Wednesday 12 May 2021

St Patricks Head


Not far from the sleepy town of St Marys is St Patricks Head, a mountain that gives you a sweet view out over the Tassie East Coast. It's a place Jeni and I have been meaning to check out for a while now. We actually found it a little tricky to find, and would certainly suggest against using Google Maps to find where the trail begins. The place hasn't received the funding it deserves, and the signage to the place is minimal. The internet doesn't have much, so we ended up having a yarn with some locals to find our way (cheers Mr. Tinker!). I'll also start this post by giving some directions to find the place. It's not hard to find, but if you take the wrong roads it can feel like a maze!

Go towards 95!

Once you're in St Marys, head for Irish Town rd (it's on the east side of town). Turn left into St Patricks Head rd. After a bridge, you'll come to an intersection giving you the option of several properties. You want to aim right for 95. Drive all the way to the end of the road, and you'll find the start of the walk!

The trail takes about an hour each way. It's a rocky path to the top, and the verdant scenery shifts from ferns, to mossy bush, to dryer trees as you ascend. There are a few large trees that you'll need to clamber across early on, and the leaf litter can be slippery underfoot, so it's good to be prepared for this. 

Up top, the views are spectacular. The surf roils across the Falmouth and Scamander beaches at a seemingly snails pace from this vantage, and cars driving along the coast are mere motes sliding across that thin stretch that is the Tasman Highway. The Iron House Brewery and Resort appears as a child's plaything, sitting just out of reach. It's a great place to kick back and take in the atmosphere—and the sun's warmth on a cooler day. 

Recently I made the decision to start using walking-poles on my walks. As a bigger fella, my knees are really appreciating it. I found them super handy on the steeper parts of the walk. Definitely recommend them to anyone if their knees are giving them a bit of jib after a walk.

One absolutely amazing point about this mountain, however, is that, despite the influx of tourists to the region this year, not one other person was on the trail with us. Was certainly a special experience being able to enjoy a bit of Tassie's east coast all to ourselves!

Glad to have finally made it out to St Patricks Head!

Monday 3 May 2021

Check Out Dat Wrasse: Banana in My Sweet Wrasse


Finally, a post dedicated to spearfishing! It's something that I have thought of doing for a while, but wasn't quite sure how to go about it. I'm bloody new to the whole thing, only 9 months in, so there are way better sources for folks that want to get started or improve their abilities than what I can write up. Something this weekend just gone has taught me, however, is how incredible the cooking side of spearfishing (or any kind of fishing or hunting, for that matter) can be. So, I've decided that a mix of the adventurous and culinary aspects will be the way to proceed for a nice spearing post.

Friday was the final day of Southern Rock Lobster season for the Tassie East Coast. Needless to say, a few of us kicked off the weekend with an arvo dive. I haven't quite managed to catch one yet. My breath holds have gotten way better, and I'm keen to try again when the season reopens (or on a west coast trip!). I did, however, grab a really nice goatfish. These guys eat crustaceans on the sandy floor, have a bit of a prawny taste, and are sensational pan-fried on their own. I may have missed out on the crays, but I had a wicked breakfast for Saturday morning!

Regardless of the lobsters and goats we started with, this weekend was all about one fish in particular: wrasse. A nice bluethroat wrasse is what many new spearos pop their spearing cherry on down here in Tassie, myself included. It's also a fish that most spearos lose interest in after they have improved their skill and prefer to take "better fish". I've even hit a point where I rarely spear them.

Why was the first weekend of May 2021 so wrasse oriented, you ask? Well, an absolute top bloke and mate of mine, Michael Sirianni (Wandering Gringo), went to massive effort to organise a casual get-together of spearos. Whilst a keen hunter, he wanted to avoid any chance of decimating populations. A "junk" fish cooking competition was part of that plan. The other two challenges were to solve a riddle and take and submit a highly sustainable fish, and to see who could harvest the most longspine urchins (which are an invasive pest down here). Not many longspines were found between us all (I saw none) which was a good issue to have (they have been commercially harvested here recently)!

Most of us happy campers approached the whole get together in a super-casual manner... until it got to the wrasse cook-off! We all got back to River and Rocks campground around 3, cracked a brew, and cleaned our fish. Not long after, the dusty free-camp by the mouth of the Swan River was cooking up dishes that were tastier and more diverse than many a restaurant could muster! And the star of the day was that fish that most spearos don't even bother with! Wrasse!


Showing off our Wrasses! Photo courtesy of Ryan Francis.


As the sun prepared to set, the dishes were laid out. The aroma was amazing, and everyone was shocked at how good all this wrasse looked! The only element that shocked harder was how delightful everything tasted! And it was all wrasse! The dishes on display here are: Thai green curry and fried rice by Eb and Jack, Ceviche by Liam, Karage by Ryan, Smoked Wrasse by Sam, Pan-Fried Wrasse with Curry by Josh, Secretly Chilli Tacos by Michael, and finally Banana in My Sweet Wrasse by myself. Once the sun had disappeared and the stars lit our world, Michael D spoilt us with some Wrasse Tempura (and awesome abalone!) and Dave the mainlander brought over a Wrasse Galette. It was all sensational, and I'm pretty sure all in attendance left the weekend with an altered opinion on wrasse! Congrats to Liam for winning with his insanely tasty ceviche!


The dishes! Photo courtesy of Ryan Francis.


For those that enjoyed Banana in My Sweet Wrasse, or would like to try it out sometime, beneath I'll leave the wrasscipe. Honestly, the dish was awesome, but my plan was to add so much other stuff it would over-power the wrasse. I definitely didn't bring to the table the same level of skill that the others did, but I'll happily cook it up again, and it was not a difficult dish to put together. All cooked in a single fry pan!






1 Bluethroat wrasse, filleted and diced

1 big onion, chopped up

Pack of Tassie bacon, diced

2 bananas, sliced.

1 tin of crushed pineapple

1 jar of KanTong pineapple sweet & sour cooking sauce

1 tin of coconut cream

Splash of olive oil

Sprinkle of chilli powder/flakes

Sprinkle of lemon pepper

Sprinkle of mixed herbs

Packet of nacho chips (alternative: rice)


1. Get the pan hot, splash in oil and add onions to brown.

2. Throw in bacon, brown it up.

3. Slap dat wrasse in dat pan.

4. When wrasse flesh has gone white, throw in the crushed pineapple, cooking sauce, and coconut cream. Splash a bit of your beer in the jars to get all the goodness out.

5. The sweet wrasse will be overly moist at this point. Crack another beer (or whatever beverage you prefer), sit back, and keep stirring while the liquid evaporates and the juices condense.

6. Sprinkle on some chilli powder, lemon pepper, and mixed herbs to taste.

7. Once you're happy with the thickness, insert your banana into that sweet wrasse. Stir through.

8. Crack open nacho chips and dip away. A great single pan dish! Alternatively, cook up some rice and plate up.

Cheers again to all the awesome people who camped out this weekend. Was super fun, and I hope to dive with you all again down the track. Anyone reading this that wants to get in on future spearo meetups, get over to the Tas Spearos Facebook group. Got an awesome wrasscipe of your own? Share it in the comments!