In Tasmania Day 11 Surprise Bay to Rivulet camp
Surprise Bay is the right name for the start of this part. Thus far, the map times and distances have been spot on for me, so when the notes predicted up to 10 hours to cross a 9 km trek, I felt a little anxious, particularly since I would be starting about 2 hours short of Granite Beach, the calibrated starting point. You always have to take what the trail gives you, and today didn’t promise much—very little beach, no duck boards, an old fashioned slog just like the Port Davey Track. Since most of the campsites are near ocean level, usually just upstream from the beach, the first part of the day is often a steep climb, and today it did not let up until nearly noon— steep climb over root-buttresses slippery with recent rain, and paths with mud holes every 6 inches. It was a true Tassie experience. In keeping with that experience, I also picked up a leech (quite common in the swamps)—it bled all over my watch, not a pretty sight. I blew through Granite Beach campsite in an hour or so, seeing some familiar faces but continued to push hard, probably beyond my overall strength and ability, but sometimes you have to make the best of it. At noon I crossed paths with a young man from Perth who swore it had only taken him 4 hours to get where we were, significantly quicker than my map’s estimate. Taking that as inspiration, I plowed forward and by 4 or so I found myself in camper’s paradise. A broad beach with a fast flowing river (a little touchy to cross and a little brackish to taste), a long dead tree on the sand offering bench and drying hooks, a bright sun and smart breeze. I arrived and the hardcores soon followed by Alex the German and two young dryads he accompanied (they soon disrobed for a nearly nude swim). We all rinsed, dried and absorbed the vital energy a clear sky and good sun provide. By evening Daniel arrived, so we were all well-positioned for the hike to the end point.
The only blemish on the day was the local fauna. Specifically several Pademelons scouting for food. They kept me awake by chewing the food they had stolen from the other trekkers during the night, and in the morning one chewed a small hole in my tent (those who know me know how much I love that tent) and my food bag (bad choice on my part). An unusual day as it was both disheartening and uplifting.
T. Hugh Crawford