Day 2 - Monday 10 November 2008

I wake up a number of times throughout the night, but surface out of bed at 7.45am. I spend the first 15 minutes of the day sitting out on the front porch of Q2, the wind is very mild and I can hear the sea for the first time. Its overcast, calm, and the birds can be heard in full voice around the island. The colours are much more subdued than yesterday due to less sunlight and more cloud coverage. No one is around and it seems so peaceful. Again I am conscious of the sensation that I am sitting high up in the air, on top of something bold and dramatic, high above the horizon, adjacent to Cape Pillar and to its left the Blade. To my right, I image Antarctica, far beyond the slowly rolling southern ocean. The cliff edge that I can see, or rather the very top corner of a cliff edge, drops vertically down into an unseen vast space that eventually makes contact with the sea below. The sun slowly edges its way out from behind the clouds bathing me with its soothing warm power. What a remarkable place, so quiet, vast, overgrown, deteriorating, so still and so solid.

I wander up to Q3, the day proper begins. Iím 2nd last to show up for breakfast. Alena appears shortly after I do. We exchange morning pleasantries, I have cereal for breakfast, and then in conversation amongst the others, decide that we will bucket out a large quantity of water from the largest tank behind Q3 into the new one at the Oil Store just in case a strong wind picks up and throws it off into the sea. The tedious task begins consisting of continuously make trips back and forth through the back yard of Q3 onto the open grassy area around the lighthouse and over to the Oil Store where the bucket of water is deposited into the new tank, and back again, and again, and again, until after an hour or so its morning tea.

Our morning activity has moved 4 corrugated iron lengths from one tank to the other, a rather tedious and unfulfilling way to measure our activities, but practical to say the least. We consume tea and biscuits for morning tea before pressing on with more water movements. The weather changes from sunny to mildly overcast, to completely overcast and windy. The temperature has dropped. Everyone gets their warmer gear on and continues to press on with monotonous water transferring but for some of the time I am up a ladder filling buckets of water through a hole located on the top of the large Q3 water tank. The nice part about situated here is the view I have over the island to Cape Pillar and the Blade and beyond. I feel like I am absorbing the weather deep into my body whilst I marvel at light and shadows being made on the surfaces of the rumbling sea, against all manner of wild patterning in the clouds and the contorted surfaces of the cliffs.

We stop for lunch at 1.10pm; a salad, with eggs and sandwiches as well as more tea. Over lunch I find out that John first arrived on Tasman in 1966 and was stationed here until 1967 including during the infamous fires that hit the south of the Tasmania that year. He tells me that when this was occurring he was in charge of taking care of the light whilst the others were fighting the fires that had started down at the whim from embers flying over from Cape Pillar. He said that he radioed Bruny Island, but all they said in response to him was, Ďwe have them too.í

During lunch, there is 15-minute period when the island is consumed by low cloud/fog. We can see it from the window of the kitchen of Q3 coming over from the north. It slowly engulfs everything, as it makes its way towards us. The next moment Q2 is covered, before it reappears again. Eventually, the clouds dissipate throughout the afternoon and the weather clears up a bit.

After lunch we continue filling the water tank before moving it onto its foundations, a job that takes everyoneís help, and a challenging task, but we eventually get it done.

John is an amateur cloud and boating expert. At lunch and during other times, this seems to be the focus of the groups conversations as well as bush walking experiences, remote locations, other islands, people of the past and of course Tasman.

Pat is an amateur wilderness photographer and collector of exotic plant species. He is interested in the Ďromanticí notion of photography and is up every morning before 5.30am to find places to photograph the sunrise.

Its 5.30pm and we decide to have afternoon tea, with dinner scheduled for 7. I decide to go for a walk on my own towards the southern end of the island with directions given to me over afternoon tea. I begin at the eastern side of the cliff face just behind the Oil Store and head along the cliff edge, past my most previously southerly reached point of the island thus far. The route I take traverses in and out from the cliff edge, the foliage gets thicker and harder to navigate. I get to a point on the cliff edge that is just too risky to navigate so I head inland. After a while, that includes getting a huge splinter in my index finger, I seem to be in the middle of the southern part of the island without being able to find a way through. I traverse back for a period in the hope that I may find another way through but I still canít seem to get anywhere. Itís windy, but sunny, Iím sweating and am excited, exhilarated, scared, nervous and enthralled. This is my first walk into the scrub and small bushes in an area of the island that I have not yet explored but Iím feeling pretty confident. I decide that I really cannot get through the way that Iím going so I back track into the thick button grass. At times its waist deep, and at others chest deep, but I have no choice but to plough my through. I find my old track marks and head back to the point that I first headed inland from the cliff edge. From here I decide to take the hazardous way and slowly navigate my way south again via the cliff edge route. At times I have to jump down into or over cliff ledges. Iím glad, excited and overwhelmed that I came this way as the cliff edge is stunning and awe inspiring. At one point I feel like Iíd be able to climb down to the next shelf of button grass below, but Iím running out of day light, so I only climb a little further until I reach a bit of the island that appears to me to be the most south-easterly point of the island prior to the very last oval shaped hill of the final part of the southern extremity. I stop for a while and look around. The landscape is amazing; everywhere I look is filled with dramatic cliff faces dropping vertically down into the vast and wild sea below, long grasses in front and behind and covering the platforms below, and the wind, clouds and sun all working together exaggerating the supreme qualities of nature at its most finest. After a while I turn around and make my way back to Q3.

I move quickly through the terrain and by the time I get back I am really hot and sweaty and a bit tired. Iím ready for dinner so I help out with a BBQ thatís just been started on the front covered porch of Q3. A little while longer I go and sit out the back of Q3 with an article about Carol Jackson and Tasman whilst watching the sun go down and the colours of the day change from white, to yellow, to orange to eventual darkness and the settling in of night. The article discusses Carolís mother, Valmai, but it does not give a surname. I wander if itís Valmai Phillips who wrote the book that Iíve read that has a chapter about Tasman in it? At one stage John comes out wanting to take a photo of the light on the lighthouse so we both take a walk behind Q2 over to the weather station where we catch the last of the suns powers taking photos as the time ticks what seems very slowly by.

Dinners ready. We get a whistle from Bob and both head back to Q3 for chicken sausages and risotto, followed by peaches and the usual Tasman conversation. People are lightening up a bit now and the conversation is easier and more flowing. I decide to go to bed early again tonight and head off to Q2 after dinner. The night is still, there are lots of stars in the sky and only a few clouds. I sleep well feeling much more comfortable about being here.