Day 6 - Friday 14 November 2008

Itís an overcast day and cool, the clouds and wind are coming from the south. I awake at 5.55am and take some photos of the early morning light. The sun is rising over the water on the eastern side of the island and the atmosphere is serene. I jump back into bed for another hour and a half of sleep. When I wake again the day is grey. Glimpses of sunlight shimmers in streaks across the grey/silver reflected surface of the vast sea. The clouds are high today and roll slowly by. Thereís a lone fence post out the front of Q2 that is whistling a low-pitched tune in the wind. The glow of the golden green grass twinkles in the cool breeze. Wow! I walk up to Q3 for breakfast. Its 8.30am-ish, I eat cereal, and have a cup of coffee followed by a cup of tea.

Post-breakfast, the first job today is to move furniture out of the unused living room in Q3 and lay down new carpet. The old linoleum flooring comes up easily after the removal of the furniture but the new carpet bought in is slightly too small. We sweep up the room, roll the carpet up and store it back in Chrisís room over the other side of the house, and then put all of the furniture back. I tidy up a pile of magazines in the corner and we have morning tea. John, Sue and I then head down to Q1. Our job is to tie up the bags of linoleum and write on each one how much it weights. We wear respirators and facemasks, as itís a dirty and dusty job. We measure up 20 bags; each approximately weighs about 30 kilos. We then head out to the back of Q1 and start to separate good timber from bad stacking each up separately. Back up to Q3 for lunch of sandwiches and salad followed by a walk an afternoon walk down to the Zigzag track.

Colours of the day include: yellows, greens, oranges, gold, ochres, browns greys, tints of grey blue, silvers, light greys, dark greens and the odd slash of pink and deep red. Saturated colours are everywhere I look. They rarely vary apart from when the clouds dull everything, but in the brightness of a sunny day, its ubiquitous colour saturation. They are soothing, subtle, dreamy, consuming, changing, rotating, drifting, breezing, waving, and whittling. This is Tasman, an island of change, of slow change, of contrast, of soothing and intense sound and of seductive beauty, of darkness and light, of great depth and intimate space of double vision. Iím on a living island thatís growing but also falling away, itís living and dying whilst slowly changing and evolving, itís all sorts of varied space and place. Itís the unknown as well as much known and itís filled with mystery surprise, delight, fear, caution and weary.

We load on out daypacks, grab cameras, cover up with sunscreen and we are ready to head off to the Zigzag. We wander past Q2 and Q1, stopping at the winch. Mike explains how it once would have worked, with Chris interjecting about details of forward and reverse. John says he still has a copy of the manual somewhere. We carry on towards the whim, take a few photos then head west towards the Zigzag track. After a short walk we come across a large steep crescent shaped opening. There are all sorts of grasses, pig face, bracken and the vast sea ahead of us. Cape Pillar and the Blade as well as the grey white cliffs, with dark shadowy crevices in between, recede northwest with Cape Raoul further west in the distance. Itís yet another vast, huge, immense, expansive, majestic and bold view. The nearby rocks look huge, the sea looks huge, and the cliffs look huge as well as the sky and the drop into the sea. We make decent time on our walk, stopping frequently to admire the amazing vast view. The typical Tasman vertical cliffs flank us to the left, but most of our view is taken up concentrating on the steep grassy decline we trek out in front of us. We zigzag our way down, the first third of the trip not being on the original Zigzag path as it is now overgrown and is too difficult to navigate through. After a little while we start to find faded white arrows painted onto rocks back in the old days and the odd wooden stack mapping out the pathway ahead. Chris finds a dark rock which is presumed to be an Aboriginal artefact. Bob marks it on his GPS and some us take photos. Itís about two-thirds from the bottom shore below. Two things become very apparent. Firstly, the feral cats have been having a field day around this part of the island eating the fairy prions. We find about 30 of what remains of skeletal carcasses scattered all around the track. Secondly, the stench of seaweed mixed with seals gets stronger with each step we take.

As with previous days the sea shimmers in the reflection of the sun in all manner of greys, silvers, blues and blacks. Each step forward reveals a new and vast version of the view out in front. The whitewash of the liminal zone gets clearer. Soon we can hear it as well as the occasional squeal of an Australian and New Zealand seal. By the time we get to the bottom, where the grass meets the rocky coastal edge, it becomes apparent that there are about 20 seals within close vicinity. Someone remarks that they are all male as the females at this time of year are generally all out to sea finding food.

We clamber around the rocks for a while trying not to disturb the seals too much. Out to sea thereís a few seals frolicking in the waves. Bob, Chris and I venture up onto the top of a tall rock nearby only to come across a large adult with baby seal anxiously waiting on the other side. The adult is not happy by our presence and lets us know snorting loudly and lurching our way. Bob escapes over the rock one way whilst Chris and I go the other to get out of its way. I wait quietly and stealth-fully, then make the rest of my escape when I see that it is distracted elsewhere.

We settle some distance away; eat some Tim Tams before commencing the climb back up. The walk up is as difficult to navigate as the walk down. Chris, Bob, John and I take an alternative route up the final section of the climb through thicker vegetation in an attempt to locate the original top section of the Zigzag track. We have some success but the bush gets too thick in some stages so we are not totally successful. Bob tracks the alternate route we take with his GPS and shows us later that night the route we took on his laptop.

Just before reaching the top the four of us, plus Alena who has now joined us, take a detour and head up to the section of the island that looks into the Lost World and across to the old tip site. Itís yet another magnificently large and awe-inspiring part of the island. The rocks below us are falling at 45-degree angles symmetrically facing west out to sea. In between them are trees and scrubs of many different varieties covering every available space. The landscape forms a low lying uneven plateau surrounded by an amphitheatre of cliffs around 270 degrees with the sea stretching out west to Cape Raoul making up the 360 degrees. Pat says its Ďscenery overloadí and I have to agree with him. Again itís stunning, immense and a spectacular view. We wander back up past a number of sinkholes to the collapsed whim shed before hitting the main track back to Q3 to prepare for dinner. Just as we leave the Zigzag track on our way back up to Q3, Alena whips off her pants, semi in front of me to take a wee revealing her peachy white bottom. I suppose if you gotta go then you gotta go.

Once back at Q3 I take a well overdue shower then head to Q2 to take some photos of the mostly dark interior. Dinner is a little earlier tonight and the conversation takes the same path. I have a beer over dinner and it goes down well. I look forward to a big drink upon my return, but I wonít do it whilst I am here. I head back to Q2 after dinner and again itís a night filled with all seasons of weather. There are thousands of stars, a zinc ship out to sea, the moon is glowing as it passes in and out from behind a sparse covering of cloud. A quick rain shower passes from out of nowhere. Q2 creaks and shutters eerily. I fall asleep on this the penultimate night in Q2 on Tasman Island.