Wonderful Wonboyn

The area including Wonboyn Lake, Baycliff and Greenglades is the subject of my final destination post for the year and it is a wonderful spot to explore in Summer! We were blown away by its beauty, variety and interest on our first visit last January and were equally enchanted on our second visit in late November. Like Merrica River to its immediate south (see last month’s post on the king orchids and wildflowers of Merrica River : https://candeloblooms.com/2016/11/22/the-kings-of-merrica-river/), it is situated in the northern part of Nadgee Nature Reserve, as can be seen in this photograph of a map from the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) board.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-28-56blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-29-00 To access this wonderful playground, travel south from Eden along the Princes Highway for 22.5 km, then turn left into Wonboyn Rd and follow it all the way to Myrtle Cove and Wonboyn, a small fishing settlement on the shores of Lake Wonboyn (10 km; 15 minutes).blogwonboyn20reszdimg_5967 There are also a number of oyster leases, as well as a holiday resort on the opposite side. From Myrtle Cove, follow Nadgee Rd to the entrance of Nadgee Nature Reserve, where the road becomes the unsealed Greenglades Rd. The sign here indicates that Baycliff is 7 km away, while Greenglades is 4 km. This sign is also where the Jewfish Walk takes off.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-57-52blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0341 To access Baycliff, turn left off Greenglades Rd into Baycliff Rd (approximately 15 minutes to reach this point. Baycliff is 4 km and Greenglades 1 km from here). Progress becomes much slower now as you pass through extensive forests of eucalypts; banksias Banksia integrifolia and Banksia serrata; casuarinas; Bracelet Honey Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris and cassinias, as well as a fascinating parallel dune ridge-swale system, formed over the last 6000 years.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-05-25blogwonboyn20reszdimg_5981 You can walk across these dunes to Wonboyn Beach (central part) from the Bayliff Rd. Not long after the Wonboyn Beach car park, the road bifurcates with a 100 m road to the River car park on the left (with an 80 m walk to the lake – this would be the easiest spot to launch the canoe)…blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0007blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0013and the main access (600 m walk) to Wonboyn Lake and Baycliff on the right. Before I start to describe this incredible spot, I will start with a brief look at Wonboyn Lake itself.blogwonboyn50reszdimg_5968As can be seen from this NPWS board map at Myrtle Cove and the Wonboyn Jetty, Wonboyn Lake is a 10 km long tidal lake formed by the estuary and river mouth of Wonboyn River, as it flows into Disaster Bay.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6255blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-23-41 There is shoaling at the oceanic entrance and limited tidal exchange.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-33-12blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-32-39 The lake includes a variety of habitats from seagrass meadows to mangroves, saltmarsh and wetlands, providing homes for a wide diversity of flora and fauna.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-53-07blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-41-29blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-47-34blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-31-58blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0005blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0009 I just loved the extensive swamp plain of sea rush, sedges and grasses (accessed from the boardwalk on the Jewfish Walk) and the greens and golds of the grasses and reeds.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0365blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0378blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0377 The water on the edge is quite warm and shallow and is home to mudwhelks, bubble shells (photos 1 and 2), conical sand snails Polinices conicus, whose presence is verified by their clear jelly-like egg sacs (photo 3), and giant jellyfish (photo 4 – but take care walking near them, as their nearly invisible tentacles pack a powerful punch, as I learned only too painfully well!)blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6373blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6375blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-48-00blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-49-34blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-44-48 It is also home to the native Sydney Rock Oyster Saccostrea glomerata, which has been commercially cultivated since the early 1900s. The oysters take two to three years to reach market size and they feed by filtering algae and other marine nutrients from the sea water. Each oyster filters at least 20 litres of water a day, keeping the lake water clean.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-45-27blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6278 Bay Cliff is a headland just south of the mouth of the Wonboyn River, as it enters Disaster Bay.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6046 The latter was a deep inland river valley in Pleistocene times, but at the end of the last ice age 6000 years ago, the rising waters flooded the river valleys, converting them to bays and lagoons and Baycliff became an island. You can imagine what it would have looked like from this picture (minus the sand dunes on the left) on the NPWS board.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-29-23 Over the last 6000 years, it has been reconnected to the mainland by a parallel beach dune barrier infill system and is now being overtaken by it. As sea levels rose, the large rivers in Eastern Victoria had difficulty carrying their loads to the continental shelf and were forced to dump their sediment load on the newly inundated areas.  The sand was carried by the prevailing south-easterly swell from Cape Howe as long-shore drift in a north-easterly direction. Green Cape, the northernmost promontory of Disaster Bay, traps the moving sediment sourced from the continental shelf and long-shore drift, and the sediment is deposited as narrow sandy barriers at river mouths like that of the Wonboyn River.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-48-22 The NPWS board has a very good explanatory diagram, photographed here, describing the formation of parallel dune ridge systems.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-29-19 During storms, sand is eroded from the beach by wave action, then in calmer weather, forms a berm (defined as a narrow ledge or shelf/ a border barrier) parallel to the shoreline. Grasses and other debris trap the sand blown up from the beach, forming  dunes.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-43-10 New dunes are formed from sand deposited by long-shore drift and the old dunes become beach ridges, separated by swales or depressions, a process which still continues today.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-40-30blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6030 In the Wonboyn area, there are at least 60 beach ridges, each 27 m apart and 30 of these ridges can be seen between the car park and the beach on the Wonboyn Beach walk. The oldest beach ridge (furthest from the sea) has been dated at 7800 years and 3 km of the original flooded bay has been filled in, so that Baycliff is no longer an island. It is the most extensive, least disturbed and best developed parallel dune system on the NSW coast and provides a wonderful record of oceanic, climatic and cultural change over the last 6000 years, as well as being an outstanding example of a major barrier infill sequence, illustrating Holocene coastal evolution. The NPWS board depicts this process very well.blogwonboyn30reszdimg_6022 For more information, refer to  a thesis written by Thomas Oliver at: http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5657&context=theses.  Another good source of information about the basic  process is : ‘Introduction to Coastal Processes and Geomorphology’ by R. Davidson-Arnott. See: https://sudartomas.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/introductiontocoastalprocessesandgeomorphology.pdf.

