Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 7 - KI - Cape Borda, Harvey's Return Hike, Lunch at the Visitor Centre Cafe, Remarkable Rocks, and Admirals Arch and phew, Nocturnal Walk.

Thursday 21st March 2013

Yesterday was very warm and not much breeze. Overnight the wind has arrived. It is howling around the cabin. Grabbing the chimney of the wood fired heater and rattling the funnel down into the living room.   The bed is pretty firm and I’ve tossed and turned a bit. The noise of the wind has disturbed me a little, but I’ve enjoyed that really. I rise at about 6 am intent on catching up on yesterday’s journal. It’s still pitch black outside, I feel warm and cosy as I listen the howling gale. TICK. One thing I’ve wanted to do for a long time is to see the southern ocean in wild conditions. Today may present me with that chance. I'm glad we brought our good raingear. As the sky lightens I periodically step outside to photograph the cabins. 
The verandah is great and protected from the prevailing winds and rain.
The cabins are nicely set up with a shared laundry and convenient clothes lines.
The sky lightens and the sunrise over Hanson Bay entertains me as the world sleeps. 
Hubby rises a bit after 8 and has a little brekky. The kids next door spill small marron out on the verandah and they flick and scramble heading for the edge and hopes of a get away. The little boy grabs tongs and with expert technique grabs the creatures before they effect their escape. Mum is freaking out behind the scenes apparently and Dad comes out to supervise the action, but the kids have got it under control. These cabins would make an awesome family getaway.  When we checked in last night the girl helping us confidently commented, “you’ll be back”.   I am increasingly forming the opinion that perhaps she is right to be so confident. This is a special place. A very special place.
I’m sitting on the comfy sofa, watching the occasional showers travel violently across the view of low scrubland and sand. Such an unromantic description of such a romantic landscape. It’s tough, but I drag myself away. It’s 9.25 and I’m really hungry! What better conditions in which to sample the ligurian bee honey.  An exciting day beckons - Cape Borda Lighthouse seems like the place to head for in such wild conditions, but we’ll play it by ear and head for the visitor centre and ask advice first.
Brekky of cereal, crumpet and ligurian bee honey. The honey is very nice. I’m becoming accustomed to it though and can hardly remember if there’s a difference from your standard Australian honey.
It seems to take us an age to shower and prepare for the day. The weather isn’t really encouraging us to hurry. We are very cosy here and before we mess it up again, I snap some photos of the cabin.
The lounge and dining. New table and leather lounge.
Functional shower, toilet room
The main bedroom, the beds are next for an upgrade
Bed two, generous room for the kids
I guess we’re not doing too bad to be hopping in the car at about 10.05. Ha-ha perhaps we’re still entrenched in our European daily holiday habits! I'm in the car and realize I’d be a lot more comfy with a pillow. Hubby heads back inside because I have issues with the lock on the door. He passes me a pillow and locks the cabin door. Then he walks up towards some people getting into their car from the end cabin… what on earth’s he doing? They are chatting briefly.. ? .. Mystery solved when he retrieves a door mat that has blown away. He brings it to our door, then spots our doormat which has also blown away. Looks puzzled then puts the doormats where they go. Good lets go. Now where’s he going? He’s walking across to the clothesline…ah.. he’s picking up a rock which is partially concealed by vegetation. He brings the rock back over and deposits it on the doormat and brushes off his hands with an air of satisfaction. He opens the door and gets in the car. “I don’t suppose the wind is strong enough to move the rock along with the doormat” says I. “Nah. Why?” Replies hubby. Pause. “Well, the cabin door is all glass. If it does.” Says Mrs risk averse.  At first dismissive, Hubby begins to worry. He gets back out of the car walks to the rock and lifts it, assessing it’s weight. Puts it back down. Pause. Picks up rock, walks back and puts it back where it came from. Back to the mat, he opens the cabin door and puts the mat on the inside. Excellent solution. The door opens outward. “The people next door are using a brick.” “Ah well. I like your risk control better. Excellent solution Dear.” Finally we are on our way.
