David and Ea are the duo behind the Yukon. They found her sunken just out of Copenhagen and bought the traditional Danish sailing ketch for a carton of beer. Locals quipped they paid too much. The following seven years were dedicated to restoring her. They then sailed out to Australia where they now reside in Franklin offering Huon River Day Sails, Bruny Island Cruises, a Port Davey Cruise and more.
Before we share the four days we spent on the Yukon, we have an exclusive offer. If you go on a Calm Water Cruise, just mention Tailored Tasmania when booking and you’ll get 4 tickets for the price of 3 for the 90-minute cruise, departing Franklin at 10.30 am. Offer goes from today until the end of Beanie Season, August 31.
Day 1 – Dover to Recherche Bay
I joined the Yukon voyage partway through the trip. Arriving by bus into Dover, I soon find out from the service station-come-hardware store that the jetty is quite a way from the bus drop off. I look down at my two oversized bags and wonder how I’ll get down there. Next, a man pops his head up behind the hammer section and says, “I’m headin’ down there now. I’ll take ya.”
Next minute I’m climbing into Smudge’s truck. It’s not something I’d typically do. I find out on our short commute that Smudge processes crays, lots and lots of crays. He doesn’t just take me to the jetty, he drives right along the jetty, up to the Yukon. I leave money on his passenger chair. It’s not every day you get a lift in a town where there’s no taxis.
I arrive to a flurry of on-deck activity. I shake hands with the eight I’ll be spending the next four days with, as ropes are pulled and instructions bellowed around me. Soon we are ready to set sail. Our destination is Recherche Bay under perfect blue skies. This is where we’ll spend our first night. We leave the islands of Hope, Faith and Charity in our wake at Dover. I learn that the first licensed hotel was on Hope and the splitters and whalers were known to swim across from Stringers Creek, clutching dry wattle branches, to get to the pub.
At Recherche Bay we are invited to head ashore by tender to explore the former whaling region before settling in for our first dinner together onboard. It isn’t long before the Yukon’s gentle rock has its way and I’m fast asleep.
Day 2 - Recherche Bay to Port Davey
This is the biggest sailing day. It’s a mission likely to take around 13 hours. It begins at 3.30am, my eyes opening sharply to the rumble of an anchor being pulled. Apparently we’re on our way. I stay cosy in my bunk, the photographer fellow directly above me tossing a few times. Despite broken sleep, Kevin climbs down a few hours later in time for sunrise. With weary eyes, I follow. It’s well worth it. We are now in open water, next stop to our left is Antarctica. A gentle glow of red lights the cliffs of Tasmania’s south coast in glorious fashion.
The sails billow as we pass De Witt, an island where a lady once spent nearly a year on her own. I remind myself to find out more about her. Apparently Jane of Victoria wanted to “get away from it all and find myself.” It looks isolated and forlorn. There’s others like Flat Witch nearby.
We pass Maatsuyker where I wish I could yell loudly enough to say hello to the resident keepers at Australia’s southernmost lighthouse. Hours pass and a flurry of playful seals and soaring albatross keep us company as we forge ahead.
Rounding South West Cape, the island’s southern-most tip is something to behold. It’s gloriously rugged. The waves slam against it even though today’s conditions are tame. It is at this point we turn right and head into Port Davey past Big Caroline. I do wonder who Caroline was back in the day, and if she’s happy to have a ‘big rock’ named after her.
Dropping anchor at Bond Bay in Port Davey, it is one of the Sydney-siders who says it perfectly. He breathes deeply as I stand beside him. “The quiet,” he begins. “It almost shouts at you.” He’s right and for a long moment we stand in the silence and remoteness of our locale.
We chatter late into the evening up on deck over Weber-seared chicken.
Day 3 – Port Davey
Early on day three those familiar legs appear from the top bunk - that dedicated photographer keen not to miss a sunrise. Shortly after, Ea brings freshly baked bread out of the oven. We’re soon drawn together up on the deck for a Danish style alfresco brekkie with cheese and salami.
