Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Tasmania: Bay of Fires.

We drove from Bicheno to St. Helen's, a slightly bigger town right next to the renowned Bay of Fires. When we checked into our little villa, we got chatting to the lovely receptionist and got all her local tips on the best places to go that weren't too crowded. Not wanting to waste time, we set off for Binalong Bay, hopping across the different rocks and sitting down for a while. The cloudy skies cast a different mood across bay, accentuating the green-blue tones in the water, contrasting beautifully with the orange lichen on the granite rocks. Contrary to popular belief, the Bay of Fires (or larapuna, its indigenous name) is not named after these striking rocks, but rather named after the fires of the Aboriginal people on the beaches, seen in 1773 by Captain Tobias Furneaux.

Because we lingered, we got to see some local fishermen arrive at the bay, and on cue, as if they had each made an appointment, a trio of pelicans swam in and waited. The fishermen began throwing off-cuts of their catch to the keen pelicans, who had clearly done this dance before. The seagulls were also quick to take advantage of the easy meal, swooping in to try and get some for themselves. Even a local beagle got some for himself.

Afterwards, we drove a little further north to Cosy Corner North, a quiet part of the beach with a free campsite. Even on this cloudy day the water was so clear and turquoise. The granite rocks here were far larger, almost inviting us to climb on them and see the ocean from their perspective.

In dire need of a little extra sleep, we started the next day a little slower, but still left at about 8:30am. We wanted to go back to the beach one more time before we started our long drive west, to Launceston. On the way, we paid one last visit to a little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop called Coffee Away. The barista & owner, Marika, was lovely and made a seriously great coffee—which is hard to find in little towns like these. All the St. Helen's locals were always lined up in front of her shop and even our receptionist raved about her. Definitely worth a stop if you're in the area and you are a little particular about where you get your coffee from.

It was so beautifully sunny, I just knew I had to see what the beach looked like in the sunshine. I was certain the fiery rocks would be at their fullest glory; I was right. A friendly woman walking her dog with her family offered to take a photo of Martin and I; rarely is the photographer photographed, so I took her up on it (even though my biggest fear is always that they'll focus on the background behind me, and not our faces, leaving them blurry and unrecognisable—she got it right on the second go).

It felt right to take some portraits of me in this spot, on this day. Photos I'll show my future children and grandchildren of what I looked like, and where we've been. I took off my glasses, something I rarely remember to do. I had left my hair how it is naturally that morning, its wild, unruly curls left to do as they please. Although I have never been overly precious/concerned about my appearance, I have my days and my moments where nothing looks or feels right and I hate all that I've been given. I learnt to appreciate my thick head of curls only a few years ago, and after 14 years of wearing glasses, sometimes I feel as if my eyes look strange without them. There were two big, sore pimples on my head that day too—I could have edited them out, but I didn't.

I have grown to embrace a lot about myself inside and out, and I want to be able to lead by example. You don't have to look magazine perfect, and you certainly don't have to be magazine perfect to be considered beautiful. We are human, we are real, we are imperfect, and there is no one definition of beauty. I posted about this on Instagram shortly before the trip, so I guess it was still on my mind throughout my travels. I think it's important to remember that the person you're looking at on the screen, or in magazines—who, in your head, is more beautiful than you—has their own days when they feel anything but; and perhaps it never occurred to you that to someone else, you're more beautiful than they are. It's high time we cultivate a language of self-love for ourselves, so we can teach others to do the same.

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