Often the finest discoveries you make in the outdoors are the ones close to home that you didn’t know existed. Two days ago I ventured to the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania’s southeast, a filament of land best known for its convict history, though among the climbing and surfing fraternity it’s also an undisputed adventure icon.
Climbers come to the Tasman Peninsula to ogle or scale the Totem Pole, a 65-metre-high dolerite sea stack that’s among the most photogenic climbing sites in the world. Surfers come for the epic reef break at Shipstern Bluff, one of the wildest surf spots in the world.
Every time I’ve walked to Shipstern Bluff, however, the water has been ironed flat, and it was no different two days ago. The sea was as mild as its reputation is wild. You could have surfed it on a li-lo.
Instead of descending to the bluff then, I turned right and wandered into Tunnel Bay, a place I’d never been and about which I knew nothing. I expected little and received a lot. On one side of the bay, the sea has carved an eponymous tunnel through the cliffs. On the other, rock platforms splay out like low balconies from beneath Shipstern Bluff. I stretched out on rocks and savoured a new discovery.
On the bouldery beach, tiny waves fell ashore wearily, without effort. I wandered across the rock platforms above a sea as menacing as a kitten. Shipstern Bluff was all bluff. I still wait to see it at its thumping best.