Our morning mission is a trip up the Davey River in the tender. None of the group including the skipper has ventured up there. We rug up and climb down into the little vessel, scooting along just centimeters from the inky black tannin-rich waters. It’s not until we get part way up that this group of explorers has to turn back due to a sand bar making small waves right across the width of the river. I was excited to see the likes of Razerback Point and Gunfight Creek but alas, it wasn’t to be. We head back to the warmth of the saloon for Plan B, an early departure for Bathurst River past the Breaksea Islands.
Arriving into Bramble Cove, we set off on a remarkably scenic walk up Mount Milner. Every step brings elevation and a larger glimpse at the untouched landscape. White sand coves, rocky outcrops and foreboding seas sprawl out in the distance. Down below, the Yukon becomes a tiny dot in the grandness that is Tasmania’s wild South West.
Without doubt a highlight of the four day journey comes next. The sunny afternoon invites more than one of us to take a plunge beneath the cove’s surface. I come up to breathe in some of the world’s freshest air. Invigoratingly cool, this is the type of swim one never forgets. The tea-coloured shallows deliver flashes of small darting fish as I scurry ashore realising I have no towel.
Tonight’s menu features kebabs up on deck, followed by a night cap of sailor’s rum and that feeling a very special voyage is nearing its end. Thank goodness the stars put on such a spectacular display that we each forget it’s the final eve.
Day 4 – To Bathurst Harbour
Yes, another sunrise awakening. This time it’s shrouded in moody cloud. It so happens that the dull morning can only be lightened by three playful dolphins as we leave the bay. I’ve never seen a dolphin swimming upside down, but one is having so much fun ducking and weaving that his white belly shines just beneath the dark surface. They play long enough for us to miss every photo opportunity, then swim gleefully north.
Up the Bathurst Narrows we venture, beside large mountains capped with misty cloud. We’re fueled on pancakes served with avocado, bacon, Nutella and all manner of European-inspired flavours. It wasn’t until I hopped on the Yukon that I realised a whole country of people are quite happy to chop up chocolate and put it on their fruit salad. This trip is as much a Danish lesson as it is in experiencing ‘Hygge’ which surely includes sitting by candlelight up on deck beneath the stars.
It doesn’t take long before Bathurst Harbour opens up before us, some three times the size of Sydney Harbour. Mount Rugby reveals itself in sunshine as if on cue. We spend a little time, mouths open at the mountain ranges and sparkling waters before we are ferried to the landing strip. Less than an hour later we are back in Hobart….the golden silence of Tasmania’s south west still ringing in our ears.
Words and images: Alice Hansen (unless otherwise stated)
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It’s a bush retreat. That’s not the type of place one would expect to find restaurant-quality fare. No less, it’s served with colourful, natural flair in the middle of nature. But as I find, the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat is full of surprise.
And before we go on...you'll get a Chef's Choice Dinner for 2 valued at $70 when 'Tailored Tasmania' is mentioned in the comments field when booking a minimum of two nights over Autumn/Winter 2018 here booking site.
For someone who loves camping, the idea of glamping sounded a fitting experience. The great outdoors minus the hassle. No tent pegs to bang in, no camp cutlery to forget and no dehydrated fodder to pretend is delish by firelight.
I arrive at the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat just 10 minutes outside Binalong Bay in Tasmania’s stunning north east corner to a warm handshake. The petite bell tents are scattered neatly in front of me, seemingly at random, with names like Cosy begging me to peek inside.
“This is you. Make yourselves at home,” he quips as he opens our canvas door to reveal a scene more befitting of a hotel room. But there’s some subtle, delightful differences. In front of the super-comfy mattress topped with high-end linen, is a little jar of marshmallows. It hints of good conversation over the fire pit late into the evening. There’s a heater that promises warmth on cooler Tassie evenings. And there’s the best of all – just a canvas roof separating you from a cosy bed and the east coast’s grand outdoors. It means the wildlife calls are clear, the rain will fall close and the bright stars are only a quick zip away.
As dusk settles in at the retreat, owner’s Tom Dicker and Anna Hoffmann take to the stage in a way near equal to the bush setting surrounds. Those who have opted for dinner (an absolute must) are invited to large timber tables come meal time. Tom and Anna have a humble and quiet manner, much like the trees that wrap their retreat. They’re not showy as hands deliver board after board of exquisitely cooked pork and crackling served alongside roasted cauliflower. They just smile and walk away.
