Is This Private Island Tasmania's Best Kept Secret?

Five years ago Kara Rosenlund took a trip to Tasmania that changed her life. While she was working on putting together her wonderful book, Shelter: How Australians Liveshe bought a one-way ticket to Tasmania in search of shacks to shoot, and ended up spending time on the elusive Satellite Island.

Kara had a transformative experience after staying for three nights alone on the Island. Five years later, she returned with her family, to share the magic she found.

Here, Kara reflects on the Island she will never forget!

Kara Rosenlund

Satellite Island, near the south-east coast of Tasmania. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

Photographer Kara Rosenlund traveled to the elusive island in 2014 on a workboat over the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

Kara in a old boat on the island. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

The over water accommodation. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

Island essentials. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

An incredible view from the bedroom. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

The wild water. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

Kara in her element! Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

Fires are the only source of warmth in the cold evenings. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

To celebrate her return to Satellite Island, Kara has created five special photographic prints from her trip. Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

Photo – Kara Rosenlund.

Kara Rosenlund
8th of October 2019

I first heard about Satellite Island in 2014 in what seemed like whispers. A rugged and remote island which lies unspoiled off the southern Tasmanian mainland. I had bought a one-way ticket to Tasmania to really immerse myself in the search for authentic Australian homes, for my book I was shooting, Shelter.

I would ask people I met in Tasmania about Satellite Island, and became rather obsessed with it. Subconsciously I would weave the island into all of my conversations, ‘Have you heard of Satellite Island?…’ It seemed like a mythical place which no one could tell me much about, or who it belonged to.

Late one evening when I was feeling a bit down (it had been a few weeks since I’d been away from home in Tasmania), my laptop went ‘boom’ and I received an email saying:

‘Hi Kara, My name is Kate and I follow you on Instagram, and I can see that you are in Tasmania. We have a private island called Satellite Island and I’d love to invite you over for a few days.’

I stared at the email, absorbing each word and then immediately burst into tears. I couldn’t believe this woman found me and not the other way around. It was such a fateful moment. I quickly wrote back to her with a big YES.

The next week I excitedly drove my little hire car down to Kettering, and caught the barge over to Bruny Island, not knowing exactly what to expect. I met Richard, the Island keeper, on the shores of Bruny near the pub, and then Kate and her mum. We all went over the D’Entrecasteaux Channel in the workboat, and that is where I spent the next three nights on Satellite Island. I felt so overwhelmed by the trust Kate had in me. We connected instantly over our love for the wilderness and nature. We spent the first night getting to know each other in a raucous of laughter and stories and wine, then the next day Kate and her mum left, just like that, off into the distance on the workboat to catch a flight. I found myself alone. Just me on the island, with no reception. It was wild.

The island itself is small, but larger than what you might think. There is one main house named the ‘Summer house’ and also another called the ‘Boathouse’, which is where you can sleep above the water. No shops to duck into for supplies, or any other distractions. Though the island itself is very self-sufficient.

Early each evening I would collect mussels and shuck oysters from the ancient rock shelf which circles the remote island. It was wonderful being able to collect what you needed, while observing the natural beauty of the coastal landscape. A primal routine. I would spend the days exploring and photographing the rock shelf and watching the tide come in and out, bringing with it beautiful sea treasure in the form of seaweed, kelp and shells.

I didn’t really sleep the whole time I was there. The weather conditions would change so dramatically, so I was constantly alert, waiting to see what would reveal itself to me. One moment perfect blue skies and sunshine, then a moment later it would be raining. Fronts would move in and then blow away immediately.

I was constantly shooting, as the same scene would completely change within minutes. Even when I was lying in bed in the boathouse watching the stars at night, I didn’t want to shut my eyes because there was still beauty everywhere.

Five years on, and Satellite Island has definitely become a hot destination since those early days, and watching the world discover it for themselves since then has been exhilarating to witness. I decided to return to Satellite Island last month, and brought my family along with me.

Going back after all this time was really emotional. It’s hard to explain, the island has a way of getting into your veins. Coming in by seaplane over the water and seeing the boathouse where I slept on those nights five year ago was like seeing an old familiar friend.

Even though many things have changed since then, for both the island and myself, the raw, rugged beauty of the place still remains strong and so does my intense love for the island. The thing about visiting a natural haven like this is that once you let nature in, it has a way of reconnecting you to what’s truly important and silencing what’s not.

To celebrate returning to Satellite Island, I have made available five new photographic prints from this story, all inspired by the raw abstract beauty that flourishes on the island. Click here to view them in my print shop.

This is an edited extract from Kara Rosenlund’s blog. Read the full entry here!

Find out more about staying at Satellite Island here

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