The underlying geology of Nadgee Nature Reserve is primarily late Devonian Merimbula Group sediments of sandstones, conglomerates, siltstones and shales, laid down 350 Million years ago.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0203blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-19-41blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6112blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-20-08 The coastline comprises of broken cliff lines, intertidal rock platforms, sandy and boulder beaches, sand barriers, estuaries, coastal lagoons and tidal and overwash features.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0160blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-21-14blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6249blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6432 It contains a wide diversity of  habitats, including over 40 different vegetation associations, 700 plant species (including 6 rare plants and a large number of restricted plant species), 24 of which are at their southernmost geographical limit, 4 different types of rainforest and a large area of coastal heath land. Some of the plant communities include:  Tall Open Forest; Moist Gully Forest; Dry Dune Forest (endangered); Estuarine Scrub; Saltmarsh communities (endangered); and Littoral Rainforest (also endangered). Here are a few of the plants in bloom in late November in the tall open forest on the road into Wonboyn.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0402blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-46-22blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-45-59blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0414blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0399blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-33-39blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-46-31blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0406Moist Gully Forest occurs on deep sandy soils in sheltered gullies and is predominantly Monkey Gum Eucalyptus cypellocarpa and Rough-Barked Apple Angophora floribunda, with a mosaic understorey of tall shrubs ferns, grasses and sedges. The tree hollows provide shelter and nesting sites for yellow-bellied gliders, powerful owls and greater broad-nosed bats, not to mention mushrooms (see 2nd photo below)!blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-27-26blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0392 Dry Dune Forest of White Stringybark Eucalyptus globoidea and Old Man Banksia Banksia serrata grows on the deep freely-draining and damp sandy soils close to the ocean.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-51-40blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6014 The banksia provide nectar for honeyeaters during their north-south migration in Autumn, as well as the threatened eastern pygmy possums. The two photos below show the difference in the foliage between Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia (leaves have entire edges) and Old Man Banksia (also called Saw Tooth Banksia for obvious reasons!) Banksia serrata (leaves have serrated edges).blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0338blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-18-12 Wedding Bush Ricinocarpus tuberculatus is the predominant shrub in the heath understorey.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0139blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0141 On the edges of the estuary and lagoons, the low-lying flats are covered with Estuarine Scrub, a dense shrub and herb layer, predominated by Bracelet Honey Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-41-54blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6359blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6412blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0144 Ringtail possums build their drays in the paperbarks, while yellow-tailed black cockatoos shred their bark in their search for wood grubs.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-35-51 The specialized Saltmarsh communities occur in intertidal zones, which are intermittently inundated by salt water , and are totally treeless. Dominated by sea rush Juncus krausii and endangered Australian Salt Grass Distichlis distichophylla, they also contain low succulent herbs and salt-tolerant grasses, sedges and samphires. Insects, birds, mammals and aquatic fauna (crabs, fish and molluscs) forage at different stages of the tide. Bats feed on the insects, swamp harriers on small mammals and birds and the endangered ground parrot Pezoporus wallicus feeds at the margins of the saltbush. These saltmarsh communities are threatened by rising sea levels and will have to move inland, which may be impeded by infrastructure development.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0346blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0380blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0379blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0381 Littoral Rainforest, once abundant along the east coast of Australia, has also been greatly reduced and fragmented by coastal development, sand mining and agriculture, making them increasingly vulnerable to damage by fire and weed invasions. Small stands still exist on the coastal headlands and beach sand dunes close to the ocean. Vegetation is characterized by moist, evergreen and leathery leaves.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-23-09 The dominant canopy species are Lilly Pilly Acmena smithii (photo 1) and Sweet Pittosporum Pittosporum undulatum (photo 2), but there is also a wide variety of other trees, shrubs, herbs, ferns and vines, providing an important food resource and breeding habitat for migratory and marine birds, as well as being a protective buffer against erosion by damaging coastal winds.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0310blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6298 And finally, there are the really tough plants, which withstand the salt-laden drying coastal winds and cling to the cliffs like these pretty geranium and delicate-looking vines, or colonize the sand dunes like pigface and Beach Spinifex grass Spinifex longifolius.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-01-06blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-01-02blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6336blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6301blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-06-25blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-08-23blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-08-29Nadgee Nature Reserve is home to 48 native mammal species, including the dingo; 216 bird species; 28 reptile species, like this skink on the rock platform and prehistoric-looking Lace Monitor Varanus varius climbing trees in the forest (photos below); 16 amphibian species and 16 species of bats.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0322blogwonboyn20reszdimg_5977 There are 37 threatened native animal species including : 7 Endangered species: Green and Golden Bell Frog Litoria aurea; Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans; Bush Stone-Curlew Burhinus grallarius; Hooded Plover Thinornis rubricllis; Little Tern Sterna albifrons; Eastern Bristlebird Dasyornis brachypterous; and Southern Brown Bandicoot Isoodon obesulus. Vulnerable species include Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus (photo 1); Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris (photo 2); Glossy Black Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus lathami; Ground Parrot Pezoporus wallicus; Striated Field Wren Calamanthus fuliginosus; Tiger Quoll Dasyurus maculates; Koala Phascolarctos cinereus; Yellow-bellied Glider Petaurus cinereus and a number of owls and other small marsupials and birds.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-42-00blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-31-25 Our second visit was an ornithologist’s dream day out. Not only did we see Sooty and Pied Oyster-Catchers, a Little Pied Cormorant, 3 Eastern Reef Egrets, Silver Gulls, a variety of Terns, a roosting Welcome Swallow and a White-Bellied Sea Eagle, but also Musk Lorikeets and Rainbow Lorikeets feeding on the flowering eucalypts, Grey Fantails and Rufous Fantails, White-Browed Scrub Wrens and Superb Fairy Wrens flitting around in the lower branches and Eastern Whipbirds and pigeons foraging the forest floor, as well as hearing a lyrebird mimic his entire repertoire.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-25-45blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-36-51blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-26-14blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-14-35blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-45-03blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0197blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0227blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-19-48blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-15-09blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0340 However, the highlight of the day was the enormous number (over 20 birds at one stage in a two foot wide puddle !)blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-11-53blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0035blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0037blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0128blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-20-25 and collection of honeyeaters (a hive of honeyeaters?), drinking at road puddles: New Holland Honeyeaters,blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0083 Yellow-Faced Honeyeaters,blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0135 White-Naped Honeyeaters (I loved the cute juveniles!),blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0045blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-13-43 a female Eastern Spinebillblogwonboyn20reszdimg_0084 and the tiny Scarlet Honeyeaters- my absolute favourite and so many of them! There were 10 males together at one stage with all their females. blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-11-57blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-18-44blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-20-28blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-20-33blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0107 There were also Brush Wattlebirds and a female Beautiful Firetail, an uncommon breeding resident finch in this area, as well as a colony of Bell Miners at the start of the Jewfish Walk.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0352blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0115blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0061 The intertidal rock platforms have a well-developped littoral fauna including starfish, sea anemones, cunjevoi and sea tulips, molluscs and crabs, and a wide variety of seaweed.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6209blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6469blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0244blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6063blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6474blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6489blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6060blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6164blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0268blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0271blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6509blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0181blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0252blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6324blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0260 We loved exploring the rock pools on the Baycliff headland (Photos 1 and 2) and rock platforms at Greenglades (Photos 3 and 4).blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6073blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-09-14blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0287blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0249blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0243blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6482The beds of bull kelp are quite significant, though declining in number and density with climate change, as are most of the seaweeds!blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6080blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6202 Sea weeds, which produce over half the world’s oxygen supply and store one quarter of the world’s carbon, are an important indicator of atmospheric carbon and climate change, and their decline is a sign that the environment has a major problem.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0278blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0277blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0275blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0296The ocean is also exceptionally rich in marine life, due to the meeting of the warm East Australian Current ( a 500 m deep and 100 to 200 km wide wedge of tropical water flowing south) and the cold ocean water of the Bass Strait, the warm water current spiralling east and drawing up cold water and sediments from the depths of the ocean floor, as illustrated in this diagram on the NPWS board.blogwonboyn50reszdimg_6390 Often bait balls of concentrated prey form close to the shore, resulting in a feeding frenzy by larger fish, birds and mammals.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-39-12blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6135 Animals migrate south from tropical waters to feed on vast shoals of small fish and krill. Every year, 20 Million short-tailed shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris make the long journey from Russia and Japan to Australia to breed, while humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae return with their calves to the rich Antarctic waters every Spring, a journey of 5000 km, one of the longest of any mammal on Earth. See: http://www.wildaboutwhales.com.au/whale-facts/about-whales/whale-migration.

