Beach Stories

Our beaches are under recorded.  This page is dedicated to stories or information about Tasmanian beaches.  Please feel free to submit.

Maning Reef (Lord’s Beach to Red Chapel Beach)

The Beach at the Bottom of the Steps

Maning Reef photo by Maudie Bryan

The beach at the bottom of the steps in Maning Park Sandy Bay is an endless source of delight. I stroll along there and beach comb regularly. I usually go for the bright colours and take the plastic up to the bin.  This sign is the largest piece of debris I have found.

Beach Stories Maudie Bryan LARGE LITTER

Collecting litter is a small effort to save the Little Penguins which live in the burrows around the corner.

It is a level entry beach for swimming or snorkelling.  There is a gap in Maning Reef off the beach. A local pilot used to bring his float plane ashore and tie it to a post up at the top of the beach. He created an entry through the rocks. This would be a mystery to the casual observer. The sea floor is sandy and the rocks of the reef are covered with mussels, oysters, some small colourful sponges and sea lettuce. (I could find the correct name but I have recently donated my Southern Australian Ocean Kelp book to the Marine Discovery Centre in Woodbridge.)

There are always juvenile fish schooling about and often large trumpeter sized fin fish. Sometimes there are bream which are fine to eat as long as you restrict it to one a week. I usually collect the accidentally introduced sea star – golden with the purple tips.

This year, 2016, I haven’t seen the resident Stingray. It has been here over several years and always surprised me. I like to snorkel so that I can see what is about. It is about 1.5m across and moves slowly in about 500mm of water. One day I was just about back to shore and was swimming adjacent to the beach in 300mm of water and suddenly in my mask I saw its very thick tail and barb right under my face. Naturally my presence disturbed it and it and I fled in opposite directions. I did a quick left hand turn to shore and it found deeper water.

Recently (March 2016) some Little Black Cormorants have come to live on Cormorant Rock off our building. There are about 10 of them. They hang out with the Pied Cormorants.

Maudie Bryan, 2016

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Taroona Beach

A story by Elizabeth Carroll.

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Pierson’s Point Pilot Station: a Family History

Unfortunately I did not grow up at Pierson’s Point, I was barely a gleam in my father’s eye at that time, being the youngest of their tribe of six kids.  I am only 78 years old after all.  There were four children at the time they were at the pilot station – now all passed on, only my sister (88) and I, born after Mum and Dad moved to Salamanca Place, still survive.

I cannot say with certainty which of the three Marine Board houses my parents lived in but I think it was the middle one.  I believe that the pilot lived in the lowest house.

I do have a very good recollection of the stories I heard told many times to visitors , etc. of my parent’s time there.

In many ways It was an idyllic life for the time and would probably be enjoyed by some people today because of its isolation.  One concession to modernity was the installation of a private telephone from the Mount Nelson Signal Station.  This allowed the pilot to be alerted as soon as a ship was sighted rounding Cape Raoul.

The work requirement was that you were on duty “as and when required” (no penalty rates or overtime – they did not apply until just before my father retired in 1961).  Apart from manning the pilot launch, you were expected to maintain it and maintain the houses.  The rest of the time was your own.  The other terms of employment were “free quarters, light and fuel”.  There was no electricity so “light” consisted of a supply of kerosene for the lamps and “fuel” was all the firewood you could cut from the surrounding bush!  My parents were keen gardeners so they produced most of their own vegetables but some could also be obtained from an adjoining farmer whose name was, I believe, Ted Harding.

My mother visited her family in Hobart quite regularly so was able to buy meat while she was in town.  But how to get there?  By river steamer of course.  My father would hoist a signal flag on the station’s flagpole when he was expecting a steamer to pass.  The steamers would always acknowledge the flag and stop.  My mother and the children (including a baby in a pram) would be loaded into a dinghy which Dad would row out to the steamer.  Mum, children and pram were manhandled up the side of the river steamer for the trip to town. The return journey on the evening ferry usually around 5 o’clock was accomplished in the same way.

Fish were readily caught from the rocky foreshore for a change of diet.  My father and the other crewman collected scallops by making a scallop dredge which they dragged behind a dinghy.  These were then plentiful in the Derwent and Channel.  Over fishing with the infamous “Sputnik Dredge” in the late 50s and 60s almost destroyed the resource.

If the Pierson’s Point pilot launch, Wayatinah was in Hobart for repairs, or could not be started, it was necessary to resort to the use of a rowing boat.  This was a 15-16 foot clinker dinghy fitted with a short mast and leg-o’-mutton sail, if the wind was suitable, but mainly it was a matter of rowing.  Someone had put sandbag ballast in the dinghy.  The first thing my father did was to jettison the sandbags and replaced them with water drums.  If they had “bottled” he reckoned the sandbags would have taken the dinghy straight to the bottom.  Use of the rowing dinghy was not uncommon because the launch was difficult to (hand)  start due to its worn condition.  Dad was continually dismantling it to re-seat then valves to get enough compression. I remember he spoke of occasions when they had used the rowing boat and its sail to take the pilot to a ship.  A big southerly came in possibly, a “big end” sea breeze, and they could make no progress towards Pierson’s Point.  The only thing they could do was make a run for Kingston and hauled up on the beach. They walked home and went back to retrieve the boat the next day.

One of the most interesting ships to visit while my father was there was the Norwegian Whaling factory ship Nielson Alonso and 5 whale chasers.  She was state of the art in whaling then but it would have been chased out of the river today.

I have not heard of the lighthouse keepers rowing across [from the Iron Pot] but it could have occurred.  It was not manned by the time my parents were at the pilot station.

My parents didn’t have a camera in those days so unfortunately there is no pictorial record of their time spent there.

Bill Harvey, 2016

 Growing Up at Fort Direction

The ABC interviewed Rodney Milton about growing up at Fort Direction, from 1962 – 1970.  This military base is located across the two capes at the entrance to the Derwent River.

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