News What it’s like spending Christmas at the bottom of the world
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What it’s like spending Christmas at the bottom of the world

Russ and Jane Wilson at Cockle Creek. Photo: Russ Wilson
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Cockle Creek is at the very bottom of Australia.

The dusty road heading there winds between old cypress trees, over a wooden bridge and stops at a small campsite.

It is the farthest point south you can take a car.

There’s no going any further – unless you walk.

Once a settlement with more than 2000 residents, the Tasmanian town of Cockle Creek is now visited by a trickle of wildlife caretakers, bushwalkers and volunteers who want their rugged wilderness largely untouched and served with a large side of silence.

A two-hour walk from the campsite takes you to cliffs at South Cape Bay, where there’s nothing but wind between you and Antarctica, and the surf crashes in from the Southern Ocean.

Arriving at Cockle Creek. Photo: Google Maps

Spending Christmas at the edge of the world with drop toilets, a WiFi shortage and a whole lot of stillness would irk some, but it’s heaven for Russ and Jane Wilson.

The American couple is spending five weeks over the festive season volunteering at the campsite.

They’ll be there to greet hikers, provide information and spread Christmas cheer to everyone fleeing the city.

“It’s remote. There aren’t any creature comforts,” Ms Wilson told The New Daily.

Mr Wilson agreed: “It’s not fancy, but it’s everything you need. We have a little kitchenette and bedrooms.”

“Electricity is solar-powered and the heat is a wood stove. There is no TV, there’s no internet. No microwave – that would be too much for the system.

“It’s completely off-grid.”

The beach at Cockle Creek. Photo: Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service

Between ensuring the small campground is clean and giving hikers heading out into Tasmania’s largest national park useful information, Ms Wilson said the pair keep themselves busy by not doing much.

“We walk. I do a lot of reading, crosswords. Russ fishes,” she said.

“And I just like people, so I’m out in the morning or the evening talking to people at the campsite. I really enjoy it.”

There are a few Christmas decorations strewn across the small information centre, but Ms Wilson said she expected campers arriving next week to bring more.

“We’ve seen some vehicles go by with little garlands on,” she said.

“We are interested to see what the tourists do with their caravans, all decorated up, or trees outside tents.

“People are mostly here to enjoy nature, to walk on the beach, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the spirit come to life.” 

The South Cape Bay Cliffs are a two-hour walk from the creek.

The pair is living off rations, having taken everything they need with them, but a family visit in late January will keep them going if they run short.

On Christmas Day they’ll have a special salmon lunch cooked “on the barbie” for authenticity.

Based between the US states of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, the pair has travelled more than 6900 kilometres for this – and they couldn’t be more content.

“It’s very scenic. We see boats in the harbour, we see people kayaking,” Mr Wilson said.

“We’re looking forward to it.”

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