Tag Archives: tamar river

Up the Tamar River

In my head, the journey from George Town to Launceston takes days and days. I am astonished and disbelieving when M tells me we can make it there in one day. What the? Last time it took us a week or two… He tells me that last time we noodled our way upriver like the newbies we were – relishing the ability to stop for a night or two wherever took our fancy. And that’s correct – it was a lovely way to traverse the river – but this time? This time there are Very Strong Winds predicted and wherever we end up is where we’re going to have to stay for at least four days, and so we aim for Launceston.

Beauty Point and tugboat. Not going anywhere. Launceston.
I took the same photo three years ago. Nothing’s changed.

To be honest, it’s a bit of a boring journey – it takes all day, and toward the end M’s patience is thinning. I steer a little bit, but he does the majority. As we get nearer to the city I am (again) struck by deja vu; the wind is already coming up and M goes through a few different scenarios about pulling up to the jetty. I can tell he’s fidgety about how it might go. This is what happened last time.

The guy who owns the pontoons remembered us when we called him and has been very kind – he allows us to stay on the pontoon that’s reserved for the Sea Scouts for $20 a night. There’s no power or water like there is on the other pontoon (which already has an occupant) but we are here – right next to the city! We’re in the confluence of the Tamar and the North Esk Rivers.

296/365 • making dinner looking out at this - the best playground we’ve ever been to and silos that have been turned into a hotel. Last time we were here it was an industrial wasteland over there - someone got something right ✔️ •
View from the kitchen/galley window.

As we pull up (it’s fine) we can see that on the old industrial land opposite has been transformed on a large scale in the three years since we were here. There is a MASSIVE PLAYGROUND. “If you can just adjust all the fenders so they’re the right height,” says M, “I’ll do the rest.”

The Smalls are pleading to get on their scooters, pleading for me to come just a little way with them. Just a little bit further… and then we are going over a footbridge that has mysteriously appeared and we are at the park and the park? It’s AWESOME. Things are high and potentially dangerous. The slides are fast tubes of metal, there are mini trampolines embedded in the ground, a sky-walk, water features and swings over trench…

Bounce! Launceston Riverbend Park

Small Z is rapturous. There are kids everywhere. Small DB is overwhelmed. “I’ll just stay with you,” she says to me. “I’ll look around and decide what I will go on when we come back on a school day and there’s no one else here.” Her sister is already scaling the climbing rope to the sky-walk and halfway down one of the tubular slides. We sweet-talk Small DB (“I’m too shy….”) into walking around a little with us and eventually convince her to go on one of the slides when, for some reason, there happens to be no one on it or nearby… She is reticent, and then elated.

Climbing. Launceston Riverbend Park
DB investigates…

We explore some more. Small Z is adopted by a girl her age named Taylor. Or Taylah. Or Tayla. Who attaches herself to Small Z and they go from climbing frame, to slide, to basket swing… Small DB sticks with me. Eventually Small Z gives me the signal and I saunter up to her and Taylor/Taylah/Tayla and say, “Sorry Zoe, we need to get back to the boat now, it’s getting near dinner time.”

Zoe rolls her eyes convincingly, makes her apologies and we wander off with her hissing, “I couldn’t GET AWAY.”

Halfway across the playground we stop still and die of cute. There is a caramel coloured puppy that looks like a small teddy bear. We drop to our knees and pat it until it can hardly stand upright as I quiz the owner; “What kind of dog is it? Where did you get it? Is it hard to train?”

I can feel my BoatCat midlife crisis rearing it’s evil furry head. First the Tathra bordoodle, and now this. We coo over the puppy, which I think is six months old and will not grow much bigger, until it becomes a bit ridiculous.

We walk past Taylor/Taylah/Tayla and say to her, “How CUTE is that dog!!?”
“Yeah, it’s cute. I had a dog once, but it ran away.”
We make appropriate noises, and Small DB says, “I’d like a cockatiel.”
Taylor/Taylah/Tayla nods, looking mournful.
“Yeah. I had a bird once. But it died.”

We say goodbye again.

M comes to find us, looking somewhat forlorn having been abandoned at the dock. We wander back toward the boat and stop for a celebratory drink – they have my favourite cider:

The best cider. Cheers, Launceston!
Thank you Willie Smith.

