Tamar Island April 2010

“How about you and I go on an overnight kayak trip to Tamar Island, Roley?”. “No, I don’t want to” is the immediate reply. 5 year old boys are like that, mad keen on an idea one day and completely off it the next.

Instead we head up to Trevallyn Dam with Pete and his 8 year old, Miles. We have a paddle around, myself and Roley on the wave skis, Miles in the Nomad and Pete in his sea kayak. The boys have a great time and as we pack up to leave I suggested the Tamar Island trip to Roley again, and this time get a positive response!

At home I race around packing gear and loading the double kayak onto dads ute. Down to Mortys to get a take away butter chicken from the Indian place, then Dad drives us on to Rosevears Tavern and helps lug boat and gear to the end of the jetty. I stuff gear in to the very limited storage available in the Trinidad. Luckily Roley’s legs don’t take up much room in the front cockpit so I stuff a dry bag full of clothes and sleeping bags in front of him.

On the water around 4:30pm and it’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining and there’s no wind, beautiful Tassie autumn weather. High tide will be around 7pm so we have the current assisting us up the river. Around Pedders Point we pass the Tamar River Cruises boat, Roley waves and gets a fairly half hearted response from the punters. We continue around Dog Point and up Humbug Reach. Roley keeps up a steady stream of conversation and questions. As he’s in the front and facing forwards I can’t hear any of it. After a while I stop asking “what?” to everything he says and just put in the occasional interested “oh?”, “OK” or “yeah”. This seems to suffice.

We skim along the shore. Around Freshwater Point the Tamar River Cruises boat overtakes us on its way back to Launceston. I suggest Roley keeps an eye out for the sea eagle that sometimes sits lookout in the dead tree at the side of the river here. We soon spot the tree, but no eagle. As we draw closer the eagle swoops in and settles on its perch and we get a good view of it as we pass.

As we approach the Tamar Island jetty I mention that we’re not really supposed to camp and ask Roley not to mention that we’re camping if we meet anyone. This gets him worried and I have to assure him that if the ranger kicks us out we’ll just ring mum to come and get us, but he’s still nervous. The afternoon is cooling quickly, once on the jetty we change into warm clothes and shoulder bags of gear. 50 metres along the walkway we meet an older couple out for a walk, Roley immediately introduces himself and tells them that we’re camping the night, although mum will have to come and get us if the Ranger won’t let us stay. They assure him that they don’t think the Ranger will mind…

Past the “DAY USE ONLY – NO CAMPING” sign we eat our still warm butter chicken and poppadums at the picnic table, a tasty meal for hardworking paddlers. It’s getting dark so we pitch the tent and climb into our sleeping bags. I light the candle lantern and we lie there snug and warm telling stories.

We’re up early and have our muesli at the picnic table as the sun comes up, or as Roley reliably informs me, “no the sun doesn’t come up, the world turns”. On the water by 7:30am, it’s cool with a
light southerly breeze. Roley paddled all the way yesterday but today he’s rugged up against the cold, wrapped in my polar fleece jacket as a blanket.

Around Hunters Cut we’re skirting the dead willows on the western side when ahead I see a bird of prey flying low, as if it’s coming in to land. As we round the next corner we disturb it, a large sea eagle clutching a half eaten eel. It drops out of the tree and spreads its wings, swooping low over the water. It’s less than 20 metres away from us and at first I mistake it for a wedge tail it looks so massive up this close. Around the next bend we disturb it again and this time it drops its breakfast as it takes off. Roley and I go in to investigate. Definitely a half eaten eel. I feel guilty about causing the eagle to drop its meal, but it did get to eat half of it so I suppose that’s OK.

We cruise up past the rusting hulks on Kings Warf and dock at the rowing club pontoon near Tamar Marine. After changing into dry clothes and stashing the gear in the boat we open a packet of barbeque shapes to fortify us for the walk up Trevallyn hill. We’re almost home when dad picks us up in the ute. After collecting the boat and gear we return home and sit back in the sun with morning tea and a cuppa and relate tales of our adventures to mum and the grandparents.

John McCausland

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