The period between Late Winter and Early Spring (August/ September) is one of the best times to visit Green Cape. While the weather is certainly cold, wild and windy, as seen in the photo above, the wildflowers are starting to come into full bloom and the whales are just starting to return south from their tropical Winter breeding grounds, with babies in tow.I have touched on Green Cape in previous posts (See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/08/16/ben-boyd-national-park-part-1/
It is the southernmost point of the Light to Light Walk, as can be seen in these maps from the NPWS interpretive boards.Green Cape lies at a latitude of 37 degrees South and longitude of 150 degrees East and because it juts so far out into the Tasman Sea, it is a wonderful spot to see humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) closeup, as they hug the coastline on their journey back home to their southern Summer Antarctic feeding grounds.The Yellow-Nosed Albatross (Diomedea chlororhynchus) can also be seen in Late Winter/ early Spring off Green Cape, though I have yet to see one, while the Short-Tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus tenuirostris) head south in long black clouds from late September to early November on their annual migration from the North Pacific to their breeding burrows on the islands in southern waters.We have however seen plenty of other birds: Australasian Gannets (first photo above), Ospreys and White-Bellied Sea Eagles (2nd photo above), Nankeen Kestrels (3rd photo above), Cormorants and Pacific Gulls (first photo below), Crested Terns (2nd photo below), and Sooty Oyster Catchers (3rd photo below).Dolphins and Australian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) are also often seen, the latter forming bachelor rafts just off the point and lolling about in the surf with the odd Queen’s Wave!And on land, there are wombats, usually fast asleep in their burrows during the day, but sometimes surprised grazing on the tough wiry grasses, especially in more remote areas. More commonly seen are the quiet Eastern Grey Kangaroos (first photo) and Swamp Wallabies (2nd photo), which graze near the lighthouse.In the coastal heath, there are Southern Emu Wrens (Stipiturus malachurus) and Grass Parrots. I would love to see the latter, which are best observed on first light.I love all the wildflowers of the rugged coastal heath, which is adapted to cope with the salt-laden winds and sandy soils of Green Cape. I have organised them into colour ranges and identified them by their genus only:
White: Clockwise from Top Left: Westringia; Hakea; Leucopogon; and Leptospermum;
Yellow: Clockwise from Top Left: Hibbertia; Banksia; Senecio; and Pomaderris;
Reds: Clockwise from Top Left: Kennedia; Correa; Epacris; and Grevillea;
and Pinks: A beautiful Epacris impressa;Blues: Clockwise from Top Left: Patersonia; Comesperma; Dampiera; Hovea; Glossodia; and Hybanthus;
and Purples: Tetratheca and Comesperma;
with special sections for wattles (Acacia):
and peas (numerous genera).
Green Cape is a stunningly beautiful area, as the following photos attest. It looks south across Disaster Bay to Baycliff and the mouth of the Wonboyn River, to the tall sand dunes of Cape Howe, the Nadgee Wilderness area and the Victorian border.And then, there is the lighthouse itself- such beautiful architecture with a fascinating history!
The East Australian Current flows south at 2 knots off Green Cape, which was great for ships sailing south, but difficult for northward-bound vessels, which would hug the coast to avoid the current, exposing them to the risk of being wrecked on reefs and promontories. It is a very rugged section of the coast, which has claimed over 10 shipwrecks, including the Ly-Ee-Moon 1886, in which 71 people died, 24 of their bodies being buried in the cemetery nearby.The decision was made in 1873 to build a lighthouse at Green Cape, the buildings to be designed by the then-colonial architect James Barnett. Building supplies, as well as food and later supplies until 1927, were shipped from Eden to the storehouse at Bittangabee Bay, 7 km to the north, then were transported by horse-drawn tramway through the dense coastal heath and across creeks to the headland. The lighthouse complex included the 29 m tall octagonal lighthouse and residences for the Head and Assistant Lightkeepers; a Flag Locker (for marine and semaphore flags) and Signalling Mast and a Telegraph Station (Morse code from 1892 on);
and workshops, stables and garages; a tennis court; wells; a helipad and a garden.The light was first lit in 1883 and was originally powered, along with the resident quarters, by kerosene and coke coal and from 1962 on, diesel oil generators. It operated all night every night with 4 hour shifts for over 100 years till 1992, when the lighthouse and weather station were automated, the power now supplied by solar panels.
We were lucky enough to do a tour of the lighthouse last year. I loved the spiral staircase and colours, as well as the curved verandah railings and the spectacular views from the top! It is also possible to stay in the lightkeepers’ cottages. See: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/accommodation/green-cape-lightstation-keepers-cottage.
It really is a magical spot, which is the reason that we make our annual pilgrimage every Winter. Next week, I am featuring some of my favourite felting books!