by Roger Findlay

Tour company Life’s an Adventure invited Think Tasmania to join them on their 3-day Bay of Fires walk. As a thank-you for his dedication, we asked Roger to represent us and write a report about the Tassie experience. All he had to do was pack his bags and get himself to and from LauncestonRoger made meticulous preparations (just ask Jeanette!) and duly arrived. Now all we have to do is publish his article and photos. So here you go!

Life's an Adventure - Tasmanian Beach
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Roger takes a walk on the beach for Think Tasmania

Bay of Fires Walk: Starting Out

Our Life’s an Adventure group of six met at the Hotel Grand Chancellor Launceston and after introductions we departed in a small bus with a trailer. The journey to the top end of the Mount William National Park took us through Bridport and along a dirt road into Gladstone. We were covered in dust by the time we arrived at the starting point for the walk (Stumpy’s Bay camp site 4) but we did see plenty of Forester kangaroos.

We were met by our walk leader, Kat, and her support crew: Warrick and Daniel. Our group consisted of myself, Gavin, Robert and Karen (husband and wife), Liz and her daughter Meg. Gavin was the only Tasmanian-based walker, while the others hailed from the NSW central coast, Mildura and Melbourne.

Life's an Adventure - Tour Group
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Bay of Fires Walk: Life’s an Adventure

It must be said at this point that we all got on famously with only myself being a bit of a pain at times. Thank-you to you all for tolerating me! After a short briefing we were given a packed lunch and nibbles before setting off with our day packs. Warrick and Daniel had taken our large bags and driven off in a Troopy to set-up camp further down the track.

Life’s an Adventure: Stellar Team

From the outset, it was obvious that Life’s an Adventure guide Kat was a fun person and as strong as an ox! She always carried a full pack that was as tall as herself but her experience and training made the task easy. Over the three days, I got to know her quite well and have an appreciation of her formal qualifications that make her so knowledgeable in the terrain, flora and fauna, as well as shanties.

Life's an Adventure - Tour Leader Kat
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Life’s an Adventure: strong and capable leadership

The first stage of the walk, 12km, was mainly over soft, white sands. When we stopped for lunch, our mermaid – Liz (a retiree), looked splendid in a yellow bikini as she headed into the cold ocean. The rest of us tucked into the delicious apple juice and wraps. Late in the afternoon, we crossed shallow water before arriving at the Deep Creek camp site for a well earned drink.

Life's an Adventure - North East Tasmania
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A diversity of terrain walking: north east Tasmania

Warrick and Daniel had everything set up, including our two man tents, huge kitchen tent and shower tents. Our bags were placed in the tents and the food preparation was underway.

A Taste of Tasmania: Bay of Fires Walk

All Life’s an Adventure Bay of Fires Walk menus were created by Tassie chef and author, Karen Goodwin-Roberts and consisted entirely of Tasmanian produce. Some of the food appeared to be pre-prepared but our trio from Life’s an Adventure had excellent food handling and preparation skills that ensured perfection. Ninth Island wines and cold Boags draught beers were available to those who behaved.

Life's an Adventure - Beer, Wine & Nibbles
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Relaxing glass of wine or beer after a hard day’s walking

Tonight we started with Pyengana cheddar, blackcurrant paste, crayfish, damper and Pyengana butter before feasting on the main courses of hot smoked salmon and mustard seeded lamb with rice. For those still hungry, the dessert of lavender panna cotta with wild berry sauce looked yummy.

Life's an Adventure - Gourmet Food
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Camping: Life’s an Adventure gourmet Tasmanian produce

After sitting around a smoky camp fire telling tall stories, it became time for bed. Our sleeping bags fitted nicely on the mattress-style camp beds and it was quite easy moving around in the dark without electricity. Torches and head lamps were the go but I didn’t have to go far for a private loo. Gavin the Snorer did just that (snore) but, in the morning, I felt well-rested and ready for the new challenge of a pit toilet and optional cat lick wash or shower tent.

Life's an Adventure - Camping in the Bay of Fires
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Warrick and Daniel set up camp each day

Kat is an expert with blisters! Each morning she inspected, padded and taped the feet of the lame! It looked like a real chore but Kat was up to the task. My only regret is that of not taking a photo or presenting an award to Liz for her pristine condition feet. Well done, Liz! You walked almost double the distance of the actual walk. It must have been the swim that gave you the vigour!

