Seeing opportunities – Maatsuyker Island
A couple of years ago, when I purchased a Tasmanian National Park Pass, the transaction included an offer of free membership with Wildcare Tas which I grabbed. This latter group acts as an umbrella organisation for many volunteer-run ‘Friends of…’ organisations. As a member of the Society I could opt to connect with as many or as few of the Friends groups as I wished. I discovered there were more than a few groups devoted to the protection of individual islands off Tasmania’s coast, and these took my fancy. Because these islands are difficult or impossible to access except via specific Friend’s groups, and because they seemed romantically exotic in my imagination, I contacted three groups; Friends of Maatsuyker Island (FOMI), Friends of Tasman Island (FOTI) and Friends of Deal Island (FODI).
In March this year, FOMI took a group across the sea from Southport in southern Tasmania westwards to Maatsuyker Island.
From the air, Maatsukyer Island is as follows:From the Southport jetty on the Tasmanian mainland the group made their way round the South Coast with views of Precipitous Bluff, Iron Bound Ranges, Louisa Bay, until Dewitt and Flat Witch Islands appeared as the destination neared. Regrettably I couldn’t join the group this time however a friend substituted for me; she had marvellous tales to tell. Online I have located photos that show different aspects of the island and I have added them here so you can appreciate what an interesting place this is.
Clearly this was not a trip for the unfit or fainthearted. On arrival at Maatsuyker Island, depending on the height of the tide and the size of waves, getting off the boat onto a dinghy, getting to shore and then getting off onto the rocky shore could be dangerous without care. Risks include spraining/breaking limbs, falling into the cold water, and being squashed (e.g. between the dinghy and the rocks). The landing is onto a rocky gulch that is slippery. The difficulty increases if a swell travels into the gulch.
The landing is in a seal haul-out area. When conditions are suitable for boat landings the majority of seals are typically at sea, however, visitors are urged not to linger once on land.
Then a visitor is faced with a 500 metre very steep climb out of the gulch. The first 50 m of the climb is extremely steep – that part of the climb has a chain fitted into the rock to assist with the climb (i.e. to use when going up and down).
The climbing can be made more difficult and much more slippery with high winds and/or rain. Despite all of this, 2019 will be my time surely. Glorious photos of the island can be seen here and here and for the history read here.
The first photo below shows the lighthouse from the sea and the second looks down to the sea.
The original transport system to move resources from the sea to the top looked like the following;
Almost all of that infrastructure is now gone, and what remains is not usable.
Since I didn’t travel there by boat, are you wondering whether I have flown to Maatsuyker Island in a helicopter? If this idea has crossed your mind, then let the idea fly away. While that opportunity hasn’t yet been offered to me (right now FOMI are canvassing for skilled volunteers to fly there in the near future for a working bee over a few days, and I am considering my abilities), one did occur in relation to another island: Tasman Island. Enjoy tomorrow’s new blog post.