We paid our marina dues (very reasonable at Mirage Marina),
topped up with diesel and headed off on the tide at 0900 on the 12th
September. Bound for
We arrived in the anchorage (Watson’s Bay) off the
This is a beautiful and secure anchorage. So it is easy to see why it is so popular.
Watson’s Bay from the north. Note the coral reefs all around the anchorage
As soon as we had breakfasted, we noticed that a couple of boats had left at first light (Pelle V being one of them) and so we raised the anchor and moved in as close to the beach and the coral reefs as we dared. This, to get some rest bite from the howling wind and also to minimise the distance for the dingy ride to the beach. It made little difference to the wind velocity getting closer to the beach, but mercifully it shortened the distance to the shoreline. As you can imagine, having a shower on the boat was pretty superfluous when ploughing ashore, head into 25knots of breeze in the dingy. We were soaked to the skin as we dragged the dingy up the beach on our first sortie ashore!
There are two principle reasons why you would, no SHOULD,
This was an Aboriginal settlement before the white man came
along. It was also a place which was deemed to have significant importance for
a ceremonial and tribal customs for the Aborigines. The
So this is what “Rally Control” do in their spare time!
The local government has been working closely with the
Aboriginal elders to restore parts of the Island and to ensure there is managed
respect for the sacred parts of the
The other unavoidable reason is of course the
No prizes for guessing why Cook gave the
We stumbled over this Monitor Lizard, sunning himself on a pathway near to the airstrip. He was well over three feet in length. We saw another one the next day on our way to Cooks Lookout, that was even bigger and much meatier……….
As it was relatively late in the day when we went ashore on
the first day, we had decided to explore the
But there is an astonishing variety of nature to be sampled
on this small
To wild Yams,,,,,,,,,
The picture above is principally of the flower of the wild yam bushes. It was a glorious livid yellow with a red and orange centre. They were some 2 inches in diameter. The fruit, (aka Yams), are the size and colour of Avocados when fully ripened.
Also to feast the eye, were a wide range of shrubs and trees, some with exquisite flowers, like this delicate Apple Fruit tree blossom…….
There were very many varieties of wild birds, too. Parrots, miniature Doves and simply radiant small birds, with iridescent yellow chests and emerald green throats, with long curved beaks. Much as we tried, these illusive creatures refused to stay still long enough to be photographed. So you will just have to take my word for it!
The coral reefs looked stunning and pristine too. We were tempted to go snorkelling on these to see the Giant Clams and the abundant tropical fish…but with water temperatures of only 22°C, and an ever present howling wind, we chose not to. But from the boat we could see huge Parrott fish in abundant quantities. We know now that Parrot fish also like bacon rind…cooked of course.
The last day was devoted to the arduous accent to Cook Lookout. 358 metres above sea level may not sound a lot. But, it is definitely not for the unfit or anyone who’s not able bodied. There are some very steep granite boulders to negotiate and tricky loose skree to contend with. Along the way there are several natural stopping points to enjoy the spectacular views and to get your breath back! The path is well marked for the most part, and on the more difficult granite slopes, the Parks department have used an angle grinder to create steps that are strategically cut into the stone surfaces to ease the climb.
The views and sights along the way are really worth the effort. The gum trees giving some shade from the blistering sun. In amongst these trees were some large ants nest constructed around the main trunk and branches.
These same trees lay a carpet of dried bark and leaves which is home to many a small creature. This can be a little disconcerting when you hear their scuttling noises amplified by the dried ditrus from the trees, on hard granite surfaces. We did not see any snakes, but many small lizards and quite a few spiders. One black & white one landed on Jennie, as she was resting below a tree. She took this ever so well, and managed the last 75 metres of the assent in a little under point zero 3 of a nanosecond………..only joking of course. She loves spiders really, especially if they might be poisonous ones.
After a trek of one and a half hours, all of our efforts were rewarded, once we got to the top.
Not that the crew was pleased with herself ……
To the left of the picture above is a large cairn which has been constructed with surrounding rocks, by the many visitors to this spot. At the base of the cairn is a wooden box. Inside the box is a Tupperware container. Inside that….yer, yer, I know “get on with it”! There is a visitor’s book. What a great idea. You have a sense of achievement in climbing this historical place where one of the all time great explorers stood before you…a mere 338 years ago. It was very revealing to read through this (once the vision had cleared) and to read the comments from all our BWR friends who had got there before us. We were particularly amused by the comment from the crew of the yacht Spectra, and I quote “Shame Cooks didn’t think to build a bar here while he was at it. We could have murdered a beer by the time we got up here”. Wonderful sense of occasion boys!
The walk back down was equally challenging. By the time we were back on the gorgeous soft sandy beach, our legs were like jelly. It was also midday by now, so we retired back to the boat (down wind this time, so nice and dry). Then had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch, followed by a siesta. The rest of the day was spent chilling out with a good book and getting ready for our planned early start, the next day. All set for “Going over the Top”……………………..