Soon I will have the privilege of an exciting adventure travelling from Hobart to Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour and return, on a replica of a 19th century sailing ship the Windeward Bound I will traverse seas which, on occasion, can be some of the wildest in the world; as exciting as that seems, I hope for calmer waters so I need not fear being swept overboard!
During the voyage I will take photos and make notes so that, on my return, I can write a report for this blog site.
Over a week ago I visited the Elizabeth Pier hoping to look at the ship but alas it was out of sight and elsewhere, so I assumed it was sailing on the Derwent Harbour for a charter trip leaving its normal berth bare. My assumption was incorrect.
Nearby a similarly aged replica ship, Lady Nelson, was moored and helped me to lift my level of excitement.
Again, I was in the city and down at the wharf but at a different end – and found the Windward Bound near the Brooke St Pier. I had a good look without boarding, and a friendly chat with the captain who, with a colleague, was hard at work preparing the ship to comply with Covid 19 pandemic requirements before our departure.
Seeing the small deck space, as I had imagined, and the staggering amount of rope, which I had not imagined, was all very instructive. I don’t know whether I will have the opportunity to climb the mast (or whether I will want to once the ship is in motion on the heavy seas) but I did look at the rope ladder I would need to climb (apparently in a harness) and wondered whether I will have the courage to try.
So where am I going? The ship will leave Hobart port and head down the Derwent Harbour eastwards towards the sea before turning south into the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. We will travel past Recherche Bay, where French explorers spent time in the late 1700s, before turning west to power along past the southern wild coast of Tasmania. At one point we will sail between mainland Tasmania and Maatsukyer Island and the other tiny nearby islands, before passing Cox’s Bight, turning the corner of South West Cape and heading northwards. Eventually we will reach and enter Port Davey.
Over subsequent days we will sail or run about in a zodiac along some of the immense inland waterways before progressing to the inland Bathurst Harbour, then down to the settlement of Melaleuca to look at some of the remnants of social history since white settlement.
Friend Marion, herself a sailor, lent me three books about some of the peoples who lived in these remote parts. The maps which each contained are reproduced here to give you some idea of the scale of this enterprise. If you look closely you should be able to identify the key features I mentioned above.
From Janet Fenton’s Win & Clyde come the following maps:
From Christobel Mattingley’s King of the Wilderness come the following maps:
The third book which relates to the area is A History or Port Davey by Tony Fenton.
Your ‘homework’ is to look at a map of Tasmania and learn where Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour are located so that, when my report is written, you are better able to visualise my journey. Only the tiny settlement of Melaleuca is accessible by a very small plane and the rest can be reached only by sea or by walking south from Lake Pedder or walking west from the eastern side of Tasmania along the South Coast track (five days with a reputation for endless slogging through creeks and mud!). Few Tasmanians have visited the area due to its remoteness and challenging means of access, and I suspect most aren’t quite sure where it is.
Windward Bound has provided me with a large plasticized map, drawn to scale, so I should be able to follow our track and location regardless of weather.
I hope I am taking an ‘easy’ means of travel, albeit with requirements to take my turn on ‘watch’ and perhaps go up the mast. We will see about that!