Thursday, 30 May 2013

Koala, whales, dingoes:1, Spotted by us:0

Not sure what this is, but it was wandering round our campsite

The title of this entry says it all really, we’ve looked, but we haven’t seen any! Jackie and I are pretty sure we saw three water spouts out in the deep ocean from Cape Hawke and I had camera ready, but we didn’t see a whale body! We’ve also driven through many areas that tell us to ‘drive slowly, koalas live here’, stopped, walked into forest, but they have eluded us. We were warned about dingoes and flying foxes (the largest bat species) at Cape Hawke as well but didn’t see any.

It has to be said, however, that in all other respects the last two days have been pretty amazing, warmish sunny weather, fantastic scenery along the coast roads and really nice campsites, so we’ve no complaints at all, but Jackie is in need of animal contact. No cats, no koalas, no kangaroos (except two roadkill we saw), nothing for her to stroke! We’re going to head for the koala hospital and a koala wildlife park in Port Macquarie sometime tomorrow, but she says it’ll only make up for not seeing a cat if a koala comes into the van and sits on her lap!

On the ferry
So in the last couple of days we’ve moved up from The Entrance (a small finger of land almost separating large Tuggerah Lake and the Tasman Sea except for the small opening, hence the name) up to a place called Harrington, just south of Port Macquarie. The drive itself has been superb with fabulous scenery virtually all the way, but we’ve punctuated it with some short walks to viewpoints, to make it quite spectacular. It’s away from the main ‘Pacific Highway’, except for short distances, on smallish roads, hugging the coast, swamps, lakes and bush, pretty much just what we wanted from the journey. 

The mangrove swamps
At a remote place called Bombah Point we came upon a small ferry, required to cross about 100m of water joining two lakes to avoid a long detour and on arrival the pilot of the empty little ferry, capable of taking about 6 cars, signalled us to board, closed the gate behind us and took us across on our own, all for AUS$5. A lovely little spot in a beautiful isolated place, Jackie asked if we could go back and forwards again all day it was so pleasant, but there were three cyclists waiting to go the other way, so we exited, drove on a road cut through swamp and mangroves and onto a rocky headland called Seal Rocks, which has a lighthouse atop, approached by a steep hill and plenty of steps, much to Pauline’s dismay! 
The lighthouse and keepers cottage
The promise of chocolate cake and tea later encouraged her up. The old lighthouse keepers cottages are now holiday lets and beautifully furnished (we had a guided tour of one) and a holidaymaker in one of them told us about the whales she had seen swimming by earlier. Up we went and spent half hour or so looking out to sea – nothing!

Lighthouse beach from the lighthouse
Seal Rocks
More thin slivers of land between lake and sea took us to Forster and a great little campsite, ‘The Smugglers’, where we took a two bedroomed cabin with kitchen, bathroom and lounge, leaving the little van for the night. The nearby towns of Forster and Tuncurry are pretty well slated by our Lonely Planet guide, ‘just drive through without stopping’ it said, but we think that was a bit unfair, they were OK and right on the coast, but nothing special it has to be said.

This morning we went back south only about 5km, to drive out to Cape Hawke and walk up the 420 odd steps to a viewing platform and pretty amazing views. Although nothing was mentioned in our book or the notice board at the car park about how it got its name, I felt Captain Cook may have named it as he named Hawke Bay in New Zealand after Admiral Hawke and I was pleased to find (Jackie found it first), a small stone monument with the words ‘Saturday May 12 1770. This point I called Cape Hawke. James Cook’. They don’t seem to make as much about Captain Cook as they did in New Zealand, which is very disappointing!

The viewing platform at Cape Hawke

...and a view from the top
Flying foxes watching us!
On up north we went in land a bit to find a place called Wingham Brush Nature Reserve, which our book says is a patch of idyllic rainforest that has giant, other-worldly Moreton Bay figs and flying foxes. Not being able to find the place on any maps we had we called into the visitor centre in Taree, offering free tea and coffee (a good lunch stop!) to find out and came out with armfuls of leaflets of things we must see he told us! Not having the time (or inclination to drive 17km along an unsealed road to see an impressive waterfall), we went to the Nature Reserve and had a fabulous time. 
The magnificent Moreton Bay fig
The flying foxes (yes we saw some – several thousand!) were very noisy, very colourful and also very aggressive to each other. Hanging from the trees above us, we were aware of thousands of pairs of eyes watching us! The Moreton Bay fig trees were pretty amazing too and I took a photo of Jackie and Pauline standing next to the largest and yes, other-worldly tree, before returning to the river, watching some pelicans land on the river, then driving to a really nice campsite at Harrington in time for chocolate cake and tea – Pauline’s happy!

Tomorrow it’s more Captain Cook at Crowdy Head, followed by koalas at Port Macquarie!


No comments:

Post a Comment