D’Entrecasteaux Channel: Kayaking the Tinderbox Marine Reserve
Idling towards North West Bay
I don’t like cold water and so I’ve yet to dive at Tinderbox Marine Reserve, but early one morning, after driving through the sleeping suburbs, I slipped into my kayak at Tinderbox Beach, while Tassie hens ran erratically amongst vocal sheep on the hillside, and made my way over glassy water and through the moorings, which had trapped a humpback in 2014, until I could almost touch the rocky shoreline.
I’d already kayaked the start of it, as it begins at Lucas Point on the Tinderbox Peninsula, but that water was deep and choppy. It was intoxicating to know that beneath me seadragons, pipe fish, senator fish and the like were enjoying small sea caves and a wild proliferation of over thirty seaweeds. There is a multiplicity of invertebrates down there – bryozoans, sponges, and anemones – all supported by a sandstone reef and a soft sandy channel bottom, perched atop eons of earlier landforms, neatly stratified according to the roar of time.
To the east, behind me, the Channel opened into the Derwent River and Storm Bay, but I was heading for North West Bay, aiming to do a circumnavigation. When the geo had asked me how long I’d be, I’d answered vaguely. It wasn’t far to the bay from Tinderbox Beach, nor around it, I supposed. I’d walked quite a lot of this route on various earlier occasions so I had a fair idea, but what I soon discovered was that it was so visually stunning that I had to remind myself to paddle. Tinderbox is not a marine reserve for nothing. I’d float over great boulders covered in oysters and a plethora of other lifeforms. I’d stare down at gardens of seaweed interspersed with red waratahs.
‘Oh my God,’ I repeatedly recorded, ‘This is just so beautiful.’ And although they are not coral bommies, I started calling these underwater boulders by that term anyway, because it was the word that came closest to describing their coral-like magnificence. Sometimes merely a skin of water lay between me and the boulders I was gazing down at and my kayak was notching up it’s experience in scratch marks.
What was particularly satisfying was that hugging the shore I could still see the little periwinkles and the striations in the rocks and the cliff on land, just as I had when I’d walked along here. In fact, it felt a whole lot more enriching being on the water at high tide because I could see beneath so far down and observe that transition from below the non-existent waves to land – the littoral zone of rocky shorelines.
For forty slow, rapturous minutes I floated along the Tinderbox Beach reef, and then I turned into North West Bay, once called RANG.GOE.RAD.DE or RANG.YOE.RAO.OE, according to Plomley. I was already way behind schedule.
More on Tinderbox Marine Reserve at: http://www.marineconservation.org.au/pages/tasmania.html