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Pack for a Swim: Into the Drink in Tasmania

Words and photos by Richard Fornari

Direct excerpt from West Coast Tasmania Australia hike – 20 February 2017:

Today - Hartwell Cove to Christmas Cove – 1.2 miles, 4 hours + river crossing 

Another tough, but short, and great day in paradise. No rain today yippee!

The bush bash up the first spur from the creek was mighty steep. Enjoyed the treasure hunt following some indiscriminate markers scrub bashing in & out of sword & cutting grass, large ferns & under and over broken tree limbs. Dad almost trod on another tiger snake.

We completed the crossing in 4 hours, then the real fun came, after the jubilation of reaching Christmas Cove a swollen Wanderer River needed to be crossed.

First thoughts were to wade at the beach break, but it was still quite wide with a strong outbound current. We decided to pack up the gear, watertight, and swim. I put on the flippers and swam my Southwest pack across.

I returned and then Dad set-off with the flippers and also lying on his mattress with his Southwest pack attached. He was doing well until the current got hold and he battled hard and just made the far side before heading out to sea…however by paddling furiously he dislodged his pack only a few metres from shore, and it floated 40 yards out into the ocean, buffeted by waves...next stop Antarctica!

I was still on the other side 60 yards away, I was going to swim across and chase it, but no point. I retrieved the final waterproof bag with all our boots and clothes and swam it across, this time without flippers. But I was also taken strongly by the current even though I started a further 30 yards downstream. I ended up around the corner of the river in the ocean, and eventually landed right on the point, safely ashore, phew!

By then Dad’s pack very fortunately washed back ashore some 200 yards down the beach!

We had lined each pack with a waterproof liner, but it took a pounding, and it was amazing how well the pack floated, and returned back intact and relatively dry.

What fun, what a scare, what a day! Enjoyed an early camp & great meal! 

Richard Fornari is an Aussie who describes himself as, just an average guy who enjoys the outdoors and prefers the route less traveled. He's shared many an adventure with his father; particularly in the wilds of Tasmania.

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