A personal story of our day in the wilderness: Spectacular flight to the Southwest Wilderness for a boat cruise and secluded beach picnic.
Louise and Eileen share the story of their Day in the Wilderness
Mum had always wanted to see the Tasmanian Southwest Wilderness, so I asked Paul and Michael to arrange A Day in the Wilderness for us as part of our Huon Valley Escape. That's me, Louise, in the black and Mum, Eileen, in blue, as we prepare to board our flight. This was so much more personal than a big airline flight. Our pilot, Thomas, had explained everything and was now waiting at the plane to help us with our bags and climbing up into our seats.
Flight from Hobart to Melaleuca
Flying over Hobart's eastern suburbs and the Derwent River, we traveled down the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, with Bruny Island on our left side. A patch of blue appeared in the clouds above us and Thomas climbed the aircraft to the secret world above the clouds. A blanket of fluffy white, with dramatic peaks rising out to the west. Above Recherche Bay, the clouds parted and below we could see Tasmania’s most southern point, South East Cape. At this point we left civilisation behind and entered the vast South West Wilderness.
Needwonnee Aboriginal walk
By following the South Coast Track westward, we finally landed at the remote airstrip at Melaleuca. Originally a tin mine and the former home of the pioneer Deny King, this area is now national park. After morning tea of plunger coffee, cheese, pate and biscuits, we experienced an interpretive journey along the Needwonnee Walk. This award winning Aboriginal interpretive experience weaves its way through the tea tree swamp to a lagoon with mountain views. Aboriginal stories are best learned in the country to which they relate, so we will leave this for you to discover during your own visit.
Explore Bathurst Harbour
Our pilot became skipper as we boarded one of the boats and headed up Melaleuca Inlet. After a brief stop at the wilderness camp we continued to the abandoned Claytons House and climbed to a lookout. From here we could see the nearby Celery Top Islands, and range after range of west coast mountains. A little puffed from the climb, it was great to breathe the cleanest air in the world.
Back on the boat, we headed out into Bathurst Harbour. This marine reserve is home to a special ecosystem due to the unique structure of the water, through a combination of salt/fresh water layers, low nutrients and darkness due to the tannin from the buttongrass plains. The underwater life is unique and found no where else in the world.
Orange Bellied Parrot
We landed on a secluded beach without a footprint. Thomas set up a table and opened the 2 coolers to reveal a selection of wines, bread and gourmet salads.
Returning to Melaleuca,we had the opportunity to explore the bird life of this special area and saw three individuals of the rare and endangered Orange-Bellied Parrot. A bird specialist was onsite this day and she explained a little of their habits and the program trying to bring them back from the edge of extinction.
Return flight from Melaleuca to Hobart
Late in the afternoon, we re-boarded our aircraft, to return to Cambridge Airport. Climbing gently as we left the waterways behind, we eventually gained enough height to clear the jagged peaks of the Arthur Range. Just a few bumps passing spectacular Federation Peak, emphasised the spectacle of this wonderful flying experience.