Pennicott do a wonderful range of tours including cruises. We took their southern cruise while on Bruny Island so we were very comfortable in booking their Freycinet Cruise to Wineglass Bay. We need to be at their Coles Bay office by 9 am for a cruise that departs at 9:15am, so we set the alarm for 6:30 am. Last night Gen re-packed the large suitcase (again) and so this morning we condense everything as we put things back in the car.
Up at 6:30 for a hot shower - it was cool again overnight, but not as cold as the night before, we quickly made our bit of breakfast and packed the car. We set off from the Pelican Sands Motel about 7:45 am for the hour and a quarter drive, re-tracing our route of yesterday to Bicheno (but thankfully, not the return journey over the passes). We drove through the area where the crash was yesterday but there was no evidence that anything amiss had occured. It always amazes me just how fully a site can be cleaned up, leaving nothing to suggest the earlier drama.
The trip down to Coles Bay was uneventful. So much earlier than most days, we travelled quietly, each in our own thoughts, enjoying the warming sun and beautiful vistas that greet us on every turn. The weather has been so good that we have not used the car air-conditioner much, preferring instead to wind down the car windows for some fresh air - today salt-touched, and at other times, fresh with mountain smells of leatherwood or eucalypt trees and occasionally with the hearty smell of fresh manure as we have travelled through fields of cattle or sheep.
We arrive at the Booking Office just after 9 a and were greeted with "I guess you have a booking in the name of Maria?! You are the only ones with crutches!" We were instructed to wait near the gangway saying that we would be boarding in time for a 9:45 am departure. Turns out, we are waiting for three parties who have not yet checked in - oh, wait, one of them is already here, just hadn't advised the office they were here. Still, the operators wait for the remaining two parties, so we are late leaving by about half an hour, Not a particularly good start!
Robert is skipper. He has 22 years in business, and there are now 17 vessels in the couple of tours they operate here in the east. Today, the lower deck (Upper Deck was + $115 all for the sake of some oysters!) is being serviced by Noah, Josh and Euan. Nice young men who are all very personable and chatty. Euan provides the safety briefing, ending with "In the unlikely event we need to leave the vessel, jump in to life rafts and continue the tour as planned!" ha ha ha.
As we leave Coles Bay we initially pass by The Hazards, a grouping of three mountains - Graham, Amos and Dove. These pink granite peaks, comprise quartz, feldspar and mica under a dolerite cap. They were previously mined with some blocks finding their way into the Sydney Opera House. This was one lucrative actvity that no longer operates, as was the whaling that was practised commercially until the 1802 in Great Oyster Bay,
Nowdays, more environmentally friendly tourism and managed seafood harvesting are the main operations. The extensive seagram beds are perfect for calamari and scallops grow as big as golf balls. This area provides 25% of WORLD Abalone catch and crayfish are plentiful - regularly found in areas of rockfalls as well as old wrecks - they love to play hide and seek we are tolf.
As we motor out of Coles Bay, another tour group is also leaving. In Kayaks that the boat operators refer to as speed bumps! Seriously, they are very respectful and slow down when they come upon any sea-life or other vessels of any size. Its amazing how quickly the engines can be cut and the boat come to a complete standstill. Today'sd boat is the Spirit of the Shouten. She is 23m long and powered by 2 yangmar diesel engines 700 hp each.
This is a RAMSAR area with penguins, tern, shearwaters, comorants, albatross and sea eagles all often see. As are dolphins, seals and whales - the holy trifecta which we were lucky to see today - Bottle-nose dolphins, Austraian and NZ fur seals, and one young humpback whale heading north - very early in the season!
Other points include Weatherhead point made of Jurassic dolerite - known as the diamond of rocks for its very hard composition. It is home to Australia's smallest lighthouse - the only staff that it could house would be a mouse, so luckily, this is an automatic lighthouse not requiring manning or re-fuelling.
