I was looking forward to this one! 10 months prior, for Graham’s birthday, I’d bought him a yacht ride to Schouten Island. Theoretically he could take whoever he wanted, but I did hope I’d get to share it with him! This summer we’d bided our time, not wanting to go when it would be packed. I had one week off between the end of exams and the start of the new semester, and this fell over the last weekend before I started up again. It marked the end of my summer of walking.
Unfortunately we didn’t get off to the start we wanted, with a late night call the day before we were due to leave: the yacht wasn’t fit for sail, did we want to go over on a motor boat instead? Disappointed, we had little option but to agree.
As we drove up through grey drizzle we started to doubt the weather forecast, although our spirits lifted at the sight of silver sea and dark blue mountains – our mountains! The boat ride over was fast and bumpy and we arrived disappointed to find way more people than expected. I struggled to stop my expectations of what would be get in the way of me enjoying what was. We found a spot as far away from others as we could, rapidly became experts in rigging our tarp, and decided to escape the bustle.
We walked west across beautiful white sandy beaches with turquoise water, clambered over rocky headlands, found shells, watched birds feed and otherwise thoroughly enjoyed the place and the company. On our return we went for our first swim, then treated ourselves to biscuits and cheese, olives and dips – far more luxurious than I’ve ever had on a bushwalk! The penguins made us aware of their presence that night, but you could hardly get upset at them.
We woke to the sounds of a kookaburra laugh, and enjoyed yoghurt and fruit for breakfast. As we were preparing to head off one of the guys from a group who were camped next to us headed over for a chat, and gave us a tip about the taped trap up to Mt Story. We accordingly revised our plans, and walked the few metres to where it started!
It was quite nice walking, and we were liking being on a track. Though we warmed up fast, the blue tongue lizards gave us plenty of reasons to have breaks. A final short scramble and we were on the summit, marked by a giant pine stag. Swifts raced around us, so fast that you could hear the swoosh as their wings cut through the air more clearly than you could see them. It was quite amazing and we spent most of our time on the summit admiring them.
We did have one more mountain to climb though, and it looked a decent way off, with a bit of mess between it and us. So we packed up and began our descent down a steep green gully with huge drops off the rocks (we took care to avoid them!). Down at the saddle we began the undulating walk over to Daedalus, surprised at how easy the terrain was now. It hadn’t looked it!
The final climb was a scramble, as it always is with those big rocks and they way they pile themselves on one another. But we had lunch to celebrate with, and a wonderful pool of water hidden in the shade beneath one rock was beautifully refreshing!
The walk back was straightforward, and we stopped by the Parks hut where we checked out nautilis shells and pigmy possums (which look very much like mice!). We arrived back at our tents in time for a late afternoon swim and some fruit salad and cream. Just perfect!
The busy beach was much quieter, with only two other parties, which meant we had it to ourselves to enjoy a late night stroll under the moonlight. We sat on rocks and listened to hungry baby penguins before the mosquitos once again had us retreating to our tent.
Having climbed the mountains we’d set out to climb, our third day was one for relaxing and enjoying. We started it with a lovely easy walk up Bare/Bear Hill. On older maps it is spelled Bare, on newer ones it’s Bear – it could be either really as it doesn’t have a lot of trees, but there’s also this one rock that very much resembles a bear climbing up the hill on all fours!
If you go to Schouten, even if you’re not a walker, this is a must. It’s short and well taped, and the views are just lovely!! We took our time, and sat on the top just enjoying everything. Although we did get rather protective of ‘our’ beach every time a boat approached, as it was now completely ours, the other two parties having departed earlier that morning.
We wandered back down and headed straight for the water. It was beautifully cool and most refreshing… until… a huge shadow (about 1×1.5m) appeared in front of me. Reassuringly, I wasn’t the only one to get a shock, as it made it’s way over to Graham and swum underneath his legs! Later, when we’d recovered, we took rather a liking to our sting ray.
Though we’d had quite an easy day, we must have been tired because we had no problems falling asleep on the sand after lunch. When we woke we figured we should check out the waterfall the Parks volunteers had mentioned, and the coal mines while we were at it.
As we walked we spotted two sea eagles flying together. But they weren’t just flying. They were playing, or dancing, or courting even. They dipped and soared and did barrel rolls together. Just magnificent!!
Though the length of the walk to the waterfall had us doubting its worth, as did the trickle of water in the creek we were walking up, we were to be proven wrong. The waterfall itself didn’t have an awful lot of water cascading over it, but we decided to check out the pools we’d been told were on the top.
A short climb up and around, and there we stood, looking back out towards the Parks hut and our beach, with some lovely little pools to bathe in. The rock was beautifully sun warmed, and the water refreshingly cold. It was lovely to have fresh water to immerse in after days of salt water! We reckoned we could have spent all day there if we’d come in the morning and brought lunch with us! But we had to tear ourselves away, get back for dinner, lychees, another moonlight walk and more noisy penguins!
The final morning was grey and drizzly to start with, but we weren’t going to waste it, so we headed out to comb the beaches and see what treasures the northerly had washed up. We found plenty of shells, including parts of some nautilus shells.
Our trip back arrived at 12 on the dot, bringing blue skies with it, and so we enjoyed a slightly slower yacht ride back to Coles Bay. Schouten is such a beautiful place, as is Tasmania – it’s all too easy to forget, and so nice to be reminded of it.
All up: Story and Daedalus: 12.2km, 8:41 with plenty of breaks, 991m ascent.