What a coincidence. Sylvia ended her last blog mentioning Wikipedia and now on the telly the Australian Prime Minister is accused of having a group of government workers who's task is to make changes on Wikipedia; history according to John Howard. How is that for spin? We wonder if Tony Blair had thought of doing that.
Part of our recent tasks has been to try and find out what is expected of us in preparing the van for New Zealand and arranging the transport. It seems the van will sail on the 16th of September from Melbourne and arrive in Littleton near Christchurch on the 27th of September. It is sad to think our Australian experience is coming to an end but we intend to make the most of what is left whilst putting aside some time for the necessary tasks.
Today our main road is the Princess Highway which currently travels up and down hills which have wooded slopes. The first stop was at Eden on the north side of Twofold Bay. This bay ranks amongst the largest natural deepwater anchorages in the world. Eden began life as a whaling station in 1828 and in1843, the Scottish born entrepreneur Benjamin Boyd, a failed London stockbroker, set up business as a whaler. He bought large amounts of land along with other share holders and his staff lived near by at his own settlement of Boyd Town, which was intended to rival Sydney as the state capital. When he eventually abandoned Australia to try mining in America, he owed lots of money and his share holders were not too pleased.
Boyd had built an expensive tower in the hope his staff would spot passing whales before his competitors; however it was still the fastest rowers and best judges of the direction of the whale's travel who got their first and stuck their harpoon in the whale, so claiming it as their catch. Aborigines had been hunting whale in this area for a long time and they made up most of the crew in the boats, but once again, usually they only received their keep.
Although the whale hunters used primitive methods by sticking the whale with a harpoon tied to about 200 feet of rope, then allowing the whale to dive and pull the boat until the whale weakened, they did have some unusual help. A pod of Killer Whales returned to Twofold Bay each year from at least 1843 to 1930, until 'Tom', the last leader of the pack died. The pack would herd together 'Baleen Whales' for the whalers who, after capturing them, would anchor the dieing whales in the bay and allow the killer pack to feast on the lips and tongues of the captured whales, which would then drown. A sad end for a lovely animal. This is said to be the only place in the world where such cooperation between man and whales has been recorded.
A must, according to other travellers, is to visit the Killer Whale Museum at Eden. So at a cost of £4.30 each we spent a very interesting 90 minutes in the museum. Amongst the stories in the museum was the arthritis cure. A large hole is made in the side of a whale carcass and the sufferer is put inside for one or several hours in a heat of 40 degrees Celsius. The time factor depends on how long the patient could stand it; it also had a bearing on how long it took their friends to again seek their company. Another story told of a capsized boat and the finding of one of the lost sailors inside the captured whale. He was unconscious after 15 hours in the whale's belly, his skin was bleached white, he was nearly blind and he had lost his hair but he still had his wellies on. The man was delirious for two weeks but went on to live for a further 18 years.
Whale watching is now an industry in this area and a siren is sounded at the museum if a whale is spotted in the bay. The video shown in the museum's small cinema was very good and we have bought a copy for future viewing. Well, after one must see, we moved on to a must do. We had been told there is a wonderful pie shop on the main street but on arrival we discovered two shops. I stopped an elderly local and asked which pie shop was the best and was told that both were owned by the same company and were really good. Mine was a peppered steak pie and Sylvia bought the 'meat, potato, cheese and bacon. This town would be a nice place to stay as long as you didn't want to loose weight.
The AA book 'Explore Australia' printed in 2000 notes that recently Eden has been the focus of the battle to save Australia's forests from the wood chip industry; from our observations the wood chippers are winning but the forests are still doing OK.
Further down the road we visited what is left of Boyd Town, which is a big luxury hotel with a nice beach frontage and a camp site. Further still we turned left into the forest and travelled the 11 miles to Boyd's Tower. The route was a good wide sealed road for the many wood lorries who pass this way. The wood chipping plant is at the end of this road and the Boyd Tower was near by; we saw over 20 large wood lorries during our one hour in this area. The sections of forest that have been felled have a sign stating when the logging had taken place. It was clear that natural seeding had occurred from the lesser girthed trees that had been spared and the forest had re-grown.
We rejoined the Princess Highway and left it again15 miles south of Eden, turning towards the coast down to Wonboyn Lake where we stayed for the night. The lake is open to the sea and has its own old wooden jetty. We arrived at feeding time for the parrots; the red bodied ones are 'King Parrots'. Red-Browed Firetails were feeding in a small dish. Large kangaroos were feeding near by but the local wombat did not come past our van for its nightly walk. This was a disappointment as we have only seen one wombat in the wild.
Next morning we rejoined the highway and turned off after 22 miles towards Mallacoota, situated at the opening to the Mallacoota Inlet. First we called at Gipsy Point because I liked the name, which turned out to be the best part of it. Still it was a nice place to put the kettle on and make our own cup of coffee. Mallacoota turned out to be an impressive place for a cheap holiday if you like fishing. There were sandy beaches, play areas for the children, and the council had over 600 camp sites round the main headland for power sites and tents. A short ride out of town was bush camping and more picnic areas.
Unfortunately for us the weather closed in and the drizzle turned into rain after lunch time, staying with us for the rest of the day. In Queensland they had high winds and storms with several cars being crushed by falling trees. We decided there was no point in sight seeing so we sought out the local telecentre where we downloaded e-mails and uploaded data for the blog. Lunch was eaten at a picnic spot before we booked our site down at the water front, where we watched pelicans and the 'Diva' birds, which sit on the posts and spread their wings to dry them. These birds belong to the group that hurl themselves beak first into the water and swim below the surface to catch fish for their meals. The other name for this bird is a Pied Cormorant.
On the site was our older friends from the Pambula Caravan Park and it was nice to renew our acquaintance in the morning before again attending at the telecentre. Twelve noon saw us back on the road and travelling towards Orbost. We had been recommended some walks near to where we rejoined the highway but the weather was poor and not suitable. After lunch we had the opportunity to do a 30 minute rain forest walk in dank conditions along very basic tracks. This was probably the most authentic rain forest trail we had been on. Again we left the main road and travelled to the coast to Bemm River.
The camp at Bemm River was very dilapidated and the facilities were clean but old; it was another spot for fishing and little else. We had time to drive along to Pearl Point, which turned out to be a mistake. Well, this was another name I liked the sound of. The seven mile track was unsealed and became very narrow after 2 miles. Eventually we came to the picnic / camping spots which are by the sea. We embarked upon a wild windswept walk along the beach, climbed a large sand dune to get round a headland, and walked back by the narrow road to our van. On the way back we spotted a swamp wallaby, and he spotted us and bounded back into the reeds and bush.
Tonight the telly has the new Australian Coast Guard drama, and it is quite good.