Due to the huge diversity of fauna and flora, providing abundant food resources; the availability of water and fine-grained stone for tool making; and the large number of sheltered campsites, this area has a rich aboriginal heritage and was occupied for many years by the local Yuin people. Part of the Bundian Way, an ancient trading route between the coast and the high country, it was also popular as a meeting place for tribes from Wollongong in the north (Tharawal), Mallacoota in the south (Bidawal) and the Australian Alps and the Monaro in the west (Maneroo), who would gather to trade and barter goods and information and conduct ceremonies. Baycliff is still a place of great spiritual significance to the aboriginal people today. There are over 20 aboriginal sites in Nadgee Nature Reserve including open shell middens; shelters containing middens or art; open campsites on rock platforms, an axe grinding groove site and two burial sites.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-52-07 Many of them are clustered on the foreshore of Wonboyn Lake, as well as other estuaries and beaches, all areas highly vulnerable to disturbance. Extensive middens in the sand dunes and on rock platforms and estuarine edges contain shells of many species; bones of small mammals and macropods, seals, whales, birds and fish; and stone artefacts and hearths.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0313blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-49-40blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0315 The middens on the headland have spectacular views over the mouth of the Wonboyn River and Disaster Bay!blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6308blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-39-50blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6305 The aborigines caught fish from the ocean and lake with spears, rock fish traps, lines and mesh; hunted animals in the forests and heath land; collected shellfish on the rock platforms and gathered plant material, including berries, leaves, tubers, seeds, flowers and nectar for food and medicine. The first photo below illustrates key components of aboriginal life: Lomandra, pigface, shells and bones and flint tools. I loved the following photo, which reminded me of a lizard’s head!blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0317 blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0304The aborigines used the juice and leaves of pigface to treat blisters and burns and ate the flowers and sweet centres of its purple fruit raw.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6340 They dried, split and braided Lomandra leaves into baskets and bags, ate the tender leaf bases raw and ground the seed into a flour for making cakes.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0345blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0387 This beautiful area is still very popular today with fishermen, day trippers, bushwalkers, bird watchers, photographers and holiday makers. Fishermen catch dusky flathead, bream, tailor, trevalley, whiting , estuary perch and the occasional flathead and mulloway in Lake Wonboyn and salmon, tailor and even striped marlin in the surf. The jetty at Myrtle Cove even has a sink for cleaning fish.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-54-15blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0372 The area’s fishing legacy can be seen in the old rusty 1950s windlass from an old fishing settlement at Greenglades, a picnic area to the south of Baycliff on the edge of the wilderness area. We heard the lyrebird and saw our first Rufous Fantail for the season in the clearing and creek above the windlass (last photo).blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0209blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0222blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0221blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0300 Greenglades has a lovely secluded beach, rocky outcrops, natural bushland and pristine water.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0146blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0337blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0148 There are three bushwalks in the Baycliff area:

Jewfish Walk: 700 m return (15 minutes) from the car park, through forest to the 100 m long boardwalk over a lowland swamp to the Wonboyn Lake foreshore.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0344blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0358blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0361blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0393Wonboyn Beach Walk: 1.4 km return (45 minutes) from the car park across 30 ridge-swale couplets, through a low dense woodland of small to medium shrubs and coastal scrub to the beach, where we had extensive views south to Greenglades and Merrica River beach (photos 3 and 4) and north to Green Cape, Disaster Bay and Baycliff (photos 5 and 6).blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-28-53blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-44-16blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-36-24blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-10-34blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-37-03blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-40-13Baycliff Walk: 1.2 km (30 minutes) loop walk from the car park through coastal scrub of Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia and Bracelet Honey Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris to the saltmarsh communities of the lake foreshore, the river mouth, a long secluded beach and the rocky headland with beautiful views of Green Cape, the lighthouse and Disaster Bay.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-36-39blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-41-14blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0016blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-49-17blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-49-22blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-53-31blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6052blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-58-59blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6350blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-09-33blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-10-49blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-12-19blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6191blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-13-10blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6256blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6253blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-23-44It is well worth visiting this stunningly beautiful area over the Summer for the beach and headland alone, as well as the cliffs, rock pools, lake and estuary! Happy Holidays!blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6035 For more detailed information about Nadgee Nature Reserve, please consult the NPWS Management Plan: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/pomFinalNadgee.pdf, as well as its chapter in ‘Wild Places: Wilderness in Eastern New South Wales’ by Peter Prineas and Henry Gold. See: http://peterprineas.com.au/wild-places/book-reviews  or google ‘Parallel beach dune systems Wonboyn’ to view this link: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=u6RwkTU6hsAC&pg=PA110&lpg=PA110&dq=parallel+beach+dune+systems+wonboyn&source=bl&ots=bvACtneVS8&sig=ZgXr-z4L6f0MVP7I7WkC3nH6Kdc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwimpoOpxcLQAhXClJQKHSpEB8gQ6AEIQDAF#v=onepage&q=parallel%20beach%20dune%20systems%20wonboyn&f=false

Ben Boyd National Park: Part 1

Covering 10,485 hectares and 47 km coastline, Ben Boyd National Park is comprised of three sections : a small area north of Pambula; a central section, north of Eden ; and a large area, south of Eden. Here is a map from ‘The NPA Guide to National Parks of Southern NSW’ by Peter Wright.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2016-07-09 10.48.16 First gazetted in 1971, it was named after Benjamin Boyd, a larger-than-life, boom-and-bust entrepreneur of the Alan Bond variety, whose financial empire collapsed after only 7 years. Given that the local aborigines had inhabited this area successfully for over 3000 years, we feel an aboriginal name might have been more appropriate!

Ben Boyd National Park is significant for its old growth forests; extensive heath land; estuarine and freshwater wetlands; dune ecosystems; a large number of threatened native animal species and biogeographically significant plant species; aboriginal sites; and historical structures associated with whaling and lighthouses, including Boyd’s Tower, Green Cape Light Station and the ruins at Bittangabee Bay.