We drink to sailing journeys and exploring Launceston.

A post-icecream consult. DB and M. Launceston.
DB & M

Two Nights In West Arm And A Visit To Beauty Point

After the night of the super-moon we left West Arm to investigate Beauty Point – not that it was astonishingly beautiful, but we needed some chlorine for our Saniloo and some spare spark plugs – as it turned out, Beauty Point had neither.

Going into the harbour was a little intimidating – it adjoins the Royal Australian Maritime College, and you have to steer through quite a narrow gap to gain access to the pontoon, which is helpfully overlooked by the yacht club and other balconies. However, despite our qualms, we did well.

Beauty Point, Tamar River.

Up on the road we asked where the shops were;
“They’re about a half hour walk away – there’s not many shops – just the general store, a variety shop and a Vinnies*.”

I stopped absently nodding and focused. “An op-shop?”

“Yes – there’s a Vinnies there. It’s open today.”

I disappeared in a cloud of dust. Half an hours walk for one person is very different for another, but taking into account her age – her guesstimate was pretty spot on for two adults and two somewhat reluctant Smalls. Along the road the previously mentioned Smalls found a tiny overgrown set of steps hidden in a hedge that led, we think, to the yacht club…

Secret path through the hedge to Beauty Point Sailing Club

I was DETERMINED that this little out-of-the-way op-shop was going to have some kind of thing that had been, until then, missing from my life. And so it was! Two sporks! Or as my Instagram friend calls them – ‘splorks’ – which is equally applicable.

334/365 • Beauty Point: two sporks (the greatest and most underrated cutlery hybrid ever), a petal, and what we hope is wild garlic •    #334_2016 #opshopscore #spork #Spring2016 #exploring #tamarriver #bellalunaboat #tasmania

Ever since we housesat at our favourite farm (where there were sporks aplenty) I have been meaning to acquire some. No longer do I have to give the Smalls a fork and a spoon with their meals – and anything that reduces the amount of dishes that need washing deserves a hallelujah chorus and a big tick.

We bought some milk and made our way back along a far more picturesque path via a small playground. We found what we thought was some wild garlic (pictured above with sporks). I dissuaded M from seeking out a coffee,

“You’ve got coffee on the boat! Have one when we get back.”
“But, but I like….I like the ambience of going to have a coffee…”
“Have One On The Boat When We Get Back. We have better things to spend four dollars on.”

He acquiesced. Mournfully.

Biggest and smallest. Beauty Point, Tamar River.

Back at the pontoon a fishing boat had pulled up, and this time it was ME who got chatting to the two guys aboard it. They were fishos and the exhaust pipe had carked it somewhere off the coast – they pulled into Beauty Point where they knew a guy who would weld it up for them.

It’s easy to make judgements on people based on what they’re doing, how they look – on first glance these guys looked like monosyllabic bogans – but once they started chatting to me they had none of the macho posturing crap and spoke to me like just another person. They knew what I was talking about when I told them about being out in Bass Strait at 1am and not being able to tell stars from anchor lights…

They helped us leave the pontoon.

“I’d be pretty happy to be out at sea in this,” said one of them, pushing the boat toward the sea. “This is luxury.”

I felt that thing you feel – the need to explain what looks like wealthy good fortune. I didn’t want them to think we had simply gone out one day and bought a boat. Quick! He might think we were the idle rich!

“It wasn’t very luxurious waiting for nine years while he built it,” I said, and felt that I had at least offered an explanation for our seeming good fortune. Why it matters what anyone thinks, I don’t know. Maybe it is a particularly Australian thing to feel the need to explain your circumstances so people don’t think you’ve got it too easy…

We headed back to West Arm for another night of picturesque solitude.

Sunset.  West Arm.

* ‘Vinnies’ being the abbreviated Australian version of ‘St Vincent de Paul’ – a charity that has turned it’s opportunity shops into a chain-store-like venture….

Launceston To West Arm Via Gravelly Beach

Luxurious as our stay was (shore power and water TA DA!!) it felt empowering to motor away. I required some down time, only realising how frenetic things had felt after leaving the pontoon and headed back downriver. We spent the night – the extremely rainy night – tied up to the pontoon at Gravelly Beach. I didn’t get off the boat and had a big sleep-in.

