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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
Walked Feb 2017
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.
Sundra and I had decided to walk from Lewisham to Dunally and for these walks her best friend, Matisse, invariably came too. Despite his venerable age he always kept up with us and chose to stick with whoever might be lagging, although sometimes he’d set off alone to find a different way around an obstacle. And ever polite, he accepted us picking him up and passing him over hazards he couldn’t manage alone. He’d pick up his dignity and continue lightly finding his way.
Rest in peace, gentle Matisse.
Dodges Ferry and Lewisham: Sharing a Magnificent Landscape
Long ago I met a writer who lived at Dodges Ferry. It was considered an odd choice by my friends, all better acquainted with Hobart than I was at that time, but walking this area I realised the writer was prescient. Its proximity to vast Pitt Water Lagoon, quiet coves, a string of sheltered beaches, a magnificent headland, beautiful surf beaches and a photogenic river give it an enviable natural richness.
Lewisham consists of a thin string of houses that extend along the eastern shore of the inner entrance to Pitt Water Lagoon just north of Dodges Ferry and so it isn’t physically on Frederick Henry Bay although its watery landscape is intimately connected to the bay. It strikes me as an under rated place, perched as it is above the water with access to some lovely beaches via a rambling path.
Dodges Ferry and Lewisham probably don’t want their natural wealth proclaimed to the world less the financially obese rush in and take over. For the moment laid back Dodges in particular still has enough shacks and rutted roads to keep it feeling like an authentic holiday village.
It’s about a 35 minute drive from Hobart to Lewisham and Dodges Ferry and it’s rich with water views if you choose to take the Lewisham Scenic Drive turn off. It’s my firm belief that one should always take the scenic route and for this series of walks it was such a no brainer that without fail we did.
Walking the Lewisham Reef
There’s a boat ramp at Lewisham and moorings offshore, and the spit that is Five Mile Beach with its bright white dunes backed by pine forest forms the opposite shore. Water flows in and out of the lagoon to Tiger Head Bay and larger Frederick Henry Bay through a narrow channel at Sandy Point on the Five Mile side and Dodges on the northern, and responds to the lay of the land by swirling and rippling in interesting ways.
After considerable discussion we began our walk at the boat ramp and chose to go boulder hopping in preference to taking the path a sailing friend had told me hugged the shore. Sundra’s miniature poodle, Matisse, hopped from one lichened rock to the next with a grace and dexterity that belied his venerable twenty something years.
The lichens, in various hues, indicated the highest reach of the tide.
As well, there was dolerite weathering in interesting ways.
Eventually we climbed up to the path and discovered that one of the particularly enjoyable aspects of this walk is the number of boat houses tucked into the cliff, each quite idiosyncratic. Boats lie about on the shore, silently emanating the richness of their mysterious lives, and jetties are also stop-and-enjoy features along this varied track. Just like on the Derwent and the D’Entrecasteaux, casuarinas (she oaks) fringe the shore, providing light shade and there are three or four ‘covelets’ depending on how you want to define stretches and pockets of sand divided by man-made features or natural indentations. Where these exist, so do the boat houses, which in many cases look to be tiny weekend beach shacks.
Lewisham Beach & Okines Beach (T396)
The path led us to a beach that a passer by told us was called Lewisham Beach. Sundra was struggling to pronounce the word ‘Lewisham’ and so we agreed that we’d call it the Hamlet of Lewis, which made the place feel pleasantly foreign. I’d thought this particular beach was called Okines but one thing I have discovered about walking beaches is that both they and their names can be transient and confusing. Sorell Council refers to a Lewisham and an Okines Beach and they should know. Short (2006) doesn’t reference a Lewisham Beach. I expect they simply segue into each other and did so without us noticing.
As the tide receded the landscape transformed into vast stretches of sand interleaved with shallow fingers of water, leaving a deep channel over on the Five Mile Beach side of what a little earlier had been a single stretch of water. A few groups with fishing rods had strolled over there and tiny clicking noises emanated from the entrances of a million tiny tunnels as the more permanent inhabitants of this sweep of fabulousness, the soldier crabs, began popping up everywhere and marching off together across the watery stretches of sand like endless pink ribbons. It was hard to find any vacant land on which to place our Gulliver-like feet.
We looked at the ripple marks in the sand, practising our reading of tide and current. There were other clues to the life of the beach. Groins indicated local concern about beach loss and the wrack line showed that this was valid. It was right up against the base of the dunes and we wondered whether the marram grass and the houses themselves had affected beach replenishment. Sundra exchanged pleasantries with a landowner industriously chucking branches down to the base of the dune to join the others strewn there in an effort at holding back the weight and determination of water.
We met some walkers who told us they’d seen a large fish head with a protruding tongue and odd curls on its face and although they told us where to find it we never encountered it, just a hoard of jellyfish patiently waiting for wind and water to carry them back out to sea.
Sometimes the weather and a beach are so compelling that it pays to dawdle and lose yourself in the interesting lives of crustaceans, invertebrates, boulders and curly faced strangers from the watery depths. We idled and we lingered until at last we reached the rivulet. We had taken hours, but Dodges Ferry and Spectacle Head were still simply a distant view. and so we agreed we’d come back on the next good low tide.
There’s a natural spring and a wetland behind the beach, which would have once been handy for the Moomairemener who had been pushed out of their country by the time Ralph Dodge, born on Norfolk Island (and one of the group of settlers who came to Van Diemen’s Land in 1807/1808) was granted this land in 1864. He and his wife Charlotte called it Lagoon Farm and in time it passed to their youngest son, Robert, who with his wife Harriet raised nine children here, before selling the farm to the Crown for the new Soldier Resettlement Grants Scheme that was set up for the soldiers back from World War I.
Ernest Okines was the lucky recipient and as with many beaches the foreshore’s name became linked to the owner. Today the Dodges Ferry Primary School stands on this land – the old homestead was demolished in the 1990s.
When a new friend said she felt like an all day walk I translated that into somewhere easy, somewhere short and somewhere straightforward because I had no time to plan and I had a leg that had become the arena for lightning bolts of pain. I figured we were sure to find a track that met these criteria on the Tasman Peninsula somewhere.