It’s about 10:20 by the time we reach the intersection with the black top where we are stopped in our tracks by a glorious tree wet with the rain. Wow. 
The wind is still high and although the bushland filters the effect the wonderful grass trees are moving in the breeze, powerfully reminiscent of those optic fibre lamps that were so much fun all those years ago.  The bushland looks so beautiful all wet and glistening.
We are taking our time and driving carefully due to quite a large amount of debris on the road. The wind has dislodged shed bark previously trapped among the branches, and broken off some large twigs.  Someone has already erected signs to the traffic approaching that there is debris on the road ahead. 10:30 am we reach the entrance to the National Park. 
It’s a good thing that the rain is only in passing showers. Luckily there is currently a break in the weather and I hop out to record the beautiful entrance marker. I’m kicking myself for not stopping yesterday to record the similar marker for Parndana with the lovely blue wren motif.
Approaching the Visitor Centre the road is bordered by broad grassy areas. A few Cape Barren Geese are feeding.  There’s precious little feed left and the reason for that is clear from the veritable carpet of macropod poo all over the grass.  There is a Tammar Wallaby foraging in the garden when we arrive at the Visitor’s Centre, but it’s raining slightly and we don’t hang about. 10.38 We’re walking up the path to the Visitor’s Centre.
It’s a very attractive Visitor’s Centre. I admired the lovely tracery they have included in the paving as you enter. It’s just as well we called in here. Though I'm sure I was told, I didn't register that it was necessary to check in and get an entry ticket for our car each day. They even provide you with double sided tape so you can stick the ticket to the windscreen and have it under control. We've been really impressed with the infrastructure and services offered by national parks here on the island. It seems to us a very classy operation.
I ask the lady on the desk if there’s any walks she would recommend for today’s wild weather.  She things about it. Probably Snake Lagoon because that has some cover at the start but is mostly quite open. I take it that point is, in high wind there is always a risk that trees or branches may come down, so open country is safer. I ask how long it takes to get to Cape Borda, as we were thinking it might be interesting to head out to Cape Border in the wild conditions. “Yes. I guess it would be interesting.” She’s wearing an expression that says “Well, that’s one word for it.” It takes about an hour and as we’re not concerned about the dirt road, Shackle Road is recommended. Good timing as it was only graded yesterday.
While I’ve been taking care of practicalities, Hubby has been sussing out the café, establishing that the café closes at 3.30. Last Orders? Server thinks momentarily and suggests 3.15 and enthusiastically recommends all the food but the whiting burger in particular.  I have a super quick look around the gift shop. They have some good warm jackets that are waterproof and breathable fabric. We (especially Hubby) needs those before NZ too, but we don’t have time now. We’ll come back.
We make the turn onto Shackle road and not long after, we disturb a kangaroo on the road.  Hmm.  We will need to moderate our speed, so most of the trip is done at about 40 kph.  Despite the recent grading we find the road to be a bit corrugated still and wonder what it was like before the grader went through. We don’t pause to capture scenery on the way out as we’re going so slowly and we don’t know how long it’s going to take us. I am restricted to snapping photos as we drive. We want to make the 12.30 tour and the firing of the canon.  Frustration as a pigeon type bird walks out onto the road and scurries back again. It was something interesting and had a flash of pretty amber colour on the sides of an otherwise blue grey plumage. I’ll have to find a bird guide and look it up. Along the route are numbered stop markers which we assume are for the audio guide you can buy. There are expansive views and the low bushland which dominates the wilderness area is regenerating strongly from the bushfires of 2007 when almost all of the park was burnt out.
11.35. We have reached the turn onto the Playford Highway, which remains dirt from this point. We've come 16 kms and there’s 18 km to go to the lighthouse station. So we’re travelling within the expectations of the advice we received, despite travelling so slowly. That’s good. We pass the grader. It’s dragging a large wheel with large ridges. We’re driving mainly in the tracks of other cars where possible, these are smoother than the rest of the road.  