Lots of Cray pots in the water as we pass by Schouten island and Maria Island and pull up alongside Brian Island - an Aboriginal learning place where we could easily see shells caught in roots of fallen she-oaks. Skipper Robert asked everyone for 30 seconds silence to pay respect to the Aboriginal peoples of Tasmania and reflect on the significance of their custodianship of these lands. Here on Brian Island there was a very steep gradient on literal dune.
We are shown a WBSEN (White Bellied Sea Eagle Nest) 4.5m deep 3.5m wide. These nests are used for up to 30 years and today, we are lucky to see a female eagle nearby the nest. They are Australia's second largest bird, and one of the world's best visioned birds.
We motor out the Shouten Passage and into the Tasman Sea where the previously very calm waters started to rock and roll in the increased swell. The tide was coming in, but it really isn't bad.
We see plenty 'Shags on a Rock' - the ever-present Black chested cormorant whose guanno (bird poop) stains the rocks white so they gleam in the sun like a beacon. And just like in the Bay of Fires, the red lichen can be see along the length of coastline we re traversing. From here, you look eastward to see nothing but the horizon. From here it is 1,500 km to NZ and 2,500 km to Antarctica
We pull in close to Twin Caves and I kid you not, we were no more than 3 m from the rock. The water depth here must be amazing - I guess the cliffs continue under the water. Then we pull into Waterfall Bay where, after rain, up to 30 falls can be seen.
Gen had front bow position for much of this part of the cruise - best place in the house to view Half Lemon Rock then Lemon Rock that once housed a gaslit lighthouse.
We see the remains of a Rockslide that occurred in 1983 and according to Robert provides some of the areas best crayfishing.
We first see Wineglass Bay from a distance as we pull into The Nuggets (rocks) to visit another Australian Fur Seal colony. Most are on the rocks and one is obviously injured - Robert thinks probably from a Great White encounter. As we move up and down beside them, they become more comfortable and a number jump, roll or fall into the sea playing around for us.
We are now well off shore and have perfect phone reception! Go figure! We get patchy coverage on land!!
We pass back through The Hazards into Wineglass Bay for lunch. Perfect white sand. Clear stunning aqua water two people on the beach would have had to have hiked in. This is an old whaling station. Occasionally old rib bones are washed up. Great calamari fishing spot. There were no oo other boats in the Bay when we arrived (this is unusual) but a yatch sails in not long after er arrived.
Wineglass Bay named because after a successfu whale kill the water would look like claret wine, in a glass that the bay resembles.
Lunch done, we power the motors up and head back for Coles Bay. I swear that the rocks and cliffs look like someone took the orange paintbrush and daubed random spots right across the coastline. As wwe turn from the Tasman back into the calm waters of Coles Bay, the sunlight is dancing on the tiny waves looking like flashlights or twinkling diamonds.
Back on land we head south for Hobart, passing wineries that we visited yesterday. Just passed Devil's Corner we see a house built high on Cherry tree Hill with amazing views billabong vineyards mountains bays. I would very happily live here.
We come across some very amusing signs, place names etc on the trip towards Hobart - there was the Wye River, to which someone had added 'Cos it's larger than a stream' on a very official looking sign below! Then there was Break-Me-Neck Hill followed immediately on the next rise by Bust-Me-Gall Hill! Add to these, the various names reminiscent of The Goons around the Bruny area, the links with all things English (humour) is very obvious. And today, just for Mick and Anne, we managed a photo of the road to the 'town' of Nugent - no doubt named for him (in HIS mind!!!) 😂 😂
We had made a dinner booking at the Drunken Admiral. which we had not been able to get a table at when we arrived for our first few days, but by the time we arrive at the Battery Point Manor, neither of us were very hungry and we just wanted out of the car and the chance not to sit down for a while. In the end we decided to cancel our booking and just finish off the salmon, cheese and crackers of various types that we have been carrying for the last couple of days - not problem, they have been on ice for the whole time.
So our last day of sightseeing is tomorrow. Heading home is bittersweet, but definitely does have good points!