From The Sea Canoeist, vol3, 1980
Hunter Island - Easter trip, 1980.
NW Tasmania

Scribe Suzie Bauer 
Cecily Butorac . North Sea Tourer
Pamela Butorac . North Sea Tourer
Suzie Bauer . Greenlander
Peter Bauer . North Sea Tourer
Bruce Davies . Greenlander
Laurie Ford . Splinter

Friday 4th April
We set off from Bruce’s place at Somerset at about 9.30 am. We had rung the Van Dieman Land Company from Bruce’s and the manager had given us permission to go through the property and thus start from Woolnorth Point. Laurie had written a month earlier but had not received a reply. This meant a much shorter paddle on the first day and we did not need to comply with the tides as much as is necessary to paddle through Robbins Passage. We were in no hurry since we did not want to set off until about 1.00pm so as to be going with the tide.

Upon reaching the Company homestead we called in to see the Manager. He explained that they did not allow people on the property/road unless for commercial reasons in which case they paid $8 per car.Since he had not had time to answer Laurie’s letter he decided to let us through on those terms. So we paid our $16 - even though we felt it was a bit much.

We actually hit the water at about 1.00 pm. Laurie had naturally been paddling around waiting for us for some time. He tried a roll but came out much to everyone’s amusement. Cecily ran down to the waters edge - I thought to help him - but just kept clicking her camera and laughing a lot.

It was a lovely sunny day with hardly any wind - much to our surprise and delight. It took about one hour to paddle across to Stack Island in these pleasant conditions. After a lunch stop - for some - we headed across the channel to Hunter Island and then on to Cave Bay - 1st nights campsite. We noticed the effect of the tide coming through the channel towards Woolnorth at this stage.

I was quite surprised at the size of Hunter Island. I expected something about the size of Betsy Island. However it is much bigger. It is owned by the Govt and leased out. The coastline consists mainly of long beaches. The water is really clear in this area. 

After a while a bit of a cross wind from the NNE sprang up and I appreciated my rudder. Later in the afternoon Laurie went on ahead to find a campsite. I was very pleased when I finally spied his fire. The campsite was just over the small dunes and was quite comfy, and the fire was most appreciated.

Saturday 5th
Friday night it became quite windy and the noise of the surf seemed incredibly loud from our tents - especially considering that Laurie had sworn we would not encounter any surf on this trip. Saturday morning was very windy and there was still some surf.

After breakky we decided to look around the island a bit. We walked to the end of the beach where there is a jetty and a boat on a slip. We followed a track up to the homestead. There is only one family living on this island and they only do so for part of the year now. We wandered into the homestead and the lady of the house didn’t seem at all surprised. She invited us in and we chatted for ages and drank coffee and helped her empty her cake tins. They are very interesting friendly people and she and her husband and the children who were home for Easter told us a lot about the island - including some very funny tales. They brought up their six children on Hunter Island and hardly ever went over to the mainland (Tas) since they did not own a boat at that stage. They relied on fishermen to bring them supplies, mail etc, and their children learnt by Correspondence.

They now own a barge type boat which they can winch up onto the slip to load their cattle.

The youngest daughter - who had passed us on horseback as we came up the track - arrived back and wanted to know where our boat was. They were quite surprised to learn we had come by canoe.

We reluctantly set off from this warm, friendly atmosphere to go to a large cave around the coast from the jetty. The weather was still blustery and it was trying to rain. Since the tide was low we were able to follow the coast around to the cave. There is a track over the bluff but we had been warned that it was hard to find. I found myself doing a bit of rock hopping - and I was not overjoyed since surf and heights are presently two of my pet aversions.

The cave is really big - about 50m in depth and 15m high in places. It is quite a way back from high tide mark, and up the cliff a fair way. Apparently it contains some of Tasmania’s best aboriginal findings. Surprisingly it was not difficult to locate the track from the cave so we went back over the cliff.

Upon reaching our campsite the wind was still fairly strong and was now coming from a southerly direction. However the surf had calmed down considerably. Thus we had a quick lunch and packed our boats then headed off towards Shepherds Bay with the wind helping us along. I was a bit dubious about the surf but after being plonked in my boat and pushed out into it I discovered that sea touring boats go through surf with surprising ease.

Some of those present thoroughly enjoyed catching the waves as we travelled along. After an hour or so we reached the shelter of Shepherds Bay. A fishing boat and a yacht were anchored in the bay - we had a chat to the occupants of the fishing boat and then Cecily chose a campsite. Once again it was over a great sandhill. The site was flat and sheltered and was definitely a 10/10 campsite Cec - well nearly.

We carried some water with us but were able to get plenty from a stream at Cave Bay, and also from the homestead on Three Hummock. After setting up camp some of us went for a walk along the beach, and Bruce went for a dive. He came out absolutely frozen but caught a fish for his tea.

Sunday 6th
It rained a bit but not very heavily during the night. Those who didn’'t come because they felt the Easter Bunny might not find them need not have been concerned. Cecily and Pam got the royal treatment - coffee and Easter eggs on a little table, in bed.

