Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ocean Funday Sunday – Nov. 11

A taste of salt air yesterday whetted our appetite for more today. This morning it was my turn to drive on our day trip to the southern Australian coast.  

We headed south on Kangaloon Rd, down Sheepwash Rd to Hwy 79 through Kangaroo Valley south to Nowra. (Kangaroo Valley is home to historic Hampden Bridge.)
Hampden Bridge in Kangaroo Valley.
My driving experience was good until we crossed two mountain ranges with very steep grades, narrow roads and drivers who thought they were competing in the Grand Prix in the Alps. Once we were out of the steep grades, all was good until we hit the city of Nowra.

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but Australian engineers like roundabouts almost everywhere. These are bad enough in the U.S. where we're used to driving, but try going the opposite way around with two lanes in heavy traffic. Aaaack! The main highway through the city was undergoing construction as well. When we stopped at a petrol (gas) station, I was happy to relinquish driving responsibilities to Bob! Thanks, honey.

We hooked up with Hwy 1 south to Jervis Bay Road which went to Booderee National Park and Jervis Bay Marine Park. Our park experience started at the Visitor Centre where I collected information on what to see in a half day.

From the Visitor Centre we headed to Green Patch Picnic Area for a short walk along the rock shelf which was exposed at low tide. Luckily we arrived exactly at low tide! We followed the shelf where we saw kelp in the tidepools and seabirds. Our return trip followed a track from Bristol Point Picnic Area through the forest back to Green Patch.

View across Jervis Bay to Point Perpendicular.

Beach by Bristol Point Picnic Area.
Next stop: Hole in the Wall, a lovely beach with, literally, a hole in the rock. This was a 0.8 km roundtrip walk from the parking pull-out to the beach.

Hole in the Wall
Continuing out to the end of the road, we parked at Murray’s Beach for a 2.2 km roundtrip walk out to Governor Head. We sidetracked a few feet off the trail to take a look-see at Murray’s Beach. We liked what we saw: a beautiful, uncrowded, white sand beach with people swimming, snorkeling or enjoying the sunny day. 

Walking through the eucalypt forest, a cacophony of birds kept us company. One bird decided I was its friend, chirped at me, waited until I got just the right photo then started walking away. That's when it flew off.

Out at Governor Head we found interpretive signs about Little Penguins which nest on Bowen Island. Two of seven plant communities on the island, banksia woodland and lomandra tussock grassland, support the nesting of the Little Penguins. I love learning about new animals.

Bowen Island in foreground.

Oh how I wish I had my snorkeling gear!

Walking down the track (trail) back to our car, Bob put out his arm like a railroad crossing guard arm and halted my progress. I said, “What’s wrong?” He pointed at the ground. Lying stretched out across the trail in the shadow of a tree was a long snake! Yikes.

Diamondback python on the trail.
Four local Aussies were on the trail behind us. I asked them if the snake was poisonous. Apparently not, one of them teased the snake to get it to move, then grabbed it by the tail. The snake was having none of it, and slithered up in a tree. One of the Aussie’s said, “That’s so he can drop on you.” Gee, thanks. They were a good-natured lot. Fun to fraternize with the locals.

From Murray's Beach, we went to a local grocer that had a take-away (to go) restaurant in front. We ordered food and took it to Cave Beach where we walked 0.3 km to the picnic area. As we were eating, a wallaby with a baby in her pouch hopped down into the grassy area and started munching away on her own private grass salad bar. It looked like the baby was hanging out munching on the grass too when momma bent down.

Wallaby and baby.
Cave Beach is a popular surfing beach, not to mention it has a gorgeous coastline with a lookout to take it all in.


Cave Beach Lookout.
Bob is not much of a botanic garden kind of guy. But he is a good sport. He told me to go ahead and explore Booderee Botanic Gardens while he took a nap in the car. Jolly good.

Off I went armed with a map of the gardens, my camera and a bottle of water. As I set out on a rather deserted track through brush, my imagination and worries kicked in. What if I fell? What if I got lost? What if a poisonous snake or spider bit me? But I pressed on and quelled the demons. Come along, take a look at what I found...

Broad-leaved paperbark tree.

The whole tree was covered in these delicate flowers.
Turpentine tree.
Lake McKenzie--if you were a 'roo wouldn't this look like home?
Walking through the botanic garden all alone, feeling like the only person experiencing it is great. However, it's disconcerting when you feel you're being watched! 'Roos and wallabies have perfected the art of standing stock still in the forest and watching. If you don't look closely, you'll miss them. I enlarged the photo below so you could see what I mean. If one of them hadn't been in the sun, I would have missed them all together.
Can you find two 'roos?
The highlight of my walk was the fact that it was 'roo feeding time (late afternoon). Rock Picnic Area in the botanic gardens was their buffet. I counted at least eight.

From Boonderee National Park, we went north up the bay through Vincentia and Huskisson, beautiful seaside areas. Just north of Nowra, we took the Great Pacific Road east along the ocean through Coolangatta and Shoalhaven Heads. The area reminded us of Tillamook, Oregon with herds of dairy cattle in verdant pastures. Two wineries were located around Gerroa.

Dairies abound near Coolangatta.
At Seven Mile Beach National Park, we stopped for a quick leg-stretcher walk to see the beach. Bob went out far enough on the sand to see there was no one on the beach as far as he could see in either direction. It should be noted it was late afternoon on a Sunday. As we arrived, it looked like the last of the beachgoers were leaving.

Bob on Seven Mile Beach.
I really wanted to make it to Kiama before sunset to take photos of the Blowhole and lighthouse.
Kiama Blowhole.

The view north from Blowhole.

Kiama Lighthouse, 1887.
Bob next to Blue Pool.

The coast is so beautiful that we wanted to drive through neighborhoods on the hills and see the views.

We could get used to a view like this.
Twilight was descending, time to head back to Bowral about an hour away.
We have new readers: Mike and Terri of Forever Young joined us a day or so ago. Thanks for dropping by for our Australian "walkabout."

Another great day finished. Bob watched "A Few Good Men" on the telly while I wrote the blog.

Travel Bug out.