January 22-24, 2016
Day 1 – short 5km walk to Pilot Station
Day 2 – hike 16km to South Cape Bay
Day 3 – eat, swim, read
Our impression of Cygnet, which was confirmed by the hotelier, is that the town is currently full of fruit pickers – picking cherries now and then apples. The town is also over decorated in crocheted cozzies on street furniture and tree branches. Maybe if we stayed longer, or visited during a festival or a weekend we would get more of the local flavour. It is not hard to see what draws people to the area. The surrounding countryside is stunning and the locals are very friendly. As the long Australia Day weekend was approaching we were keen to avoid the crowds. We spoke to a National Parks ranger in Huonville and he confirmed our plan to head as far south as possible.
We ended up in Cockle Creek campground in the Southwest National Park. We arrived in the early afternoon. What a great spot, we set up camp in the sand dune right by the beach at Recherche Bay. We set up the tent and went out to explore the area which has a long history of logging and whaling. There are remnants of an old pilot station on the point not far from where we were camped. And the remnants of the old logging camp jetty can still be seen at the beach.
The next day we hiked to South Coast Bay which is on the eastern portion of the South Coast Hike. This is a 6-7 day hike which requires a plane to drop you off at the start at Malaleuca. The trail we hiked out traverses a landscape very similar to what we had seen on the hike out towards Cape Pillar, a dry sclerophyl forest and long sections of boardwalk through the flat moorlands. Half way into the hike, it had started to rain, gentle at first but then it got persistent and heavy. We soldiered on getting wet but at least it was not cold. We knew we were approaching the end of the trail by the sound of the roaring surf. And what a blast to come our of the forest and be confronted by the wind and the raging surf rolling in from the Southern Ocean. It is the first time we have been on the beach with the Southern ocean rolling in and Antarctica the next landfall. It felt really wild.
We walked along the beach for a while, the rain had passed. Surprisingly little rubbish washed up on the shore, bits of plastic rope and bottle tops, which we picked up. Having experienced this last section of the South Coast Hike we both look forward to coming back and doing the whole hike. It really is another wild and unspoiled place. On the last day we lazed around a bit, we ate and swam and when the rain arrived we hunkered down in the tent and read a book. A perfect Sunday.