The highway is more varied than most of Shackle Road. Throughout, the verges are featured by dense shrub cover. We envy KI’s rabbit free status. What a difference it makes. Bushland has no impediment to recovery. We travel down some steep inclines. At one point there is a shady gully carpeted with ferns. Nowhere safe to pull over. No time either. 
Eventually we come to the turn for Scott’s Cove lookout. 300 m to the right.  We’re doing pretty well for time and only 3 km to the lighthouse station. Surely time enough for a lookout. We turn. The views are only hinted at from the car park. We are obliged to get out and walk a bit. There’s an enticing rough bush track leading towards the cliff. We pick our way. 
It’s fairly protected here and the wind is not troubling us. I go as far as I deem to be safe for a better view of the waves crashing against the rocks below and the coastline over to the East.  Hubby wants a video and that is quickly accomplished.  There’s no reason to hang about, and we've had our fill of the view so we head on. This stop has taken us no more than 15 minutes. We’re still making good time for our deadline.
The carpark at the lighthouse is quite full, but we get a spot and wander on in, past the start of a cliff top hike (9kms return) to Harvey’s Return. The little room where entrance fees are taken is crowded with people checking out tables of souvenirs against the wall. The souvenirs have a maritime theme.  We flash our Island Passes and after a bit of a look at the offerings everyone seems so engrossed by we head back outside. There is a small reading room next door with some photographs and historic documents and books that you can read while waiting for your tour, out of the weather. However most people seem to be happy to just mill about. At 12.30 our guide, Mick, assembles everyone by the gate. We pay close attention. We need to, Mick is delivering a funny and rapid fire introduction to the sights ahead. First stop is the small museum, which is large enough for our group to gather round and see what Mick is talking about as he explains the operations of the light since 1858 using museum artefacts to illustrate his talk.  Along the way the process of acquiring supplies is explained with reference to historic photographs and our attention is drawn to an impressive piece of Zebra Schist which explains why the road sign refers to Harvey’s Return Geological site. We also hear the story of Tom and Harry, work horses here in the old days. Harry was quite a character!
Right, next stop – the lighthouse itself.  Cape Borda lighthouse is short and squat and square.  It is the shortest lighthouse building, but the highest light in, well, I don’t remember how far afield, possibly just in South Australia. The cliffs on which the lighthouse sits are up to 260 metres tall. No chance of having to withstand waves crashing against it, and already very high there was no need to build a tall, round structure at Cape Border. The lighthouse is heritage listed. Many others have been converted from their original light to a flashing beacon. Cape Border is special. For one thing it’s got four lenses. It gives out 4 beams of light. As we were already aware, the different lighthouses were each featured by a different signal so that ships could tell where they were by the pattern of the light.  No-one, including Mick is allowed up in the light chamber.  We have the opportunity to view up through a manhole in the roof, but most don't worry about it. Not this little black duck.
The lighthouse operation is completely automated these days and the light operates according to the light levels outside. The replacement bulbs are $1000 each and last about 6 months. There's no shortage of content during the half hour of the tour. We hear the story of why the cemetery is located so far away from the light station. 16 workers at the lighthouse are buried in the cemetery.  We even get a run down on the use of sextants for navigation. The whole tour is delivered quickly in a very entertaining performance. Mick is a brilliant tour guide. Very professional and a real performer.
An opportunity for questions is provided and as time approaches for the firing of the cannon, used traditionally so that passing shipping would check their local time and navigation, we assemble outside. Fortunately it’s not raining at the moment.  We pose for the obligatory portraits with significant features. Hubby takes charge of the camera to capture the scenes around us. I read about the wreck of the Fides. Shipwrecks present such sobering stories, especially here overlooking the Southern Ocean, here in these fairly wild conditions. Then the firing beings. Mick inserts the charge. Waves in some late comers. Warns others to move a little and don’s his ear protection. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 BANG!  Woah. That sets the ears ringing!
