The Edge of the World. That’s what the sign said and, standing on the hill looking out to sea, that’s how it felt. Untamed and untameable: Arthur River, North-West Tasmania. If you sailed from where the river enters the sea and kept going, you would hit South America without touching land. This accounted for the vicious wind ripping through me and I was grateful for the knitted beanie a caring friend gave me on my announcement that I was exploring Tassie in the depths of winter.
I stopped by the take-away shop, the only one in Arthur River, on the way back to setting myself up comfortably in my cabin. Closed, said the sign. Luckily, I’d been told to bring food, so I cooked up my two-minute noodles and set myself up next to the heater to relax and read. It was a beautiful little cabin, almost new and just perfect for one person. A red feature wall faced me to help keep my spirits up on that grey day and I knew I was going to be comfortable for the three nights I was there.
It started drizzling around 4 pm. Drizzle turned to rain and rain to deluge. I wondered how stable the cabin was. I had a image of it floating, me inside clinging precariously to the bed, down the hill to the mouth of the river and out to sea; next stop, Cape Horn.
My plans for spending the next day in the Tarkine Forest were fading fast. The television wasn’t coping with the weather, and so I I made myself some toast, had a quick shower and adjourned to bed to wait it out.
The storm that woke me could also have woken the dead. The sky lit up again and again, lightning bolts advancing nearer and nearer to where I was lying. Thunder rolled, thumped and pounded. Mother Earth was flaunting her power.
It’s an eerie experience being alone in a cabin park in a storm. It’s deafeningly noisy and quiet at the same time. I needed the toilet but that wasn’t going to happen. No way was I going to be hit by lightning while on the toilet. A girl has her pride.
I hate storms at home but, strangely, I wasn’t a bit afraid. It was like being in a cocoon, protected and safe, while the world raged around me. I started wondering if I should be afraid. Maybe I was in danger and didn’t realise it. There was a tree between me and the next cabin. Don’t trees attract lightning?
An explosion, together with an almighty flash, as if from some huge camera, was followed by the shuddering of the earth, then another, so close I thought it had hit the window, though I suppose if it had I wouldn’t still have been sitting there.
That was it, the grand finale. The onslaught eased away to a steady downpour and Mother Nature went to sleep. The lamp above the bed was dead. I crawled off the mattress and tried the light switch. The electricity was gone. I found when I opened the curtains that it was 7.30 and daylight.
Without electricity I had no heating, cooking, radio or television. I poured myself a bowl of cereal while waiting for the rain to ease, then donned my runners and ploughed out into the river that was the park roadway and across to the kiosk to ring the caretaker. There was no answer. That’s when I noticed his van, parked next to the kiosk yesterday, was gone.
I would have been quite happy to stay in that beautiful spot by myself but without electricity the room was cold and getting colder, the rain was still heavy and showing no sign of abating and I realised I would have to give in and leave.
I packed my gear back in the car, left a note with $70 for the night, and headed back in the direction I came from. I was halfway to Burnie before I realised that all I probably had to do was turn the fuse back on in the meter box, located, conveniently, next to the fridge.
Poem at the lookout at Arthur River:
The Edge of the World – North West Coast Tasmania by Brian Inder
I cast my pebble onto the shore of eternity
To be washed by the ocean of time.
It has shape, form and substance,
It is me.
One day I will be no more
But my pebble will remain here
On the shore of eternity,
Mute witness for the aeons
That today I came and stood
At the edge of the world.
This is an excerpt from ‘The Edge of the World’, the first in my Planning to the ‘Nth’ travel series, published as an Ebook through Amazon. This weekend, Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th January, I am offering the book free of charge.