Ben Boyd National Park is a geologist’s heaven with two geological zones: sedimentary base rock in the north and middle section and much older metamorphic rock in the southern section.  The northern part of the park covers the southern section of the Merimbula Bay barrier dunes, which began accumulating 7000-8000 years ago and stabilized in their current form 5000 years ago. They are one of only four major stationary barriers in Southern New South Wales.

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Layers of sedimentary rock, Green Cape
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North Head
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Terrace Beach
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Quondolo Point
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Quondolo Point
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Quondolo Point
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Quondolo Point
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Leatherjacket Bay
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Leatherjacket Bay
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Quondolo Point
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Salt Water Creek

The southern section has some of the oldest rocks on the NSW coast, with more than 80 percent of the Upper Devonian rocks exposed along the coast of South-Eastern Australia found in Ben Boyd National Park. During the Devonian Period, sediments similar to those in the northern section of the park, were laid down in estuaries and were later compressed, heated, folded and twisted into arches and curves. The soft sediments hardened and formed new types of rocks : brown and green shales, sandstones, red siltstones, conglomerates and quartzites. These metamorphic rocks of the Devonian Merimbula group are exposed along the cliffs and coastal headlands north to Terrace Beach and west from Haycock Point along the Pambula Estuary. There are only small areas of Tertiary deposits in the Southern section of the park. Red Point below Boyd’s Tower (photos 1-3) and the rock platform, south of Saltwater Creek (photo 7), are excellent examples of heavily folded metamorphic beds.BlogBenBoydNP75%ReszdIMG_5615BlogBenBoydNP20%ReszdIMG_5618BlogBenBoydNP20%ReszdIMG_5617

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Cliffs to south of Red Point
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Leatherjacket Bay, looking north
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Leatherjacket Bay
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Southern end of Saltwater Creek
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Southern end of Terrace Beach
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North Head

During the Devonian period (345-410 Million years ago), forests did not exist, though a few land plants grew in local swamps and primitive fish swam in nearby seas. During this time, the drying out of one of the floodplains trapped a school of fish in mud, forming Devonian fish fossils. These extinct species include a plate covered fish and a previously unknown species of air-breathing lobe-finned bony fish, measuring up to 1.5metres long. Younger and softer Tertiary deposits of sands, gravels, clays, ironstones and quartzites lie on top of the Devonian strata in the central section of the park, as seen in the sandy ridges of Long Beach.

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Terrace Beach
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Terrace Beach
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Barmouth Beach
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Barmouth Beach

The Pinnacles are an erosion feature formed in the finely-mottled well-lateritized Pinnacle Lens of the Quondolo Formation with cliffs of soft white sand, capped with a layer of red gravelly clay, which was laid down in the Tertiary Period, which started more than 60 Million years ago.

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The Pinnacles

Below are more photos of the erosion process.

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Rock bridge/ arch forming, Quondolo Point
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North Head
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North Head

The sandy soils support a wide variety of coastal habitats from open forest and woodland; dune dry scrub forest; small pockets of warm temperate rainforest; closed heath land and scrub land;  estuarine and floodplain wetlands; and perched swamps.

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Flowering gums, The Pinnacles

In the central section of the park, Red Bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera) and Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) grow on the Devonian strata, as well as Rough-barked Apple (Angophora floribunda), Brown Stringbark (E. baxteri), Mountain Grey Gum (E. cypellocarpa), Coast Grey Box (E. bosistoana), Swamp Gum (E. ovata), Ironbark (E. tricarpa), Manna Gum (E. viminalis) and Woollybutt (E. longifolia), with an understorey of Black Sheoak, Large-leaf Hopbush, Coast Tea-tree, Port Jackson Pine, Black Wattle, Coast Banksia and Grass Tree. Silvertop Ash (Eucalyptus sieberi) predominates in the south.

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Native Pea at Green Cape
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Hyacinth Orchid Dipodium punctatum on the road to North Head, December
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North Head

The Dune Dry Scrub Forests of the northern section include Red Bloodwood; Blackbutt; Woollybutt and Forest Red Gum. Moist gullies, next to Disaster Bay, support Warm Temperate patches of rainforest species including Lillypilly, Sassafras, Scentless Rosewood, Cabbage Tree, Smooth Mock Olive, Sweet Pittosporum, Bolwarra, Sandpaper Fig, Muttonwood, Smilax vines and tree ferns.

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Hop Goodenia Goodenia ovata at Lennards Island
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Needlewood Hakea macreana at The Pinnacles
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Leatherjacket Bay

The closed heath land on the headlands and cliff lines, typified by the vegetation at Green Cape, includes Dwarf Sheoak, Silky Hakea, Coast Westringia, Common Heath, Coral Heath, White Kunzea, Daphne Heath, Native Fuchsia, Boronias, Croweas and Hibbertias. The heathland is significant, not only because of its restricted distribution, but also because it provides important habitat for threatened species like the vulnerable Striated Field Wren.

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Red Common Heath Epacris impressa at Green Cape
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Correa reflexa at Boyd Tower
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Pimelea linifolia and Red Common Heath Epacris impressa at Boyd Tower
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Pink Common Heath Epacris impressa at Pulpit Rock
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Native Iris Patersonia sericea at Pulpit Rock

Closer to the coast, the closed scrubland/ woodland includes Giant Honey Myrtle (Melaleuca armillaris), Large-leaf Hopbush, Coast Banksia and Sydney Green Wattle.

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North Head
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Old Man Banksia Banksia serrata at Terrace Beach
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Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia at Haycocks Point
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Golden Wattle Acacia longifolia at Barmouth Beach

The estuarine and floodplains at Pambula are important habitats for salt marsh and mangroves.

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Quondolo Point
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North Head
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Round-Leaved Pigface Diphyma crassifolium at North Head

The perched swamps of Woodburn and Bittangabee Creek support Bauera, Melaleucas, Sprengelias and Mimulus.

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Wind-swept Bracelet Honey-Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris at Terrace Beach
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Bracelet Honey-Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris at Lennards Island
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Prickly Moses Acacia ulicifolia at Barmouth Beach
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Flax Wattle Acacia linifolia at Barmouth Beach
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Thyme Pink Bells Tetratheca thymifolia at Lennards Island

Ben Boyd National Park is also significant, because it contains plants at the limit of their natural distribution. For example, it is the southernmost limit of Blackbutt (middle section of park and on track to the Pinnacles) and Plum Pine and the northernmost limit of Brown Stringybark and Furze Hakea.

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Mushroom in the sand, Haycocks Point
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Red Point
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North Head
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Lennards Island
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North Head

The wide variety of habitats are home to 150 species of birds, of which 48 species are water birds; 50 native mammals; 15 reptile species and 2 frog species.

