Wednesday 31 March 2021

Furneaux x deux

Hmm, that was shamefully slow of me, to make this connection. I'm writing (again) about the Bay of Fires Walk in Tasmania which I did in 2011 - and yes! There's beginning to be editorial interest once more in foreign stories! (After all this time, Australia genuinely counts as foreign rather than just the cuzzies across the ditch, no question.)

Anyway, I was just explaining that this section of Tassie's north-eastern coast was given its name by Tobias Furneaux, who captained the boyishly-named HMS Adventure, accompanying Cook on his second voyage round this bit of the Pacific in 1773. He saw lines of fires along the beaches, which were the campfires of the Aboriginal people who lived there, and who had been living there for 40,000 years - not that Cook had recognised that in 1770, mind, declaring Australia 'Terra Nullius', or nobody's land, and promptly claiming it for Britain.

It was only when I was checking something about Tobias and Google suggested 'Furneaux Lodge' that I realised I'd been there too - it's a very comfortable hotel on the Queen Charlotte Track, in the Marlborough Sounds, not accessible by road. I'd started walking that day 17km away at Ship Cove, a favourite location for Cook, who hung out there several times, doing repairs and having a bit of R&R with his crew. I wasn't surprised: it's all beautiful around there, with turquoise blue sounds, green bushy hills, sheltered little bays, lots of birds and even - very unexpected, on both sides - two deer on the track.

I had a lovely day, wandering along, but was still pleased to get to Furneaux Lodge in Endeavour Inlet for some well-earned comfort. Which it delivered, in spades - modern little motel unit in the garden, pretty heritage main building built in 1904 (by another seaman), welcoming, excellent food (still mourning that sticky date pudding I didn't have room for) and beautiful setting.

It's a shame, then, that it's indelibly connected in the national consciousness with the mysterious disappearance from there and presumed murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope on New Year's Eve in 1998. Scott Watson was found guilty but is still denying it. He was in the news again just a week ago when a key witness in the case, the last to see the victims alive, and who disputed the Crown's identification of the boat he'd left them at, committed suicide. The mystery continues...

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