Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hobart to Port Arthur

Sunday - 23/02/2014
We have to pick the weather to sail or should I say motor sail because sometimes the alternative in the Southern Ocean can be a bit unnerving shall we say. It is a fact the barometer  here can wear itself out. Some of you may not understand that, if you live on the mainland the barometer  may move from time to time but here the weather change cycles with high and low pressures have a great affect. So end result is that we sail or motor when it is safe to do so, this is why we postponed our leaving from Wednesday to Sunday.
So Sunday up at first light and left the marina and headed down the Derwent River, the weather all though cool was great sun shining and calm waters.  As we headed down the river towards Storm Bay we hoped it stayed that way. As we neared the Iron Pot, which is the oldest lighthouse in Australia which is off Cape Direction as you enter Storm Bay.
(Heading down the Derwent towards the Tasman Bridge)
(A group of Cormorants on one bridge base)
(The Iron Pot, Australia's oldest lighthouse)
(Dolphins came to play)
(Hundreds of Searwater Birds or also known as Tasmanian Mutton Birds)

The swell picked up a little but not bad it wasn't until we neared Cape Raoul and Maingon Bay near Port Arthur  that the swell lifted and also the wave rebound started off the shear face of the cliffs. Being close to the cliff face is something to see but one has to suffer the rebound waves to see it. Friend Frank said to stay close to see it and for Nancy to take pictures, trouble is trying to stay still to take the pictures.
We rounded the beautiful Cape Raoul  and headed for Port Arthur entrance as soon as we changed course going with the swell it was a lot calmer, it is around a 4NM run into the actual Port Arthur from the entrance. It still amazes me that the ships of that day negotiated some of these seas and entrances and considering they had a compass and sometimes no  charts and a sextant that one could really get a reading at midday if there was no cloud, I take my hat off to them.
The fact is though when those ships in the 1800's came here the passengers may have been grateful to get off the ship because the conditions were not good but they had little to look forward to.
As we entered we went passed Mason Bay where Port Arthur settlement is located as there is little room to drop anchor due to moorings in most places and it is well open to the elements. We anchored a little south of there in Carnarvon Bay. As soon as we anchored I had a little nanna nap and we had a quiet night aboard watching a movie, it was a little chilly outside and a change was due.
(The first thing to see is The Island of the Dead, this is where they buried the dead from the penal colony some not having a headstone)

(It is something to see now but it must have been a sight when before it became ruins)
(The Shipwrights and Clerk of Works houses)

Monday - 24/02/2014
We are not going anywhere today, drizzle rain most of the day so we stay aboard getting our notes up to date.
Late in the day, just before dark I rechecked the weather to see what we needed to plan and it indicated a change for winds that we were not expecting so we decided to move before it got dark,  so we pulled the anchor and headed into  Stewarts bay which would give us protection from the northern winds predicted. When we went to anchor the anchor winch decided to go on strike so we let the anchor out manually, looks like a job for tomorrow.
 Another cool night we settled for another movie and then went to bed.

Tuesday - 25/02/2014
We decided the anchor winch could wait, to be honest I think it is passed help it needs a new electric motor. So after breakfast we dropped the dinghy and headed ashore to Port Arthur penal colony at least that is what it was for many years.
It was a good walk from Stewarts bay beach but a nice walk at that. We arrived at the visitors centre to part with some money. This place has been done up since we were here last in 1998, they have got massive car park area and overflow car parks thrown in.
In 1998 things were a little different, it was not long after the terrible incident where a shooter randomly shot people in the Port Arthur complex and tourism had suffered a little, which I may add was a benefit to us as bringing the car over on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry cost us a whole dollar, the government subsidised tourism to get people to come here. Which to me I find unusual to some degree, but when you think that if a disaster like a crocodile attack up north or someone disappearing from Ayres Rock actually increased tourism to those areas. Maybe that the reputation of Port Arthur created something different because of its history. But I am pleased to report that the amount of tourist here at present is quite numerous and I don't think we are really in the peak season.

(The above are of around Port Arthur)

Port Arthur  as like other penal colonies before it has some gruesome history, I think I mentioned before that I was reading a book that I have now finished called "Closing of Hells Gate", it is well worth a read, the book ends where Port Arthur begins as Port Arthur took the place of Sarah Island and some other penal colonies like Maria Island.
After our walk all over Port Arthur we walked back to Stewart Bay and back aboard where I decided to give the anchor winch a strip down and without any great result other than confirming it is dead. The only thing left to do is have a drink.

We had a reasonably early night as we sail in the morning at first light for Maria Island.


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