It’s starting to rain again so we adjourn to the museum and read over the information provided on the boards, most of which was part of Mick's tour.  I notice that some children went missing from here.  Poor things, poor parents. Dreadful to just have your child vanish one day. I guess you’d have to assume they fell off the cliff or something.  Hubby is still examining things in the museum and I head back up to ensure we've got some clear shots of the lighthouse itself.  The wind is so strong I'm having difficulty standing still enough to take the photographs. In the end my job is done and we hit the road once more.
Always the return journey feels shorter than the outward one. Our first stop today is at the lighthouse cemetery. It is a lovely setting. The trees surrounding the small fenced burial area stand like the arches of a cathedral providing a reverent atmosphere for our contemplation. I regret not having had a chance to read about how to use the 3D photograph feature on our camera before we left on our trip. Two dimensions falls quite flat in depicting the beauty in this scene. I am quite awestruck. There is some sadness in being buried so far from one’s people and one’s place of origin, our spirit place, but surely it is some compensation to be laid to rest in such a beautiful setting, so nicely maintained over the years and now so frequently visited and remembered. George Woodward appears to have two memorial crosses. Now that would be a question if ever back at the lighthouse. Why?
A little further down the road we come to Harvey’s Return. I've acquired a strong inclination to do the walk down to the beach here. Mick has offered us an inducement of large boulders of zebra schist such as the piece in the museum… 
I'm thinking that would be impressive. There is a fairly extensive area of camp sites and picnic tables and a pit toilet facility. At the start to the walk there are some information boards. The walk is 1 km return estimated at a hour. I've already committed before hubby points out the walk is rated as difficult. He’s hesitating. He’s worried about getting back for lunch. I hesitate too. Then recalling the generous return that pushing my boundaries has delivered on previous trips I decide we should give it a go. If it takes an hour we’ll be back before the café closes. If not, we have food at home if need be.  “I think we’re more in need of exercise than food at the moment. Come on. Let’s just do it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Down the gently sloping, but rough, track we go. It’s not too long before our progress is delayed by a cluster of ancient grass trees.  
Further on the bush becomes a dense cover with a barren wasteland of dead grey fallen trees underneath. I contemplate photographing it. Nah. Too boring.
Just when I’m thinking this walk is a doddle, we come to an ending of sorts. An information board talks about the process of bringing up supplies. But look at the track now!  This is the incline shown in the historic photographs. It’s basically a climb down the cliff. It looks truly aweful. We pause. We consult. Do we want to reconsider? We’re both sorely tempted. “I’m not going down there” says Hubby.  Hmm. I am tempted to turn back and play it safe and lazy. My spirit rebels. “Come on, you were just saying yesterday we should do the giant stairs. This is just the giant stairs only to see something new.” I strategically avoided any consideration of the lack of a mechanical device to get us back up.  “What are you doing? Are you going down?”  “Are you coming?” I ask. “We’ll See.” Says Hubby.
Right. Down we go. We may well be mad but we are climbing down a virtual cliff. We’re in our rain gear. I'm nervous about slippery rocks on the path. We need to be careful and take it slow.  Just as I'm starting to get a touch of jelly leg wobbles we reach the bottom. There’s some wooden pallets crashed in among the rocks. Some it is impossible to determine their age. Others look distinctly recent. I can see that some of the rocks around the place are zebra schist but the layering is much finer and there is nothing remotely as impressive as the piece in the museum. The large boulders may well be the same thing but you’d be forgiven for not noticing.  There is however a distinct sense of satisfaction at having come down to experience this place and contemplate the dangerous tasks that our forebears undertook here. Looking at the surf breaking against the rocks at each side of the small bay we are both of similar mind.  I would NOT like to be trying to land myself, let alone stores, on this beach, and certainly not big tanks of acetylene.
We mosey about for a bit and commence the obligatory “I was here” portraits. Hubby sits on a rock with the waves behind him.  Now my turn. Rather than repeat the same thing, I look about for something different. How about down there on the rocks?  I wander over.  
