Seven amazing wilderness days that could change your life. An unforgettable expedition with challenges, rewards and remote landscapes.
Fly across World Heritage coastlines and mountain ranges to land deep in Southwest Tasmania – explore the wilderness waterways of Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey by sea kayak – paddle through changing landscapes from campsite to campsite – they’re the attractions and challenges of our 7-Day Sea Kayaking Expedition.
Day 1 is the only day of this 7-day expedition that we can describe in detail – on the first evening, we plan the rest of the expedition after discussion with the group and a careful assessment of the weather conditions. We’re kayaking in a remote wilderness area and there are plenty of options for outstanding paddling destinations, some of which we outline below.
After meeting in the early afternoon at Cambridge Airport near Hobart, our pilot decides whether to fly along the remote beaches of the South Coast, or over the wild Eastern Arthur Ranges. We land on the gravel strip at Melaleuca, load the boats and paddle down Melaleuca Inlet to the beautiful standing camp at Forest Lagoon. We arrive in time to unload and settle in before dinner. In the evening, we’ll plan the journey for the next six days over outstanding Tasmanian produce and a glass of wine.
On the eastern shore of Bathurst Harbour, Moulters Inlet is a quiet bay where waterbirds gather in large flocks. Old River flows into the harbour from the rugged Eastern Arthur Range – the tannin-stained water first fell as rain on Federation Peak.
The summit of Mt Rugby towers above the harbour, guarding The Narrows – it’s a steep climb but the splendid views make it worth the effort. North River enters North Inlet after running through some of Tasmania’s most remote and rarely-visited wilderness.
Westward towards the ocean, the harbour squeezes between two slender peninsulas at The Narrows, where walkers on the Port Davey track cross by rowing dinghy. Beyond, the Bathurst Channel is dotted with forested islands and rimmed with hills and inlets.
Opening from the Channel, Joe Page Bay extends north to the mouth of the Spring River – the Port Davey track follows its low-lying valley towards Scotts Peak, and the end of the nearest road, 5 days’ walk way.
Close to the Bathurst Harbour entrance, Bramble Cove is a sheltered haven with excellent camping. Walks from the cove climb to the heights of Mt Stokes and across to the untrodden sand of this remote beach.
These rugged islands face the awesome power of the ocean, although the eastern coast is often quiet. On the right day, a circumnavigation of the Breaksea Island is a highlight of the sea kayaking journey.
Tucked away to the south, the flat waters of Hannant Inlet lead to a short walk across dunes and coastal heath to Stephens Bay, with its wild and magnificent beach. Stephens Bay is home to many endangered species of shorebirds, with some of the migratory shorebirds migrating over 25,000km each year to reach this remote beach!
Just north, Spain Bay provides shelter from the prevailing sou-westerly breezes.
The exposed waters of Port Davey open the way north to Payne Bay, James Kelly Bay and Bond Bay, all named for pioneers who navigated these coastlines and sought the precious Huon pine that grew along the region’s wild rivers. In settled weather, we can sometimes paddle deep into the Davey River, where azure kingfishers dart above the dark water.
We’ll aim to camp within easy reach of Melaleuca Inlet, so the last day’s paddle is comfortable. Our flight out is at 4 pm, so after a leisurely breakfast there’s time to visit Claytons Corner and Mt Beattie, for a panoramic view of the waterways we’ve explored over the past six days. We return to camp for lunch before the return paddle to the airstrip. After unloading the boats and packing for the return flight to Hobart, we’ll meet our plane at the Melaleuca airstrip.