The peninsula was green and resplendent after rain and we were lured down the road to Lime Bay. I’d camped there once, years ago, and expecting to see no one there we were amazed by all the tents, activity and music at the campground.
Sundra was immediately hungry and while she ate an early lunch I read the sign that described the route to Lagoon Beach, then returned to the car to photograph the relevant pages of my guidebook. Soon we were heading off along the hot track to Lagoon Beach through coastal scrub and beneath a shady canopy. We were talking enthusiastically and were inattentive to our surroundings. We paid little heed to the dry lagoon at the base of the palaeodune we clambered up, but I did recall it from last time. We did not look back to register our surroundings or to note the way we’d arrived on the beach, because coming over the top of the dunes we were enthralled by the view of the sea and the fingers of land all about us. We should have brought bathers.
Except for three couples sun baking and a yacht anchored in the lee of the southern headland the beach was empty and so, with no regard to the pages I’d photographed we walked south, thinking that a track might possibly take us over the southern headland. There, beneath the cliffs we found a wooden seat and a sand castle, and after eating a second lunch and admiring a couple of pied oystercatchers, our cursory search produced no evidence of a track, although I later discovered there is one. And so we meandered slowly back up the beach, enjoying walking barefoot in the water. And that, I felt, was enough of a walk for my grouchy leg. Sundra, energetic and adventurous, felt the day had barely got started.
The couples were gone. The marker she’d had the foresight to place in the sand where we’d entered the beach had been kidnapped by the rising tide. For well over an hour we wandered up and down the dunes, trying to trace footsteps – anybody’s footsteps – that would return us to the track. How weird to be lost on a beach, I thought, squinting at the pages I’d photographed to my phone. I was pretty sure the best plan was to head directly back to camp and that if we headed for the trees we’d surely find the path, but our memories didn’t coincide. Meandering about on the dunes we had by now utterly confused ourselves, creating patterns of circuitous footsteps that now overlaid anything that had been there before.
But at least there was wifi. ‘Lost,’ I texted back home.
The pages I’d photographed were no help, especially when read with an increasingly distracted mind. I did a Google search and found a helpful blog that talked about exiting the beach at the northern headland with a picture helpfully included. There was red tape up there. If you followed it, it would take you across the headland (Green Head, apparently) to another smaller beach. This blogger had then turned back. Noting the sun’s position in the western sky I was all for turning back too. I was still reasonably confident that if we returned to the forest behind the dry lake we’d easily reach the campground again. A nightmare I’d had of being lost on the peninsula began to haunt me.
We returned to the northern headland we’d previously rejected as a possibility and scrambled up the steep slope that definitely did not look like it led to a path and after a bit of searching we found some red tape dangling from a branch. We walked a little further and found just enough tape to keep taking us forwards. We went down to explore the beach referred to in the blog (Lagoon Beach North) and then went back up on the cliff again and followed the red tape until in the middle of nowhere no more tape was to be found. From here the bays and inlets and fingers of land still confused me. I had no idea what we were looking across the water at and thought that late in the day though it was, we were still better retreating than trusting to the traces of path that might be ahead. Little did I know that the cliff tops here are shallow overhangs and considered dangerous (Leaman, 1999).
Sundra impressed me with her relaxed ‘ever onwards’ attitude. When the red tape ceased again we ended up walking in different circles in search of the oh so faint trail that often looked animal made. It seemed that the trees our red bread crumbs had been attached to had relinquished their hold during storms of long ago or the tape had simply blown away in gales.
Keeping in visual contact with the shore while Sundra’s voice receded further away I tried to figure out our position on Memory Maps and Navionics and every other app I had available but nothing gave me the precise, localised information we needed – a clear track back to camp – a Lime Bay for Dummies kind of instruction. I cursed myself for leaving the relevant map at home.
‘Still no idea where we are,’ I texted home, to the concerned enquiries. No idea where Sundra was either.
The afternoon was softening into evening. I suspected we would be sleeping out. From somewhere far away Sundra called out. Tramping around energetically, she’d found a tiny remnant of red tape, enough to lead us forward a little further but in what to me looked like an inauspicious direction.
Each tag seemed to take longer to find but we held on to a blind faith that we would arrive somewhere sometime. On two or three more occasions we lost the little red tapes seemingly forever and it was with some trepidation that we cut away from the cliffs to enter a thicker section of forest. We walked downhill away from the coast and with a hefty sense of relief found at the bottom (incredibly, disbelievingly) the track we’d walked out along hours earlier.
There was the coastline we’d passed on our way to Lagoon Beach, one or two children still swimming in the water. We had never been that far away we now realised. I thought admiringly of sailors who navigate themselves across oceans. I clearly couldn’t navigate myself across a pyrex bowl. And I’m obviously imminently capable of getting lost in a backyard copse of trees.
Dadirri is an Aboriginal word for deep listening to others and to the landscape. It’s used in both the Ngan’gikurunggurr and Ngen’giwumirri, languages from the Daly River region a couple of hundred kilometres south of Darwin. Feeling lost in the bush, that still, quiet awareness was hard to come by that day. Sundra had long ago finished her water and we were sharing the little I had left. We had no GPS and the battery on my phone was getting low.
Instead, as we travelled home after what had ended up being a six hour walk, we laughed as we reviewed the day and agreed that there was scope to do more walks together, perhaps with a bit more preparation.
But then again, without a map you really feel like you are more properly exploring! (I am not recommending this though!)
If, one day, lost on Lagoon Beach, this is the blog you discover then be aware that the densely vegetated headland to the south is called Lobster Point and Sloping (Slopen) Main beach lies some distance away on the other side. The 1.6 km stretch of sand that is Lagoon Beach lies in the lee of Sloping Island and it’s wise not go tramping about on the 15m high foredunes and their blowouts, particularly for their sakes. Take careful note of Sloping Lagoon which links the beach to the rear end of western Lime Bay beach. There’s also a smaller lagoon at the northern end of the beach.
And perhaps, rather than following the disused and apparently closed track we were on – we did this walk in 2016 so this may have changed – take your bike and go cycling around Lagoon Beach using these comprehensive notes on cycling in this area from Tassie Trails.