Oh… this is where you need to come to see the better zebra pattern.  The sun breaks through the clouds and one of the rocks near me glitters and sparkles. What a beauty.  I need the camera. We muck about enjoying the rocks. “Take a photo of that seaweed. It looks like shredded paper.”  I’m not convinced it isn’t shredded paper. A close examination follows.  Hmm.  That’s extraordinary.
Well. There’s no longer any sense in delaying the ordeal. We wander past the swathes of what I call pussy grass and start the climb. Hubby says “Pussy grass! What the hell’s pussy grass? Are you going to illustrate that? Haha.” 
 “Why do you call it pussy grass?” It’s just what we called it when we were kids. Actually I think we called it pussy willow, but it’s not pussy willow and it's a grass. There was a lot of it at the Basin and around Pittwater when I was a kid.
The climb is not too bad at first.  We keep a pretty reasonable pace. Start getting some cardio effects. That’s good. Breathless. Pause. Getting distinctly hot now. Pause. I'm determined to push it. Need to regain flagging fitness. Keep going. Pounding heart rate won’t kill you. Look up. I've made gratifying progress. An elderly couple is climbing down. We greet. I give them some tips about where we saw the best rocks. They seem to be particularly interested in the rocks and are searching out examples in the path. It feels good to get some exercise. It’ll feel even better to stop actually.  Done. We’re up. We take time to wander over for a comfort stop, have a drink and hit the road.  Ha! Our whole stop at Harvey’s return has taken us 46 minutes. We are fat and not fit. …unless you’re a kiwi... It is now about 2.15. We’re a little way along the road too, so I think we can realistically be back at the café before closing. We even make a few stops along the way to capture some things we didn't feel we had time to on the way out.
The red road undulating across the wilderness, seemingly forever.
The regenerating bushland.
Near to the turn back onto the black top we are amazed anew at the tall grass trees. They are very tall and very wide and obviously very ancient. Grass trees are very slow growing. Look at that one, it’s as fat as me! Or maybe fatter. I hope…. Make that I wish. I’d love a photo but Hubby doesn't want me fading away to a shadow, or himself either and he’s like a cart horse at the end of the day. He knows a relax and food is not far away and he’s picked up the pace ever so slightly… still within the limits posted.
Hubby is off out of that car with the speed of a thousand gazelles. I on the other had am confident that this last orders 3.15 business is rubbish. I reckon we’ve got til 3.30 and am consequently I am distracted by the idea of trying for a photo of the wallaby in the car park. Hubby’s locked the car. Come on. Hurry up he calls. Sigh. The man loves his food.  We wander up to the counter to order at just before 3.15. Are we in time to order? The girl checks the clock. Yep. You’ve got another 15 mins.  Yeah… I though so.
What to have? It’s a tough decision but we end up going for the recommended whiting burger ($18.95) and a chicken burger with tzatziki dressing (10.95) both served with salad and chips. 
I spend a while indulging in some honey tasting as we wait for our meals to cook. There are a range of floral honeys for tasting and for sale. Each has a distinctly different flavour. Cup Gum is the strongest and Sugar gum the lightest and a couple of others in between.
Hubby summons me to our meals which we share tastes of but mostly just eat what we each chose. Both were decidedly delicious. The whiting is in a light crisp batter and beautifully cooked. A plate of just fish and chips would be great here. The chips were great too. A very filling and satisfying lunch, we’re glad we made it back.
Our meal completed I continue doing a little souvenir shopping. Birthday pressies for a couple of friends. A t-shirt for our baby grand-daughter. A kangaroo stamp for grandson. Some Muntrie conserve for me… though I’m a bit dubious about the Muntrie conserve.. why isn’t is as famous as Quandong or Rosella jam if it’s so good?  Well, we’re going to find out.  I am obliged to stop for fear of too much luggage weight, and we have places to go, things to see.
