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Journeys : Apr May 2011
For our family, a boating expedition is incomplete if at least some of the time is not spent explor ing the glistening waters of the northern end of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. Bordered on the western side by townships such as Margate, Howden, Kettering and Woodbridge and on the east by North Bruny Island, this region is a family boating paradise. Travelling south from Hobart by water, there’s often a minor taste of ocean sailing as rolling swells push north, increasing in size, having not encountered land since originating far to the south in Antarctic waters. They rise, often quite alar mingly, as Dennes Point, Bruny’s most northern landmark, is reached. It is here, in the narrow stretch of water between Dennes and Piersons Points, that the waters of Storm Bay and the Channel meet. Even on the calmest of days this confluence of swell, wind, tide and current can surprise the unwary with sudden upthrusts of angry and confused water. A long-forgotten wartime g un emplacement, perched high on the cliffs at Piersons Point and staring sentinel southwards, reminds those entering the Channel of far less idyllic times in our recent history. It is a chilling reminder of how seriously the threat of invasion was taken only 70 years ago. The waterway was named by French explorer Bruni D’Entrecasteaux. He v isited the area in 1792 aboard the frigate La Recherche. Overnight stays are always a pleasure in this region. Located a short sail east of Kettering is the amazingly sheltered Barnes Bay. A long eastward indentation in the west coast of Bruny, Barnes is actually the entrance to a variety of smaller safe anchorages. Sheltered inlets such as Alexanders, Quarantine and Sykes Cove have for generations welcomed sailors after the cr uise from Hobar t. Perhaps the most popular and well-known of these is the aptly-named Duckpond. Sheltered from all sides, the Duckpond offers a safe haven in the w ildest of conditions. My kids always look out for the endlessly ravenous group of swans who visit, morning and night, working their way around the various anchored boats, securing a supply of snacks from all who are enchanted by their presence. Those not on deck are given no respite as a cacophony of sound emanates from this feathered family until some tasty treat is offered. The western coast of North Bruny is dotted with sublime and uncrowded beaches, the venue of many of my family’s happiest days. Our personal favourite is Killora Beach, a short hop from Dennes Point. Accessible only to residents and boaters, this beach is sheltered from the often fresh summer afternoon south-easterly sea breezes, making it a perfect anchorage for long languid days where parents can rest in the sun and kids can frolic happily in the shallow and pristine waters. Perhaps Bruny Island’s Missionary Bay, an hour’s sail fur ther south, is the region’s most evocative place for me. This was the site of George Robinson’s Aboriginal mission station, a sad and controversial episode in the early histor y of the colonisation of Tasmania by the British. Today, one looks north from the pebbled foreshore to see the now ubiquitous fish far ms and anchored pleasure craft, but a look inland reveals a landscape that once witnessed events that would forever stain the history of the island. While little physical evidence is obvious to the casual obser ver today, a sombre tone inevitably seems to pervade expeditions to this spot. Whenever we head home, often after several nights aboard our family yacht, we are tinged with sadness at having to leave behind this family playground. Endlessly fascinating and wonderfully safe, the northern end of the Channel is without doubt one of Tasmania’s hidden gems. One thing is certain, however – we will be back and so will many future generations of cruising sailors. Opposite: The Rasmussen children on the beach at Killora Bay. This page, clockwise from top: the family’s yacht Southerly in Barnes Bay; swans in the Duckpond; the pristine Bruny foreshore; lunch in Missionary Bay. Photos: Mark Rasmussen In Tasmania today April / May 2011 45
Feb March 2011
Jun Jul 2011