Bay of Fires Lodge Return
Bay of Fires Lodge Walk
The Hike - After such an exceptional day of hiking the day before, it was going to be hard to top that experience on Day Three. Again I woke up early for the sunrise but with little cloud cover around it was a nice, if not a bit undramatic viewing. With no one else really up and the hot water still boiling away (therefore no coffee brewing yet) I returned to the room and warmed myself up under the blankets. We had a bit of a later start to the day but all up we would be covering 14km on both kayak and foot. I thought my GPS would map out the two separate sections and be fine but apparently for it to reconcile it drew a big line to connect the end of the first bit of walking with the start of the kayaking, hence the 21km total showing on the map. The call out for breakfast rang around the lodge thanks to Jessie's impersonation of Joel's effort the previous morning and soon we were all gathered in the dining area for a lovely breakfast of mushroom, eggs and asparagus on toast with fresh coffee.
While we were enjoying our delicious breakfast there was a Paddy Melon grazing on the vegetation just outside the full length glass windows next to the dining table. They must feel very comfortable around the area as it wasn't the last one we saw for the trip. After everyone had finished breakfast and prepped for the day we were to meet in the courtyard area to begin what would be another fantastic day in the Bay of Fires. The day would be split up into three sections, a walk through the forest to catch a bus then kayaking along the Ansons River before walking back to the lodge through the dune system. There is a network of trails around the lodge that you can enjoy on the fourth day but they also serve to take you to different points on days three and four. The first section leading away from the lodge and day spa (more on that in the next day) is used a couple of times on the trip and takes you through some familiar coastal heath.
She Oaks, Banksias, ferns and grass trees line the single trail as you make your way down to one of the 4x4 access tracks. It's a pleasant start to the day and unlike most of the first two days we were all grouped up pretty tight (and in silence). When we reached the 4x4 track we all spread out with the extra room and began the stroll to where Jessie would be waiting for us with the bus. While not a big fan of 4x4 tracks, especially in stunted or coastal landscapes, this one actually turned out to be pretty good. Even in this "dry" part of Tasmania, the ferns lining the track made it feel very lush and reminded me a lot of the wetter and more mature of the Jarrah forests back home. To start with the scenery was very open and sandy but the further we got up the hill (and away from the coast), the lusher the forest became. Charlie, Tom and Lindy were part of the Tête de la Course with Caris and I the Chasse patate so I had plenty of opportunity to take photos of an empty forest and with people in shot.
After a thoroughly enjoyable forest section we saw Jessie and the bus parked up on the side of the road and waited for everyone to catch up. The drive out to the start of the kayaking felt like we were all on Survivor and had done the walk to tribal council out of camp for the cameras and then loaded onto buses for the rest of the journey (I was shattered when I found out they did that). The thin illusion of a being on a proper multi-day hike had vanished but logistically this makes the most sense as walking the entire way to the start would take up most of the day, leaving little time to enjoy the kayaking and beautiful walking to finish the day. Arriving at a functional concrete bridge that crosses the Ansons River we met Jo, the lady who would be providing the kayaks and meeting us on the other side of the bay to collect them again. Judging by the starting point, the kayak was going to be pretty spectacular with the forest towering over the winding river with clear skies and no breeze. The process from getting from bus to sitting in kayaks was a bit lengthy but we had to transfer our gear to any dry sacks we'd brought, put on our life vests and dry skirts along with getting a kayaking tutorial from Joel. Being in fairly stable two person kayaks it was unlikely we were going to capsize but it was nice that Joel went through the motions and prepared us all properly.
I chose Caris to be my kayaking partner as we'd done something similar in Broome a few years ago and she'd done quite well then (not to mention we live together with two fur babies). Hitting the water was a fun experience and I had chosen to bring along my DSLR, hoping that it wouldn't fall in the water or get too wet (I stored it in a small dry sack when not in use). When everyone was in the water we began our paddle downstream as the river meandered through the forest towards Ansons Bay. I was keen to get as many photos as I could of this part so there wasn't a big gap in this post but it was tricky to stop paddling, undo the dry sack, extract the camera and then stuff it back in without losing a lot of momentum. Consequently we drifted back from the main group but Jessie hung back with us and the main group was never too far away in the end. The kayaking was very fun and a good change of pace from the hiking of the previous two days. It was nice to interact with the water in a different way than just getting your feet wet and this was a very lovely way to see the forest from a different perspective.