The reflections of the pristine Tasmanian wilderness are perfect, right way up and wrong way down. Kayaking over these mirrored images of mountain and sky in the morning is like entering a meditative state, disturbed only by the splash and movement of our paddles.
The uncanny sensation of navigating between reality and illusion wasn’t entirely unexpected. It already felt as if we were entering another dimension on our chartered flight deep into Tasmania’s south-western wilderness.
Descending to the gravel runway at Melaleuca where we would begin our Roaring 40ºs Kayaking expedition, all 618,000 hectares of this Southwest National Park lay spread enticingly beneath us. For seven days our small group would kayak through reflections on Bathurst Harbour, surf the swell of the Southern Ocean, meander along the numerous rivers and creeks and walk untouched beaches and remote mountain peaks that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Wilderness region.
Described as a place where time stands still and rated by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s 10 epic sea kayak paddles, our expectations of this trip were high. Grabbing our bags we hopped off the plane and straight into the water for our first short kayak down a quiet inlet to the Forest Lagoon standing camp. The serenity around us was broken only by parrots screeching from treetops and the beating wings of startled black swans as they took to the sky.
Comfortable in stable double sea-kayaks, our next few days were spent exploring the natural beauty of an area characterized by golden-green mountainous ridges rising steeply from sandy-white quartzite coves and small islands that appeared to float on the dark and reflective water that ultimately merged with the salty Southern Ocean.
It’s hard to imagine, but beneath the kayaks in the sheltered Port Davey Marine Reserve all is not as it seems. Tannin-stained freshwater floats above heavier tidal salt water and these two opposing layers have created a diverse underwater environment that exists nowhere else in the world. Tannin limits sunlight penetration, restricting plant growth but allowing colourful, delicate marine invertebrates to thrive.
Meandering at paddling pace, we crossed the protected waters of Bathurst Harbour with its expansive views to the Arthur Range and along Bathurst Narrows, a drowned river valley lined with beaches nibbled into the base of mountains before reaching the tempestuous Southern Ocean. Here, conditions allow us to pass beyond the Breaksea Islands to experience the adrenalin of paddling in the Southern Ocean’s mighty swell.
With its combination of sheltered wilderness harbours, rugged ocean coastlines, remote islands and wild rivers it is no surprise this watery wilderness has been described as “the most magnificent paddling destination in Australia”.
Too soon we found ourselves back on the gravel runway where illusion would again become reality on the time-machine that would fly us home.
Roaring 40ºs Kayaking offer 7 and 3 day expeditions into Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area.
They also offer a range of wilderness day tours exploring national parks and reserves close to Hobart. Get up close and personal to the southern hemisphere’s highest sea cliffs and resident Australian fur seals or explore the lichen-covered cliffs and sea caves along Hobart’s Derwent River.
Or for a unique experience, paddle Hobart’s iconic waterfront and experience one of the world’s most picturesque harbours from a different perspective. Glide past prestigious homes, marvel at tall sailing ships and keep an eye out for Sammy the resident seal. Your discovery of Hobart wouldn’t be complete without some locally caught fish and chips from the city’s famed floating fish punts. Enjoy them with the best view in town – straight from your kayak!
Roaring 40ºs Kayaking is Tasmania’s award-winning kayaking operator and have a tailored kayaking adventure to suit your time-frame and experience level. With an impeccable safety record and a great crew just waiting to share a paddling adventure, contact them today to begin your kayaking adventure. All tours operate November to April.
P:+61 455 949 777