After a night hidden from the storm that had chased us across the Bass Strait, we rang the Dalrymple Yacht Club and asked about coming over to get the salt off Artemis. Their bosun – Leigh – told us to tie up sideways to the pontoon, clean the boat, shower ourselves and get thing sorted. When we arrived he also gave us some home made jam and explained the fascination of fossicking to us. And Leigh wasn’t the only friendly person we met on this, our first day in Tasmania. Jill & Ron stopped by for a coffee and Jill quickly ran Heidi to the supermarket to buy fresh produce. Stuart also came over for a coffee and explained everything from Australian politics to boat electrics.
We decided to take a run up the Tamar River to the town of Launceston at its head. Not many people seem to do this but it looked possible. Luckily Jill & Ron live right next to the river about half way up so we spent the first evening with Artemis at anchor while we enjoyed dinner at their house. Neill wanted to be back at the boat when the tide turned but we missed that by many hours because the couple are such great company.
The second day the wind was against us all day but we used the incoming tide to push us up the river and past the farms and villages on the banks. One church looked like it had been transplanted straight out of a corner of England but the houses ranged in style from swiss chalet to ultra-modern glass box. After six hours the tide was fully in and gave us no more push so we anchored off a field and waited six hours for the next push to arrive. No hectic. No stress.
We arrived in the historical port of Launceston to find that the ships have gone and the mud has arrived. The entire harbour basin is silted up and (after hitting a large mud bank) we found the only “hole in the water” deep enough for Artemis to sit upright during low tide. We were the only boat at anchor and watched the boats in the nearby marina dry out twice a day.
Launceston has a famous gorge where the South Esk River enters the Tamar River. We went for a quick walk up the lower section but returned the next day to complete the longer route up to an old power station and then back through the forest. The gorge is really impressive with something new and interesting round every corner – Peacocks, cable cars, rock formations, wallabies, huge trees, power stations, landscaped gardens, Padimelons and water.
Above the gorge is a forest with mountain bike trails so one day we put the bikes together and set out to explore them. The tracks are a great way to enjoy the bush and enjoy the fun of cycling up and down beautifully crafted tracks. In total we covered about 14 kilometers of trails and met two other bikers. And a hand full of wallabies.
The tidal range was increasing as we approached the new moon and one afternoon we only had 30 centimeters of water under the keel so we decided it was time to leave. Just as we were lifting the anchor a motor boat appeared heading up the river. Heidi recognized the crew as people we knew from Bundaberg so we explained the anchoring situation and moved on to allow them the “hole”. They were going to spend the next few low tides sat in the mud but didn’t seem too worried about that.
The south wind had been against us all the way up river and now the north wind was against us heading back down. At least the engine had a good run to chase away the cobwebs it normally gets when we are out sailing. We spent one night just off a wooded beach with the sound of nearby cattle as background accompaniment and the second night we waited in a basin just before the coast to be ready for the next adventure.