A place in the sun
The puffer jacket has gone unworn for an entire week. Daylight hours are nearly double those of the night. The suggestion of a swim almost sounds like an invitation rather than a dare. It must be summer in Tasmania.
Time to load up a vehicle and gravitate back to the shack, that favourite campground, or a beloved beach. We talked to five locals about the places that keep luring them back.
Wukalina and larapuna
Wukalina and larapuna are the original names for Mount William and the Bay of Fires. It’s no mystery why Clyde Mansell, palawa Elder and founder of the guided multi-day hike wukalina walk, is drawn to the island’s north-east. "Why those areas are so important to me and why I like them so much is that they are the traditional homelands of my ancestors."
While Clyde was born and raised on Flinders Island and moved to Launceston at the age of 16, he is often to be found in Pyemmairrener Country. He and his wife even had a shack at Ansons Bay. "Lovely country. Lovely environment."
Visitors can independently walk to the summit of wukalina/Mount William, which takes about 45 minutes, says Clyde.
"I always find it hard to do the last little bit before I get to the summit but, once you’re there, it’s the most fantastic view of the north-east and out to the islands. There’s plenty of Forester kangaroos, wombats, wallabies, and Cape Barren geese to see too."
The wukalina walk operates throughout the summer months and, for Clyde Mansell, that means more time on Country sharing culture.
Southport is almost as far south as you can drive in Tasmania. On a cracking day New Zealand-born chef Analiese Gregory heads down to Southport Lagoon. "There’s some really good shore fishing at the mouth of the lagoon to catch things like Aussie salmon. So I do that, go for dives down there and take lunch and just sunbathe on a rock shelf."
She’s fond of the Southport Hotel, Australia’s southernmost pub, where giant stuffed crabs adorn the walls above the bar. Analiese sticks to beer or a G&T there. "It’s more about the place and not about the beverages."
What Analiese Gregory loves most about summer in Tasmania is that it stays light until 9pm. Sometimes while exploring outdoors, she’ll lose track of time, find accommodation for the night and go diving again in the morning.
The Gardens is at larapuna/Bay of Fires, near St Helens, on the north-east coast. Musician and producer Monique Brumby has vivid memories of family Christmas holidays camping among the tea-trees by the ocean. "We used to go there every summer." They’d search for cowry shells, fish off the rocks, cook over an open fire and gorge on her grandfather’s home-brew, beer-battered crayfish patties.
Monique still remembers "the red lichen boulders silhouetted by a moonlit night".
St Helens Bakery, she says, does great crinkle-cut chips. Monique suggests taking them to The Gardens where you can "wriggle your toes in the sand, eat hot chips and stare out at the ocean, lucky that you have such a beautiful place to live".
There’s a lot Monique Brumby loves about a Tasmanian summer: "I love white sand between my toes. I love the long summer nights. I like the feeling of being connected to the earth and to nature and to ancestry, and to something that’s tangible".
Spiky Beach is found on the western shore of Oyster Bay. When wine educator Curly Haslam-Coates first visited from England its affect on her was profound: "Spiky Beach is my absolute. I love it. That was the place… I knew I was home." Within two years, Curly had moved to Australia and now identifies as a Tasmanian ambassador.
The beach got its name from nearby Spiky Bridge, built by convicts in 1843. Curly returns time and time again to this rocky beach with its sweep of sand. "I love just being a child, scrambling on the rocks, looking out to sea and seeing what things I can see on the beach."
One of the joys of a Tasmanian summer for Curly Haslam-Coates is "that lovely shoes-off moment" when footwear becomes entirely optional.
Badger Head is in Narawntapu National Park to the west of the mouth of kanamaluka/River Tamar. Steve Howell, co-owner of Blue Derby Pods Ride, has a massive soft spot for the place. "There are so many memories from going [there] with lots of different groups of friends and relatives." He went as a child with his parents, surfed with high school friends and carefully chose the location for one of the first dates with his now wife and business partner, Tara Howell.
"It’s the most stunning spot and probably my favourite coastal run because you’re up on the headland and there’s low grassy scrubland so you get these extensive views." Steve also loves walking to lesser-known Copper Cove. "You’re following this beautiful trail up and over the hills and then you drop down into a series of little coves, which are quite protected with beautiful pebbly beaches."
A quintessential Tassie summer, for Steve Howell, is being at the beach and "needing to jump back in the water more than once". He and Tara are introducing their baby to Badger Head this summer.