TASMANIA BY SEA
We, myself and the other three guests, are on the upper deck of the purpose-built expedition vessel the Odalisque, and a delicious platter of Tasmanian cheeses, fruits and breads has been laid out for us. Despite the decadent beach picnic we had earlier in the day, we still tuck in eagerly. We are tired after a full day of hiking across boggy marsh and sand dunes, and so our captain pours us each a glass of Tasmanian sparkling and regales us with another engaging tale of his adventures as a fisherman on the high seas.
We listen, and watch as the sky above the rolling mountains, perfectly reflected in the mirrored water below, turns from a pale purple to a vibrant pink and then a magnificent burned orange. There are no other boats, no other people, anywhere in sight, and it seems like this breathtaking sunset is taking place at the very ends of the Earth, just for us.
Three days earlier, after a night enjoying the historic charms of Hobart – the capital of Australia’s island state – with a stay at the boutique Salamanca Wharf Hotel, I had taken a one-hour scenic flight across Tasmania to Port Davey Marine Reserve. Overflowing with majestic mountains, picturesque bays and once, long ago, a vast supply of Huon pine trees, the reserve is a secluded and rugged part of Tasmania’s World Heritage-listed Southwest National Park.
Tasmanian Boat Charters’ Odalisque is one of the few commercial vessels licensed to operate overnight in Port Davey, and it can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests in three small, but luxurious, double cabins, and single bunk alternatives serviced by three bathrooms. A crew of three – a captain, expert wilderness guide and gourmet chef – take care of all your needs, and every whim, while aboard.
The crew rotates throughout the February to May season, but I feel incredibly lucky to have skipper Quentin, guide Mark and chef Courtney on our trip, the last of the season. Friendly, full of local knowledge and brimming with laughter, each day they assess the weather and conditions and provide us with a range of options.
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