Clever Kat Saves the Day

Once we had finished the huge breakfast of cereal, fruits, bacon, eggs, rice pudding, juice, tea or ground coffee it was time to walk. Today the weather was ominous with a forecast of thunder storms. It was fine when we started off towards the distant Eddystone Point lighthouse but that rapidly changed forcing a change in plan. As the rain pelted down, we came across a young, loving couple outside a shack. Their car was bogged but Kat and the boys became their saviour. However, there was a catch! In return for freeing them from the bog, Kat asked them if we could prepare and eat our lunch in the shack.

Life's an Adventure - Bay of Fires Beach Walk
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The Bay of Fires… beautiful, even in stormy weather

After a brief visit to the lighthouse and listening to Kat’s well rehearsed Eddystone Lighthouse shanty, we lunched on hot soup, salmon and cured meat before being shuttled by car and Troopy to a tree lined road for the 6km walk into the camp ground at Policeman’s Point just south of Anson’s Bay.

On arrival, the National Park Ranger visited. An interesting character who’s worked in the same role all over Australia. The scenery of the entire east coast region was magnificent but the setting at Policeman‘s Point was extra special. Robert took the opportunity to test his large telescopic lens on the abundant bird life while the rest of us had a leisurely stroll on the sand. Liz returned from her 3km walk to find us all lounging alongside the estuary snacking on uniquely flavoured dips. I must apologise to Gluten Free Meg for unintentionally stealing one of her four naan’s that had been specially prepared!

Life's an Adventure - Food by Karen Goodwin-Roberts
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Food: Life’s an Adventure Bay of Fires walk

Daniel formally announced the menu before each meal and on this occasion we had pepper berry damper with Duck Reach butter, Nichols chicken cooked in Cascade pale ale, spiced lamb cutlets, bbq’d Mediterranean vegetables, pink eye potatoes in a green pea mayonnaise sauce. This was followed by spiced strawberries and rhubarb.

Bay of Fires Walk: Evening Entertainment

On this particular night, Elliot wasn’t helping dad milk the cows or pack onions in the shed. Instead, he was staying just across the road, but our gathering around the camp fire was far more attractive than the party at the house. Elliot wasn’t a bright kid. He was 15 and maybe he thought Sydney was in New Zealand because of the bottle of Stone’s he’d consumed. He didn’t come alone. There were at least five more, including girls. After a while our able leader, Kat, displayed skills of diplomacy in asking them to leave. Our sleep went undisturbed. Not so sure in the House of Elliot.

Gavin was late to rise as I had (supposedly) snored all night. New Outfit Karen appeared from the tent dressed like the perfect fashion model for a sport or camping store. After a breakfast of pancakes, fruit and cereal, Kat did her usual with the blisters on the feet before letting us set off ahead on the final stage of the walk.

Life's an Adventure - Attention to Detail
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Roger gets some running repairs from Kat

The Bay of Fires walk along to the Gardens entailed long white sand beaches, black shale and orange stained boulders. Early that morning we were fortunate to see a killer whale gambolling in the blue-green sea. Mermaid Liz so wished she could join it while Big Lens Robert missed the action shot.

Life’s an Adventure and a Challenge

We stopped for lunch on huge granite boulders but I was bricking it and couldn’t enjoy what we had. The smoke-cured ham, terrine, salad, chutney, pickled onions and mountain bread looked splendid, but the walk ahead was my main focus. Was I capable? Mermaid Liz gave me great encouragement as we scampered under a tree limbo style and over the rocks. She even found me a stick which later became a flag pole. Iwonder what Gluten Free Meg thought of it all?

Life's an Adventure - Bay of Fires Granite Boulders
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The tour group: proving life is an adventure

The Gardens became closer. Warrick and Daniel both came out to greet us. I had fallen for Kat! As usual she didn’t believe me and asked to see the proof. I could only show her a small bruise. It wasn’t enough for her extra special attention. Maybe another time?

The bus drive back to Launceston went slowly. Except for Liz, we were tired and had little to say but in our minds we reflected on a great walk with wonderful people. Now I just have to get back to Tasmania. What a great place it is.

Life's an Adventure - Photo of the Bay of Fires
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Great memories of the Bay of Fires walk: love Tasmania

Thanks to Life’s an Adventure, Kat, Warrick, Daniel and our two bus drivers. The Bay of Fires Walk is one of the best things to do in Tasmania. Without this adventure, my life would be incomplete ~ Roger Findlay

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Map: Bay of Fires Walk in Tasmania