M (have I mentioned yet that we have called him ‘Mr Chattypants’ because of his labrador-like tendencies to converse with the locals at every opportunity?), having conversed with a local, was told of a goat track that cut the walk to the town of Exeter from 4km to 1km. Off he went, returning a few hours later with tales of a dark chocolate wallaby, two bandicoots and beautiful houses…

CHATTYPANTS! M met a bloke on the pier who had exhaustive knowledge of the Tamar River – he came in for a chat after the Smalls and I had gone to bed, and I went to the sleep to the murmur of their voices, awakening in the morning to find the table full of pamphlets. He returned not long after breakfast and lent us his copy of the excellent Tasmanian Anchorages Guide.

We headed off after lunch on our second day to who knows where – and ended up anchored near where Supply River runs into the Tamar. M had itchy feet from general inactivity and commanded us all to rise early the following day for an exploration of Supply River – where, in 1804, the Lady Nelson stopped to top up supplies of freshwater.

Rowing us toward the rapids.  Supply River.

By 9am the next morning we were underway in Foamy and heading under the small road bridge at the mouth of the river. There was something in the distance that I thought were little rapids…but as we drew closer…this is what we saw…

All Photos-1082

Supply River. Waiting in Foamy.

We found the maps and information compiled form the Tamar Valley Information Centre in October 2002 incredibly helpful.

Old mill. Supply River.

The ruins of an old flour mill are right near the waterfall – built from handmade bricks and local stone in 1825 and had their millstones shipped from Paris – yoicks!

The walk along the river was difficult enough to be interesting, with two bits having ropes in place to assist you in ascending/descending. We found a teepee…

DB discovers a teepee. Supply River.

Waterfall.   Supply River.

Foamy waited patiently for us at the base of the falls. We climbed and fossicked and searched in vain for the graffiti from 1804 that is still supposed to be visible.

DB in Foamy. Supply River.

Our next destination was to Paper Beach. Allow me a tiny tangent…

Erith Island

All of the aforementioned places are ones that have thoroughly captured my heart… I’m adding Paper Beach to that list. Holy moly -such a beautiful place – and a complete surprise. One positive of often forgetting to do our due diligence beforehand on places we visit is the unexpected thrill of discovering something amazing.

I didn’t even realise there were more than one or two houses there until we started walking along the pebbly strip of beach. We passed three or four blokes – separately – each with a lovely dog, and M had a word with each of them – the Smalls and I patted the dogs…

The interweb has since told me that Paper Beach is only 35 minutes from Launceston. OMG. Of course, that is by car, not by following the meandering river. Revelation! Up behind the beach is a track (where the dog-walkers were) where there were between ten and twenty houses – proper, old-school houses on big blocks of land – all of them facing the river. Their blocks went right back – and when we walked all the way around, all you could see from the road were letterboxes and long, long driveways…

We found a tyre swing, a telephone box and countless dwellings to swoon over. There was sunshine and the constant background of running water – the water reminded me of Fraser Island – it seemed to be flowing from everywhere toward the river, like a massive snowmelt had happened somewhere far above.

None of my pictures do justice to how pretty Paper Beach is, but think of picturesque river frontage, and that should just about cover it.

When we got back to the boat, the tide was ripe for us to move – we had done lots of pre-lunch adventuring in two beautiful places. We stopped off briefly in Deviot and found a small, somewhat overgrown, community garden (and resisted nicking some herbs) which adjoined a playground. Where there was a plant pot with a smiley face…

Again there was a background of running water and I was reminded of Hobart and its rivulets. There weren’t any footpaths, which made walking alongside the main road feel a bit dicey. With both Small sick and snotty, their stamina has depleted and we didn’t walk for much longer…

We headed for West Arm, where we had found shelter on the journey upriver. Anchoring was again a bit difficult, but worth persisting with. It was the night of the supermoon – 14 November 2016 – and it was a beautiful place to be…

Super moon. West Arm, Tamar River.

Launceston. Back downriver.

Goodbye Launceston.

After a final trip to the supermarket and topping up the water and fuel, we said goodbye to Launceston – and, it has to be admitted, I felt a little relieved to be on our way again. We are still cruising novices and this had been our first ‘city’ experience.

