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Discovering a "secret" smugglers' beach and gangsters' hideaway mansions in Sandy Bay

In these anxious times, it's good to be able to find some peace and space away from people, particularly in a city where many don't seem to be taking the concept of "social distance" seriously enough. Thankfully, it's not too difficult to find places close to Hobart to self-isolate, and even to make some unexpected discoveries.

Of course many people go down to Long Beach, Sandy Bay, in the summer. It's a popular area, but was certainly not too populated this Friday afternoon. There were people walking their dogs and kids on bikes, but most were heading in the opposite direction to me. My destination was not Long Beach, or the ironically longer and sandier Nutgrove Beach, where most people head. I headed instead in the direction of the old battery, an historic landmark which once served as a lookout and signal point, watching out at one time for Russian ships that may be sailing up the Derwent. Past this is a small beach beyond which I had never bothered to explore. In fact, until this week I hadn't even realised it was possible to continue on. As it turn out you can go quite a way further along into a world of covert inlets with secret stairways and ladders descending from large and mostly recently-built mansions perched atop the steep slope above.

It was an absolute treasure trove of sights and details for an afternoon of photography, with the weather swinging variously between the ominous and the bright and sunny.

It was a bit like walking into the set of a James Bond film, with the rusty ladders and rustic stone stairwells secreted away amongst foliage, sometimes winding down a narrow path from a big mansion on the clifftop. I couldn't help let my imagination run wild as to who might live in these discretely concealed, large, and now doubt very expensive abodes. The secret entrances down to the sea suggested to me either drug smugglers or pirates...or perhaps a combination of both. Of course they are probably owned by fabulously wealthy surgeons or lawyers...either way they don't seem to kind of places built from honestly-gotten wealth. But I will cease with the cynicism...

They certainly provided a nice theme for an afternoon of photography away from the fevered masses.

But these Bondesque stairwells were not the only feature that caught my eye on this little beach ramble. The various inlets themselves provided all manner of interesting little elements and eye-catching textures.

There were small details to see every around your feet, both the detritus washed up and the textures of the glistening sand and beds of smooth pebbles layed across the beach.

And in case you are unconvinced by the by drug smuggling pirate theory, let this picture be Exhbit 1...who but a gangster would have this kind of eerie looming above a wall of thick ivy ?

But the sea was a rough one today, so I didn't see any pirates attempting to steer their booty-laden dinghies ashore, so I had to be satisfied with trying to capture the drama of the waves crashing against the rocks and sea spray leaping to the sky.

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