Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Going Down South - Day 5

Unfortunately, we woke to worries. Having neglected to recognised the presence of the October long weekend in the middle of our trip, we had been warned by every caravan park and the national parks people, that unless we had booked accommodation from Friday to Monday, it would be unlikely that we would find a site on the South Coast. After discussing the pros and cons, we figured we may even be driving home a week early if we had to.

In the meantime, we had things to do today and got about them, retracing our steps back up the Jambaroo Road and into Minnamurra Falls NP.The further we went, the prettier it became. Rounding a bend in the increasingly narrow road, we were stopped in our tracks by three lyrebirds which were on and beside the road.  The two males were clearly competing for the affection of the one female and although they moved up into bush at the road side, we had clear vision of one of the males as he displayed that amazing tail and went through a repertoire of bird calls imitating his neighbours. We counted seven different calls and an eighth, which we were to find out was his own - a combination between a clicking and chuckling sound. The display went on for twenty minutes, with occasional breaks. Three or four cars were waved past the Forester, which sat with its hazard lights flashing a warning. I recorded a audio soundtrack which I'll attempt to add to this entry. Among the links is a Youtube piece from David Attenborough which is stunning but make sure you listen until the very end.

Of the many encounters we have had over the thirty odd years we have been on bush tracks, this was one of the most thrilling.

We eventually left them to their courting and continued the short distance to Minnamurra Falls NP. We chose not to do the Falls track as it seemed that it might ask questions of Sue's back she might not want to answer and the damage to my knee was starting to tell on me, so instead we opted for loop track. The track has been cleverly designed on an elevated platform of wood which is gradually being replaced by modular panels of some plastic compound made from hundreds of hollow cm squares. Its light and strong, can be cut and fixed more readily that the wood, will allow water to pass through and will last a lot longer. The walk passes through rainforest and the eucalypt forests which border it. Suspension bridges take you across a delightfully clear creek in several places, with 200 million year old rocks breaking up the flow as it races down hill. The highlights were an old cedar tree which somehow escaped the cross cut saws and a giant strangler fig and the tree that it was gradually consuming. Massive ribboned buttress roots wove out from its base as it just stood silently and timeless as the world left it alone. Later in the walk, another massive forest giant had lay down seven years ago, splitting and smashing the neighbourhood on its way to its new job of providing new environments for ecosystems in need of a starting point. Its last act rent a hole in the canopy, allowing sunshine to flood in and new growth to start with a fresh, sunny focus.

After finishing our walk, we headed for morning tea but were deferred by another male lyrebird, this time standing on a large rock mid stream of the creek, immediately below the facilities, riffling through his collection of bird songs at the most raucous volume. It echoed up and down the creek but attracted only the two of us. Everyone else was too intent on their food and drinks.

We went next to the Blow Hole - an attraction whose singular unique appeal gave Kiama a tourist industry. The coastline around Kiama is composed of a hard rock called latite, which appears as a dark brown to black. At this particular spot, a chamber has formed under the surface, at the end of a channel which is open to the sea. At some point part of the roof has fallen in. As the water rushes in under wave action, air gets trapped at the back of the chamber, building up pressure with each subsequent wave. Eventually, the air pressure escapes violently as the water retreats, blasting up through the hole above and taking any water present with it. Basic blow hole 101. At lunch time, it was more of a No Hole as I've heard fairy farts louder than anything emanating from the cavity in the latite.

We drove around to Pheasant Point, where we took in lunch as well as a delightful view of a long beach and Bombo Bluff. The bluff was the original site where latite was mined after it was found to crush down into blue metal, used as the base upon which to lay railway tracks. So in the late 1800's, a large part of the bluff was reduced as minors removed enormous quantities of the rock, largely with pick and shovel. For a long time before the railway came past the mining site, the ore was placed on horse and buggy and driven around to the wharf at Kiama. Unfortunately, the weight of the ore often shifted the carts and ran them, horse and all, into the water, killing several drivers and every horse.

After lunch we drove the short trip to Gerringong, famous by my concern as the home of Mick Cronin, the former Australian, NSW and Parramatta centre. We drove about and found the Lloyd Rees Reserve at the northern end of Werri Beach, where the famous water colour and line drawing man spent much time. We had a mocha with a view but very little chocolate and Sue visited a craft shop full of knitted things, crocheted    things and dolls facing the wall. I waited outside.

Our ridiculous moment was the sighting of the real estate office in Gerringong. Some people make the best of bad start in life, afflicted by a thoughtless naming by their parents. Other change their name to avoid embarrassment. Then there is Dick Payne. He just plasters his name in bold, high letters. He could have been a Richard but no, in the end, he's just a Dick.

On the way out of town we passed Mick Cronin's pub. We drove back to Kiama via the Little Blow Hole, which comes with a guarantee of spout blowing action. I'll be contacting Fair Trading about that claim because it was just cold, wet and uneventful.

Returning back to its Papa, we were finally treated to a few "whumper" and spray events, some even good enough to photograph. The final treat was sighting two whales out to sea putting on the best display I've ever seen. There were repeated breeches, fins, blows and for about ten minutes, constant tail shows which included the tail being smashed down into the water and lifted up vertical again. Even from several kilometres away it was spectacular.

Good news during the afternoon came in the way of accommodation until after the weekend, with three nights in Bateman's Bay and two in Bega confirmed. Looks like we might get to complete the trip as not planned after all!

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