“This is like pulling a chair up in a fine dining restaurant,” murmurs one excited backpacker to her partner loud enough for us all to hear and nod in unison. It isn’t your standard bush grub, it’s enough for even the chattiest to fall silent in respect for the level of fare. Those in the know understand why it’s so good. Tom, former head chef at celebrated Angasi Restaurant at Binalong (now Lichen Restaurant and Cafe) and Drift Café in Devonport is well known for his talent in the kitchen. It’s served up with a casual honesty bar that invites guests to choose from a Tasmanian-strong line up of Moo Brew through to warming coastal Pinots.
Some retreat to the fire pit for warm chatter on a summer evening at the fully-occupied bush retreat. Word of mouth has spread quickly, ensuring most bell tents are full through the summer months. Others take a gentle wander with young children through the short walks on the property. Others again set up board games. It’s about time out and letting nature have its way over you.
Come morning there’s no surprises when the breakfast is delivered. It’s once again brimming with Tasmanian produce that seemingly magically appears at this remote outpost. Nectarines fresh from the tree, in a gorgeous fruit and muesli duo served on petite-plates made by a local ceramicist. Then there’s the eggs and bacon (the bacon hailing from Deloraine) served on a crispy potato rotti. For someone who usually doesn’t line up for a big brekkie, I couldn’t stop eating. It was simply too good.
One night is all we have and well-fuelled by Tom we’re set for a day that spells adventure. There’s an eco-cruise to experience with enthusiastic Alesha whose father built the boat (Bay of Fires Eco Tours) with his bare hands and there’s long-stretching beaches to wander. Drop into The Old and New Trading Co. in St Helens and it's close neighbour Oyster Buoy too - both are WELL worth some time. Oysters are fresh as fresh, and the store is packed full with vintage finds through to underwater scenes from Submerged Images.
The day is ours but as we roll away from the bush retreat I wish we could linger a little longer at this surprising ‘fine restaurant tucked in the bush.’ But that’s Tasmania. Full of characters and surprises and adventure for those who seek it. Like French folk flying high over Peron Dunes!
Words & images: Alice Hansen (unless otherwise stated)
There's other pretty new stuff on our blog here.
Did you know you can book Tasmanian adventures in real time with the operator right here and we can deliver the latest edition of Tailored Tasmania free shipping to your doorstep?
Don't forget that Chef's Choice Dinner for 2 when 'Tailored Tas' is mentioned here: booking site.
It’s called the Look Out. And of course you can take the role of being on watch. But the beauty of staying at Cod Rock Point isn’t just the stunning views from the bed overlooking Red Bill Beach and Cod Rock Point. There’s little eyes in the front garden.
It doesn’t take long upon arrival to realise that Cod Rock Point accommodation is about 20 paces from the sea. Arrive come evening and you'll have company. Sweet Little Penguins call the front garden home.
Take a red glowing torch (courtesy of nail polish of the owner’s wife) and you can mingle with the locals. They’re not at all territorial or crabby you’ve arrived on their turf, in fact they’re as curious as you are. Give them space. After all, they were here long before you. Their little inquisitive eyes and gorgeous nature will encourage you to pay them respect. They’ve come in from the sea to give their young a good feed – don’t interrupt. They’ve got work to do!
Sitting on the rocks with a wine watching these mates come in from sea isn’t all that’s on offer at Cod Rock Point. You can keep an eye on the tide, then wander across to Diamond Island off to the left for an explore. Time it correctly, and the island is all yours.
Then there’s Douglas Apsley National Park. A quick one hour climb through dry Eucalypt forest and you don’t just have the waterhole at the base, where many take a dip, but a gorge with multitudes of secret dipping holes. Take the first, the third or gather for a picnic around your own private number five water hole. Sink into the pure mountain waters on a warm day in complete privacy, wrapped by the steep gorge walls.
