Sunday, June 7, 2015

Waterworks and Seven Mile Beach Protected Area

Here's a couple of short reports from outings nearby to our house-sit as I gather breath for another resounding rant. First, a visit to what must surely be Hobart's most popular climbing area – Waterworks. We'd been planning to visit Waterworks for a while but we needed to wait for some warmer sunny weather – it's the dead of winter down here in Tassie and it gets cold – and a time when it was not overrun with other climbers. You see, Waterworks is Hobart's most popular climbing area, not because it has fantastic climbing, but because it has safe climbing, something that is sorely lacking in Australia. 

Australian climbing is about 30 to 40 years behind climbing in other countries and the climbing community on this small island is still stuck firmly in the middle of the “bolt wars” which played out in Canada in the 80's and are now almost forgotten. Hard routes are slowly getting bolted, but easy or moderate routes remain scary, run-out affairs where certain death will result should you fall. Occasionally, a carrot bolt (yes, that is as bad as it sounds) might offer one semi-solid piece of protection between the climber and the ground, but, in many instances, even that dubious protection is missing. And, guess what, most people do not want a near death experience every time they go out to climb a few pitches. 

 Climbing on U bolts at Waterworks

So, Waterworks, with a half dozen or more bolted routes under 20 is very popular. Any area with easy to moderate climbing and solid protection (particularly if it is bolted) will be popular. Evidence the popularity of the classic routes at Mount Arapiles many of which are easy rambles but offer solid natural protection. 

But, I'm ranting instead of reporting. We finally had a not weekend day with a warm forecast and, the Tasmanian University Climbing Club (10 minutes walk from Waterworks) did not seem to be streaming out in full force, so we drove across Hobart (much easier than it sounds as Hobart is a small city) and climbed at Waterworks. And, the climbing is fine. Not great. It is, after all, merely an old quarry in the suburbs, but, you can have a fun few hours with just a half dozen quick draws and a rope, and, need not fear death or mortal injury.

 Storm clouds over Five Mile Beach

A couple of days later, we drove through Sorell to Seven Mile Beach Protected Area where an eight kilometre long spit of land divides Pittwater from Frederick Henry Bay. Doug dropped me off at Five Mile Beach (this is the estuary side of the sand spit) and I started walking east, while Doug drove to Seven Mile Beach (the ocean side of the sand spit) and also began walking east. This was another one of those walks where we didn't quite cross paths. A rising tide forced me off Five Mile Beach onto the inland track, while Doug was coming around the eastern sand spit and so we missed each other.  I walked west along Seven Mile Beach while Doug was also walking west along Five Mile Beach. 

 Selfie silhouette

Ten minutes away from either parking lot, the beach on either side (that is, Five Mile and Seven Mile) was empty of people. A strong and strangely warm north wind was blowing, there were fantastic cloud formations and loads of beautiful shells on Seven Mile Beach. The only really bizarre thing I encountered was a naked runner coming along Seven Mile Beach. The dude was clearly not just into barefoot running but also bare-arsed running. 

Deserted Five Mile Beach

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