bay.  The iron bars at the windows of some of the outhouses explain what the buildings were used for a century ago.’

Tiger Bay Beach  (T395)

Emmett travelled south through a different time and landscape.  Our  walk took us north out of Lewisham and along  Tiger Bay Beach, which lies in the lee of Tiger Head between Okines and Red Ochre Beach.  Short (2006) refers to two Red Ochre Beaches, but the locals seem to call the last beach along Blue Lagoon Beach.

The tide we thought would be low was  high, the vast stretches of sand gone.  We picked our way along the water’s edge and around the eroding cliffs of friable sandstone at Tiger Head.  We found a seat, trees with spaces between their roots and the dune, and the visible signs of human concern – tiles and branches once again heaped there to hold back the ocean’s rising intentions.  This beach has boat sheds, there’s a boat ramp and jetties and several boats were moored off the beach.

Red Ochre Beaches 1 and 2 (aka Blue Lagoon Beach)

We encountered a sandstone outcrop here with lovely patterns and strange little indented circles.

SandstoneRedOchreBeach.JPG

Further along we found more boat sheds and this time a significant effort being made to hold back the sea because the path now ran along the top of  carefully placed boulders, yet still the sea was winkling out the fill and the sand.

Red Ochre Beach

We climbed up onto a thin concrete strip on the side of someone’s garden, clutching on to their fence in order to continue.  But returning on a  low tide occasion I found I could walk the sand beneath the boulders with ease.

The Ferry Man

This was a nautical walk, because on Blue Lagoon Beach we found ourselves amongst more boat sheds, moorings and jetties sheltered this time by the bulk of Spectacle Head.

Ralph Dodge called the land he bought at Dodges Ferry  in 1830 Ferry Farm.  It seems he swapped his house in Goulburn Street for these 300 acres and this bit of history still stands, because the house he built can be found at the end of Fourth Avenue, (Southern Beaches Historical Society, 2019), pretty much opposite Sandy Point .

He was a man with an eye for business, because he took the opportunity to establish a ferry service and standing there with the sea breeze filling in, it required no imagination at all to imagine him rowing his neighbours over to Sandy Point on the other side.  If only all rivers had their Ralph Dodges walking coastlines would be easier and a lot more fun.  Imagining Ralph Dodge I remembered an alpine river in Lesotho where the ferry man challenged his wooden boat with generous loads of locals and read the swirls and rapids with consummate skill while those precariously balanced stayed perfectly silent and perfectly still.  In another lifetime perhaps I’ll aspire to being a ferry woman and spend my days napping under a shady tree in a warmer climate, waiting for occasional travellers to come my way.

Spectacle Island

Spectacle Island, one of the Sloping Group of islands, and a mere 3.5 ha lies just offshore.    A small number of pied oystercatchers, 600 pairs of little penguins and 8000 pairs of short-tailed shearwater had burrows on the island when Nigel Brothers surveyed it (Brothers, 2001).  It belongs to the birds, so respect them by kindly staying away.

IMG_0704.jpg

A seagull observed us from the boat ramp as we discussed continuing along the rocks or taking the path we could see heading up Spectacle Head behind the boat sheds.  We observed the tide and chose the latter.

Spectacle Point

Walked Feb 2017

Sources:

Brothers, Nigel. 2001. Tasmania’s offshore islands. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart.

Emmett, E.T. 1952.  Tasmania by road and track. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

Short, Andrew (2006)

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