There to Here – Down Under, Down Under

It was hard leaving the koalas and friendly people on Raymond Island, but it was time to move on. While there, however, we met some folks who told us that the volunteer caretakers on Deal Island were unexpectedly staying longer than anticipated and were quite short of supplies. Deal Island is accessible only by boat ... would we be willing to stop there and bring them what they needed? Well, er … where’s Deal Island exactly? In the middle of the Bass Strait, on the way to Tasmania? Aw, heck … sure we’ll do it. We loaded up the supplies.

 Leaving Lakes Entrance was an adrenaline rush ... yikes!

Leaving Lakes Entrance was an adrenaline rush ... yikes!

Leaving Lakes Entrance was easier said than done, but after the initial adrenaline rush, we were in the Bass Strait heading down under, down under to Tasmania. (Get it? Australia is “down under” and Tasmania is “down under” Australia … so it’s down under, down under). Deal Island turned out to be a magical place made even more special by our time with the caretakers, David & Mary.

On to Tasmania’s wild west coast and a sleigh ride of passage until we approached Hell’s Gates, so-named because the prisoners who entered through the narrow passage being taken to the Sarah Island knew the chance of surviving in this penal colony was close to zero. History confirms that it was a harsh, cruel life. It was hard to imagine the lives of the prisoners as we walked the island on a gorgeous day, exploring the remains of the prison buildings.

 Entrance Island Light through Hell's Gate to Macquarie Harbour.

Entrance Island Light through Hell's Gate to Macquarie Harbour.

We motored up the Gordon River and down again, found innumerable breathtaking anchorages nearby with Macquarie Harbour and resupplied in the scenic town of Strahan before heading south to Port Davey.

 Scenic Strahan waterfront

Scenic Strahan waterfront

Approaching the unlikely entrance into Port Davey behind Breaksea Islands we wondered if our charts and the GPS were playing tricks on us. Luckily, once in the lee of the Breakseas, a whole other world opened to us and we enjoyed the calm and beauty of this isolated paradise for more than a week.

 The entrance to Port Davey behind Breaksea Islands looked ominous and required lots of trust.

The entrance to Port Davey behind Breaksea Islands looked ominous and required lots of trust.

A good weather window had us rounding our third great southern cape – South East Cape at Tasmania’s southernmost point and heading up Tasmania’s more hospitable east coast.

 Rounding South East Cape ... our third great southern cape. 

Rounding South East Cape ... our third great southern cape. 

We had thought we’d coast hop up the coast and head back to the Australia mainland this year, but our romance with Tasmania wasn’t quite over and instead we opted to haul Cups in Kettering, just south of Tasmania’s capital city of Hobart, and spend more time exploring, but winter was fast approaching.

 Kettering's Oyster Cove Marina

Kettering's Oyster Cove Marina

After more than a two year absence from the USA and family, we decided that the winter in Tasmania (summer in the USA) was a perfect time to head back home for a few months. We zipped up Cups, boarded a flight in Hobart and in no time (or 32 hours), we were landing in LA and driving to Las Vegas. Our time in the States was outstanding with lots of family and friend time and a round-trip cross-country road trip which we called Odyssey 2012. The summer flew by, but we managed to visit 30 national park sites, 30 states + Washington, D.C. and Ontario, Canada ... a total of 15,000+ road miles.

 Grand Teton National Park - Jackson Lake ... just one of the 30 US national parks visited during our 2012 American Odyssey.

Grand Teton National Park - Jackson Lake ... just one of the 30 US national parks visited during our 2012 American Odyssey.

Cups was waiting patiently for us when we returned to Tasmania in autumn 2012. After a fun holiday season with Tassie friends, we were anxious to get back to the business of sailing. Join us next week as we head up the Tassie coast, across the Bass Strait and back to Australia’s mainland.