If geology is your thing there’s a dyke on Lobster Point and apparently on Green Head we were walking over all sorts of interesting volcanic and sedimentary geology which that day we were blind to. Those dunes we came over – they’re interesting too. Grab a copy of Walk into History in Southern Tasmania by David Leaman and he’ll illuminate the geological wonders for you. And go on the low tide – that way you can walk around the base of Green Head staying safer and not getting lost.
Most of the sand on the world’s beaches consists of two minerals, feldspar and quartz. They are particularly stable and that makes them especially durable. Take a peek at sand through a microscope and you’ll see that the grains look like tiny pebbles bigger than silt, smaller than gravel, many hued, transparent quartz, weathered smooth, pulverised and polished over the millenia. They form the unique, mobile fingerprint of the beach, created by the swish and swash of waves, tides and seafloor shape, gradient and cover. They may wash more or less straight up on to the beach or away from it, or be carried there by longshore drift, arriving at an angle, a part of the shifting sediment carried along by the coast-shaping sea.
Seven Mile Beach (T397)
Seven Mile Beach, mostly southeast facing, is 15 km from Hobart and is pretty much the closest surf beach to the city. The waves aren’t usually much more than a metre here, but they’ve travelled across about 20 km of Frederick Henry Bay to break on this seven mile long beach backed by homes at the western end and a beach reserve further east. There’s a road behind the dunes and the reserve. It’s dirt up the eastern end, bitumen down west.
One of the most obvious features of this beach is the unhappy pine plantation that extends behind it and encroaches on the dunes but if you’re standing on the beach it’s the great sweep of sand and the views across Frederick Henry Bay that are the most compelling.
What’s not so obvious when you’re on the beach itself is that it is a massive ‘sand spit that traverses the axis of the eroded Coal River Valley rift’ (Leaman, 1999), where once back in time there were twenty active volcanoes. In this valley early settlers found skinny seams of coal, enough to inspire hope that quickly collapsed into disappointment.
We’ve come to this beach when the tide has been so high it’s been right up to the marram infested, undercut dunes and there’s been insufficent beach for a walk. We’ve come on extreme lows when the beach’s width and a sunny sky has made it particularly inviting and horses, dogs, swimmers and beach umbrellas have given it a festive air. You don’t want for space here. This beach allows everyone to disperse along its generous length. Some people seem to make use of the dunes to disperse with clothing altogether, but in Tasmania the sun has a sharp edge and can end up being a painful experience for delicate extremeties.
This is a go to beach for cycling at low tide when the sand is hard and you can fly along its length all the way out to Sandy Point where Pitt Water, a 3,500 ha barrier estuary spills into the bay and Seven Mile Beach and Five Mile Beach meet. This beach system they’re both a part of has actually built out 1 to 2 km seaward, according to Short (2006), ‘as a series of more than 50 low foredune ridges which have subsequently been transgressed by dune activity that increases to the east.’ It’s on this barrier land feature that the pines were planted and Hobart’s airport built, so a particular Seven Mile Beach experience is planes landing and taking off low overhead. Pitt Water-Orielton Lagoon is one of Tasmania’s ten Ramsar wetlands and provides refuge for threatened species, both avian and botanical.
From Sandy Point you can see Lewisham on Pitt Water’s eastern shore, a skinny community of houses that traces the shoreline of this estuarine lagoon with the community of Dodges Ferry at the mouth. Looking west to the far end of Seven Mile Beach where the walk around Single Hill ended is actually the best known part of the beach. The hill, the houses and Acton Creek give it an intimacy the rest of the beach lacks. The thin western finger of the small township broadens out eastwards and the houses start extending inland across that ancient but shallow barrier dune system.
Five Mile Beach
This is no beach for a bike. As a Ramsar site it’s the domain of shorebirds. I came here with the geo on a spring low tide that hadn’t receded as much as we’d have liked. There’s a track behind the beach that meanders through pine forest, then turns to follow the Pitt Water coast. True forests uplift and Tasmania has magnificent ones that provide this kind of experience, but plantations cast a desolate atmosphere both sad and disturbing.
We didn’t complete this walk. I hadn’t read this book yet, but the atmosphere was so unedifying that it stilled conversation and dampened our mood. At a certain point we stopped and reluctantly agreed that we found the damaged dunes and miserable trees (upended in places, and ravaged by the sirex wasp) too disheartening, particularly when we imagined what the dune system was like before human interference.
We found a way on to the beach via a pathway through the eroded dunes and because the tide had receded further out by then we could walk along the shallows enjoying the occasional presence of a few shorebirds. Crabs beginning to emerge from their burrows and apart from the sad sight of trees that had fallen with the collapsing dunes the view of Pitt Water was a whole lot better.
We couldn’t have chosen a worst day for our walk. It was snowing on the mountain, raining in town and the best the temperature could manage was a measely 7 degrees centigrade.
Cathy reminded me that we had stoic Scottish blood coursing our veins; I kept secret my preference for a sauna. Our hardiness extended only so far and we agreed to leave one car at Seven Mile Beach. That done we sought out a Lauderdale cafe to psych ourselves up for the miserable walk ahead.
Our cafe on the western side of the suburb had a view across Ralphs Bay on the Derwent River to the city and the mountain and from the table we’d chosen beside the wood heater we looked out at water chaotic with white caps. Kunanyi, normally dominating the western horizon, had vanished, the wind was loud and I was pretty damned glad I wasn’t sailing.
‘We had hardy ancestors,’ said Cathy firmly.
‘There might not be much beach to walk on,’ I suggested in a faint voice. It looked to me like the conditions had whipped up a higher than usual tide.
Lauderdale is a largely low lying suburb that takes in the isthmus where the South Arm Peninsula begins and straddles Frederick Henry Bay in the east and the Derwent River in the west. Back in the early 1900s there had been enthusiasm for a canal that would reduce the distance to Hobart for the shipping of farm produce, much like the Dunally canal further north saves yachts the trip around the Tasman Peninsula today. But work was hampered by the First World War and when they got down to business in 1924 storms made it apparent breakwaters would be needed on Roches Beach to prevent silting. Too expensive, the decision makers concluded and the project was abandoned, leaving a 1 km canal that doesn’t quite reach the beach and is hardly visible at the Ralphs Bay end (Alexander). Later I discovered that the layer of sand in this area is skimpy. It covers over two hundred metres of clay, sandy clay and boulder beds that filled in the ‘eroded, ancient rift valley landscape as sea level rose.’ (Leaman, 1999).
