Sunday, 22 March 2015

TOD Tour, Day 40 - Black Rocks, Bundjalung NP

Storm clouds gather
Sleep was difficult again last night.

When we went to bed, it was raining. Two hours later, if not all of hell then a goodly portion of it, broke loose. The rain had stopped but winds closing in on 60kms/hr woke us by the battering they were handing to the annex and canopy. The van was shuddering and the wind bellowed a warning.

I had little choice but to brace myself and leave the safety of the van. Working away at the zip joints of the annex walls and the canopy roof, with the walls alternately slapping in and out with each gust, I managed to bring them down and rough fold them under the van. By this stage, three of the poles were close to failure, so I had to fix them back at new heights to lower the profile of the canopy and then re-tension the guy ropes. Once this was done, I spent six or seven anxious minutes holding the main pole as the whole thing bucked and rocked with the now violent gusts. In between, I drove in additional pegs to ensure the guy ropes didn't fail.

The problem we have when high winds strike - and these were not predicted - is that the canopy is attached to he A-line of roof by a aluminium channel, through which a canvas bead slides. Given the height of the roof apex and an anchor point right on the apex, it is impossible to bring down the canopy without collapsing the Avan into the closed position but in these winds, it would be an action fraught with the danger of losing walls or roof once the unit was de-constructed. Up and in position, it is a strong structure but partially closed, it is very vulnerable.

The next twenty minutes were very hectic but the gusts left almost as quickly as they came, leaving us like cats under a wet tin roof!

Needless to say, getting back to sleep was difficult.

Jerusalem Creek
A little ragged around the edges, it was a slow morning as showers continually waxed and waned making leaving the campsite difficult. Eventually the sun made a belated appearance and so we went down to Jerusalem creek. The creek is tea tree stained and runs parallel to the coastline, just behind the sand dunes and is only open to the sea periodically. 100 meters down the initial stretch of track, the creek lies before you in a deep pool. Still and therefore perfect for reflection in photography, the water provided a backdrop for paperbacks with their feet wet and orange-hued barks.

The sky was banking up a store of unpleasantries whose deadline was imminent. We returned back to camp in time to avoid a heavy downpour.

The next few hours were optioned mainly around books and meals.

Another burst of sunshine took us back to the creek but this time we were stumped by the last twenty four hours of weather, as any further penetration along the path became a write-off due to a flooded track and the vegetation was too dense to find alternate paths. Again, rain ended our walk.

Late in the day, we took a few beers and some crackers down onto the beach. The light was superb and the billowing clouds, set with their straight line bases parallel to the horizon, were set over a green ocean which met us with a vigorous surf. The long shallow slope of the beach provided a wet surface on which the sky was reflected. The already described and just as spectacular black rocks again provided the context for the whole scene.

The rocks are commonly described as "coffee rock" in nature because of their rich brown and black tones. They are porous and easily marked, for they are soft and very fine grained. Formed when fallen vegetation was mixed with iron oxide and then compressed, they are easily eroded and the powerful sea takes its toll. It was an awesome scene already but one more surprise was revealed when a portion of a rainbow appeared, running up from the surface of the sea and disappearing into a billowing cumulonimbus. No sooner had I shot a series of photos of that, when a white-bellied Sea Eagle came drifting along the beach on the still fresh breeze.

It was jaw-dropping stuff.

Darkness fell over toasted sandwiches and fruit and it was back to the books until close of play.

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