Part 3: Into the Sea
Words & Photography by: Joanne Coates | @joannerebeccacoates
“For the most appalling quality of water is its strength. I love its flash and gleam, its music, its pliancy and grace, its slap against my body; but I fear its strength. I fear it as my ancestors must have feared the natural forces that they worshipped. All the mysteries are in its movement. It slips out of holes in the earth like the ancient snake. I have seen its birth; and the more I gaze at that sure and unremitting surge of water at the very top of the mountain, the more I am baffled. We make it all so easy, any child in school can understand it – water rises in the hills, it flows and finds its own level, and man can't live without it. But I don't understand it. I cannot fathom its power.”
–Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain
Water holds within it, power, mystery, myth and more. It is a life source. All around us in the earth, the sky, the sea. I’ve always been obsessed with water, the boats that harvest the ocean, islands, and wild swimming. There was something about journeying to the far Southern edge of the land where the Southern Ocean meets Tasmania, through one of the last remaining sites of wilderness in the world, that instantly appealed to me. So off I journeyed to Cockle Creek, at the Southern Edge of Tasmanian, taking with me my camping kit just a short hike down through the edge of the South West Wilderness park, known for miles of Australian untouched forests, steep gorges, and wildlife. The area was subject to severe glaciation; human remains can be found dating back to 20,000 years ago. The area is still filled with myth and mystery. Walking the track at the entrance to the National Park, one is filled with awe. Within thirty minutes two tiger snakes have crossed the track. An hour deep into the wilderness I spotted three black and yellow cockatoos. I begin to hear the motion of the sea’s ebb and flow. Walking a little further onto black cliffs, there is nothing that can describe the feeling of emerging from the rainforest to be greeted by the ocean that separates Tasmania from the Antarctic. The entire beach and surrounding cliffs are deserted. Lion Island, a very small mass of land, is visible. It is said that the contemplation of the sea and the sky, lead to the enlargement of the soul by wonder. I cannot help but agree. After combing the beach during the dusk hours, I set up my tent at a sheltered spot behind some dunes, after all, the Southern Hemisphere is known for the roaring forties and this far south I don’t want to chance the winds. I spend the night here in this isolated spot. Rising with the sun at dawn I think about the small amount of plastic I found on the beach and how the hand of man manages to find its way into every nook of the earth. Jonathan Raban remarks (Coasting 1987), “People on land think of the sea as a void, an emptiness haunted by mythological hazards. The sea marks the end of things. It is where life stops and the unknown begins.” Sitting here at the end of the world I couldn’t put it any better myself.
This idea got me thinking about our attitudes towards both the land and the sea. Our attitudes towards exploration. Part of me on this trip wants to record why as people we should travel. For many years, I’ve concentrated more on travelling by way of the mind rather than by way of the body. The Travelling Bag Project connects these travelling strategies, it teaches us to share, to enjoy, and to learn about ourselves through the experience of travel.
Kit for the Country (All fits comfortably onto and into the Smith the Roll Pack, 25L)
- Rolle flex Film Camera
- 120 film
- 35mm camera
- 35mm film
- a notebook
- a sleeping bag
- a lightweight tent
- 3 Litres of water
- Bug Repellent
- A beacon (Vital when travelling alone in a remote part of the world)
- Sun Lotion (again vital, due to being in a part of the world with a hole in the ozone layer)
- A small stove
- Waterproof jacket
To apply for The Travelling Bag yourself email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.