We are off to Remarkable Rocks. They are in clear view in the distance for much of the drive out there. Seemingly just constructed there and a complete contrast to the landscape around them. Just as I'm thinking the view of the rocks on the headland make an awesome panorama, a lookout stop has been provided. Nice work. Perhaps better still, above the lookout a bird of prey is hovering. White. Small. Black under the wings out to the tip. A kite?  The bird dives down. It’s gone a while giving me a chance to photograph the Remarkable Rocks through the rain haze in the distance. The bird returns hovers glides on the wind, hovers. Dives. It doesn’t return within any reasonable time. It probably caught something I guess. We move on.
There’s only one or two other cars in the carpark this late in the day (4.30pm). The wind is fierce as we head toward the boardwalk and the rocks. You know what the overwhelming feeling is as you walk up to and around this famous site?  That’s right. All you can think is “Wow, these rocks really are remarkable.” There’s no other word. It really fits. I've tried to think of another word, truly I have, but they are just remarkable. We pass impressively large and emphatic warning signs threatening death not only to yourself but to those who try to help you should you be foolish enough to venture into dangerous areas of the site.
In the shelter of the rocks the wind is not a problem. We have the place to ourselves, having passed the last of the earlier sight see-ers departing as we came down the board walk. I have on my hooded rain gear, and the beanie I bought at Mt Lofty is proving very useful.
We spend a while using flat spots on the rocks as a support for the camera as we follow in the footsteps of those who have come here to marvel for the last hundred or more years. Photographs tell the story of the changes wrought by wind and rain and salt spray over the millennia.
We pass out beyond the rocks and are beset by the roaring gale. Hubby ventures out towards the edge of the rock, well inside the marked no go area, but in these conditions still far too dangerous in my opinion. I insist he comes further back. The wind is so strong today it would only take a stronger than typical gust and he could be knocked over. It doesn't bear thinking about. He thinks I'm over cautious. Its more rocks even if he did fall. I don’t find that even remotely comforting. On the windward side the wind pushes you forcefully back towards the remarkable rocks themselves.  The southern ocean is awesome. Truly awesome.
We take the loop walk return to the car park and this provides very effective shelter. I guess they know that by the time you drag yourself away from the rocks themselves you may welcome some relief from the wind.  We settle in and sigh with pleasure to be back in the quiet warmth of the car. That was awesome. Exploring the Remarkable Rocks on foot has taken us half an hour.
It is now 5pm. Do we go to Admirals Arch or home for a bit before our Nocturnal walk? Well, Admiral’s Arch is so close by. It’s a bit of a no brainer. There probably wouldn't be time to do much back at the cabin before we head off to our nocturnal walk anyway.  There’s no sign of the Kite as we pass the lookout. We make a pretty businesslike activity of getting quick stix down to the Admiral’s Arch because we don’t know if perhaps the precinct might get locked up. (It doesn't). There’s still a few cars around but it is clear that people are on beginning to head off.  
I am quite surprised to see the Cape du Couedic lighthouse. Perhaps I wasn’t paying close enough attention but I had no idea it was here. We pass on, dominated by a curiosity to discover what this arch is all about. In theory I'm not real fussed about seeing the NZ fur seal colony as I have seen them aplenty in NZ, but we follow our noses and directions to the arch. 
This brings us to a long boardwalk with expansive views over the ocean and the offshore islands. The wind is blowing a gale and the surf is crashing against the rocks and cliffs along the coast. 
A taste of the awesome power of the roaring forties and the southern ocean is on display. Perhaps not to the fullest extent possible. People have mentioned to us that the waves sometimes crash over the top of those islands and that’s not the case today, but none-the-less it’s an awesome sight to behold.  Heading down the board walk there are multiple viewing areas, built of attractive stone. The quality of the infrastructure complements the majesty of the site. I had never really thought about that before, but it seems somehow respectful to have made such an effort to make the man made elements here an enhancement rather than an imposition. Not easy to do, but it’s been achieved here I think.
