February 18, 2018

Tasmania: Breathtaking Bruny Island by Boat

By John Maddocks

Toby can't believe it. This nine-year-old rollercoaster and Wet'N'Wild aficionado is dumbstruck as our fast, custom-built open boat roars out of Adventure Bay on Bruny Island. Toby's eyes widen as the boat engages the 2-3 metre waves, skipping over the surface of the Tasman Sea and occasionally landing with a thump that sends spray over the thirty passengers. And the look on my grandson's face tells me that the exhilaration we're experiencing easily eclipses that of any theme park ride.  

Getting to Adventure Bay is easy. Our day trip with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys starts at 8am in Hobart. On the way down to the Bruny Island ferry, our bus driver/guide Nick gives us plenty of information about the towns we pass through and the history of this part of southern Tasmania. After 45 minutes, we reach the small town of Kettering, where we board the vehicle ferry.

Bruny Island is approximately the size of Singapore. The difference is that Bruny Island has fewer than a thousand residents rather than five million. Bruny is beautiful and remote, without the five-star resorts and big hotels found elsewhere. On the way to Adventure Bay we stop at a lookout giving a wonderful view of the Neck, an isthmus joining North and South Bruny. Fifteen minutes later we are eating freshly baked muffins for morning tea in Pennicott's new beachside café.

The staff at Pennicott are quite open about the conditions before we set off, telling us that there is a decent swell running for our trip down the coast to the Southern Ocean. The tidal swell has apparently been increased by the recent 'super blue blood' full moon, and it's well known that the Southern Ocean can be wild at any time.

The choppy conditions don't stop us from cruising beside the majestic sea cliffs, which are among Australia's highest. The cliffs are made of Jurassic dolerite, an extremely hard and distinctive rock. Two albatrosses follow the boat and a dolphin leaps out of the water nearby. We stop for some minutes on the southern side of a massive rock formation known as 'the monument', which stands alone some metres offshore.

As we go further down the wild and enchanting coast, we see many more birds, including an 'improbability' of shearwaters (I learn that an improbability is the name for a group of these birds). Around 50 shearwaters rise from the ocean's surface in front of us, creating quite a display.

We reach the turning point at some rocks known as the Friars, where there are thousands of fur seals. The Friars are known as a 'haul-out' place for seals, where they spend time on land for reproduction and rest. It's a stunning sight to see so many seals gathered in the one area, and all the cameras on board are clicking away frantically.

We have reached the Southern Ocean and the next stop is Antarctica. So we head back up the coast, using the heavy swell to propel us towards Adventure Bay. It's an exciting trip, with plenty of sea spray as our boat surfs the waves.

When we return it's time for a leisurely lunch at the beachside café. The ocean journey has made us hungry. Toby hoes into some fish and chips, while I enjoy homemade pumpkin soup and a salmon and salad roll.

On the way back to Hobart, I reflect on the wilderness cruise experience. I now understand why it has won so many awards, including 'Australia's best tourist attraction' three times. To my mind, this cruise stands out because it's accessible to all ages. And it's fantastic fun.

The writer travelled courtesy of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys

Travel Facts:

Getting there: Drive to Adventure Bay on Bruny Island yourself or take the full day tour from Hobart. The full day tour leaves at 8am and returns at 5.30pm. Ferry crossings, morning tea, lunch and the 3-hour wilderness cruise are included.

Cost: Full Day tour – Adult $225, child 3-16 $165, child under 3 free.

Three-hour cruise only – Adult $135, Child 3-16 $85, child under 3 free.

More Information: https://www.pennicottjourneys.com.au/

Contact: (03) 6234 4270

Email: info@pennicottjourneys.com.au      

Feature supplied by: www.wtfmedia.com.au


1. The fast, open boats are ideal for viewing the coastline. (John Maddocks)

2. Amazing rock formations feature on Bruny Island. (John Maddocks)

3. The rock cliffs of Bruny Island are some of the highest in Australia, (John Maddocks)

4. The monument is a standout on the Bruny Island coast. (Pennicott Wilderness Journeys)

5. Seeing fur seals up close is a feature of this wilderness cruise. (Pennicott Wilderness Journeys)

6. Powerful custom-built boats provide great access to the rugged coastline. (Pennicott Wilderness Journeys)

February 16, 2018

Arnhem Land: Daymanu and the Malarra painting



by Eva Podsiadlowski
There is a popular misconception that Indigenous Australians had no contact with the outside world before European settlement. Yet, Indigenous Australians along the tropical northern coast had extensive interactions with fishermen from Makassar in the southern Celebes (the present-day Indonesian province of Sulawesi), who visited the northern Australian coastline of Arnhem Land and the Kimberley throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Makassan fishermen came in search of trepang (sea-cucumber or bêche-de-mer). The processed trepang is prized in Chinese cooking for its texture and flavour-enhancing qualities and is used in Chinese medicine. The Makassan trepangers, after collecting and processing trepang in Australia, returned to Makassar to sell the product to Chinese traders. The Makassans negotiated fishing rights, employed Aborigines to help them fish for trepang and traded in Indonesian pottery, glass, fishhooks, coins and clay pipes; remnants of which have been found along the coast.

Makassan Prau

Aborigines, in turn, returned with the trepangers to visit Makassar. Recent linguistic studies show that some Australian Aboriginal languages contain Makassan words. Aboriginal rock and bark paintings record the visit of
the Makassans and their perahu or fleets of wooden sailing vessels. Another legacy of the Makassan trepangers is the tamarind trees (Tamarindus indicus) they planted from seeds that now grow wild along parts of the coast of
northern Australia.

The Warramiri people, who are based at the Gäwa Community on Elcho Island, are the main clan historically associated with the Makassan people of Sulawesi. They have many Makassan ceremonies, traditions & even language at Elcho today. They say that the name “Gäwa” was given by the Makassans from their port of Gowa, southern Sulawesi.

On Coral Expeditions recent inaugural Indigenous Culture & Art Expedition, visiting remote and unique islands across the top of Australia (departing Darwin on November 23, 2017), guests were treated to the expertise of guest lecturers including artist Brian Robinson presenting workshops and lectures on Torres Strait Island art and Samantha Martin on native bush tucker of the North-East coast.

Against a backdrop of a remote and striking landscape, guests were warmly welcomed by children and teachers from the Gawa Christian School on Elcho Island. With the help of interpretation from resident Guest Lecturer, Ian Morris, Gawa Traditional Owner and school patron Daymanu (Makassan name for leader) shared stories and a selection of his paintings with our group.

Lore contained within paintings and songs is part of a moment in a larger story making up a songline which is a map of the country based on the travels of the Dreaming ancestors. Daymanu shared the lore of Malarra, a Manta Ray the size of a whale which is especially significant to the Warramiri.

The small coloured triangle patterns seen in the painting come from Malarra’s wings as he rides the ocean, an action sung by Warrimiri as ‘wirritjun’. These little clouds start rising off the sea and become larger as the season progresses during the Midawarr, or calm at the end of the wet, and in Wulma-murryunamirri, the calm of the first build-up thunders. Warramiri people emulate the wings of Malarra with paddles they use to traverse the ocean called marrwala. These stories keep the history of the Warramiri people and describe the natural progression of the seasons and behaviour of the animals. These stories may be the same ones that Indigenous peoples shared with those Makassan traders long ago.

Source: Coral Expeditions Discover News #41