The girl stood on the edge of the bay, cold water moving closer in quiet, steady sighs. She knew this place and it knew her. Hers was not a life lived in separation; divided by ‘inside and out’, ‘land and sea’. Even the clothing that concealed her from her environment was minimal – made only of natural fibres and worn for practicality more than adornment. She was strong. And her strength made the sea a friend not a foe. A being to be respected, yes, but not to be feared. She dived beneath, let the salt close over her and felt the sinews of her arms pull against the water as it surrendered to her stroke. Wauba.
This winter Carl and I have been spending a good bit of time in the beautiful town of Bicheno on Tassie’s north-east coast. It’s a location we’ve had our eye on for a while as a possible place to settle, but with the growth of Tassie property sales and the quick moving market (a piece of land we liked the look of recently sold the same day it came online), we haven’t found the right place yet.
Realistically, we’re not quite ready to buy anyway as we’re going to be on the road for most of the rest of the year doing a series of house sits on the mainland, but it’s been good to suss it out, meet some of the locals and get a feel for the place. Luckily, we made a good chunk of profit on the sale of our unit in Marrickville earlier in the year so we should be able to move quickly when the right place comes up.
We’re coastal people (Carl especially is a keen free diver, spearfisher and ocean swimmer) and Bicheno a town of flawless beaches – clean, clear waters, white sand and the classic orange-lichened rocks that Tassie is famous for. He’s already joined ocean swimmers club who swim every morning in Waub’s Bay.
Cold water swimming is Carl’s latest fad. Water temps have been down to 14°C and Carl has been swimming without a wetsuit like a mad man. Not even the locals who swim year-round are quite that crazy. He’s been following Wimhoff, AKA the Ice Man online and espousing its many health benefits, and let’s just say I’ve heard the word “vasoconstriction” one too many times.
The matriarch of the Bicheno Wild Ocean Swimmers is veteran Australian swimming champ Shane Gould. The first couple of times Carl turned up for the swim, Shane wasn’t there. Turns out she had been in Fiji filming this year’s season of Australian Survivor. The group is also known as the Bicheno Coffee Club because of their tradition of celebrating birthdays with coffee and cake (and sometimes a cheeky whisky) on one of the headlands mid-swim.
Besides the cute cafes, more temperate climate, gorgeous beaches and lovely locals, another thing we love about Bicheno is the abundance of wildlife. In one town you can see seals, Fairy penguins, dolphins, whales and sea dragons – not to mention the Tassie Trumpeter, lobster and mussels that grace our dinner table. It’s definitely on our ‘must visit’ list if you’re planning a visit to Tassie and I suspect I’ll be writing more about beautiful Bicheno and my new friend Wauba soon.
Do you like visiting coastal places in winter time? Tell me about your favourite cold-weather holiday in the comments below.