Some people are coming up the stairs as we start heading down.  The lady comments that it’s a long way down but it is worth it.  I'm still wondering what I'm going to see. First of all there is an excellent opportunity to view the seal colony below and information boards which are positioned sensibly for your edification. I enjoy this section enormously, much more than I expected to.  Goodness me. This place would give NZ a run for its money and then some on the seal viewing front, and that is saying something. This is truly excellent. As an Australian I feel very proud of this place. Well Done to everyone involved in bringing this excellent management of an extraordinary site about. 
We continue down and down and reach an area which is wet from the spray coming off the water as it crashes and foments and continues the work of millennia working away at the arch for which the area is named.  Well. You know. Ho hum actually. There’s information about what the area is made from and what is soft and nearly all eroded and what is difficult to erode and so on. The major question being how long will it take until the arch gives way and a third island is created.  Mmm. Have I ever mentioned that geology generally bores me to tears?  Hubby positions himself to try to shield the camera a bit, and I take the obligatory photo to prove we looked at the arch.. but really I like watching the surf from above better, today at least.  I guess on one of those days when the sea is really in a mood the waves might crash right through the arch and put on quite a show. I wonder if they ever need to close parts of the viewing platform. Today I'm over the actual arch. Now the seals on the other hand are a different matter. We spend quite a while watching the seals. A couple of young males play fight. A couple of others are playing in a large rock pool that is regularly swamped by the foaming waves. It is entrancing. And there are the waves. And the wind. And the lighthouse. I love the lighthouse, standing so beautifully dominating the landscape. So natty in its natural stone and red cap. 
We reluctantly turn to head back. The wind tears at our clothing as we head back through the more exposed upper sections of the boardwalk. We hang onto our hoods. We’re still not keen to leave though. We wander over to the lookout to the seal colony. From this position we can see the stairs and the hole leading down to the arch. The Casuarina islands providing giant stepping stones into the distance. Out at sea the sun is breaking through the clouds sending a beam of light to earth. This is a spectacular place in any weather.
Well, we had better go. But first Hubby decides to take a comfort stop up near the lighthouse. I can’t resist the opportunity to have a quick look at the information posted and of course the lighthouse itself. Thank Goodness! I thought the lighthouse was beautiful from a distance. Up close it’s even better. 
It’s the opposite proposition to the Cape Borda lighthouse. Cape Borda is short and squat and square and completely dominated by utility and economy.  Cape du Couedic lighthouse is a beacon of beauty. Whoever built this glorious structure cared a great deal about the aesthetics. The signage invites us to count the stones around the base and upwards and multiply it by two because it is double thickness. There is talk about how much water they must have carted up for the construction. I wonder what is known about the design. At Cape Borda the tour explained that round lighthouses were necessary when there was a need for additional strength and tall lighthouses where necessary to raise the light high enough to penetrate the many kms required out to sea. Cape du Couedic doesn’t appear to follow this rule.  It seems pretty high up and it is certainly a long way from the crashing surf.  It has many features that would appear to be purely ornamental. Note the flaring stairway; the ornate and tasteful door, decorative way the windows have been set.  This lighthouse is just beautiful.  Hubby has given up waiting for me and has come in search. We meet up on my way back and I thank him for stopping here. I am really glad I didn't miss Cape du Couedic lighthouse. I'm also really glad we are here so late when everyone else has gone and we have the place to ourselves.
We stop on the way back to have a look at another Kite. We marvel at the nifty way the undulations of the road appear to zigzag back and forth. 
Time is now such that we figure we’d better go directly to the Hanson Bay Reserve for our tour. Luckily we have time to stop along the way to photograph a couple of the enormous grass trees I've been admiring along this route for days now. This one has to be at least 2 metres tall and as wide.
Turning into the Hanson Bay Reserve kangaroos are out and feeding in the paddock.  Not much grass there as yet but with the rain of the last few days it won’t be long now.
We don our jackets under our rain gear and get permission to wander about in the Koala walk for the 15 or so minutes until the walk is due to start. Hubby buys himself some dinner and a cup of coffee. I'm looking for koalas. It’s no time before I've spotted a couple. The first is awake and feeding the second is still sleeping. 
