Feathers the Wonder Dog
Dear Friends – after all my shark excitement, this past week has been very quiet. Well quiet for me but not for the greater Huon Valley where we have seen the extremes of weather: from snowflakes and black ice followed by a hot beach-worthy 20 degree day, to the weekend’s vicious wind storm that saw real surfing waves pounding our little beach. It seems to me that each day has at least eight weather changes and unfortunately this also affects how many daily beach excursions I can have!
This last tempest had some impact on our little community and so I thought this week I would take you on a visit to one incredibly beautiful place – Randall’s Bay. I do know that it was the view from the mountain down to the bay that first convinced Klady that she wanted to live here. The sea, the bay, the cliffs and the snow covered mountains beyond definitely made a strong impression. It’s just a shame that only the grazing sheep are able to enjoy this stunning vista!
Thanks to the weekend’s tempest I had a real life glimpse of what seafaring tales and mysteries of the Southern Oceans are made of.
Randalls Bay usually provides excellent shelter for boats and because of this, it is a favourite mooring spot for overnight sailors. Because it doesn’t face the ocean, sailors are welcomed by pristine calm waters, beautiful white sand and gentle lapping waves. It’s also one of our favourite foraging spots for Neptune’s Necklace and other seafood delights. No doubt in summer, it will be a great place for me to be taken on Coldstream (Klady and Sird’s boat) and when that happens, I’ll be able to leap off the swim platform, go do my dog paddle laps and be lifted back aboard when I am bored!
So imagine my surprise when following our recent tempest, we get to Randalls Bay and I hop out of the car (mark my spot on a nearby bush), then race to the water only to find a boat stranded high up on the beach.
It’s an interesting wooden boat – apparently a 70-year-old motor launch named either Annella or Vanella (depending on whether you believe the writing on the weathered lifebuoy or the registration documents!).
I have a good look around it and am thrilled that its listing has created nice warm sandy swimming pools all along the vessel. Absolute bliss. I roll around in the sandy water but can see that Klady is not impressed.
Don’t wee on its side, she shouts. So of course I lift a leg to let other canines know that I also have been there!
It is believed that there are more than 1,000 known shipwrecks along the Tasmanian coast, of which maybe only 70 per cent have been found and it is fascinating that there are so many unidentified shipwrecks or sinkings. Among them, the following story of an unidentified 1942 shipwreck.
During World War II, local fishermen found wreckage from an unknown vessel near Port Davey. Port Davey is in the unpopulated and remote south-west wilderness and is on my bucket list to visit. To quote the wreckage records: Part of the wreckage contained the name John J. Ingles, but no record of such a ship existed (a ghost ship?). Even more interesting is that bullet holes were found in part of the wreckage and at that time, fishermen believed the vessel sank off Flat Top Island, Tasmania – even further south in the Southern Ocean and well on the way to Antarctica! What was it doing there?
It makes one wonder how many more shipwrecks have really occurred around Tasmania’s rugged and treacherous coastline that we don’t know about? Not just beachings like the Annella/Vanella, which we can marvel at, but all those mysterious pieces of flotsam that hint at some drama at sea – one that no one knows anything about?
Luckily, I can report that the Annella/Vanella’s story did not end in Randall’s Bay. She was successfully re-floated and taken for repairs – while beautiful Randalls Bay has been returned to its calm clear and clean waters with a quiet white beach with no sign of a tempest or wrecks and where the most exciting happenings now are my encounters with all my dog friends.