Field Guide to Falling in Love in Tasmania

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  • The South Coast Track

    The South Coast Track

    A year ago, a flew down the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, over the shoulder of Precipitous Bluff, across the south-western forest, and onto a tiny gravel airstrip at a place called Melaleuca. It was the beginning of a one-hundred kilometre walk along the south coast of Tasmania.

    Over the next ten days, ground parrots were expelled from the buttongrass at my approach. I drank from cold tea-stained creeks and strung up my clothes on coastal banksias. Further south, Maatsuyker Island rose from the sea, a big isosceles triangle shrouded in powdery pink light. Seaweed pasta, sassafras tea.

    At the highest point of the track, atop the Ironbounds, I looked at the zigzag of mountain ranges, jagging countless kilometres into the distance. I thought of lost things, as I often do – of the lost heritage of the Aborigines, of the probable extinction of the thylacine, of the drowned pink beach of Lake Pedder. But I also remembered that, at one time, the decision to walk along the south coast of Tasmania was an idea and a dream, and it had since become a present reality. And rising up onto the top of that mountain, taking a nip of whisky to celebrate, I realised that I was seeing new mountains, new tracks, new ways of being, and that they were becoming a possible future for me as well.

    The frenetic ocean churned at my south flank for ten days straight.