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…

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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.


  1. Jan Proudley

    I just love the photos Beth! Such a pretty place. The girls look like they’re having a great time. Mark looks very Explorerish. Keep the photos coming along with the commentary; all interesting.

    Lots of love ❤️ to all,
    Mum xxx

  2. Post

    Hooray for the Mothership!! We just hoisted the HotSpot up the mast to get some decent signal and I am able to check the blog. So glad you like the photos! Love

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