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Catriona gets ready to kayak
Flying over Bathurst Harbour.

Tasmania Kayaks

Thursday, September 30, 2004
Alone in the wilderness with nothing but the sound of nature — this is pure bliss.

Kim Brodlieb and Ian Balmer, owners of Roaring 40s Ocean Kayaking in Kettering, are experienced wilderness adventurers with formal sea kayaking qualifications.

Sea kayaks measure 5.5 metres — two metres longer than white-water kayaks — are more stable and user-friendly and tend to go straighter and faster. They certainly take you to places not accessible by other craft.

Roaring 40s' kayaks are state of the art and come in single and double sizes. The singles fold to fit in a good-sized backpack. They have a front and back hatch for storing gear and personal items and other equipment which is divided among everyone. Kayakers are provided with two dry bags, two-person tents, sleeping bags and mats, paddling jackets, neoprene booties and all food. You just need to take along a cotton liner for your sleeping bag.

The south-west of Tasmania is one of the few remaining true wildernesses on the planet, and Roaring 40s offer two trips: a six-day/five-night trip or the new three-day/two-night Wilderness on Water. They take a maximum of six people.

Tours begin with a 40-minute flight from Hobart to a gravel airstrip beside Melaleuca inlet in the South West National Park. The route you take — inland or along the coast — depends on weather, but either way you are assured of magnificent views. You fly over Hobart, Mt Wellington, the Huon Valley and Federation Peak in the Hartz Mountains. Finally, you fly above Bathurst Harbour which is where you will be paddling.

If you fly the coastline route you will see all of Bruny Island, South East Cape and Maatsuyker Island, which has a manually operated lighthouse.

On arrival at Melaleuca the kayaks are prepared, water is bottled and away you go — paddling in Moth Creek and out to the lagoon. Along the way you will see walking huts and a few homesteads, including one built by Denny King, an early miner in the area. Another belonged to his brother-in-law who was a fisherman.

Each day you will paddle for four to six hours, but never more than about two-and-a-half hours at a time. This can be alright for beginners, but would be more comfortable with some fitness. Stops for food and short walks to points of interest are taken.

You will stop at pretty beaches, take a swim or two and watch the scenery change from button grass moorlands to dense old tropical forests. You will also see Huons, aged somewhere between 1000 and 1500 years.

Mutton birds and shearwaters breed prolifically and in the season there will be thousands of adults, chicks and eggs. Research of the area has shown that all eggs are laid on November 18 every single year.

At Port Davey you will see the last identifiable seaman's grave, paddle around the untouched Celery Tops Islands and take the short climb up Balmoral Hill from where you can take in the entire area.

You arrive at camp at around 5pm each day. This gives time for a wander before dinner, which is always simply delicious — dessert is included! Camp chores are rotated among the group.


Melaleuca in Tasmania's south-west World Heritage Area.


Roaring 40s Ocean Kayaking tours start at $1295 per person. Including flight from Hobart, meals and all gear. They operate from October to April.
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

Roaring 40s Ocean Kayaking
Oyster Cove Marina
Ferry Road, Kettering 7155
Ph: (03) 6267 5000
Fax: (03) 6267 5004

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