Days 16 17 Port Smith

DAY 16    TUESDAY 7th AUGUST 2012


You know the sort of night you have when you have a wog?  It’s a bit of a hack when you want to have a good ‘hawk’ but afraid to do so for fear of waking other sleepers nearby.  I remember a similar situation in India when Ian and I were staying in a Buddhist monastery and the walls of the rooms didn’t extend to the ceiling so you could hear anything being said in the adjoining room.  There was couple in the room next door and the male half of the couple had a wog and was coughing and hawking all night. Meanwhile the female half wanted love and she kept saying, ‘Do something Ken, please do something’.

At 3-00 this morning I was up and in the shower and soon after was on the laptop tapping away until six; it is a good time to get a fair bit of writing done.

Adjacent to our camp is an Austrian family who are travelling the coast of WA with their two young girls and father.  Talking with them they are doing exactly what we did with our two boys when they were young, I suggested they enjoy every minute of the journey as kids grow up fast and they will be in their thirties before you know it.  The Austrian couple came from Vienna and because Bev and I have fond memories of Vienna I had to tell them how we found it and its people in 1972.

When Bev and I were in Vienna we visited the park where a statue of the Strauss brothers was located. It was a misty morning and out of the mist came a group of beautiful people who didn’t walk but seemed to float dance-like. We had never seen people move so gracefully.   One extremely handsome man came to us and told us he and his friends were dancers from the Mossoiev Ballet and gave us two tickets for the ballet that evening. What a treat to see our handsome man and the rest of the dancers performing.   After the ballet we went to a restaurant under the Opera House; it was packed, however, a very well dressed gentleman made room for us at his table and even paid for our dinner.  It turned out he was the director of the ballet.  Isn’t this what freelance travel is all about?   I recommend you go to YouTube and watch a video clip of the Mossoiev Dance Troupe. Watching it certainly brought back nostalgic memories.

Mid morning we were on the water ready for a day’s kayaking.

Port Smith Lagoon. The caravan park is located at the middle lower edge of photograph.

Caught by the tide and warning advice.

The launching procedure is to unload your boat or, in our case, kayak, at the water’s edge then take the car and trailer to a point above the high tide mark and leave it.  If you judge the high tide right you can paddle the kayak to the trailer when returning.  If you judge the tide wrong this is what happens.  Fortunately we judged it right.  Today’s tide had a variation of 9.8 metres.

Today’s kayaking was through crystal clear waters.  Paddling on such waters is the reward for carting the kayaks thousands of kilometres.  We drifted on the tide, Bev swam and we reminisced about similar places we have kayaked in years gone by. As you get older you can be forgiven for reminiscing. It’s not that it’s being melancholic, it’s more a case of having had a lot of exciting adventures. Another thing too is that when on a trip like this you get time to think and communicate.

Heading for the outlet of Port Smith lagoon into the Indian Ocean.


In 2004 we loaded our kayaks on a fishing boat at Kettering (just south of Hobart) from where we were taken around the south coast of Tassie and dropped in the southwest at Cockle Bay.  We lived out of our kayaks for 23 days. I will post a link for the SW Wilderness Expedition story another time.  I post a few images here now to whet your appetite.

Kayaking Bathurst Harbour, SW Tasmanian wilderness, with Mt Rugby in the background.

Port Davey, Bathurst Harbour and the Southern Ocean from the top of Mt Rugby.

The islands top right of photograph are the Breakseas where we kayaked out through the gap, turned left into the Southern Ocean and continued south into Spain Bay to camp.

Breakfast on the beach at Spain Bay.

We can be forgiven for reminiscing about this morning.   Two professional fishermen came to the beach around 6-00am and asked whether we had had breakfast.  They very kindly gave us a cooked lobster.

Swamp grass in Bathurst harbour in the SW Wilderness of Tasmania.

Another one of those spots we will never forget.  Thanks to all the Greenies and activists who worked to protect this wonderful area.

Back in Port Smith lagoon an Austrian snorkeller swims by.

Our own private beach near the outlet to the Indian Ocean. No signs of human activity, not even a footprint.

Returning to the camp we found a school excursion mob had moved in next to us. What sort of a night is it going to be?

DAY 17   WEDNESDAY  8th August 2012


Port Smith Lagoon. The caravan park is marked top left corner.

First activity for the day was a walk around a clearing near the camping ground and much to Bev’s delight there were a number of native trees in bloom.


A fine example of miniritchie bark.

A Bloodwood gall

If you started reading this blog from Day one you will know all about these galls and what lives inside of them.

A gall-living coccid.

Go to Day 4 Leg 1 to read about the edibility and sex life of this remarkable insect.

By mid morning we were on the lagoon again and it turned out to a little more strenuous than I thought it was going to be because even though the tide was running our way, there were eddies and whirlpools going every which way.  Two big barra shot past and so did a medium size shark.  A turtle surfaced, making an observation.  Behind the kayak I had a lure doing its stuff but it was taken in one chomp by I don’t know what.  I will have to invest in some heavier rig if we go kayaking down Roebourne way.

Mangrove forest

The lagoon is lined with white sandy beaches and mangroves.  On high tide we kayaked through mangrove forests and when we sat quietly under the overhanging branches birds came in close not knowing we were there.

Mangroves are an ecological marvel. Their root structure for instance is incredibly complex. The sketch below shows the complexity of their root system.

Pneumatophore roots of the mangrove.

Pneumatophores are erect roots that extend from the underground root system. Because these roots are exposed at least part of the day and not submerged underwater, the root system can obtain gases from the atmosphere and make it available to the tree.

Mangrove with ‘flying buttress’ silt roots.

A flying buttress is a structure found in Gothic architecture and consists of an inclined bar carried on an arch (equivalent to the root here), which rests against a support (ground) to receive the weight of a wall (trunk).  These roots improve tree stability and also help with aeration as they are exposed for at least most of the day between tides.  I am certain you will hear more about flying buttresses later in our Odyssey when we are visiting Gothic cathedrals in Europe.

 Mangrove seed distribution and reproduction is fascinating too. The seeds of one species floats horizontally after dropping from the tree and as it floats it absorbs salt water but only at the heavy end. When saturated it swings vertically like a fisherman’s float and as the tide recedes the point heavy end buries itself in the sand or mud.  With another species the seed is about the size of a twenty-cent piece with a sail-like projection facing upwards.  The wind catches the sail and blows the seed to a place of germination.  A fascinating aspect of the species is that the sail-like projection on half the seeds are set 45 degrees to the left and on the other half 45 degrees to the right, which means all the seeds don’t end up in the same place. Bloody amazing, eh?

Bev in a mangrove forest

At day’s end we chatted with the high school students camped next to us and sitting around the campfire and talking about their aspirations we concluded that high school students are the same everywhere.


About tbeartravels

It's been said that I know a little bit about a lot of things and a lot about little things. I hope I can share some of this knowledge with you as we travel.
This entry was posted in Odyssey #1 2012: Australia Europe. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Days 16 17 Port Smith

  1. Georg says:

    Hi there,

    was fun to read your blog.
    Keep on wandering and stay healthy!

    (the Austrian with the 2 daughters from Port smith Caravan Park)

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