The two most significant bumps in its landscape are Richardson’s Hill with May’s Point below it at the southern end of Roches Beach and Single Hill to its north. Our walk was to begin below the first and take us around the second – but the weather was so truly terrible that we prevaricated by driving slowly up Richardsons Hill and then slowly back down to Roches Beach, slowly parking the car close to May’s Point and slowly donning extra thermals and wet weather gear before braving the lashing rain.
We began walking down the beach in a most unhardy manner. The tide was indeed high, the work of the stormy south westerly, but at least the wind was at our backs. Slowly our Scottish blood began exerting itself and snug in all our layers we got our stride up and congratulated ourselves for defying the weather.
Lauderdale takes its name from Ann and Robert Mather’s Ralphs Bay farm, Lauderdale Park. They were early settlers and their inspiration was Lauder, Robert’s birthplace near Berwick-upon-Tweed in Scotland. When it comes to hardiness Ann totally put us to shame, ‘raising her children and managing an unwilling convict workforce’ on this isolated farm (Clarence City Council). By the 1950s settler hardiness had given way to hedonism and holiday shacks began filling in the landscape. These days it’s suburban homes fronting up to the dunes along this 3.5 km section of the beach, their gardens spilling out into the public reserve.
The narrow beach sloped steeply that day and the waves were slapping at the dunes in some places, undercutting them and threatening to saturate our ankles, so we decided to see if we could find a track behind the beach and for a while picked our way through undergrowth and escapee plants. This high sea also had us discussing Lauderdale’s vulnerability to storm surges and sea level rise, much like its southern neighbour, Cremorne. The isthmus isn’t much above sea level and the small dunes along Roches are already compromised by human impacts. We also spent considerable time discussing whether we were walking one beach or several and what, if anything they were called. Later I referred to the guru, Andrew Short, who in his inventory referred to Roches Beach as a 5 km stretch of increasingly wider beaches lying between Mays Point and Single Hill, although actually 3 and 4 narrow again, we found. For the record, he called them Roches Beach and then Roches Beach North 1, 2, 3 and 4 but the locals probably have different names for them.
We passed Bambra Point and its reef as the weather began clearing and reached the part of the beach that Cathy most loves because it holds memories of regular visits with her children when they were little. She pointed out the shelter provided by the trees and Epping Park Reserve behind the dunes and took me up there to take a peek at Lauderdale Yacht Club, the base for catamaran sailing in Hobart. Later, reading David Leaman’s Walk into History (1999) I learned that there are some brilliant examples of Permian rocks in this area. Also, right at this point on a low tide you can see the irregular roof of the main Jurassic dolerite intrusion. (If you want to know why the dolerite in this area is great for giving you an idea of the gigantic intrusions dominating central and eastern Tasmania pick up a copy of this book and take a stroll here – it’s definitely worth it.)
Single Hill and North Roches Beach (T 398)
We passed the sailing club and the boat ramp and took the path leading up Single Hill, that singular landmark as you fly into Hobart. Initially we walked below big houses I hadn’t known existed and at the base of the hill Roaches Beach (N3) aka Short’s T399, a narrow 50m ribbon of sand and rock, that is a continuation of Roches Beach N2 aka T400 was being bashed by waves.
We were walking amongst eucalypts and she-oaks following what is really pretty much a contour path with a lovely sandstone bridge.
Cathy pointed out the most northern beach below us (T398). There were steep steps leading down to it but we continued on around the hill, stopping every now and then to take in the sweeping views of Frederick Henry Bay and the Tasman Peninsula. But if you’re keen on geology this little beach is definitely worth a visit because according to Leaman the Permian rich siltstone here is rich in fossils. Far away over the bay we saw enormous waves breaking on a point we struggled to identify. Eventually the path turned towards Seven Mile Beach and we gradually descended on to the sand.
T 397 Seven Mile Beach (southern corner)
There are shacks clustered in the corner beneath the hill south of where picturesque Acton River enters the beach. A small flock of ducks were enjoying it as we crossed the wooden bridge.
The walk had taken roughly 3 hours but I was enthralled by it and so the next Saturday I was back with my friend Rosemary White, who had sore knees and wanted an easy walk. This time, with an impeccable blue sky and far kinder weather we walked it the other way around, from Seven Mile to Launderdale.
Again, the beautiful creek at Seven Mile, and again the expectant flock of ducks. Walking this way there were points where it seemed we were trailing the edge of a great bay with a relatively small opening. Identifying landmarks was difficult but our geographic guesses were confirmed by a local we encountered, walking alone with his radio tuned in to the racing.
Reaching Roches we turned and walked Roches N3, pausing to examine the small butterfly shaped shells that had washed up everywhere on the sand.
Kayaking Single Hill
Still not done with this area I brought others to walk it and keen to explore Roches N4 I paddled around Single Hill from Seven Mile Beach to Lauderdale. It’s a short paddle but (small confession) when the wind came up my enthusiasm for paddling to May’s evaporated and I pulled in early.
There are homes on the low dunes backing Cremorne beach and behind them the small community stretches across the flat land in the elbow between the beach and Pipeclay Lagoon. These reaches of Moomairemener land were first reshaped into farmland by the McCauley family who arrived in 1804 and ran cattle and sheep. They also grew potatoes, barley and beans. These days it’s a small community of permanent residents and holidaymakers; a place unspoilt by the inappropriate development that marrs so many other beachside villages although there is currently a developer who would really like to try. I for one hope this community holds out against greed.
Cremorne benefits from Pipeclay Lagoon, an enclosed, tidal body of water that separates it from Clifton to the south. I discovered, when I kayaked it, that it is shallow and that I’d chosen the perfect way to enjoy its serenity. There are oyster farms here and along its margins there are 45 ha of saltmarsh wetlands, protected to some extent by coastal reserve and the attentions of the Wildcare Deslacs Group, but also threatened by changes in tidal flows, habitat disturbance, unmanaged tracks and roads, ditches and litter.