We decided to go across to Three Hummock Island, but to leave our camp set up. The trip over was rather exciting (for me anyway). We had a strong southerly wind and swell behind us which made the crossing very speedy. Those who were game had some great rides on the waves. In fact I saw Peter suddenly land more or less on top of Pam’s boat. As I’m not a sea canoeist it seemed funny to be able to see only an arm here, or a head there, due to the swell. As we neared Three Hummock Island the waves built up higher and higher. We pulled in behind the shelter of the jetty and quickly changed into dry clothes.

We then walked up to the homestead - a tiny little place. No answer so we went off to have a look around. We followed the coast towards West Telegraph Bay. The coastline is very pretty - huge rounded boulders topped with orange coloured lichen. Lots of kelp. Lovely white beaches with a nice sized surf rolling in. Not many trees on this section of the island, mostly just tussocks and boulders. Many Cape Barren Geese.

From West Telegraph we followed a vehicular track back up towards the homestead, past a series of lagoons. This time Mrs Alliston was home. She seemed a little taken aback by us all, but asked us in for a chat and wrote all our names in her diary. After lunch at the jetty we returned to be shown around their garden. The island has been taken over by the National Parks and Wildlife. Before this the Allistons had the lease and farmed it for about 20 years. They are now more or less permanent caretakers. They spend their retirement working very energetically in their garden, collecting manure, seaweed, firewood etc. The garden is incredible - enough for an army. Beautifully kept and huge tomatoes. There is too much for the two of them so unfortunately a lot goes back into the compost heap.

The biggest problem with the garden are the possums and the wind. They are having huge difficulties with the possums because of the drought like conditions. Mr Alliston also showed us his generator, and what had been a kelp processing plant. His son was collecting it by diving, but the Govt did not grant him an export licence because of the possible danger to the crayfish population. A study is currently being undertaken.

They are a most interesting couple and are trying to be as self-sufficient as possible. However they do get meat flown in, as nearly all the cattle have now been removed from the island. Mrs Alliston is quite a health fanatic - running and swimming every day. The Allistons had not left the island for three years until last Christmas when they went to Melbourne to visit their children.

They came down to the jetty to see us off. We had planned to leave at 4.00pm. The wind had become stronger - despite predictions to the contrary by a certain member of the group. Also the waves were quite large and the wind was howling around the jetty. The Alliston kept on saying how brave and energetic we were. However several of us felt quite scared and felt that we were crazy rather than brave. I didn’t see how I could paddle against that wind, let alone stay upright in those waves.

However we set off - talk about peer pressure. After the apprehension wore off as I realised that the boat remained relatively stable, I discovered that it was only a matter of keeping paddling. We did so for 2 1/2 hours. I really felt as if I had achieved something when we reached the other side. The worst part was that we could see the other side but we never seemed to get any closer.

Monday 7th
Next morning we set off back towards Tassie at about 9.30am so as to have the tide on our side. As the wind was still fairly strong - but very few waves - we hugged the coastline to make the going easier. We stopped at Cave Bay for a snack and then continued on, enjoying the clear water.

Peter had been trawling a line throughout the trip but today he had some luck - four good sized salmon. We lunched an hour or so later and then more or less ferry-glided across to Stack Island. We were able to do this since the wind was against us and the tide with us.

We set up camp fairly early on the NE side of Stack Island. Laurie radioed our position to Hobart Radio. Bruce caught lots of abalone which were very tasty. We also ate the salmon - very tasty too. Then we three girls tried to bash up Laurie - but gave in before he got hurt?? We watched the Penguins creep up the rocks to their burrows, from our tent pitched on the pigface.

Tuesday 8th
We had a good look around Stack Island since we did not plan to leave until midday. We walked up to the peak - great views - and then round the coast. Trefoil Island looked very inviting and the sea was unbelievably calm. Stack Island is about 1/2 the size of Betsy. The rocks around it are incredible - very sharp and pointy.

Bruce had some bad luck at this stage. He was mucking around throwing a stick against a rock and it bounced back and hit him under the chin. He is now minus one front tooth and half another one, and yet it didn’'t even mark his face.

Laurie and I went for a swim since it was so warm and sunny. It certainly was refreshing. Cec wet up to her knee-caps only. Peter didn’t even stick his big toe in.

At 12 noon we started the hop over to the mainland. By now a slight wind was up. As we headed out from the shelter of the island we hit a sort of confused rough section of water. It sounded quite windy too. Then just as suddenly we were out of it. Apparently it is caused by the meeting of two tides. There are lots of little outcrops of rocks and islands from Hunter across to the mainland. We paddled across quite strong currents and then into eddies behind the rocks. It was really amazing. Just like being at Plenty on rapids and yet we were on the sea. We could also see what looked like big overfalls out towards Trefoil. These are big waves that stay in the same spot - also produced by tides and shallow seabeds. It was incredible to think that we had missed all this on the way over simply because we had travelled at a different time in relation to the tides, and by a slightly different route.

Finally we reached Woolnorth Point and our cars, after having a peek around the point at the Doughboys - very aptly named islands - and touching the NW tip of Tassie. We packed up and took off at about 3.00pm.

A very enjoyable trip. Also the area is even more interesting due to the effect of the tides.
Thanks to Laurie for leading the trip.

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