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Armchair traveller: Boat Harbour

26-Jun-2013

The first day of our inaugural Wilderness Week took us to a remote coastal ridge on the eastern side of Mt Lidgbird. We walked along the marked track to Boat Harbour, a north facing inlet that’s always sheltered, and stopped to ‘play’ on the boulder beach. Those with cameras looked confused and unable to decide where to start – macro, zoom, landscape or portrait. The trick is to be systematic and not get overwhelmed by the place. It’s also a spot where people retreat into their inner child – some pick up rocks and look for crabs, some test their throwing arm, some ‘boulder’ around the foreshore cliffs, and some just sit and stare. There’s a small creek inlet where you can drink perfect mountain water.

We then went off-track to our lunch spot - high on one of the many coastal ridges that extend like fingers around the base of Mt Lidgbird. Very few people have visited this place before – perhaps a few park rangers over the years. It wasn’t easy, and the ‘lawyer vine’ collected some skin, but overall I think everyone would go back to that ridge for lunch (I’d go tomorrow if I was allowed…). As you can see from the photos, it was rugged, remote and beautiful. The landscape felt like southern Tasmania, but the ocean, palm forests and sunshine were clearly sub-tropical.

Our guide, Dean Hiscox, told stories along the way about the successful program to eradicate feral goats and pigs from the island. As a young ranger in his 20s, Dean used to spend weeks in the mountains hunting feral animals. Can you imagine the places he got to? I suspect many of those places had never had a human footprint before (or since). He pointed out routes he’d found along ridge lines, down gullies, under cliffs and around coastal bluffs. Dean even knew where the best remote snorkelling would be.

On the way back, we learnt about the Kentia seed industry and looked at some of the prime seeding areas. From the 1880s, ‘seeders’ would travel to remote Kentia palm groves and harvest seed for the island’s nursery. It must have been hard work climbing palms, collecting seed, and then carrying hessian sacks full of seed back over the mountains. We only had to carry the remains of our lunch, and that was hard enough.

We arrived back to Pinetrees for afternoon tea, and we all had that look of satisfaction that only a good bushwalk can provide. Hot tea – tick, fresh muffin – tick, comfy chair – tick. Later, the hot shower felt good on scratched legs, and dinner – well – was a ‘fish fry’. For those who don’t know, it includes 5 courses of soup, sushi, sashimi, beer battered local kingfish, salads, an enormous buffet of desserts and a plate of fine Australian cheese. Together with a glass (or two) of Pikes Clare Valley Riesling, it was an ideal end to Day 1.

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