October 2022 - St Helens, Bay of Fires

The Hobart Show Day holiday offered the opportunity for an "away walk" so, well in advance, we organised a visit of several days at St Helens. Kat organised our accommodation and Angie provided some walk options. Di devised an "add on" post-walk visit for the bike riders to Derby/Branxholm/North East Rail Trail. When the time came, managing to get away for our trip were: Bob, Wayne, Gerwyn, Angie, Di, Lyn, Fin, Gary and Adam. Sadly, the weather was not promising to be favourable for us, with widespread flooding occurring across the eastern seabord of Australia and already a number of road closures in north and northwest Tasmania.

Wanting to keep everyone in the loop, across several vehicles, several residences and well-wishers at home, we created a Messenger group for instant messaging.

The day of our drive up the East Coast on Thursday was sunny, fine and uneventful. We found our cottages (Pelican Point Reserve Cottages) sitting on a little hilltop above wetlands teeming with birdlife, and overlooking Georges Bay. There were a couple of trails down to the bird viewing hut and (basic) BBQ spot on the banks of the bay.
For our first night we had a nice dinner out at local restaurant Raida.
For our first walking day we did the loop around Humbug Point. It was lucky that Angie knew it was a loop walk as it was not fully marked on the published maps. Some of us drove to the designated carpark on Moulting Bay Beach Rd. Some of us (ahem) drove to the carpark at Dora Point. We did manage to meet up along the "shortcut to Dora Point" path, which was good.
It was a misty moisty morning, with very calm waters in Moulting Bay.
We took the left turn towards Dora Point.
The mist turned into mizzle and then into drizzle as we circumnavigated Humbug Point.
We could barely see the Lease65 mussel farms, but it was still beautiful.
Back home to change into dry clothes, and for dinner we had seafood takeaways (eaten in a side room at the restaurant) at The Wharf Bar and Kitchen on the jetty.

For our second walk day we drove up past Binalong Bay to The Gardens, once again hoping to get a decent walk in before the forecast rain arrived. Unfortunately Fin had developed a head cold and was isolating at home.

The rocks and beaches of the Bay of Fires were stunning.
The seas have pushed up a huge barrier of rounded rocks, and some locals have made a strange little wind shelter in the middle. We had a snack sitting here.
We went on a little further, to take a peek onto the next beach. It was wild and the wet weather was starting to come in, so we turned around and headed back.

At this point our group separated, with Gary and Adam returning to Hobart. Wayne, Bob and Gerwyn decided to visit St Columba Falls, to experience them in maximum flow after these rains.
Di, Lyn and Angie had a shopping and coffee outing - we investigated Suncoast Shoes, a known destination for shoe shoppers, and had coffee at St Helens Books, then checked out the clothes at Maddie and Mee. Then we picked up Fin and took a walk along the shared path between St Helens and Parkside.
Dinner tonight was a roast and vegies in the cottage - thankyou to Lyn, Gerwyn and Fin.
The rains were not improving, and we checked the flood warnings and police advisories closely, finally concluding that the riders should abort their riding holiday in Branxholm/Derby and instead return home with everyone else on the following day. There was a little nail biting as we negotiated with our hosts for a refund on our accommodation, thankfully we were successful in getting a credit note for a future visit.

So on the Sunday we all packed up and headed home down the East Coast, an informal convoy of four vehicles. Coffee at the Lifebuoy Cafe in St Helens was our first rendezvous, and lunch at the Saltshaker Cafe in Swansea was our second. Another attempt at the riding holiday has already been organised (fingers crossed for good weather this next time around). Thanks to all for an enjoyable getaway - sharing our knowledge and adding lots of goodwill and friendship gets us through a range of difficulties!