Saturday, 9 March 2013

Tasman Island Cruise

This is more "near the bush" rather than in it, but it's outdoors and very spectacular, and affords a view from the sea of a series of well-loved Tasman Peninsula bushwalking locations. We went with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys' Tasman Island Cruises. There are other providers, but these are the folks with the yellow boats, and they operate from the building next to the Port Arthur shop. They also operate a bus service from Hobart, as well as cruises around South Bruny Island. They provided my son with a week's worth of so-called "work" experience a few years ago, during which he spent one day helping in the office, and four days out in the boat, including driving it. He kept texting me while I sat in meetings to tell me how good work was. In true Tasmanian fashion, I also went to Hobart Matric with Rob Pennicott many years ago.

Our boat was crewed by Damo and Damo. They're known as the Damos, and have a well-honed patter. They know a huge amount about the place and spend a great deal of time imparting this to their guests. I have to presume other crews are just as good. A warning, if you are not good on your feet, take the bus from the office to the boat, as the walk down the hill is a decent hike and steep in places.

Apparently each trip is different. They follow a basic plan, but weather, sea conditions, tides and the various birds and animals encountered vary all the time. Our trip was quite calm, but overcast for much of the time. A bright sunny day would have made the photography easier, but the (relatively) smooth sea helped a lot.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It costs $110 per person, and you need to book. See their website. The trip lasts 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Ours was almost 3, I think probably because they kept finding things to show us. You will need warm clothes, and I recommend a good beanie. Your camera is your own responsibility. I should think you could get a fair bit of spray on rougher days, but last weekend there was very little. I think next time I might take a GoPro!

These cliffs of sedimentary rock west of Cape Pillar are tilted, and as the boat sped past I got a sensation of racing downhill, which was a little unusual.

They will take you inside sea caves if the sea allows. This one has water 30 feet deep inside, and it is clear enough to see the bottom.

Dolerite cliffs with interesting weathering closer to Cape Pillar.

The Blade at Cape Pillar, this time from sea level.

We were fortunate to end up amongst large flocks of Short-Tailed Shearwaters, Mutton Birds. They were flying about hunting food just above the sea surface. As the boat raced alongside, it seemed as if we were flying with them.

Hunting with the shearwaters were some albatrosses - this is a Bullers Albatross.

Bullers Albatross. Photographing this bloke showed how hard it is to get a decent photo from a moving boat.

Bullers Albatross and shearwaters.

New Zealand Fur Seal. These are the playful ones, and they appear in small groups at various spots. this one is just lazing about.

Australian Fur Seal - There is a large colony, apparently all male, living on Tasman Island. The boat will spend a while showing these blokes off. I gather the ladies live in Bass Strait.

The bottom of The Chasm, Cape Pillar. This is the gash in the earth around which you edge high above before climbing to the end of the cape.

The Candlestick and Totem Pole at Cape Hauy.

New Zealand Fur Seals near Cape Hauy.

New Zealand Fur Seal near Cape Hauy.

The Candlestick, Totem Pole and Cape Hauy from the north.

Sea Cave in sedimentary rocks between Cape Hauy and Eaglehawk Neck.

Cape Hauy, The Candlestick and The Lanterns from north of Thumbs Point.

Pattersons Arch

A natural waterfall from a wave-cut rock platform.

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