Story written by Chrystal Dawn for Home Camp
Mouthwatering aromas from the open fire waft on the sea breezes, promising lunch here on Tasmania’s Eaglehawk Neck. The Neck is an isthmus (narrow piece of land) that connects the Tasman Peninsula to the Forestier Peninsula and to the mainland of Tasmania. An hour’s drive south-east from Hobart, the Neck, like the rest of Tasmania, is a destination well worth exploring.
My local host and professional chef, Sarah Glover, some friends and I have set up on the Neck, facing Pirates Bay. Tasmania is known for some of Australia’s lowest temperatures and fiercest weather. Though we are just 3,400km from Antarctica in the icy Southern Ocean, by some great stroke of luck or rather divine intervention, we are barefoot in the sand in the middle of winter. Our good fortune is celebrated with pure pleasure, basking in the sun.
Low tide has revealed an eroded limestone cluster that creates a natural picnic table for us. We spread out on our canvas blanket seat as Sarah removes her aromatic ‘salt water pizza’ from the coals.
Pulling back the foil she produces another gourmet creation. Steam rises from our enamel plates as we handle our slices. Upon consumption we find that the dough is married with salt water and cooked to perfection. A distinctly seaworthy crust, with a braised tarragon pesto and fresh sheep’s milk cheese, disappear into our eager mouths.
The tasty goodness is washed down with a ginger and turmeric elixir that cools in our mugs. Another pizza cooks on the coals as we revisit the morning’s events.
Sarah, fellow foodie Natalie Harvs and I gather around the cameras to pore over our dawn surf session. Professional photographers Luisa Brimble, Hannah McCowatt and Stuart Gibson each captured Pirate Bay’s exceptional coastline and the session in their distinguished styles.
A thick wetsuit, booties, gloves and a hood are requisites for surfing in southern Tasmania’s winter. Covered in neoprene, we carefully navigated the unique marine mosaics of the natural Tessellated Pavement Reef and paddled out. As the sun rose over the tall trees, professional surfer Dara Penfold, Sarah and I enjoyed perfect little peelers.
Dara got the wave of the day tucking into a clean tight barrel for a few seconds, before it closed out on the Tessellations. Despite the unfamiliar feeling of wearing booties, I found my feet and enjoyed every moment in the breathtaking surroundings.
We each got some fun rides, hooting and cheering for one another, the highlight was a party wave we shared to the shore. Post surf, we enjoyed a rejuvenating hot cuppa with healthy Bondi Bikkies Sarah made the night before.
"A thick wetsuit, booties, gloves and a hood are requisites for surfing in southern Tasmania’s winter."
The second pizza is ready now and we wait patiently as Sarah divvies it up. Every bite is enjoyed and savoured as the sun dips on the horizon signalling the nearness of our departure.
Homemade peppermint flavored marshmallows in cacao hot chocolate completely satiate our pallets. We relax just a while longer, letting the coals die out, food to settle and minds to wander.
In the following days we would be the honoured guests of Michelle Crawford, professional chef and author of the outstanding book ‘A Table in the Orchard’.
In her beautiful Huon Valley home, we would dine on scrambled eggs with decadent Tasmanian truffle, luscious Victoria Sponge cake and more Sarah’s signature Bondi Bikkies.
Like a scene from a foreign film, each room complete with Michelle’s vintage décor, every meal would be prepared on her wood-burning stove.
Our Tasmanian adventures would then lead us to the snow Luisa had hoped for. At the top of Hatz Mountain National Park we’d be engulfed by frozen rain layering us in white, then build a snowman on Mount Wellington, each snowflake a dream come true.
Back on the coast Sarah, Dara and I would surf a long righthand point, with the company of Nick Green, a creative young photographer. Sarah and I would take a morning ferry and explore Bruny Island from dusk ’til dawn, dining on locally-made cheeses.
In the centre of this amazing journey, Dara, Michelle and I would dance around an enormous bonfire, feasting to our hearts’ content at the Huon Valley Mid-Winter festival.
Every day in Tasmania would be filled with exciting food, astounding natural beauty, and joyous laughter.
An abundance of island adventures lay on the horizon, still our seaside picnic with the Salt Water pizzas truly was sensational enough for us to go home happy campers.