Back at the Look Out there’s fish and chips to be had. Head to The Gulch and the menu is a changing feast of the latest catch. Trevalla, Flat Head, Boar Fish or awfully tender Calamari is cooked up in ten minutes of ordering. Served with crunchy chips, your best bet is to head along to the Blow Hole and watch nature at work. There’s a picnic table on the rocks where you can grab front row seats to 'the show'.
Come morning, rise early. Don’t shut the curtains. Let the Tasman Sea be your alarm. As the sun gently rises, the bird life get a touch excited. It's quite the chorus. As I write this, it’s 5.48am. The birds are thrilled that dawn is breaking. The swell is gentle. Cod Rock sits silently, as it’s always done. Clouds rest on the horizon. A warm pink glow hangs above. The day is coming, Bicheno style. Could it get any better?
P.S. Need coffee in town? Don't we all. Best place to go is The Farm Shed. If you behave, you'll come out with coffee rather than a bottle of Splendid gin, a new designer light and a basket made from seaweed.
There’s so much ‘new’ this summer it’s difficult to know where to start. Do you raise your glass with a new gin mixer, fly across Freycinet waters, swing a club for a trip to America or hover high over western wilderness? Perhaps don’t try all at once, but here’s our picks for all the latest fun to be had this summer.
1. GET DOWN TO THE DEN
New to Salamanca Place, The Den gives a gracious nod to Tasmania’s elements. They believe it’s their duty to honour the island’s fine natural conditions through Tasmanian tastes and cocktails. You can too by opting for The Apple Isle cocktail, featuring Granny Smith infused vodka and some Bruny Island oysters with yuzu, pickled ginger and micro wasabi. Served in a seriously stylish fit-out.
Visit: The Den
2. SWING A CLUB AND WIN
There’s lots happening at Ratho Farm, just outside Hobart. Play a round of golf on Australia’s oldest course and you could be heading off on a golfer’s dream getaway to America’s mighty Midwest. The winner gets to play at recent US Open, PGA and Ryder Cup venues from Chicago to Wisconsin. There’s also a round of golf with David Boon up for grabs, in support of Common Ground Social Housing. Those less inclined to swing a club will love the summer Birdies, BBQ & Beers - playing at Australia's newest 18 hole course followed by a BBQ and the option to purchase or bring your own bevvies.
Visit: Ratho Farm
3. KICK OFF THE NEW YEAR WITH GIN-UARY
Ready to sample over 30 different gins in a gin inspired garden? We thought so. Gin-uary is happening in The Goods Shed. There’ll be tunes, cocktail demonstrations, master distillers to meet, gins to sample, Lady Hester gin and plum doughnuts and plenty more at this zero waste event. Don’t miss sampling 'The Splendid Gin Summer Cup', a fancy new mixer from Tassie’s east coast and the first of its kind from an Australian distiller. Could just be your new summer drink.
Visit: Splendid Gin and Gin-uary
4. RETREAT THIS SUMMER
Sink into a generous outdoor tub, hugged by World Heritage wilderness. The Retreat is Pumphouse Point’s brand new offering on the edge of Lake St. Clair. It’s exclusive, it’s all inclusive and it even has a ‘Midnight Snack’ button by the bed that lights your way to the fridge. Everything has been afforded careful thought …. Your only job is to choose the indoor or outdoor bath, to plan your wilderness walking and what local spirit takes your fancy from the indulgent larder.
Visit: Pumphouse Point
5. WESTERN WANDERING
There’s plenty happening out west including a new Heli Steam Experience, combining the wonder of Strahan Helicopters and the West Coast Wilderness Railway. You can also combine your train trip with a rafting journey (King River Rafting) if you like to mix rail travel with wetsuits. Come nightfall, catch a classic movie in the 1930s Art Deco Paragon Theatre. They’ll even serve you up a wine and decadent dessert once you’ve settled in to your comfy seating. Movies start at 8.15. Oh, and Captain’s Rest is one special place to stay in Strahan.
6. FLY IN TASMANIA
With 780 horses propelling you along, the brand new Freycinet Flyer jet boat is built for thrills. Expect spins, jumps, fleeting cliff views and maybe even a dolphin visit or two on this Freycinet National Park adventure. The 10 metre-long vessel is fully enclosed, meaning up to 12 passengers stay cosy and dry year round. So get flying from Coles Bay with Tim.
