Bathurst Harbour and Maatsuyker Island

Fishing boat, Deadmans Cove

As we approached our first camp site in Deadmans' Cove, we chatted with two fishermen about tomorrow's weather. According to the weather bureau it would be a perfect day for visiting the rocky outpost of Maatsuyker Island with freshing N East winds, maybe even some sailing!

Rainforest, Deadmans Cove

We set up our camp amongst the greenery of the southern rainforest. We were here in good time and could take our pick of the sites. I strolled through cool forest excercizing my leg muscles. I thought of the bushwalkers who would be struggling with heavy packs way up on the Ironbounds.

All modcons, Deadmans Cove

My thoughts turned back to a previous trip to this area. The Maatsuyker Canoe Club were doing it in style. Cecily Butorac and Laurie had every comfort, double bed air mattress, plenty of beer. The looks of amazement on the bushwalkers faces as they struggled in exhausted, muddy and tired as we lolled back eating abalone and sipping beer.

Laurie calling up on the radio

On that occasion Laurie had brought his marine radio. It was put to good effect when we were asked to radio for help by two bushwalkers, one of whom had injured his thigh coming down the Ironbounds. A message was relayed from a fishing boat to a passing helicopter covering the Melbourne to Hobart yacht race.

Helicopter taking out injured bush walker

We helped carry their gear down to the chopper. Later that day we were approached by a tearful young woman who wanted us to call her a helicopter. she was tired and angry at her boyfriend who walked too fast and made her carry all the cheese which she didn't like anyway! We politely declined.

Around the camp fire, Deadmans Cove

In 1997 we shared the campsite with quite a mixed collection of bushwalkers and three fishing boats anchored in the bay. Later around the campfire we entertained each other with a few outdoor stories with the bushwalkers who seemed quite taken with the idea of sea kayaking.

Sunrise, Deadmans Cove

I was up early to get the summer sunrise, it was absolutely flat in Deadmans Bay. I hadn't seen the south coast like this before, not even the long swell from deep south of Australia was to be seen. We would head straight out to Maatsuyker via De Witt Island.

Jeff and Grant in the double, Craggy Is.

Out to the east of us was Flat Top and Round Islands. Laurie mentioned that on his first trip out here in 1980 they passed close to both of these islands. Flat Top is honeycombed with large passages cut out by the ever restless sea. Not much of that today though. In 2004 on the Maatsuyker Canoe Club trip from Strahan to Cockle Creek I finally managed to visit Flat Top Island and paddle right through the sea tunnels from one side to the other. You can see part of this video by clicking here

View from Maatsuyker Is.

As we approached Maatsuyker Islands and headed for the seal colony on the Needles, way above us the lighthouse keeper would be ever vigilant. Our aim was to get in close to the colony of Australian and New Zealand fur seals that live on the northern side of these precipitous lumps of rock.

Storm waves on the Needles, Maatsuyker Is.

This was not the same conditions I had encountered on my first trip to Maatsuyker. Then there was a strong southerly blowing up from Antarctica. Masses of white and green waves crashing around us as we scurried between the dark foreboding rocks. The lighthouse keepers spotted our bright sea kayaks while we were in the heaving mass of white water and initially thought we were wreckage of some unlucky yacht.

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