One of the first farms on the banks of the lagoon was Waterloo Farm, owned by Captain Busby and his wife Mary. When John Morrisby bought it from Mary he developed orchards of apples, pears, apricots and cherries and grew peas and root crops between the rows, enriching the alluvial soils with seaweed. There’s a rare eucalypt (Eucalyptus Morrisbyi) that grows in this area and it takes its name from this farming family, who eventually sold, the subdivided land along the waterfront and lagoon giving way to weekenders.
Today, on the Cremorne side of the lagoon there is a narrow road squeezed between backyard fences and the shore. It runs down to a tapering of beach beside the lagoon’s channel to the sea. Four dolphins came through this channel earlier this year and stranded but for walkers it’s a good place to begin exploring the short, narrow beach.
Cremorne Beach (T405)
The beach has a domesticated feel because of the houses on the low dunes, but this is deceptive. When there are storm surges such as there were in 2010 and 2011, the waves have been known to undercut sections of the dunes and there have been a number of dramas at sea off this coastline.
Cathy and I came to Cremorne hoping to find a track we thought might exist at the northern end of the beach. It was a cold day, the tide was out and rain threatened but quite quickly we had walked the kilometer or so along the sand. Ahead of us was the steepish, yellowish slope of Calverts Hill, much of which was owned in the early days of the colony by Elias Grimsey, whose neighbour for a while was the Rev Knopwood’s adopted daughter, Elizabeth.
Calverts Hill and Cremorne North (Beach T404)
We quickly found the track and walked quite easily across hillsides of tall yellow grass, coming across a small cove about ten minutes into the walk. Beach T 404 is a short 50m pocket beach that looked to be mainly cobbles trapped by the cliffs that are some 30m high. It’s also only accessible from the sea and apparently at times sand fills it to form a low tide made terrace.
For a while we followed a fence line and then we descended down to the rocks and most of our walk ended up taking place just above the waterline as the path curved around one undulating hillside after another. We idled along, discussing the rock formations we encountered. The sea was quiet and rain was visible in the distance. There were good views over Sloping Island to the Tasman Peninsula.
We passed five pied oyster catchers standing quietly on the rocks. We passed a couple of pacific gulls and then a shag standing very still on a pole, imbuing the mood of the day. It was hard to gauge how far we still had to walk.
Mays Beach (T403)
I was keen to reach Mays Beach because I had only ever seen it from the top of Richardson’s (aka Nobs) Hill and from there it seemed unattainable down at the bottom of the steep slope, separated from the road by private land, but as we rounded Calverts Hill on our walk the land flattened out and there before us was the beach, occupied just then by a flock of about twenty plovers.
We were fascinated to discover a small number of houses in the bush behind us, but they’re so tucked away that we couldn’t easily discern any driveways or even a road and as we crossed the beach we puzzled over their means of access – down Richardson’s Hill or from somewhere to the south?
This walk had taken about 2.5 hours and we were yearning for lunch and racing the approaching rain. Still, while Cathy explored the hillside looking for the path, I walked along the kilometre long curve of beach, crossing a spine of rock that divided it into two sections to its conclusion at Mays Point, where there is a right hand break.
The hill is 79 m high but the good news is that the track is well made and links the beach to the top of the hill where the private road begins behind a gate. We literally ran up it to reach the car we’d had the foresight to park at the top. We had finished just in time – the temperature was dropping and the rain slammed down on us just as we got there.
One of us was digging about frantically in pockets but to no avail. The car and its keys were separated by the distance of our walk. All thoughts of lunch in a cosy café faded. Wildly we surveyed the landscape beneath us for a shortcut back to Cremorne but faced with what looked like a lot of private land we didn’t like our chances and so we set off back down the hill at a trot, laughing over our misadventure.
A Different Sense of Direction: the intimacy of Sea and Soil
It seems so long ago now, but during summer, shortly after friends told me they’d seen thousands of shearwaters from their yacht as they were crossing Frederick Henry Bay, we came to Cape Deslacs one evening to watch the shearwaters return to their burrows.
It seemed to me that this, really is the best way to experience the cape – as a refuge for these well travelled birds and so rather than wander its tracks or follow its roads, we sought out the viewing platform.
I’d once seen large flocks of Short-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris) rafting in Port Davey and I’d seen the very first of them return one year from their long migration down the latitudes to Fisher Island, a tiny granite island in the Great Dog Island Group between Flinders and Cape Barren Islands. Those Fisher Island birds have been the subject of a longitudinal monitoring program extending back to the 1950s and because they return literally to the day, we were there when the leaders arrived. A scratching in the soil the next morning gave their presence away.
Although I’d read that they could be seen rafting off Taroona I’d rarely seen any on the Derwent River but when returning from Recherche Bay on Samos we saw for the first time in the D’Entrecasteaux a flock of perhaps two hundred winging their way down the Channel. I’ve been unlucky because these long winged birds are Australia’s most numerous seabirds and while there are no longer flocks of many millions, as the explorer, Matthew Flinders in 1798 asserted he’d seen, the flocks are large enough still to create awe when you see them.
The track to the platform led through native bushland. The day was already darkening and gradually the stars came out. In total there were four of us stargazing on the platform, our sense of self miniaturised by the Milky Way and the looming sky. All around Tasmania and especially around the Bass Strait islands great flocks of shearwaters were on their way home to their burrows but when the first dark shadows flitted overhead we thought at first that they might have been bats.
Aborigines believed they wintered behind the moon. That’s apparently how they got the name ‘moon bird’. They make a good meal and taste like sheep and so they’re more commonly called ‘mutton birds’. They might migrate almost the length of the globe on those metre long wings and swim proficiently with those webbed feet, and for a bird have a keen sense of smell, but they are so inelegant at landing that you swear they must sustain bruises. They are renowned for their excellent time management and for their magnificent sense of direction. They set off at the end of each Northern summer from the waters off Japan, Siberia and Alaska, barely, if ever making landfall, honing in on their tiny burrow at the far ends of the earth.
They partner for life (mostly), lay their single egg at the end of the November and watch it crack open in January. Then they take turns minding their one and only, feeding it up until it’s double their size. Come April they fly north without it and abandoned, wandering about and testing their wings, the chicks don’t eat. They tone down, feather up and intuitively follow their parents north a few weeks later in May.
