New Zealand / Australia Diary
Wednesday 25 April 2012

Peter & Krista on Goats Bay beach

Wednesday broke greyer and colder than Tuesday so we decided to head south. Once I'd remembered that south is the cold direction in this hemisphere I wrapped up in jumper and coat but to be honest it still felt pretty nice to me.

Today's first destination was South Arm, just a few kilometers across the Derwent estuary but a long way round by land. As we drove around to reach the other side of the river the clouds kept coming & going, letting the sun shine through for a few minutes then cutting it off with thick grey billows. As we came into Hobart city centre the traffic suddenly multiplied and ground almost to a halt, explained as we spotted the pipes & drums leading the ANZAC Day parade. An adroit change of direction, skirting the middle of town, enabled us to keep moving and to rejoin our original route over the Tasman Bridge and away to the East.

As we passed from town to countryside there were more and more signs of horse riding centres & activities (although no actual riders, too late in the season for that). The houses we passed retreated from the roadside until eventually they appeared as just a mailbox or nameplate with a driveway winding off into the bush.

At South Arm we took a dirt track off of the road and parked by Goats Bay/Beach/Bluff (there was no consensus about the name). As we took to the sand the sun retreated and the wind, straight from the Antarctic (or so it felt), came in hard & strong. Despite this it managed to feel bracing & refreshing rather than an ordeal to be endured and we set off strolling along the soft sand.

Amongst the clumps of washed-up kelp we discovered a strange (but sadly dead) creature, a seadragon. I'd never seen (or even heard of) these before and was entranced by the sight - it really did look like a dragon, both in its sinuous shape and bright colours. A nice reminder that there really are more things in the world than you'd ever imagine.

The washed up Seadragon

(Later research confirmed it as a Weedy Seadragon (really!), found only in southern Australia.)

From Goats Bay we continued around the curved tip of South Arm to the very sheltered settlement of Opossum Bay, nestled within the wide estuary of the river Derwent. In contrast to the wind-lashed Goats Bay, facing out towards the ominously named Storm Bay, this was an oasis of calm and we arrived to find it bathed in sunshine. Descending to the beach we strolled along, contrasting the local summery conditions with the dark clouds amassed across the river, shrouding the upper reaches of Mount Wellington.

The varied buildings along the beach provided a visual potted history of the town, with basic (but often brightly painted) sheds and huts mixed in among larger and more grandiose buildings of more recent construction. There were a few prominent FOR SALE signs but overall it felt like an area that was moving from humble beginnings to a more upmarket ambience. I imagine there'll be a cappuccino bar the next time I visit.

On our way back home we called in to visit Tirriki, Peter & Krista's daughter. We arrived to find a major construction project underway with rocks scavenged from the surrounding paddock being cemented together to form a dramatic water feature. The work was being done as a fully inclusive family (& friends) project, the adults arranging and cementing, the older children collecting stones, the younger ones playing & filling the air with childish laughter. Or something like that. Anyway, things were going well and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Which was nice.

From Tirriki's we came home via the superbly provisioned Salamanca Fruit Market where we stocked up on produce for the evening's supper. Which was dutifully eaten, with great relish.

Peter photographing the surf, Goats Bay

Grey skies over Goats Bay

Opossum Bay

A tasteful residence on the shore of Opossum Bay

A shoe tree at Oppossum Bay

The view from Tirriki's house

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