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Goanna, Bittangabee Bay
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Hiding, Lennards Island
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Echidna, Lennards Island
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Wombat hole, Green Cape

These include :

1 critically endangered bird species : the Hooded Plover (only 50 left in NSW);

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Seabird trails, Haycocks Point
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Sea Eagle, Green Cape
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Peregrine Falcon, North Head
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Pied Oyster Catchers, Pambula River
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Sooty Oyster Catchers, North Head
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Sooty Oyster Catcher, Barmouth Beach
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Silver Gull, Severs Beach
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Pelicans, Quarantine Bay

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Welcome Swallow, North Head
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Wrens on Rixon’s Beach
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Eastern Yellow Robin, Salt Water Creek
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Wonga Pidgeon, Whale Beach
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Currawong and female Bowerbird, Tryworks, Davidson Whaling Station
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Little Wattlebird, Haycocks Point
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Gang-Gang Feast on Hawthorne berries, Panboola, Pambula

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The Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo feeds on the seeds of Casuarinas and Plantation Pines, Boyds Tower
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Superb Lyrebird, Bittangabee Bay

25 vulnerable species including the Ground Parrot and Striated Field Wren of the coastal heathlands; the Powerful Owl, Sooty Owl and Masked Owl and Yellow-Bellied Gliders of the tall open forest; Glossy Black Cockatoos; Tiger Quolls, Koalas, Long-nosed Potoroos and White-footed Dunnarts; Pied and Sooty Oyster Catchers; and Providence Petrels and Wandering Albatrosses.

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Swamp Wallaby, Bittangabee Bay
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Roos fighting, Pambula Beach

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Eastern Grey Kangaroos sunbaking at Haycocks Point
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Chez Roo, Pambula Beach

The sea life is amazingly abundant too.

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The littoral zone, Quondolo Point
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Cunjevoi, North Head
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Sea Tulips, Terrace Beach
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Kelp, North Head
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Hungry Ray, Quarantine Bay
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Fisherman’s friend, Quarantine Bay
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Patiently waiting for dinner, Quarantine Bay
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How could you resist?! Quarantine Bay

There are also a significant number of feral weeds and pests including: pine trees; bitou bush; blackberry; bridal creeper; sea spurge; wild dogs; foxes; deer; rabbits and cats (especially round the Eden tip, which is the gateway to Terrace Beach, Lennards Island and North Head). The pines are remnants of Forestry plantations from the 1940s.

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Feral arum lilies, Severs Beach
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Feral pine trees and white pipe clay  used for white ochre by local aborigines, The Pinnacles

Ben Boyd National Park has a long history of aboriginal occupation with more than 50 sites, most of which are on headlands, including middens and artefact scatters, campsites and rock shelters, scarred trees, stone arrangements and possible axe grinding grooves. In South Eastern New South Wales, there were 2 aboriginal nations, the Monaroo and the Yuin, and within these 2 nations were a number of tribes and language groups. The aborigines of Twofold Bay, the South Coast and the South Monaro Tablelands included the Dhurga; Dyirringan; Bidawal; Dthawa; Maneroo; Kudingal and Ngarigo language groups and clans. There were well-established trade routes for trade and exchange of white pipe clay used for white ochre, quartz crystals and twine, and large groups would congregate for celebrations and the exchange of marriage partners.

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Midden, Severs Beach
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Oysters in the shallows, Severs Beach

At Severs Beach on Pambula River, there is an occupation site dating back 3000 years and there are a number of middens on the headlands and banks of estuaries, including Lennards Island, Haycock Point, Pambula Estuary and Severs Beach.

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Midden on north bank, Pambula River
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Oysters on rocks, Pambula River

The middens are basically giant rubbish heaps and contain :

: the shells of oysters and mussels, collected from the rock platforms, reefs and estuaries;

: fish bones. Fish were baited with pieces of crayfish, sea eggs or cunjevoi or stunned by biodegradable poisons, then caught with spears, grass nets and fish traps;

: the bones of sea mammals. From 2300 years ago, increasing population and pressure on fish resources led to the expansion of dietary resources from fish to marine species, enabled by the use of canoes;

: the bones of kangaroos and wallabies; potoroos and bandicoots and possums and gliders;

: charcoal;  and

: bone tools and artefacts : cores, flakes and resharpening fragments.

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Midden, Lennards Island

The midden near Boyds Tower was used as a source of lime in the construction of the tower. An Aboriginal Cultural Camp has been established at Haycocks Point. The photos below show dolphins surfing at Aslings Beach, Eden.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-06-12 13.27.30BlogBenBoydNP60%Reszd2015-06-12 13.27.30 - CopyBlogBenBoydNP75%Reszd2015-06-12 13.26.18 - CopyAborigines played a major part in the early whaling history of Twofold Bay, working for the Imlay, Boyd and Davidson families. The men crewed whale boats for rations, tobacco and whale products, while some of the women worked as servants in the houses of the whaling families.The aborigines had a unique relationship with a pack of Killer Whales (Orcinus orca), who returned to their base in Leatherjacket Bay every June to November between 1843 and the 1930s to hunt for migrating whales, including Finback, Right Whales and Humpbacks. Every June, whales migrate north to the tropics to give birth and in Spring, return back south to their Summer feeding waters in the  Antarctic. Up to 36 orcas would split into 3 packs and herd whales into Twofold Bay. Their leader, Old Tom, whose skeleton can be seen in the Killer Whale Museum in Eden, would swim to Kiah Inlet, where he would leap out of the water and splash to alert the whalers that a whale was in the bay and then, he would lead them to the whale. After the men had harpooned and killed the whale, its carcass was anchored to the seabed and marked with a buoy and the killer whales would eat the tongue and lips, after which they disappeared to look for more whales.

Twofold Bay is the third deepest natural harbour in the Southern Hemisphere and has 6.5 square miles of navigable water with safe anchorages. Captain Thomas Raine opened the first shore-based whaling station here at Snug Cove back in 1828. The Imlay brothers were the first to settle the area in 1834, exporting pigs, sheep, cattle and whaling products from Cattle Bay. By 1840, the Imlay Whaling Station was producing 200 tuns ( 1 tun is equivalent to 252 gallons or 1150 litres) of whale oil from 50-60 whales. The whale oil was used to lubricate engines and for lighting, the clear smokeless flame far superior to that of tallow and far cheaper than beeswax candles. The baleen strainer plates of the upper jaws, used by the whale to sieve plankton and krill, was used to make stays for corsets and hooped skirts. By 1845, up to 27 whaling boats were operating out of Twofold Bay. Competition between rival whaling stations was fierce. The Imlays built an unfinished house at Bittangabee Bay to catch the northbound whales before the crews at Eden, but by 1847, they were bankrupt. This is a photo of an information board at the Killer Whale Museum, Eden. See: http://killerwhalemuseum.com.au/.BlogBenBoydNP25%Reszd2015-05-15 11.17.04Benjamin Boyd, a London stockbroker, arrived in New South Wales in 1842 with the dream of creating his own empire, based on trading, shipping, grazing and whaling. By 1844, he was one of the largest land owners in the colony with huge properties in the Monara and Riverina and a whaling station at East Boyd, managed by artist Oswald Brierly. Boyd established Boydtown as a port to serve his Monaro properties, using coastal steamers to export his cattle, wool, wheat and whaling products.BlogBenBoydNP20%ReszdIMG_5877 At one stage, the depot at Boydtown held 9 ocean-going vessels and 30 whale boats for deep sea and offshore whaling. In 1846, he built a lighthouse at Red Point on the southern shore of Twofold Bay, also known as South Point. Pyrmont sandstone was shipped from Sydney, unloaded at East Boyd and hauled to the building site by bullock teams, where it was worked by master stonemasons into a tower with 5 timber platforms and etched with Boyd’s name on the top. A dispute with the government meant it could not be used as a lighthouse, so the tower became a whale watching lookout. Boyd’s empire collapsed within 7 years and he left Australia, his businesses in liquidation, in 1849. Two tears later, he went ashore at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and was never seen again.BlogBenBoydNP20%ReszdIMG_5608BlogBenBoydNP20%ReszdIMG_5655Alexander Davidson emigrated from Scotland with his wife and 6 children in 1842 and initially worked as a carpenter in Boydtown. In the 1860s, he bought whaling boats and operated a try works at Kiah Inlet.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 12.28.41 The business was continued by son John, then grandson George, who built a cottage with his wife Sara at ‘Loch Garra’ on 17 acres of freehold land on Kiah Inlet in 1896. The family were self-sufficient in fruit, meat, vegetables and dairy products. This is a photo of the National Parks map at Davidson Whaling Station.BlogBenBoydNP40%Reszd2015-03-31 12.41.22BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 11.40.35BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 11.09.48 The Davidsons used Boyd’s Tower to watch out for whales. The minute a whale was spotted, a gun was fired and the resultant puff of smoke alerted waiting whalers to launch their boats, then row within 8 metres of the huge beast, which would then be harpooned. At the height of their operations, the Davidson family were catching 10-15 whales each year. In between sightings, life would have been very cold and boring for the watchers and they often whiled away the time with board games like draughts (photo below).