Visit: Freycinet Flyer
7. YES YOU CAN AT THE HOBART BREWING CO.
Cans are in this summer! Think of them as mini-kegs, ensuring your ale is fresh as can be. These handsome new beer vessels hold more than a bottle at 375ml (yay) and are lighter to pack on your camping trips. Oh, and better on the recycling front. Brewed and canned right here in Hobart Town, pick up yours from the taproom for takeaway or enjoy at Macquarie Point with your mates.
Visit: Hobart Brewing Co.
8. WUKALINA WALK
This new Aboriginal owned and operated walk takes its first guests in January 2018. The guided three-night experience in the Bay of Fires region includes two nights in palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) domed huts and the final night in a Lighthouse Keepers Cottage. Packed with culture and stunning North East surrounds, find yourself listening close to creation stories carried through generations and joining in cultural practices around the night fire.
Visit: Wukalina Walk
9. COD ROCK POINT
Like your accommodation waterfront? Like the possibility of Little Penguins calling your front garden home? At Cod Rock Point in Bicheno on Tasmania’s East Coast, the water is just beyond the doorstep. There’s special torches at the ready to enjoy the Little Penguins, but be respectful, after all it was their home first! Redbill Beach is just five minutes wander and with so much to do on the East Coast make sure you don’t just stay one night.
Visit: Cod Rock Point
10. OCEAN BLUE SAFARIS
Coming in February, prepare for an ocean adventure taking you straight to the famed Wineglass Bay beach. More news to come on this so stay tuned!
Visit: Ocean Blue Safaris
11. McHENRY DISTILLERY GIN PAVILION
There’s a fancy new Gin Pavilion high on the hill at McHenry Distillery near Port Arthur. If you like the sound of becoming your own distiller for the day, sign up to a four-hour workshop at one of Gourmet Traveller’s favourite gin distilleries. Created by Kim Dudson (Bespoke Tasmania www.bespoketasmania.com) and Master Distiller William McHenry, the workshop includes a gin-matched lunch and 500mls of your very own gin label.
12. EDGE OF THE WORLD TOURS
So, you’ve arrived at the Edge of the World. If you’re unfamiliar with this part of the planet, why not go with pro and let them guide you? Edge of the World Tours is a new way to explore rare and remote locales. If you want to explore the West Coast, Freycinet or Bruny Island, these guys have you sorted!
Visit: Edge of the World Tours
13. VAN DIEMENS LAND CREAMERY PUNT
What goes well with summer? Artisan ice cream and gelato of course. Not only can you find Van Diemens Land Creamery near Elizabeth Town in the North West, but also now at the Hobart waterfront. Roll up to their Constitution Dock punt for the most delicious gelato and ice cream, established by a dairy farming fam and all handmade. Yum!
Visit: VDL Creamery
I rarely invite others on writing assignments but this was too good. My mother’s response to suggestion of her first helicopter flight? “No way.” So we gave her the front seat.
Osborne Heli Tours are into their second season of operation from their Port Arthur base (opposite the Port Arthur Lavender Farm) and I was absurdly excited about taking flight. So excited, I bundled my father into the fold as well. Off we ventured down the Tasman Peninsula beneath brooding low clouds and a weather report that whispered of thunderstorms. I was certain it would clear while Mum was no doubt secretly delighted.
The grey skies allowed us to go slow en route to our flight. We dropped in to Cubed Espresso at Pirate’s Bay Lookout for a delectable orange hot chocolate and morsel of raspberry infused brownie that was so delish it was hard to savour and inhale at the same time.
On arrival for our 30 minute flight, Two Capes and Tasman, only one young lady was in the office. Cheery and bright, she held hope the clouds may part. As she began talking radars and weather patterns, it didn’t take long for us to ascertain that the 22-year-old was not only our reception welcome but also the pilot.
With a flick of the pony tail we were told there would be no lift off. Lucy didn’t want to take us if we wouldn’t be able to see the magic she knew awaited. My shoulders dropped but a promise of improved morning conditions meant we just had more time to enjoy on the peninsula and after all, this region is no day trip. Many a tourist has fallen for a Port Arthur visit of hours, later realising the ancient rock formations, distilleries, walks and eco-cruise are deserving of far more time.
