Back in Launceston, or ‘Launnie’ or ‘Launois’, so say those in the know (not LaunVegas?), our Sunday was all organised with a four-hour cruise on the Tamar River booked. This was to take us straight up the middle of where we had travelled the previous two days, and give a completely different perspective. We arrived at the Home Point Cruise Terminal to see a small crowd already milling about, jostling for pole position to board the Tamar Odyssey catamaran as soon as the captain gave the word. This was obviously a very popular activity for the over-60s visiting Launceston.
We’d been gifted with yet another day of dazzling blue skies, but I was regretting my decision to leave my warmer jacket behind as the crew cast off the lines and we got underway, the breeze on the upper deck was quite cool. It became apparent very early on that our captain would be providing a live commentary, very much of the non-stop variety. This had us exhibiting a bit of eye-rolling and deep sighing for a bit, but it wasn’t long before we found ourselves starting to appreciate it. It turns out that there is a lot to know about the goings on beside and on the Tamar River.
We were treated to sightings of many sea eagles during the day, as well as black swans, egrets, ducks, herons and pelicans as we cruised past the exposed mud banks at low tide toward the Batman Bridge. The Tamar is reportedly Australia’s longest navigable estuarine river, and has long been used for shipping, servicing the Port of Launceston as well as light and heavy industrial activity at George Town. In the 1940s, rice grass was planted along the banks in an effort to combat the erosion being caused by all the water traffic, but alas it is a weed that amasses silt and debris to the detriment of the native flora and fauna, and destroys other pleasant things like sandy beaches. It is frustratingly difficult to eradicate, resulting in the Tamar River now having one of the world’s largest infestations of rice grass.
As we cruised along, our captain pointed out vineyards, orchards, historic houses, churches and hotels, and regaled us with tales of bushrangers and other notable folk that make up the story of the area since the British set up shop here in 1804. I had the distinct feeling that what this guy doesn’t know about the Tamar River, isn’t worth knowing.
Catering on this four-hour cruise included tea, coffee, muffins and cookies for morning tea, and filled rolls followed by cheese and fruit for lunch. They’ll work around dietary requirements if you let them know in advance. We were also offered a teeny-tiny wine tasting: just a very small sip of three local wines that could have been a little more generous, but still, a nice-to-have inclusion. The bar is open throughout the cruise for any other wine, beer etc needs that you might have.