It felt a little frenetic. It was expensive. We realised we need to plan our days a bit better – go food shopping once at the beginning and once more just before we leave. Aside from the museum, we didn’t really get on a bus to go anywhere, although we definitely pounded the pavements throughout the Launceston CBD.

We loved catching up with our old friends, and making new ones. We hope to continue making contact with homeschoolers and exploring and photographing, but also slowing down and being a little more organised on our outings… Baby steps…

Launceston: street art

Gravelly Beach to Launceston

Although we have been sailing a fair bit on the Tamar River, the wind was so strong as we got closer to Launceston that we motored most of the way. Past swathes of farmland, new ticky-tacky houses, past pulp mills with mountains of native forest timber wood chips soaring up toward the clouds, past abandoned boat and shiny treasured vessels moored at the bottom of gardens…

Tamar River. Going under the Batman Bridge

The wind was icy and super strong. The Smalls were generally oblivious, preferring to stay inside. I have seen the looks on their faces, particularly Small Z, that I recognise from when I was little. When your parent enthuses at you about a swan on the river or a beautiful old house on a hill, and you can’t understand why they’ve dragged you away from your book/ipad/fighting with your sister to show you something they obviously hope will enthuse you too. I had that look in 1979 as my parents dragged me through what felt like endless series of chateaus in France marvelling at what seemed to me to be the most boring things possible.

222/365 • under sail, heading further up the Tamar River •    #222_2016 #8yo #6yo #bellalunaboat #Tasmania #tamarriver @tasmania #discovertasmania

The river narrows as it gets closer to the city. Some of the bends felt a bit dicey in the crazy wind, but M was in his element. Launceston is almost invisible until you’re actually in it! M had been worrying about since we had set out that morning – the wind was very strong. We found the Home Point pontoon and used the wind to drift toward it. We secured ourselves without incident and congratulated ourselves…only to discover that we had tied up to the Sea Scouts pontoon and needed to move over to the actual Home Point pontoon. Two tricky manoeuvres in one hour – done!

We are paying $24 a night for the pleasure of being able to walk into the city. We also have (HOLY GRAIL) power and water. This is true luxury, although paying to stay anywhere isn’t really supported by our budget. Thus, our time here is limited, but we intend to fill up our water and charge up our batteries – hopefully to the point where we no longer have to start the generator every time we need to start the stove (which is a bit more than normal when your hot water is dead).

Somehow, we manage, wherever we are, to make a beeline to the library. How we love a library. Launceston is no exception. The Smalls revel in a new library – the layout, the books, the wifi. M and I enjoy the wifi – and a little bit of down time. This picture is taken looking out through the library window:


The first thing I noticed about Launceston are all the amazing old (as in 1800’s old – which is old for Australia) buildings – so many are abandoned, but have been build so solidly that they don’t look completely dilapidated, just unloved and so full of potential. I imagine rescuing one and having a huge, Huon pine floorboarded loft with glimpses of the river..

George Town to West Arm

It’s Melbourne Cup Day – but we are in Tasmania, and saw no mention of it. I was texted a photo from my Mothership who is throwing a party and had baked a cake in its honour. It looked delicious *whimper*

There have been very strong winds for the last two days and they are supposed to continue for another five, at least. Horrors. We departed George Town, after a last visit to the library, in what felt like a hurricane – it felt dicey, the process of leaving the pontoon, but M remained calm at all times and I pulled ropes onboard like a mad-person. It was not sailing weather.

Motored around to Beauty Point where the Australian Maritime College is, and then backtracked around to West Arm – a kind of dead end turn off on the Tamar River, and managed to find an anchorage out of the horrible wind.

This is the view as we eat dinner - a beautifully sheltered anchorage.
This is the view as we eat dinner – a beautifully sheltered anchorage.

It is LOVELY here – feels like we are on the Murray River – the banks are lined with gumtrees. M and Small DB went ashore and brought back huge oysters – that apparently we are not allowed to eat because of pollution in the river. I am TORTURED by this situation. An oyster as big as my head that I am forbidden to consume. Woe. WOE. I have instructed Small DB to use them as bait to catch me a Large Flathead. I will then reduce my levels of despair.