Shearwaters are predators at sea and on land they are prey. The snakes that inhabit some Bass Strait islands rely almost wholly on the chicks for sustenance. It’s a physically close and terrible relationship. They are also commercially harvested for feathers, oil and meat and the traditional mutton bird harvesting practised by Aboriginal Australians continues. Modern life has thrown in further difficulties. Think gill nets and plastic, habitat loss and feral predators like cats.
That night on the cape the sky was soon awash with birds cascading down through the air. It was awesome. It was impossible to count them. There was a profound sense of a community returning, of lives lived with purpose and capability, of birds bringing their oceanic experience back with them and deep down into their burrows within the earthy skin of the cape.
The moon had given us a low tide and with a slender window between cold fronts Cathy and I whipped on our walking gear to continue our saunter along the coastline.
We paused on Goats Bluff to look across the long expanse of Hope Beach before making our way down the narrow path through native bush to the beach. The last time I’d come here it had been 25 degrees and people, heavily tattooed, were lounging under umbrellas beside the sedimentary cliffs. Today was crisp but sunny. Ever since the geo and I had driven off the ferry after a couple of weeks spent in shorts and t shirts on the mainland, Tassie had been lashed by a bout of wild, wintery weather, so this was a brilliant reprieve.
Calverts had been our ‘go to beach’ when we first came to Tasmania. Every time I walk it I remember a tiny kelpie x border collie puppy from the Stirling Ranges in Western Australia. Along with two of his siblings he’d been bundled into a box and on to a plane in Perth. Several hours later I plucked him out of that box at Kununurra Airport in the Kimberly region of WA and for the next two years he enjoyed field camp living with us. The creek, the waterholes, the fishing expeditions and the parties in the annex, the walks down to the chopper to meet the guys returning from another blisteringly hot day doing mag anomalies. Two years in a caravan in boab country, living small. Two years in a tiny field camp in all that wild, vast inaccessible space. We were lucky though, because sometimes, in the chopper, we got to explore caves rich with rock art and canyons with verdant microenvironments that felt way off the map, far from roads or even a track, that you wouldn’t know were there unless you could spot them from the air.
This puppy, born of working stock, climbed trees (sort of). His acrobatics intrigued children. His speed was astonishing and Calverts was a beach he raced along, trying unsuccessfully to round up seagulls. He drove around Australia, squeezed on top of a mattress that was wedged on top of a motorbike, that weighed down the already sagging boot of our Holden station wagon.
Cathy and I walking along discussing economic conundrums, saw a spout of water off Betsey Island, just as two birds lifted into the air close by. Further down the beach a lone man stood on the sand dunes assessing the swell on this rip-prone beach. Behind him, the dunes sloped down to Calverts Lagoon, a change in the vegetation and a quieter sort of environment.
We reached the opposite headland. This is where the geo and I have always turned back, but had occasionally noticed people making their way down it and had puzzled over where they were coming from. Cathy was the person who let me in on that secret, but before we set off up that path we explored the rock platform that slants upwards around its base because another beachwalking friend had told me that if you climbed to the end of it and peered around the corner you could see a little cobbled beach. But what we saw when we reached the end was the narrow shape of a gulch that at low tide probably did leave cobbles and rocks exposed. While I stood there musing, Cathy bounded up the daunting cliff face and when I looked up I could see her standing on the headland enjoying the view.
I followed slowly up that steep side. There was only marram grass to grab hold and it looked rather puny. Besides, it’s hostile and I wasn’t wearing gloves. I surveyed the big drop beneath me and the hard faced rocks. Those I was clambering up were damp and my shoes lacked grip. One up to Cathy, I decided, and slithered slowly down to a more welcoming ledge before seeking out the little path further back along the headland.
From the top we could see Calverts Lagoon, fingers of land and stretches of sea. The best was yet to come, because on the other side of the bluff lies a hidden beach, outstandingly beautiful. I’d been here once before, pretty much as soon as Cathy had told me about it. It had been a hot day and our party had disturbed a lover’s tryst. ‘Beware the snake,’ the man had yelled at us, jumping up to shoo us away. We had clearly destroyed their moment because it wasn’t too long before they were trailing us back along Calverts.
Smugglers Cove (Beach T 410)
We descended through soft sand, stepping over dead birds and a dead sheep to reach Smugglers Cove. It’s seriously lovely and is cupped by the steep headlands of Cape Contrariety. It’s also seriously private and intimate even though it’s spacious enough to accommodate several parties of beach goers. Two eagles wheeled above us and a pied oyster catcher stood on the rocks regarding us.
After a while we followed a fence line up the bluff on the other side, keen to reach the other end of the Cape. I’d tried hunting down the owner of the private land without any luck, so we didn’t like our chances. There were mutton bird burrows. There were sheep, happily alive. We followed their tracks until we reached a fence that crossed our path.
This was as far as we figured we could go. From there we could see the spot we’d reached on an earlier expedition, when we’d attempted to cross the Cape from the Clifton side (see next blog post), so that long slope separating us from that point near the top was frustrating. We knew there was a nature reserve along the tip of the cape and that another beach (T409) was down there too.
On the Beachsafe site its described as ‘a 150 m long high tide cobble beach located along the western end of the cove, with a sand and rock low tide terrace. Waves averaging about 1 m break across the 50 m wide bar and surge up the cobbles, with the steep slopes right behind. The 4 ha tip of the cape is a private wildlife sanctuary.’
We’d been defeated but the walk back was uplifting. A yacht was crossing Norfolk Bay, a north easterly filling its sails. That whale breached and blew again. We saw Little Betsey Island tucked away behind Betsey Island, Black Jack Reef and the great sweep of Hope Beach beyond Goats Bluff. We saw the Iron Pot at the entrance to the Derwent and snow on kunanyi and the Snowy Range. And as we clambered back down the path to Calverts there were seven surfers in the swell beneath us, where originally there had been only one. You’ve got to have ichor coursing through your veins to take on Tasmania’s winter ocean. I lack even a single drop and just the sight of them had me zipping up my down jacket.
This walk: 1 September 2017. If you’ve walked this cape or know the contact details of the farmer, please let me know so we can try again.
