Erith Island, along with Deal and Dover Islands, are the largest islands in the Kent Group and the waterway between them forms the Murray Channel. Our experience with Erith Island on our last visit was very limited. We tried to anchor near the island when a strong westerly came through and we dragged. During our brief anchorage period, we saw the beach and the hut ashore, that was it. This time, waiting for a weather window to head west allowed us the opportunity to anchor off Erith under more pleasant conditions and go ashore for a look-see. It was only a mile across the channel from our East Cove anchorage.
The area close to the hut and the beach at the north end of the bay has claimed several boats over the years including a yacht in 2010. We anchored south in the bay and Cups sat comfortably as we dinghied over to the beach.
In 1958, Jack and Gladys Lierich built a hut on the north end of West Cove on the site of the present hut. The hut was built of driftwood collected on the local beaches and lined with sails. Jack was a cray fisherman and they lived in the hut for four years. He built a 38' fishing vessel on the beach, launched her with help from his friends and according to information in the hut, the Mirrabbooka still sails in the Bass Strait.
In the 1960's, the Murray-Smith family began yearly expeditions to the island and continue the tradition to this day. They're known as the Erith Mob and have continued to maintain and make improvements to the hut over the years while preserving the integrity of the island. When they're not in residence, the hut is open to visitors and campers. We wandered through the hut. It's very rustic with rudimentary furniture and amenities, but probably quite a welcome respite for kayakers and campers ...and the family who was shipwrecked here in 2010.
The Erith mob have also cut and maintained tracks across the island. We followed several which meandered up the hill from the beach through bush and forest. There are no wallabies here, but there were certainly a lot of birds. Cape Barren geese shared the track with us for a ways, honking their concern at our presence. Firetails, flame robins, pippits and a brown falcon topped our list of bird sightings. We saw no snakes, but the native skinks were plentiful.
We climbed to a notch between two large hills and were rewarded with a spectacular view of both the Murray Channel and the Deal Island Lighthouse on one side and the Bass Strait on the other. Wilson's Promontory, some 60 miles away, was a faint shadow on the horizon. The key interest in this particular location? An internet connection … three bars worth! David sat on the hillside with the Telstra dongle and the i-Pad reading emails and checking weather forecasts.
This sidetrip was enjoyable, but as the wind picked up, we hustled back down the track to the beach, launched the dink and headed back to Cups. The channel roiled with the wind and current, but once back to our East Cove anchorage, all calmed down. We settled into the anchorage, waiting for that elusive weather window. It's always just a couple of days away.
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