Hidden gems in Tasman Penisula

I thought it would be all dull and cold exploring Australia’s best kept secret-Tasmania on a wintry month of July. But I was proven wrong when I embarked on the Tasman Island Cruise with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Little did I know that I was cruising into an untouched wilderness of nature’s spectacular creations and wildlife that were distanced from concretes, humans and pollution.

We checked in for the morning cruise at the booking center where we were given pre-departure briefing on safety precautions. Our group then departed in a bus to the cruise boat- also famously known as the yellow boat which awaited us at Pirates Bay. According to the commentator, the Yellow Boat is specially custom-designed and tailor-made for the journey through the rugged coast of Southern Tasmania irrespective of the weather. Our journey would travel south to Cape Pillar and Tasman Island.

Soon, we were seated in the Yellow Boat and given a red water and windproof full length jacket to don on to shield us against sea sprays and pounding wind.

The boat engine fired up enthusiastically and our cruise set off at 10am on a sunny wintry morning. The big blue Australian skies with scarce patches of clouds greeted us as we moved deeper into the ocean. Already my camera was itching to flash and capture every little sight and delight of the coastal scenery which unfolded in front of my eyes.

The speeding boat slowed down as it inched its way to the Tasman Arch which was originally a sea cave. The collapse of the roof of the rear cave and wave erosion has led to its metamorphosis into Tasman Arch, which now resembles a natural bridge perched atop a cavern. My eyes lighted up as the boat drove underneath the arch where we had a close encounter with rock formations that have undergone constant erosion since 6000 years ago.

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As we continued sailing south toward Cape Hauy, the boat paused at the Waterfall Bay. The sight of water pouring into the ocean as it brushes past the mocha brown rocks was simply magnificent. It was a vertical drop of 80 meter-high.

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As the boat climbed up and down the waves, there was a sensation of being jostled around in a washing machine. It was more exhilarating than it was  scary as the sturdy boat was maneuvered skillfully. As we neared Cape Hauy (pronounced “hoy”), a trio rock formation sprouted from the vast sea. The soaring slender rock which sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle is known as The Candlestick. It was flanked by the Lanterns to the left and Cape Hauy to the right. The Totem Pole, a skinny pole behind the Candlestick was seen poking into the clear blue sky.

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My eyes were treated to a feast of sights of Australian fur seals sunbathing on the rock terraces at Cape Hauy. The colony appeared nonchalant to our presence was idling under the comfort of the warming sun. The male seal generally spot a dark gray to brown fur while the female have light brown to silver gray fur.

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As we approached Cape Pillar, waves became more dramatic and forceful. Strong foamy waves were crashing against the cliffs incessantly, each time eroding the rocks bit by bit and constantly resculpturing the landform. Soaring dolomite cliffs were presented in different forms and sculptures as a result of wind and water erosion. Cape Pillar boast the highest cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere, towering up to 300 meters high.

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From Cape Pillar, the power boat continued to charge south towards Tasman Island. An up-close look on the island revealed soaring cliffs with vertical columns sculpted on the façade. People and supplies have to be lifted up through a crane in order to access the island as there is no jetty to park boats. As it is not easily accessible, this makes the forlorn island even more isolated in the Tasman Sea.

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Our final shot of the lone Tasman Island as we were boating away from it. See how the baby blue above was reflected as glinting navy blue in the sea.

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