… what is beauty? This is one of the most fundamental questions, it is not superficial, so don’t brush it aside. To understand what beauty is, to have that sense of goodness which comes when the mind and heart are in communion with something lovely without any hindrance so that one feels completely at ease – surely, this has great significance in life; and until we know this response to beauty our lives will be very shallow. One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead.
~ J. Krishnamurti
On Being a Goat
It may seem strange that I’ve included Krishnamurti’s quote at this point in my blog, because the bluff is unassuming, easy to hurtle by without noticing, and yet it has a certain sense of poise gifted by its location in the landscape between two capes so that, had Krishnamurti, a great nature writer, found his way here, I’m sure he would have taken his seat and looked out at ‘all the marvellous earth’, the hills and the valleys interleaving themselves, and perhaps, while contemplating this magnificent coastline he might also have reflected on human nature – how we are so often goats, with at times, a certain poise, when we make the effort.
Those who appreciate beauty come here at night to star gaze and to wonder at the auroras. In daylight hours, as the sky’s moods play out over the landscape, colours shift transferring the mood of the sky. At this junction of ocean, land and lagoons the biota is rich, the birds are various, the native coastal vegetation still reasonably intact. Surfers carve the breakers; below the cliff to the east is a break called Rebounds. Goats and Wedge are breaks to the west. And from these 30 m high sandstone cliffs you can walk west along Hope Beach (aka Roaring Beach) to Cape Direction or you can go east down Goat Bluff’s flank to Calverts Beach for the walk to Cape Contrairety, or angle slightly inland to circumambulate Calverts Lagoon, binoculars around your neck, field guides in your rucksack.
The bluff also provides access to the north. Just cross the road and go west along the isthmus – but think seriously about this – the birds love this thin strip of beach beside the bitumen so it’s unkind to intrude. Perhaps rather choose the meandering track (far more rewarding) along its eastern shore.
Or simply play it like Krishnamurti and make your mind like the sky by lingering on the bluff with its sense of poise drawn mostly from the fact that it is the divide between the Arm End beaches and the sweep of coastline to the east.
In other words, don’t think for one moment that Goat (also known as Goats) is an isolated bluff simply there as a carpark, or a dislocated remnant scrap of reserved native vegetation. The road behind assumes more importance than is warranted. Instead, imagine that you are Nuenonne, that slash of bitumen not there yet and see instead Colin Springs Hill descending gracefully down to the bluff’s sandstone rampart, uninterrupted. Before you there’s a valley, drowned by the ocean that extends down from that rampart and out to Betsey Island, with a dune trapped lake to your right behind Hope Beach, the drowned valley that is Ralphs Bay behind you to the north, a pooling of water in Calverts Lagoon and Pipe Clay Lagoon at Cremorne behind you to your left.
Goats Bluff. A small band of Nuenonne. Shearwaters wheeling on the night sky, and then the aurora.
Short describes it as ‘a 60 m long pocket of rocks and sand set in a gap in the centre of the bluffs and immediately below the lookout. The beach consists of high tide cobbles and boulders against the base of the cliffs, then a sandy 100 m wide bar with rock outcrops that fill the gap. Waves are lowered to 1 m at the bluff owing to sheltering by the island and rocks and break across the bar with a weak rip usually flowing out against the western rocks.’
He says there is no safe access to this beach. To try would be dangerous. So please don’t.
I was surprised to discover another secret on the On the Convict Trail blog: ‘Nearby [to Piersons Point] Goat Bluff was also the location of further underground tunnel systems [associated with the Derwent’s system of battery defence]. But Goat Bluff isn’t near Piersons Point, which is on the western side of the Derwent’s mouth (although distance is relative, I guess) and so I was sceptical until I saw this fact repeated on the South Arm History site. The Fort Direction page by Maurice Potter states ‘at Goat Bluff there are still the remains of underground trenches that were built at that time’ [WWII] and I also discovered on this page that ‘as many will remember, most of the beaches and the hillsides of South Arm were covered with barbwire entanglement and this remained so for some years after the end of war.’ (Potter, n.d.)
Sitting on the bluff contemplating the landscape you might naturally suppose that Betsey Island is made off the same stuff as the bluff, but you would be wrong. Black Jack Reef and Goat Bluff are sandstone / siltstone but Betsey declares its difference by being Jurassic dolerite (Leaman, 1999). It shares another secret with Hope.
Hope has even more compelling secrets
And as Goat Bluff overlooks Hope here they are.
The first is the precise whereabouts of the wrecked ship, the Hope, that gives the beach its name (Leaman, 1999).
The next secret really belongs to the general vicinity near Hope because between Betsey and the Derwent Light mysterious compass deviations first noted by Mathew Flinders are now assumed to be caused by volcanic necks on the sea floor – and according to Leaman (1999) may possibly have caused the Hope to wreck in the first place.
But here’s the best secret. Eons ago the complicated Derwent entered Storm Bay through the South Arm isthmus, which now blocks it. The best part of this secret is that it seems to have done so through ‘a gorge [now] filled with more than 200 metres of clay, sandy clay, sand and gravel [that] lies hidden from our view…’ (Leaman, 1999).
A mountain. A river. A bluff. They may seem so enduring, but I think all nouns are simply verbs in disguise and everything a process.
Leaman, David. 1999. Walk into history in Southern Tasmania. Lehman Geophysics, Hobart
Short, A.D. 2006. Beaches of the Tasmanian coast and islands. Sydney University Press, Sydney.
Hope Beach spreads itself from Cape Direction in the west to Goats Bluff in the east, a distance of about 5 km. It is backed by dunes that are quite large by Tasmanian standards. The beach forms the southern shoreline of the South Arm isthmus. Ralphs Bay is contained behind the dunes and this large embayment of the Derwent River provides a sheltered habitat for shorebirds.
Betsey Island lies offshore and between the island and the beach lies Black Jack Reef, notorious for snaffling the boats of the unwary.
Although we had come to Hope (driving through farmland then walking in along the dune top path) we weren’t sure we were done with Cape Direction. I stood beneath the cyprus pines that grow on the dunes in this western corner of the beach and contemplated its shaggy slope. Cathy energetically sought a path and although it was possible a way existed, the dense scrub made it uninviting. So we decided to tackle the rocks instead.