Kangaroos and wallabies abound and several are foraging around the feeder station where the reserve leaves some seed in the harder months of summer when food is harder to come by. Hubby joins me with his coffee and ham and cheese roll and I point out the koala to him.
Note: I've adjusted the light on this photo somewhat.
We watch and I photograph the koala who is awake, before the light goes completely. It’s difficult to get a good angle on it. At first it has a good look down at me, then just goes about its business completely unconcerned that I'm peering up at it.  The time seems to fly past and I am obliged to head back to join our guide, Sally. We have been so lucky throughout our trip. Once again we have this tour to ourselves. Sally provides us with a wealth of information about the animals that are seen on the tour. We wander up and down the koala walk of mature trees planted 80 years ago by the original owners to line their driveway. Sally leads, rapidly waving the spotlight along the branches. I'm surprised the spotlight isn't red which I have always understood as being necessary to protect the eyes of the animals (and any birds) we are seeking.  I point out the two koalas I found earlier and we find a third, very young koala feeding at the top of a tree further along. Looking skyward we see a tiny bat fluttering around and off out of sight. Cool. I love bats.  We retrace our steps and head back down the other arm of the driveway.
As the beam travels up and across one of the trees I see a flash of white.  What’s that?  Shine the light up there. It’s a gorgeous little Ringtail possum! Awesome. I don’t think I've ever seen a wild Ringtail before and they are by no means guaranteed on this nocturnal tour, only being seen on a fairly small minority of tours. We have hit the jackpot! We watch him for ages hearing all about their life and habits. Poor little ringtails. Last I heard they were not doing too well on the mainland, or not in NSW at least. The brushies are bigger and more aggressive and do pretty well even in suburbia, but the shy little Ringtail is at the mercy of predators and suffers accordingly. Like the koalas and platypus, the Ringtails are introduced to KI. He just sits there for a while but then he clearly decides he has had enough of the spotlight and moves up behind the tree. We can continue to ogle him if we move a bit, but how about we let him get on with his life. From the koala walk we head into a stand of younger eucalypts that has been more recently planted.  We’re having a good time learning and sharing and seeing the wallabies and roos that are visible around the property feeding. I ask whether they ever get the bandicoots on the tours and the answer is an emphatic no. Apparently the bandicoots are rarely seen by anyone, to the extent that some people question their existence on the island at all.
We stop to admire a kangaroo which poses conveniently for us. The KI kangaroo is a variant of the western grey kangaroo, so although similar in many ways to other roos its size it is unique. It has darker fur and light underbelly. It’s an attractive creature.  Sally clearly loves them and believes them to be very beautiful – which they are off course, with an elegant posture and graceful bounding movement. They have one less vertebrae than the wallabies. The extra movement in the spine enables the wallabies to sleep in a way that they can instantly be off. The wallabies are smaller and more vulnerable to predators, so that makes sense doesn't it. However it also makes them appear more hunched when they are hopping and moving about, appearing less stately than the roos.
I am very ill disciplined and prone to wander off on tangents in the conversation, but Sally keeps the commentary on track and after pausing to learn all about the feral proof fence (there’s more to know there than I would have imagined) we head inside the enclosure.  Once again there’s a lot of roos and wallabies and the roos are happy to come up to be petted, which is not particularly surprising. Even roos would have a hard job getting in or out of this fenced area which is primarily designed to keep out feral cats. The other fences on the property are more for the control of humans than roos, or koalas, for whom they would prove no barrier. I give a couple of the roos a pat feeling their lovely soft fur.
Well, time to go. We end our tour at 9 pm as scheduled. It’s been an enjoyable hour and a half. We creep home at no more than 40 kph through the roadside lined periodically with macropods who could so easily leap out in front of us. 
It’s almost not worth mentioning the wallaby who is loitering around the cabins. They’re here all the time in the evenings and early morning.  Ho hum.  LOL.
We have a bit of late supper and fall into bed. Remind me not to bother bringing books on holiday ever again. I'm always either asleep or journalling or busy out and about!

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