Bathurst Harbour and Maatsuyker Island

View up Bathurst Narrows

After a good nights sleep Laurie and I climbed a nearby hill to see the view. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and we enjoyed the majestic grandeur of this wilderness location. To the east lay Bathurst Channel and Mt Rugby which we hoped to climb later. To the west lay Breaksea Island and Port Davey. It was relaxing in the warm morning sun knowing that we had the luxury of paddling in the sheltered waters of the harbour for the next few days.

Grant sailing up Bathurst Narrows

We departed from Schooner Cove mid morning. A strong S Easterly developed as we paddled towards Balmoral Beach.The wind continued to increase in strength and we sailed for part of the way. As we crossed various inlets the wind blasted us but we could hoist sails and scream along until we rounded the next point where we would have to slog into a head wind.

Balmoral Beach, Bathurst Harbour

We lunched on the brilliant white sands of Balmoral Beach, gazing over to Mt Rugby. It was tempting to stay in this sunny, sheltered location but we were heading for the house at Claytons near the mouth of Melaleuca Inlet. After a short snooze in the sun we were off again hugging the shoreline to avoid the worst of the wind.

Arriving at Claytons, Bathurst Harbour

When we finally turned into Melaleuca Inlet the wind was behind us. Up sails on we were off. Within minutes we were pulling our kayaks up onto the bank next to the jetty. We tied the double to a nearby tree so that we wouldn't lose it. We carted our gear up to the house and then strolled around exploring the area. fortunately we had this popular place to ourselves, but not for long.

Laurie and Grant sipping beer, Claytons

That afternoon the Southern Explorer tied up at the jetty with tourists on board. Don Wells, of Par Avion runs a variety of tours in this area. He flies in clients and then takes them on the luxury cruiser around the harbour. He generously handed us each 500ml beers to quench our thirst.

Meringue for dessert

In the evening, as we cooked our meals in the hut, Don arrived with yet more beers. He was quickly followed by the chef bearing half of a huge Pavlova which the tourists couldn't finish. We had no trouble polishing it off for them! Here we were in the middle of the wilderness being fed like kings. We sat around the fire for awhile yarning about previous trips to this area before relaxing in our sleeping bags for a comfortable nights sleep.

Morning sun on Mt Rugby, Bathurst Harbour

Next day dawned fine and sunny, just the weather for climbing Mt Rugby. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, it was nearly as good as my first climb of the mountain in 1990.We had a leisurely breakfast and packed a days gear in our kayaks for the short sail to Bathurst Channel. The mountain is 771m high and an easy climb through heathland and open rocky ridges.

Laurie at the summit, Mt Rugby

We took our time climbing the mountain, stopping frequently to take in the magnificent scenery in all directions. I stupidly had to climb in wet suit boots as I had forgotten to pack my shoes. The climb is broken by a number of level ridge tops where you can get your breath back. The last part of the track is a bit of a scramble between rocks and scratchy bushes, then the while of the South West is spread before you.

Looking west from the summit of Mt Rugby

Looking west out towards the entrance of Port Davey we could see exactly where we had come from a few days before. Down to the south lay South West Cape and Maatsuyker Island. White fluffy clouds drifted by as we ate our lunch and watched the Southern Explorer steam up the channel and anchor far below us. The tourists were disembarking for a stroll up Mt Rugby, little knowing that we could see their every move.

Mandy, Mt Rugby

Later as we descended to the first ridge we met the tourists resting and taking photos of the panorama below. Mandy chatted to us about the magnificance of this area. They had just finished a sumptuous crayfish lunch and had decided to climb part way up the mountain because it was such a fine day.

Laurie having a bath, Claytons

That night Laurie stoked up the fire early in the evening so that we would have hot water for a bath. Who said you had to rough it down here in the wilderness? Laurie even had the foresight to bring soap for this event. something he generously shared around.

Grant and Jeff, Forest Lag, Melaleuca Inlet

Next morning was if anything even calmer with clear blue skies. We set off up Melaleuca Inlet to visit Denneys old camp site, near the airstrip. On the way we visited Par Avions' campsite at Forest Lag, tucked in amongst the trees near a secluded beach. An outdoor eating area was surrounded by greenery and allowed visitors to appreciate this wilderness area without doing any damage.

Landing stage, Melaleuca Inlet

A few kilometres up the inlet we pulled our kayaks up onto the landing stage at Melaleuca. This is where Par Avion meet tourists for the trip to Bathurst Harbour. We coated ourselves with sunburn cream and visited the shed where bushwalkers register their movements. We had some fun filling in the log books indicating that we had done the "marine version" of various walks.

Orange bellied Parrot

We also visited the "budgies" at a special viewing hut that as equipped with binnoculars and other mod cons. Actually this is one of the few places in Tasmania where you can see the rare Orange Bellied Parrot. We sat and ate our lunch while watching the antics of these "expensive budgies" as Laurie called them.

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