Is that even a thing? Do people set off in their vans and tents to camp in Tasmania in June, around the shortest day of the year? Well, after a lockdown they do! And so off we went – three vans, two tents, five women.
There is a hint of sun at Lagoons Beach, near Bicheno, and the birds, fantails and wrens, scuttle around the camp. The iridescent blue male wrens hog the limelight as they forage around our feet. There are showers of rain but that isn’t too hard to take. Walks along the beach with the wild waves slamming the shore lift our spirits. We can do a few days here! And the light, the gorgeous winter light sends us to descriptive superlatives. How often do we really ‘see’ the winter light. At home we are usually snuggled up inside, but out in the elements you gaze in awe, and feeling the crisp cold enhances the experience. No viewing pods for us Tasmanians. We want the whole package!
Our group does not have the ovens, microwaves, heaters that some ‘campers’ have. We really don’t have room to sit around inside our vans, so wood collecting becomes a part of the day’s activities ready for the camp fire that night. Well, actually, in winter we need to light the fire around 4.00. An early happy hour for us! Thermals, smoke clothes, beanies, woolly socks and boots, and we’re set to put the potatoes in foil into the coals, throw the chops on the barbie and warm our hands and toes. It may not be a late night like in summer, but in summer in so many camp spots, we can no longer have a fire. Early to bed with a good book, in thermals and sleeping bag, and maybe an extra blanket or two, we are snug. We sleep so well at night that we wonder if our bodies have gone into hibernation. At Lagoons it is 14-15 degrees during the day and 7-8 degrees at night.
Onwards to Policeman’s Point at Anson’s Bay- now two vans, one tent, three women. We’ve lost two, surely not to the cold, maybe previous appointments. It’s a little windy to begin with as we set up near the boat ramp. But then a Nor-westerly comes in with a vengeance. No camp fire tonight! We squish into one of the vans to shelter, and watch a European film on iPad. Barcelona in summer, to coastal Tas. in Winter- there’s a juxtaposition!
As we head back to our own quarters there’s a horrific crash and the awning of a nearby caravan breaks loose and swings wildly. We hang on to the boom with all our strength as the owner struggles to anchor it in the midst of the gale. And gale it is! We find out next day it is blowing around thirty knots, with gusts to forty-seven knots at nearby Edison Light.
We can’t stay here, it’s too exposed. Next morning, we retreat to a more sheltered spot that someone has just vacated. We carry the fully-erected tent to save time. It is only small, but it’s like wrestling a wind-filled sail during a storm. The gale continues, whipping up the sand on the beach like sand-paper, pushing back on our bodies as we attempt to forge forward. No walking today, and no camp-fire.
We head south to warmer, less exposed climes- Mayfield Beach, near Swansea. Finally, we have sun, one total winter’s day of pure sun. There is not a cloud in that azure blue sky. A perfect day for a relaxed beach walk, some shell collecting and even a quick dip. Showers have been in short supply, well, actually non-existent but hey, its winter, who’s sweating? The temperature here reaches 14-15 degrees in the day, with 1-3 overnight.
It’s been ten glorious days for us! It’s been time to slow down, appreciate what we have in Tasmania, explore, stop, and really look, to have an adventure! And there are so fewer people than in summer. In fact, with borders closed, it’s all locals. It’s just like ‘the good old days’ when we were shunned by the world and had this little paradise to ourselves.
Have I mentioned the winter light? Oh, I will again. It is so unique to Tasmania. It is pure and pristine, with colours going from a palate of pink, to mauve, to varied hues of blue – azure, turquoise indigo, royal, navy; to threatening grey and black, washed out white, and uplifting yellow, to brilliant orange and bold red. A photographer’s dream!
Winter camping in Tasmania? Yes, it is cold, wet, windy, sunny, frosty and truly, truly exhilarating! You can appreciate the beauty in all weathers. Are you ready to try it?