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  • Expeditions & Adventures

    Posted by Will

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    TAGS

    epoch tent, tasmania, kayak, geoff murray, mont ambassador

    Kayaking the Tassie Coast. By Geoff Murray

    Posted by Will 0 Comment

    Expeditions & Adventures

    Tassie's west coast has a real gem in the mighty Gordon River. This river, despite being harnessed further upstream to produce hydro electric power, still retains its magnificent regal character in its lower reaches. Flowing serenely for many kilometres, it finally empties into Macquarie Harbour, a large, shallow body of water roughly 34 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide at its widest point. The Gordon is renowned for its reflections, with cruise vessels taking tourists up the Gordon from Strahan several times daily.
    But to visit this river alone by kayak is far better :)

    Mont Ambassador Geoff Murray kayaking in Tasmania

    Leaving Strahan I headed south on Macquarie Harbour, straight into a headwind. 32km later I was still paddling into a headwind! The forecast didn't mention that.
    I landed on Sarah Island for a look at the convict ruins. Sarah Island was a major boatbuilding site during the days of penal settlement. It is sobering to think of the privations that these people suffered in this harsh climate.

    _DSC1257

    I left and found a quiet bay to erect my trusty Mont Epoch tent and settle down for a quiet night. The next morning I paddled the last few kilometres across Macquarie Harbour and slipped into the mouth of the Gordon. The tide was ebbing and there was a solid current to paddle against as I made my way upstream, the wind slowly died away until eventually I was paddling on a mirror, green with the reflections of the rainforest crowding down to the edge of the river. Sublime!

    Geoff Murray using the Mont Epoch on the Tassie coast

    A seal was working its way up and down the river, hunting for trout, snorting loudly as it surfaced. Then, as I drifted along during a rest, a platypus swam directly towards me, only realising that something strange was ahead of him when he was a mere 3 metres away. He dived with a plop!
    I eased past Heritage Landing where the tourist boats turn around, knowing that the best part of the river is further upstream.

    This time though, my destination was only a short 17 kilometres further upstream, Eagle Creek campsite. I arrived in the early afternoon and once again, set up camp in a beautiful, solitary and peaceful location.
    Another quiet night, I rose before dawn and watching the sun slowly finger it's way down across the treetops, bringing magical light onto a scene full of peace and calmness. The reflections were flawless as I quietly sat and are breakfast. A pretty good way to start the day.

    Mont Ambassador Geoff Murray kayaking in Tasmania

    Packing the kayak, I slipped back into the water and glided across the reflections, heading back downstream. The peacefulness was complete as I quietly paddled but it wasn’t long before I was back at the mouth of The Gordon with Sarah Island in the distance ahead.

    About 700 metres from Sarah is Grummett Island, a small rocky island capped with dense scrub that was used initially to house the women at the Sarah Island settlement. It was later used as a natural prison for the very worst convicts, sometimes as many as 60 on a very small island. Apparently murders were common….
    I had read that the women lived in a cave on the island. I searched until I found the entrance to the cave. A ½ metre wide entrance went back for about 5 metres before opening out into a 2 metre by 6 metre cave with a sloping floor. Not exactly home sweet home.

    Mont Ambassador Geoff Murray exploring Grummet Island Cave, Tasmania

    Leaving the island, I continued on to Double Bay on the western side of the Harbour, 38 kms from Eagle Creek. This is a very sheltered bay with a nice sandy beach. A good place to be. I could hear the waves pounding the west coast….10km away.

    Setting up camp was the first priority, then I sat back and enjoyed the solitude.
    That night was really warm, and I appreciated the brilliant ventilation of the Epoch. It has the best ventilation I have ever seen in a 4 season tent.

    Mont Ambassador Geoff Murray using the Mont Epoch tent on the Tassie Coast

    The 4th day was good weather again with the forecast indicating good sailing conditions for the run back to Strahan. 21km and some good sailing later, I landed back at the beach in Strahan.

    Another good trip!

    By Geoff Murray

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  • Expeditions & Adventures

    Posted by Will

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    TAGS

    epoch tent, tasmania, kayak, geoff murray, mont ambassador

    A Pleasant Coastal Paddle

    Posted by Will 0 Comment

    Expeditions & Adventures

    By Geoff Murray

    Having returned from a fantastic solo expedition in Greenland in September last year, I was wondering what to do next.

    My home state Tasmania is a superb paddling destination so I thought why not do something a little closer to home. After all, Greenland is almost as far away as I can get from home!

    So now the plan is to paddle from Marrawah on Tasmania’s NW coast, across the north of Tassie and down the east coast to Hobart, a distance of 740km. Solo.

    I started the first of several legs this week, Bridport to Devonport, and I did it in a relaxed 3 days. 100km altogether. I did the reverse direction due to the wind forecast, 100km into a headwind isn’t fun…

    I used my “old faithful” Rockpool GT. We crossed Bass Strait together 3 years ago. She is a great rough water expedition boat, as sea kindly as you could wish for.

    Of course, stashed into the hatches were a couple of essentials. My Mont Lightspeed jacket and Latitude pants. Tassie being Tassie, it’s always wise to have some top quality waterproofs accessible and these are perfect. Lightweight but tough, very breathable and superbly cut, you could wear them into a top restaurant and not have a problem then walk outside into a monsoonal downpour and stay dry as a bone.

    The other essential item for a coastal trip, or a mountain trip, or anywhere else where strong winds are possible, is a good, stable stormproof tent. I took my Mont Epoch, a genuine 4 season alpine tent. I can’t give this tent enough praise. It is rock solid, has excellent access to the symmetrical inner from either end. It is roomy enough, both in length and headroom for my 185cm and it has to have the best ventilation of just about any tent out there. This makes it entirely suitable for hot weather use but it is equally at home battened down ready for a storm. And the person, or persons that designed it so obviously sat down and thought “how can we make this tent as user friendly as possible, what can we do to make it better in every way”. There are so many little touches that make it better. Double loops and toggles to hold the doors open..twice as good. 4 pockets instead of 2, a gear loft, reflective guys, a footprint that runs to the ends of the vestibules, the list goes on. Once you are snuggled into this tent you feel invincible and spoilt :-)

    The Mont Epoch. 4 season, 2 person The Mont Epoch. 4 season, 2 person

    So far I have only had the chance to spend about 14 nights in this tent, but I think it will be used for many more nights in the years to come.

    Parking the car at Bridport in Tasmania’s North East I packed my kayak and paddled west under a scorching summer sun. That night saw me set up tent amongst the she oaks at Lullworth, an easy 32km along the coast. This is a tiny holiday village full of people in holiday mode. The mosquitoes were friendly too but the tent was my haven.

    Lullworth camp Lullworth camp

    Rising to a red sunrise I once again went through the ritual of eating, packing, dressing, launching and pointed my bow west again.

    Waiting for my turn to launch Waiting for my turn to launch

    This time my destination was West Head, a small but rugged finger of land jutting out into Bass Strait. I had previously spotted what looked like a good place to camp on dear old Google Earth and that’s just what it was. Perfect. Another good evening. with a wander across to the western side for the sunset.

    Sunset over Badger head from West Head Sunset over Badger Head from West Head

     

    Delightful camp at West Head Delightful camp at West Head

    The third and last day was forecast to be a bit windier so I expected to be able to sail and travel quickly. The wind gradually built up through the morning until the seas over the shallow bays became quite “busy”. This made for a quick trip and I landed at Devonport just after midday having covered another 34km.

    Section 1 done! Section 1 done!

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