The reef at the base of the cape was an equally unlikely route around to Pot Bay but we gave it a go, timing breakers. It defeated us within metres but presented us with a great view westwards towards the Iron Pot Reef.
As we set off along the sand a lone surfer stood on the dunes assessing the surf. A pied and sooty oystercatcher were chilling together, and later we spotted six more of the pied variety, along with a dozen hooded plovers – a great sight, given they are endangered.
It was only when we’d reached the eastern end (where the beach unexpectedly curves and broadens) and had climbed up Goats Bluff that we saw that those sand dunes, a bulwark against the ocean, were being sand mined.
We could make out Black Jack Reef where one of the Incat ferries, Condor 11, ground to a halt on a trial run in 2011. But it is only the most recent shipwreck in this area. The best known one gave the beach its name.
The Loss of the Hope
The Hobart Colonial Times May 1827
We have the painful duty to report the loss of the barque Hope, which vessel was wrecked on Sunday morning last, on the long Sandy Beach, between Betsy and Iron-pot Islands. It appears she was on her way from Sydney hither, with about 100 tons of freight, and the following passengers: Ensign Barcley, 40th Regiment; Mrs. Bisbee and Mr. Bisbee (wife and brother of Mr. Bisbee of Hobart Town who came as passengers in the ship Elizabeth from England to Sydney); also Mrs. Westbrook mother of Dr. Westbrook. Of this place, another passenger per the Elizabeth, and three others, among whom is Mr. Edmund Johnson, nephew of Mr. Joseph Johnson of the Green Ponds.
The Hope made the Heads on Saturday afternoon; and took on board, off Cape Raoul, the pilot, Mr. Mansfield, the same evening, shortly before dusk. The Hope at this time was being towed in by two of the ship’s boats; but the pilot having taken charge of the vessel, told Captain Cunningham, that he could safely bring her up the river, without the assistance of the boats; from which, in consequence, she parted.
The Captain, however, wished the vessel might be towed in; but the Pilot observed, that his long experience in the river Derwent would enable him to bring her up in safety otherwise. The Captain was perfectly aware of sufficient room being afforded in the Derwent for any vessel to be brought up with almost any wind, and therefore acquiesced with the Pilot’s wishes; and, leaving the charge of the vessel in his hands, retired to rest, where he remained until awakened by the vessel running on shore.
The wind light and variable, and the vessel proceeded up the river but slowly. The night was rather dark and rainy; and about 4 o’clock on the morning of Sunday; about two hours before day break, she, by some means, we can scarcely conceive how, ran ashore, on the long sandy beach, in Shoal Bay, as above stated.
Although the night was rather dark, the wind was not violent, but the surf was running tremendously high. On the lead line being thrown, she was discovered to be in seven feet of water, while her proper draught was fifteen. The moment she struck, the consternation and terror became general; and the scene is described as truly terrific.
The Captain raving at the pilot like a man distracted, the latter standing in mute dismay— females just left their beds— sailors not knowing which way to turn, to relieve the creaking vessel, which was expected to go to pieces every moment, as she already leaked like a sieve— the heavy surf rolling over her, adding horror to the scene— while the dismal half hour guns of distress seemed to signal the death knell of all on board. Daylight at length appeared and discovered to the sufferers their truly perilous situation.
About 10 o’clock of the Sunday morning, two whale-boats, of Mr. Lucus’s fishing party, which had been laying off Bruny Island, came up to the wreck. They had heard the proceeding evening the signal-gun nfor the Pilot, which drew their attention and induced them to bend their steps thitherward.
They immediately lent their aid, with the ship’s jolly boat, in getting out the ship’s bower and kedge anchors; but the attempt proved fruitless, for one of the whaleboats (the property of Mr. Kelly), was stove, having her head absolutely dashed off, and the crew narrowly escaped with their lives. Captain Cunningham then jumped into the jolly boat alone, which parted from the other boat, and nearly fell a sacrifice to his eager promptitude, to save the vessel. Finding every other hope lost, to all the lives they could became their chief object.
The venerable Mrs. Westbrook and Mrs. Bisbee were safely conveyed on shore, after a state of most dreadful suspense for four hours. All this time, the rolling of the vessel almost precluded anyone from keeping their feet, while the state of the two females was most dreadful; overcome with weakness and terror, and fatigue, they could not stand without support, which was kindly afforded by a Mr. John Elliot and some other Gentlemen passengers. With the Ladies, Mr. Clarkson, charterer of the Hope, came up to Hobart Town by the whale-boat in the course of Sunday, bringing the fatal news to Town, leaving the other persons on board. Immediately on learning the fate of the Hope, the Agent (Mr. Behune), dispatched the sloop Recovery, a small craft, in order to bring away a portion of her cargo, in which she succeeded, having returned the following evening with as many tons of goods as could be thrown on board from the wreck.
But to return to the ship. On Sunday night, between 11 and 12 o’clock, the rudder gave way, and the upper part of her stern was driven in. At this critical hour of the night, it was every moment feared that the stern post would give way or be driven in also; in which case the vessel must soon afterwards have foundered, and every soul on board perished as the surf was still running mountains high. The other passengers who did not come up on Sunday safely arrived in Town on Tuesday – till which period all hands were employed at the pumps, in imminent peril, every moment in danger of being washed overboard. When some Gentlemen who left the wreck on Tuesday, who had visited it on Monday, the sea was gaining on the vessel every hour, her main mast had been cut away, and all hopes of saving her were given up. Some casks of spirits, which were on board, were ascertained to have been damaged by the salt water; and the tea and sugar, which also formed part of her cargo, must inevitably be destroyed. We understand, that among the persons who had merchandise on board is Mr. James Lord, owner of the Marquis of Lausdown.—- We are not aware whether the vessel is insured or not.
The government brig Prince Leopold, in coming from Maria Island with the remainder of the wreck of the Apollo, saw the Hope off the Heads on Saturday, and safely arrived in the Harbour the same evening. Monday she discharged her lading, and on Tuesday was immediately sent to the relief of the wrecked Hope.
There were rumours that £30,000 in silver coin had been buried on the beach by two soldiers. Captain John Laughton purchased the wreck at an auction, but in another nasty twist of fate he drowned while inspecting it (Shipwrecks of Tasmania).