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Boyds Tower from Rotary Lookout, Eden

BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 11.02.37 The try works below the house was housed in a 10 m shed with cutting tables, brick furnaces, try pots for boiling down the blubber and storage tanks for cooling the whale oil, after which it poured into casks and shipped across the bay to Eden. A capstan was used to winch the whale carcass into position and to remove the blubber as it was cut away with a sharp boat spade. George Davidson continued to use the capstan, even after steam-powered winches became available to whalers, thus preserving the history  and integrity of the 19th Century whaling station. Large flensed blanket strips of blubber were winched up to the try works, then cut into manageable pieces and sliced finely before being dropped into the try pots to boil them down for oil. The blubber scraps were used to fuel the fire. This is a photo of the National Parks information board at the Tryworks at Davidson Whaling Station.BlogBenBoydNP40%Reszd2015-03-31 11.23.23BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 11.21.19 It was a very smelly business and I wouldn’t have fancied being Sara, looking after all those men! Life was hard and tough in those early days and the Davidsons had their fair share of tragedy. Son Jack (1890-1926) drowned, trying unsuccessfully to save his children Roy (10) and Patricia (3) after their dinghy capsized, though his wife Ann and 8 year old daughter Marion survived. Apparently, a film called ‘The Law of the Tongue’, chronicling this event, is in the offing.

As whale oil was replaced by coal gas lighting, kerosene, mineral oils and electricity and the fashions changed, the demand for and income from whale products decreased dramatically  and by the 1920s, the family had to supplement their earnings from other sources. Only 2 whales were taken in 1925 and the last whale was caught in Twofold Bay in 1929 and the Davidson Whaling Station was closed, thus ending the longest continuously operating whaling station, run by 3 generations of the same family, in Australia. George and Sara moved into Eden in the 1940s, though family members continued on at ‘Loch Garra’. The present garden was established by Dr and Mrs Boyd between 1954 and 1984, then the 6ha property was acquired by the Coastal Council of NSW, before being taken on by National Parks and Wildlife Service as an historic site in 1986. Even though it has a fairly gruesome history, it is well worth visiting ‘Loch Garra’ as an example of early pioneer life in coastal NSW, as well as being an incredibly beautiful spot!BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 12.24.18 Ironically, when my husband was a young schoolboy, he and his classmates were taken on a school trip to see Tangalooma Whaling Station on Moreton Island off Brisbane before it closed in 1962. Little wonder, that he turned into a keen environmentalist! The photo below is the National Parks and Wildlife map of Green Cape Light Station.BlogBenBoydNP50%Reszd2015-03-31 14.57.53BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.50.05The other site of major historical significance in the southern section of Ben Boyd National Park is the 29m high Green Cape Light House, built in 1883. It is a very early example of the use of mass concrete and was the largest mass concrete structure in New South Wales at that time. The lighthouse was designed by Colonial architect, James Barnett, and has an octagonal tower on a square base, corbelling, a domed oil store and a distinctive balcony railing.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.44.57BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.45.51

The light station complex also includes 2 cottages for the Head and Assistant Keeper; several sheds including a generator shed, a former telegraph office and a signal flag locker; a quarry; a garden/ tip site  and old stables, later used as a workshop and garage.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.43.13 Nearby is the Cemetery, housing bodies from the Ly-ee-Moon shipwreck in 1886. The steamer struck an offshore reef on its journey from Melbourne to Sydney and only 15 of the 86 people on board survived.BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-03-31 14.42.07The lighthouse was manned all night, every night in four-hour shifts from 1883-1992, after which it was replaced by an automated light tower (now powered by solar panels). The National Parks and Wildlife Service took over management of the historic site in 1997 and now rent out the cottages for holidays. It would be lovely to stay there for a few days to enjoy all the natural history and atmosphere of the place.

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Heathland Green Cape
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Rock platform Green Cape

It is a wonderful spot for whale and dolphin watching, October and November being the best months to see Southern Right and Humpback whales, as well as observing the annual migration of Short-Tailed Shearwaters, Puffinus tenuirostris, which travel from the Northern Hemisphere to their breeding burrows on islands in Southern waters from late September to early November. I remember watching this spectacle from Coffs Harbour years ago – there was a long, low, endless black cloud of migrating birds. Other birds of note seen at Green Cape include the Yellow-Nosed Albatross (late Winter/ Early Spring), gannets and the Southern Emu-Wren, which loves to hide in the coastal heath.

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Windswept Green Cape looking out to sea.
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Green Cape

I remember visiting Green Cape one day and seeing what appeared to be the burnt-out broken carcass of a rowboat off-shore… except, it kept moving! On careful inspection through the binoculars, we discovered it was in fact a ring of bachelor Fur Seals, Arctocephalus pusillus, who commonly exhibit this behaviour!BlogBenBoydNP20%Reszd2015-06-28 13.24.02The lighthouse is now the bottom end of the 31km Light to Light walk, which starts at Boyd’s Tower and takes 3 days to complete. There are camping grounds along the way at Salt Water Creek (14 sites)and Bittangabee Bay (30 sites) and it is also possibly to drive into these spots. Here is a photo of a map of the Light to Light Walk, taken from an information board at Green Cape. BlogBenBoydNP30%Reszd2015-06-28 13.01.23 Next week, I will post a photo essay on Ben Boyd National Park, with a few brief notes about all the wonderful spots to explore, but in the mean time, more information can be found at : http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/planmanagement/final/20100979BenBoydBellBirdCreek.pdf

P.S. The feature photo is Terrace Beach, one of our favourite spots!

