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By Jacinta Anderson
On Monday 16 January, I headed off to Hobart to embark on what would be a truly memorable journey around the pristine southern Coastline of Tasmania with Coral Expeditions aboard their smallest ship in the fleet, Coral Expeditions 1.
After a lovely morning enjoying Hobart’s Salamanca & Waterfront district, we were welcomed onboard by Captain Josh and the amazing crew who would be looking after us for the next week.
On the first afternoon our course was set based on current weather conditions and we left Hobart, cruising down the Derwent just before Sunset enroute to our first destination. We steamed through the night and albeit a little rough in patches around the Southern Ocean we arrived at the stunning Freycinet National Park where we hopped in the Explorer tender and headed off to shore to participate in a fantastic walk to the Wineglass Bay Lookout. This was followed by a visit to Schouten Island.
Due to strong winds expected on the water, our Expedition leader Dave bought together a fantastic land based program at very short notice. Our first stop was at a Lavender Farm where we enjoyed a chat about the farm and the products which they make and sell and got to try some yummy lavender chocolate. We then visited the beautiful Tasman Peninsula area, viewing Waterfall Bay, the Devils Kitchen, Paterson’s Arch, Tasman Arch and the Blowhole before a beautiful lunch enjoying the views. We finished the impromptu day with a visit to the Bangor Oyster & Wine Shack where we were treated with tasters of 6 or 7 wines and oysters or a beautiful local Tasmania cheese platter.
Day 4 took us to the amazing Maria Island with our first stop at Settlement Cove where we spotted some kangaroos and wombats along with viewing the Convict ruins. We then cruised past the Painted cliffs to arrive at Darlington Settlement which is a World Heritage site, recognised for its significance as the most intact example of a convict probation station in Australia. Maria Island is also an important refuge for the disease-free Tasmania Devils. During our sailing on the ship we were lucky to experience a pod of 10 or so dolphins which rode the bow wave for quite some time.
Day 5 would see us travelling from our anchor point of Maria Island heading towards Fortescue Bay for a walk along part of the 3 Capes Track which takes walkers through a dense rainforest of blue gums and ferns. Whilst it was a very wet morning it was spectacular. This afternoon we would head off towards Port Arthur. The Captain warned us about the rough conditions we would face (and we did) as we got closer to The Lantern and Cape Hauy. Conditions did settle when we passed Cape Pillar and Tasman Island. Although it was a little rough, the southern coastline was absolutely amazing with huge Dolerite cliffs. We were lucky to see seals, dolphins and many albatross. Our afternoon was spent at Port Arthur Historic Site visiting the penitentiary and bell tower. We learnt about the treatment of prisoners at the site and whilst this was my second time visiting Port Arthur I discovered different things. Our afternoon was finished off at the Magistrate’s House enjoying drinks & canapes with Captain Josh.
We would start out second last day in Adventure Bay on Bruny Island. An early morning climb up to view the 270mts Fluted Cape was a highlight for me whilst other passengers chose to head out on the water and then visit Bligh Musuem if the hike was a bit too strenuous. A smooth sailing with lunch en-route took us to Barnes Bay where we visited the Quarantine Station for our afternoon expedition.
Day 7 has us arrive at Woodbridge Jetty, still on Bruny Island. We had a morning visit to Pepperberry Farm where the owner explained about the native Pepperberry and his farming enterprise. The forest walk was filled with beautiful sculptures by local artists. This was followed by a visit to GrandVewe Dairy which is a sheep farm known for its amazing sheeps milk cheeses. They are also well known for Vanilla Whey Liqueur which had a very distinctive taste along with Triple Distilled Vodka which was also made from the Whey of the milk. After lunch we headed along the DéNTRECASTEAUX Channel and up into the Huon River where the Explorer sped along past Egg Island to the small town of Franklin where we enjoyed a Frank’s cider tasting and a really interesting visit to the Wooden Boat Centre.
This would be our last expedition day as we cruised back to Hobart overnight before disembarking what was a very memorable cruise.
While no two trips may be the same and whilst we did miss out on visiting Port Davey due to large swells, guests can expect to enjoy 7 days exploring of the beaten track places on the Southern Tasmania coastline. Coral Expeditions prides itself on their amazing Expedition Team and special guest lecturers who work together to provide a great experience with activities and lectures about the region along with all the staff who multitask becoming your little home away from home. Expeditions are done twice a day weather permitting with all meals cooked freshly on the ship highlighting the beautiful products of the region. The food was amazing every day. Coral Expeditions has advised that they will be using the Coral Discoverer, a slightly bigger ship for the 2018 season. I would certainly recommend this trip as something a bit different.