A walk from Spain Bay to Stephens Bay

Our last day in Port Davey was spent at Spain Bay – a good place to leave from, and a great place to go exploring. Before we left Bramble Cove, M hared ashore and filled our water containers from the creek we had found the day before. We were halfway to Spain Bay before he realised he’d left his shoes there… Woe!!

After anchoring in Spain Bay we embarked on a Very Long Walk to Stephens Bay. Obviously more seasoned hikers than us would do it with ease, but for the Smalls – it was a long one.

Stephens Bay and Spain Bay
“Along vast, wild Stephens Bay, open to the Southern Ocean, where the breakers pound in endless succession and the rugged spume-wreathed coast rolls south to the formidable pillars of South West Cape, the Needwonne people had earlier made their home. They had camped in the shelter of the great sand dunes north of Noyhener (the beach whose name preserves a word of their language), and found good hunting and gathering at Stephens Beach. Rich sustenance came from seals and mutton-birds on nearby islands, and from shellfish along the rocky headlands. Inland, game abounded — wallabies on the moorlands and buttongrass plains which the Needwonne burned periodically, and swans on sheltered waters nearby. The middens, mainly of abalone and warrener shells, contained stone tools, seal and wallaby bones”.
Christobel Mattingley,
National Library of Australia News, Volume XII Number 4

The track was narrow and in places we lost sight of Small DB entirely. There was mud and puddles and occasional glimpses of our destination…

Through the undergrowth. Walking from Spain Bay to Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

Walking from Spain Bay to Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

We followed the path through the trees and came to a green mossy clearing, where someone had put together a rope swing. There was a pile of debris that had been collected from the beach. And there was the beach itself – beautiful, windswept, deserted…

First view of Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

The only other footprints we saw all day were made by wombats, wallabies and birds…
Pawprints. Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

…and mysterious Small DB pawprints…

DB. DIY pawprints. Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

It was a little hard for the Smalls – after a snack they wanted to play and frolic, but M was keen to get to the end of the beach where there is an Aboriginal midden. They did have some fun along the way…

Jumping. Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

I could barely look up from the sand – the driftwood, seaweed, shells, pebbles, pawprints.

Camera Roll-208

As we walked there, and on the way back, I collected all the bits of plastic string, bottle caps, plastic bottles… It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I noticed that there were more and more shells…

“Mum,” said Small Z. “You’re walking through the midden.”

I was indeed. And it was amazing.

Camera Roll-211

Zoe. Midden. Driftwood. Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

The driftwood was completely outrageously spectacular…
Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

We found a big fat plank of Huon pine, and the remnants of a boat with Huon pine planking, joined with wooden nails. We dug up as much of it as we could, but it was stuck fast beneath the sand.

Camera Roll-214

M walked up the sandhills behind the midden and found an astonishing sight. A huge expanse of sand-plain…as big as about six football fields… The Smalls were in heaven.

Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

Camera Roll-213

There was much running and tumbling and climbing done on the sand dunes and flats, but eventually the sun dipped lower in the sky and, in view of the long walk back to the boat, it was time to make a move. A final fossick, a final snack, and we got back on the track to Spain Bay…

Stephens Beach. South West Tasmania.

I have found that one of the best ways to get Small DB to tackle distances that might otherwise faze her is to allow her to lead. So she did – all the way back, despite slipping over backwards in the mud twice…

Toward the end, we were all a bit weary…

The long walk back from Stephens Beach to Spain Bay. South West Tasmania.

Back at Spain Bay, Bella Luna was still in sunshine. It had been a good day…a perfect finish to our Port Davey explorations…
088/365 • yesterday - returning to Spain Bay from a BIG walk to Stephens Bay • . #spainbay #6yo #tasmania #portdavey #southwest #discovertasmania #tassiestyle #bellalunaboat #Autumn2017 #cruising


  1. Craig Smith

    Beth, I’ve noticed your love of Huon Pine (yes I know very perseptive). I feel it only right to give you some when we next see you guys. I have told Mark that we will come and spend a day (or more) with you all when you hit the 18 degree or above mark. Probably somewhere up the NSW cost. I promise I will bring Huon pine as an offering. We can all sit and smell it and have a Huon powwow.

  2. Post

    Please bring Huon pine as an offering – I have a few little bits, but they are forced to live in the front hatch, so I see them very infrequently. My intention was to make a whole heap of Huon hearts and crochet hooks, but… hasn’t happened yet… Yesterday in the visitor’s centre in Triabunna I noticed they had Huon pine SCENT in a spray bottle… WHAT THE?!

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