The Jewel in the Crown : Tathra and Kianinny Bay

Tathra is a small coastal township (population 1622) on the Sapphire Coast and is one of our favourite spots! It has the closest beach to Bega and is situated between Merimbula, 25 km to the south and Bermagui, 44 km to the north. It is 446 km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway and sits high on a bluff, overlooking its famous wharf. The 3rd and 4th photos show the view north to Wajurda Point and Moon Bay.

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Tathra Headland
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Historic Tathra Wharf
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Kingdom of the Sea Eagle
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View to the north from Tathra: All part of Mimosa Rocks National Park

The area has a rich aboriginal history, which I will cover in next week’s post (A Slice of History), due to its abundant land and sea food resources. The name ‘Tathra’ means ‘beautiful country’ in the local Yuin dialect, though other sources suggest it has a  slightly different meaning : ‘place of wild cats’!!!

The first Europeans in the area settled to the west of Tathra, illegally squatting on Crown Land in the 1820s and 1830s. At that stage, the area was outside the limits of legal settlement, known as ‘the 19 Counties’. See : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Counties for more information. This rich dairying country is regularly flooded and teams with birdlife, especially water birds. Apparently, in the 1971 Bega Valley flood, water covered the 45 foot telegraph poles all the way along the mile long flat!

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Dairy flats at Jellat Jellat
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Extensive waterways and home of Bird Route No. 1
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Recent flooding this year

An enquiry into transport facilities in the Bega area in 1851 led to the formation of the Illawarra  Steam Navigation Company in 1858. It was an amalgamation of smaller steamer services along the South coast : the Kiama Steam Navigation Company and vessels of the Twofold Bay Pastoral Association and Edye Manning’s fleet. The name was changed in 1904 to the Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company. The first cargo vessel, a 50 ton sailboat called ‘Vision’, arrived in Tathra that same year and moored offshore, its cargo being transported on a small boat to Kangarutha, where a store shed was erected at a small anchorage, ‘Stockyards’, later that year.

Tathra started out as a small jetty, known as the ‘Farmers’ Sea Wharf’. It was a shipping outlet for a group of local farmers, led by Daniel Gowing, who were fed up with having to transport their produce to Merimbula 25 km away, especially as the wagons often had to wait for the tide to go out when they crossed the beach at Bournda. Daniel Gowing was a farmer from Jellat Jellat, who opened the first store in Tathra for produce to be shipped soon after from Kangarutha.

In 1860, it was decided that Kianinny Bay was more sheltered for loading than Kangarutha, so a store was built at Kianinny. Cargo was still shipped from the beach by small boats to vessels, like ‘Gipsy’, ‘Ellen’, ‘You Yangs’ and ‘John Penn’, moored in the bay. Bad weather often held up the produce wagons on their way to the boats, so loading was uncertain and the freight costs high.

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Kianinny Bay today

Tathra township was surveyed in 1861 and that same year, the jetty was replaced by a wharf, funded by donations from local farmers and The Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company. Regular shipping commenced in 1862 with PS Mimosa being the first ship to moor. The wharf was designed by prominent colonial engineer, Ernest Orpen Moriarty, and built by R. Mowatt with the help of Daniel Gowing and John Kirkwood. Turpentine logs, from the North Coast, driven into solid rock. It was sited in its current location, due to the protection from southerly winds, though the northerly waves still caused enough damage to necessitate continual repairs, including re-piling and changing the location of the piles, as piling techniques improved. The steep road down to the wharf also caused problems, requiring extra teams of animals to haul the fully-laden carts back up the hill.

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The wharf from Tathra Beach

With the opening up of Crown Lands to free selection in 1861, the population rapidly expanded and the increased trade was reflected in major additions to the original wharf. A cargo shed was built in 1866. In 1868, the Bega-Tathra road was cleared to a width of one chain and in 1879, Tathra opened its first post office in Gowing’s Store, a general store and guesthouse, on the corner of the main road and the road down to the wharf.

Due to the expansion of  shipping needs and the increase in the size of visiting ships and depth of moorings, major extensions to the wharf were made in 1873; 1878; 1886; 1889; 1903 and 1912, under the guiding hand of another well-known colonial engineer, Ernest Macartney de Burgh. In 1901, cattle and pig yards were built. The route between Tathra and Sydney became known as ‘the Pig and Whistle Line’, due to the transport of pigs, produce and passengers between the two locations. Apparently, as the boats rounded the corner, they would always blow a whistle and the pigs would start squealing!

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View south from ‘Pig and Whistle Lookout’ on Tathra Headland to the point

In 1862, the Illawarra Steamship Company fleet consisted of 3 schooners : ‘Ellen’, ‘Gipsy’ and ‘Rosebud’; a clipper : ‘White Cloud’; and 3 steamers: a paddle steamer : ‘Hunter’ and 2 screw steamers : ‘John Penn’ and ‘Kameruka’, but the sailing ships were superseded by steamers after 1881.

The steamer service was crucial to the Far South Coast, as the roads were very poor and there was no railway service. The Princes Highway from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border was gravel up until the 1940s. Consequently, there was a chain of 15 reliable all-weather wharves up and down the coast, where the steamers would berth and deliver and pick up goods and passengers. Rixon’s wagon left Bega Post Office for Merimbula every Wednesday and Tathra on Mondays and Thursdays to take mail and passengers to and from the steamer. Produce from Tathra included : bacon, cheese, butter, timber, tallow, wattle bark, corn and wool. The boats would also carry prime beef and sheep, horses, pigs, poultry and turkeys, both for the Sydney markets and the Royal Easter Sydney Show. Mobs of up to 700 pigs would be walked to the wharf from local farms. One Bemboka farmer even walked her flock of turkeys over 50km to the wharf by coating her turkey’s feet in tar with a light dusting of sand! Ships arriving from Sydney brought tea, bags of flour and sugar, biscuits, farm machinery and parts, grains and seeds and household furniture.BlogTathraJewelCrown 70%Reszd2015-01-26 21.34.38In 1907, the buildings were reconstructed and the present two-storey structure was built. Spring-loaded wrought iron buffers were introduced to assist the berthing of larger vessels in the difficult north-eastern seas. A mooring buoy was positioned north-east of the wharf, to which ships would attach a spring line. Between 1907 and 1912, there were more major extensions, including a subdeck; a jib crane to facilitate loading; a cattle race; a loading ramp and a passenger shelter. In 1914, soldiers and horses were farewelled from the wharf on their way to fight in the Great War. Here is an old photo of the volunteers leaving for the war, as seen on the noticeboard on Tathra Headland.BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%ReszdIMG_5533The increase in transport by road had a major effect on the amount of shipping trade everywhere, but because the Far South Coast had no adjacent railway line to carry bulk freight to Sydney, shipping trade lingered on till 1954. By 1919, the number of passengers travelling by sea had greatly decreased, so the passenger shelter was replaced by a single storey shed, next to the two-storey building. Freight and cargo became the predominant trade from Tathra. During World War II, enemy activity off the Far South Coast of NSW, including German mines and Japanese submarines, had a further impact on the amount of trading. The last ship to work cargo was the 1929 SS Cobargo in 1954 and the even older SS Bergalia was the last steamer to visit the wharf later that year to remove valuable items of wharf equipment. The Illawarra and South Coast Steam Navigation Company suspended trading in 1958.BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%ReszdIMG_5522BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%ReszdIMG_5518Gradually, the wharf structure fell into disrepair and became unsafe, so a demolition order was issued in 1973. Fortunately, an active local group and National Trust banded together to oppose the demolition. The Tathra Wharf Trust was formed in 1977 and launched an appeal for the conservation and preservation of the old wharf. By 1982, only minor parts of the wharf, the mezzanine deck and a few of the more recent buildings had been demolished. The decking was replaced and the two-storey building was restored, the top storey becoming the Tathra Maritime Museum, dedicated to steamer history, and the bottom storey being used for a cafe and tourist outlet.