Next morning we front up eagerly and again have to wait on a weather break. Our pseudo Qantas Lounge (aka the Port Arthur Lavender Farm) welcomes us once more with savoury scones and tall coffees. The suspense has raised Mum’s nerves, but I insist that my first chopper flight over World Heritage Wilderness on Tasmania’s west coast remains one of my treasured memories and indeed the sensation is like nothing she’s experienced.
A quick text from Lucy confirms it is lift off time. We arrive two minutes later. After a safety briefing, Mum is fitted with her waste-belt life jacket and directed to co-pilot position, much to the grins of my father and I. For a moment I feel waves of ‘mean daughter,’ with flash backs to the time I invited her canyoning up Cradle Mountain, where she leapt off 9 metre precipices in thick neoprene like a good mid-sixty aged sport. I was about to test her comfort limits once more. “Sorry Mum,” was all I could manage but the emerging smile conveyed a silent delight.
As the rotors warmed above us with a noisy whir, I gave a knowing backseat nod to Dad. A second later came the customary and thrilling vertical rise, followed by a swooping over the treetops before we barely realise we’re airborne. Through the headsets come an excited shriek from the front-seat passenger. Mission accomplished – Mum is settling into her bird-like role with delight.
In what feels like seconds, we are suddenly peering over Port Arthur Historic Site and careering out toward the ancient coastline. Lucy points out the sweeping white curve of Crescent Bay and the famed Remarkable Cave down below.
Casually, she navigates the low level cloud with the finesse of someone who has been in the air with her Dad since the age of 12. We are doing the tour in reverse order, Tasman Island typically first. In safe hands, the avid surfer points out Shipstern’s Bluff and arcs around dramatic Cape Raoul. From above, the sheer dolerite columns plummet into the sea. Incidentally, the cape was used as target practice by the British Navy during World War 1, missing some of its towering ‘fingers’ as a result.
We swoop around, next destination, Tasman Island. Mum can be heard chirping away about the Three Capes Track down below, hugging the cliff edge. It’s a walk we’ve all enjoyed, entirely anew in its perspective when hovering above. Her words drift off, replaced with gasps of wonder. There is Cape Pillar and Tasman Island. Tiny dots of humans can be seen taking in the view from Pillar. Known as ‘The Blade,’ it remains one of my favourite places to perch for lunch.
We arc around Tasman Island, the lighthouse and cottages in clear view. Its flat green top looks prime for a golf swing, sitting 300 metres above sea level at the highest point. No sooner are we hovering on the world’s edge, next stop Antarctica, Lucy lays us safely back down to earth. We each shake our heads. Words cannot be found. Was that spectacular, momentary bird-embodiment a fleeting dream? Mum climbs out, dizzy with wonder. The giddy smile says at all.
With flights starting at $145 for 15 minutes (Sea Cliffs and Convicts) whether you want to impress a first date or simply push your mother to the edge, book some time with Osborne. Lucy has flown around the world from Canada to northern Australia and considers it the finest flying territory she’s found. For around the cost of filling a mundane supermarket shopping basket, a lifetime memory can be forged in one of the most spectacular locations on the planet.
This summer, add something lofty to your must-do list.
Words & images: Alice Hansen (unless otherwise captioned)
BOOK NOW IN LIVE TIME DIRECT WITH OSBORNE HELI TOURS
WILD SCENERY FROM HIGH ABOVE
Want to really take in the dramatic nature of southern Tasmania's rugged coastline? Osborne Heli Tours operate a selection of scenic flights and unique experiences from Port Arthur, from their heli-base on the stunning Tasman Peninsula.
They'll take your breath away, soaring high above the towering sea cliffs of Tasmania's famous three capes. Peer down over the exposed lighthouse on Tasman Island and see Port Arthur Historic Site from a perspective few ever witness.
There is no better way appreciate the raw and wild scenery than from high above. A collection of non-stop tours and tailored experiences are available from Osborne's base opposite Port Arthur Lavender.
Your launch pad for exploring Tasmania like a local.