B-log ~ March 2024


Fast Sail to a Wilderness CleanUp

When a Brickfielder’s blast from South Australia brought soaring temperatures across Bass Strait to Tasmania, it also carried clouds of pesky desert flies that invaded our eyes and noses, making life unbearable. And that made our feet itch again. As we had already posted our mail and received our purchases, and had not walked near as often as planned nor kayaked once, it seemed a grand idea to leave behind humanity’s noises and visual distractions, and escape into the wilds of Earth once again.

So we shopped, stowed, and dropped the mooring, and then began unfurling our majestic headsail into a force even greater than before. And immediately began thinking maybe we’d overstepped our capabilities. Ah, but this time, our wisdom of releasing only a portion of cloth and taking down our immense rain awning boosted our confidence as we entered the sea of white ahead.

Jude at her best, doing what she loves.

When going south the 20 miles to the bottom of the harbour, Banyandah prefers her wind aft; so we usually take the wind preceding a cold front, which can be severe and gusty. That said, our good ship also likes a close reach down harbour on a south-westerly, especially if the sun’s shining. But that’s not always the case. On the west coast, south-westerlies are often twenty knots, with showers gusting over thirty knots. So, if the choice is between bashing to weather dodging showers or running helter skelter down a following sea, it’s no contest for Banyandah with her long keel and full forefoot. She’s a true trade wind runner. Coming home, that’s different. SW winds are perfect then, even when they back NW and become light.

Our voyage south gave Judith another chance to hone her skills at driving her precious floating home in following seas, after losing her wily perception to stroke. An experienced sailor can sense how much helm to apply and when to ease that helm whereas the inexperienced often overworks the wheel back and forth, or does not correct soon enough and then over corrects. That’s where Jude finds herself. The fine touch she gained over many years and thousands of sea miles is presently hiding under a veil that more time at the helm will uncover.

Harmony and Banyandah in Kelly Basin

It’s amazing, at 42 south, we wore only shorts and t-shirts on that blistering sail. Relief from the hot air fryer desert winds came sharp and unexpected by windblown spray off breaking waves splashing our legs and backs. But this respite lasted just briefly as it soon dried. That fun, fast sail took us, as before, to the very same “Mavic” hole under the solid might of Mount Sorell. It’s our office. In a cove that at times is so calm you’d be tempted to walk upon its shiny surface, we study, make notes, write our memoirs and stories, edit film and share life together as we have for more than half a century. Nearby, easily reached by kayak, are walks as challenging as you like. Around are flocks of black swans, timid cautious creatures, so beautiful when gaining flight. And plenty of slappers, that’s what the locals call their young cygnets. Unable to fly, they slap their wings as they run atop the water. In yesteryear, they were easy pickings, run down for tucker by pioneering men in rowboats.

Farm Cove Office

Our Office

With no harbour noise, internet, or phones, and nothing manmade in sight, in peace, we enjoy life in our office. But not this time. We had another mission.

Our Mission ~
Regular readers will remember in our last jaunt down harbour we hiked to the gravesite of Joseph Brown, who passed away in 1900. He now lies in the hinterland outside West Pillinger in Kelly Basin. Jack and Jude believe a solitary grave of a prominent person is a historical relic and should be maintained so it’s not lost to a jungle of fast-growing vines spreading through giant stands of razor sharp grass.

Therefore, we rallied another Macquarie Harbour Wildcare member, Trevor Norton, ex owner and skipper of the 76’ charter yacht Stormbreaker, and together we organised a clean-up expedition. Checking the weather forecast, we set a date to meet in Kelly Basin.

Trevor Norton, ex owner and skipper of the 76’ charter yacht Stormbreaker

That day blossomed perfectly. Under a windless, clear blue sky that, if anything, was a mite too hot, we loaded a day’s rations, gloves, a handsaw and the mighty Skil Trimmer that loves to cut Razor Grass. Trev provided the transport ashore, and then led the way, providing a running commentary. After thirty years of operating a tourist vessel in Strahan, he is most at home using his gift of gab reciting local knowledge, and that’s what we love so much. Jude tagged along as well, refusing to be excluded from an outing into Nature. So we gladly modified our pace, just to have her wit and charm, and her knowledge along on this adventure.

Trevor did a wonderful job leading the way. He’s usually a fast walker but matched his pace to ours, and left many pink tags on trees to mark the route, while deftly using his father’s old machete to trim intruding branches, and cut back some of the leafy ferns, so we could better see the way. Thanks, mate.

Frankly, after tramping from Farm Cove to visit Joseph Brown just two weeks earlier, we found the trek from Kelly Basin a bit more of a slog. First off, we pushed through waist height hard fern mixed with scrub foliage that hid numerous fallen trees, first noticed by our shins. Or we were over them without seeing the hole we put our boot into. Conquering the climb, we burst into the open at the top of the ridge with a long stretch of head high tea-tree to be negotiated before reaching the valley leading to the gravesite. Traversing that was the easiest.

That tree marks the drop into the valley

At last we see where Joseph Brown has lain for more than a century.

Our Wildcare group has an agreement with National Parks to help maintain many tracks to spectacular sites. And so, like a well-oiled machine, the team set to work cleaning up the site. The work is physical, requiring some bush skills to avoid injuries. Good balance and an easy going nature helps. In return, we have outings in spectacular spots and do laudable work.

Before Going Down Harbour ~
While still in town with the internet, we searched for information on the mysterious Joseph Brown with the only piece of information we had.
From: The Mount Lyell Standard and Strahan Gazette Wednesday 30 January 1901, on Page 2
Mr C. SMITH begs to tender THANKS to the gentlemen who so kindly subscribed to the fund for burial of the late Joseph Brown at Kelly Basin, who was a native of Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, England.

Our day’s internet search discovered there were many Joseph Browns in various places at that time, including England. And that the Boar War was heavily reported, as was Queen Victoria’s death. So, we did not find any record of a Joseph Brown in Burton-on-Trent, nor in Tasmania or Australia. A shame really, we’d like to communicate with his relations to send photos, and hopefully learn just what Joseph did in faraway Kelly Basin that earned him the only stone monument in the Southwest Tasmanian wilderness. Clues and further information gladly accepted.

MORE Photos:

Here lies the mysterious Joseph Brown

Hot work, but we really enjoyed doing it.

Our clean up could keep Joseph open to the heavens for several years

Rest in Peace Joseph Brown, December 1900

Want to help? Contact the Secretary of Wildcare Macquarie Harbour.