BlogTathraJewelCrown 70%Reszd2015-01-26 21.29.36BlogTathraJewelCrown 70%Reszd2015-01-26 21.29.44BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%ReszdIMG_5523Between 1982 and 2010, road access was  difficult, as one leg of the access loop road was closed by boulders after heavy seas smashed over the headland.These photos show the old road.BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.56.55BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.55.32BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-11 13.55.16BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.57.35It is now the only coastal steamer wharf left on the NSW coast and 1 of only 6 timber wharves still listed for preservation on the Register of the National Estate, as well as the NSW State Heritage Register. It is such a beautiful old building with chunky solid wooden beams and spectacular views and it is a wonderful reminder of our shipping past. The cafe is so impressive and provides top-quality meals, which are beautifully presented. It is also a great venue for selling local arts and crafts – we have some highly creative artists and artisans in the area.BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-04-10 14.41.49BlogTathraJewelCrown 70%Reszd2015-01-26 21.29.38BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-05-01 14.36.12

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Delicious Spiced Chai!

The wharf is also very popular with anglers, as well as seabirds!BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-04-10 15.04.28BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-11 13.09.34BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-05-01 14.28.05-1BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-11 12.34.40BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-11 12.33.44BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-11 12.35.04BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.47.37BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-11 13.14.01Tathra Beach has been a tourist destination from very early days. It is 3 km long and stretches from the wharf and Tathra Headland in the south to Moogareeka Inlet and the mouth of the Bega River to the north. It is protected from the Southerlies by the steep headland. Beach fishing yields :

  • Salmon, tailor and gummy shark – caught with pilchards, fresh fish fillets and stripy tuna;
  • Bream, whiting and mullet – using beach worms, pippies, prawns and fresh nippers as bait;    and
  • Sand whiting – caught using sand worms and nippers.

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Looking from Tathra Wharf back to Tathra Beach

It is a great spot for swimming with the Tathra Surf Club (formed in 1909) patrolling the beach every weekend from October to April, as well as Christmas Holidays and Public Holidays. Sail boarding, surfing and snorkelling off the wharf are also popular activities. It has been voted one of the cleanest beaches in NSW, which is not surprising, given the progressive and forward-thinking spirit of environmentally aware locals, who are establishing a solar farm in Tathra. See : http://cleanenergyforeternity.net.au/. Another very active local organization is the local volunteer fire brigade, which was established in 1945, with a 2nd new fire station built next-door in 2011. It is one of the most well-equipped fire brigades on the Far South Coast.BlogTathraJewelCrown 70%Reszd2015-01-26 21.28.57BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-02-22 12.13.14

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When full, the blue water drum at the top tips its contents onto unsuspecting kids below!

Another tourism drawcard for Tathra is its proximity to 2 wonderful National Parks : Bournda National Park in the south with 13 km of unspoilt coastline and Mimosa Rocks National Park in the north, which extends for 16 km. I shall be discussing Moogareeka Inlet, Ford Headland and Moon Bay, all within the southernmost section of Mimosa Rocks National Park and 4 km north of Tathra, in a separate post next week (A Slice of History), but will focus now instead on the spectacular Kianinny Bay, just to the south of Tathra.

Kianinny Bay is a protected bay with immediate access to the ocean. It is sheltered from Northerly winds and is an incredibly beautiful spot in all weathers, as seen in these photos taken from Chamberlain Lookout above.BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-02-22 13.38.51BlogTathraJewelCrown 80%Reszd2015-01-26 21.28.51 - CopyThe coastline between Tathra Headland and Kianinny Bay includes steep cliffs and rugged rock masses, providing wonderful opportunities for rock fishing, using cunjevoi, abalone guts and cabbage weed to catch Black Drummer, Silver Drummer, Leatherjacket, Groper, Luderick and Banded Morwong all year round. From December to May, Bunito, Kingfish, Tailor and Salmon can be caught with live baits.BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2014-11-07 14.26.35BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-04-10 14.36.47BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.46.21Tathra really is a fisherman’s paradise with its beach and rock fishing, reef and bottom fishing and estuary fishing, as well as all the freshwater streams and dams. The closest reef section is 6 km south of Tathra, 800 m out from White Rock and extending several kilometres out. Fish caught here include : Snapper, Morwong, Flathead, Leatherjacket and Gummy Shark. We found this flathead in a rock pool left high and dry on White Rock after the tide receded – a very easy catch (though we didn’t!)BlogTathraJewelCrown 40%ReszdIMG_2149BlogTathraJewelCrown 40%ReszdIMG_2146Boats leave Kianinny Bay to drift fish the outskirts of Tathra Bay, catching Sand Flathead and Tiger Flathead, using flesh baits and plastic jigs, and Gunnards and Gummy Sharks. Little wonder that Kianinny Bay is home to the Tathra Fishing Club. There are excellent boat launching facilities : a concrete boat ramp for vessels up to 7 m long; plenty of parking; areas to wash down the boats and tables to clean the fish, as well as a BBQ and picnic area and playground. Sting Rays regularly cruise up and down the shallows, competing for fish scraps with the local sea gulls and cormorants, and can be a little disconcerting for swimmers! Snorkelling and spear fishing are also popular. These photos show a very relaxed swimmer, two very large, friendly sting rays and a sea hare.

BlogTathraJewelCrown 70%Reszd2015-01-26 21.31.21BlogTathraJewelCrown 70%Reszd2015-01-26 21.30.48BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-11 14.26.02Kianinny Bay forms the north-eastern tip of Bournda National Park and is the starting off point for the 9 km long Kangarutha Track, south through cliffs, rock debris and small inlets to Turingal Head. See : http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Walking-tracks/Kangarutha-walking-track. I will be covering this national park and walking track in a later post. It is a beautiful walk with fabulous coastal views and plenty of bird and animal life, as well as interesting vegetation. I will finish with photos of a Golden Whistler on Tathra Headland, some stunning feral vegetation and a very street-wise local resident!BlogTathraJewelCrown 40%Reszdaug 2010 592BlogTathraJewelCrown 40%Reszdaug 2010 595BlogTathraJewelCrown 20%Reszd2015-10-11 12.11.37

For an explanation, see : https://candeloblooms.com/2015/10/13/birthday-blessings/