FRIDAY FEB 21st
The weather had not only put on its incontinence pads but was finally breathing slower, so a trip into town to see the sights was called for. We packed the usual assortment of stuff into the backpack and bundled everything into the dinghy for the trip across to the jetty. Approaching the jetty, I noticed something a wee bit disturbing about it. It wasn't just that half the pylons that held it up were rotted away. It also wasn't the fact that the water looked really shallow either and that ,so far as I know, there could be a kraken under all that weed. It was the fact that there was no ladder to be seen and the jetty was quite high in comparison to our little boat so I knew that a butt shove and scramble was in order. *Sigh* there goes my dignity again. Luckily there was only one other person on the jetty and he was too busy fishing to notice me scrabbling about on my hands and knees trying to avoid bird poop on the timber.
Photo : Murals on the shelters.
Photo: Little Hunter
Photo : Professional fishermen's' wheel thingy
We were fully expecting to spend the whole afternoon in town but upon brief inspection, there really didn't seem enough here to keep us busy and what there was was fairly tired looking. There were a few small shelters that had been painted with murals and the odd legend board scattered about but little else. For a town that brings in loads of money from lobster fishing every year we were a little disappointed by the inelegance of the place so we went into the tourist office/ library/ gallery/ TV nook (which was absolutely beautiful and a whole lot of surprise) for a town map and info just in case we were missing something. I was asked if I had a seniors card (for the first time ever * SOB *. I don't but I suddenly felt old enough to warrant one. Bloody cheek!
After that little bit of negative stimulus, we wandered around the streets and found the little supermarket and wandered around some more and found a couple of fish and chip shops on the shore front so we decided to buy a hamburger, a steak sandwich and chips, go to the grassed park area across the road and study the map. We'd no sooner sat in one of the sheltered picnic areas when the first seagull appeared. We tried not to indulge it but that bird must have fancied its chances and the chances of every other seagull within a psychic cooee of us because suddenly, without a sound from the first one, we were inundated by dozens of them. How do they do that?? Okay, so that's your game eh birds? Fine! For the next twenty minutes we played mind games with them, with one in particular who jumped about a metre high every single time Dave waved his hand at them. Then I made the mistake of throwing a chip. That was it. From the first seagull shriek of "MINE" the game was on and it became like a scene from 'The Birds', with first one and then more becoming game enough to eventually hop up on the table and stare us in the face. I was very glad when all of the chips were gone and they silently moved on to their next unwitting victims.
Photo : The birds! "mine! mine!"
After perusing the map of the district, we thought a walk to the petrified forest would be interesting. It seemed to be not too far away. We had already walked about a kilometre and were only about half way there when I asked Dave how far he thought the lighthouse on the hill and 'the rocks' (Frog, Rhino and Camel Rocks) were. 'About 4 kilometres' was his answer. My heart sunk because my knees were already hurting and we weren't even at the forest yet. This bloody forest had better be worth the walk.
On the way we walked through a copse of trees and heard a jumping in the brush. Rabbit? I went one way and Dave went the other until we spotted the bringer of boundy sounds. It turned out to be a really cute but very shy wallaby. Seeing it made up for my sore knees and we carried on towards the petrified woodland.
Photo : Cute shy wallaby
Photo" Petrified 'forest'
Photo : Petrified forest legend.
As we neared I kind of wondered if those things in the water were it, but figured it couldn't possibly be. It looked like a few rocks in the shallows. That surely wasn't a forest. Well.... turns out it was. Though interesting it sure was smaller than I thought it would be. I looked back from whence we'd come and then looked ahead up the road leading to 'The Rocks' and basically said stuff it, let's go.
It was a long, uphill walk and by the time I got there my knees were screaming but I was determined to see it all, and so we did. The rocks were actually pretty amazing and I think they truly did look like the creatures after which they're named. Plus the coastline was pretty awesome too, all crags and caves and cliffs and holes with waves perpetually crashing their face, forever changing them. I never get tired of seeing that kind of thing.
Photo : Frog Rock
Photo: Rhino Rock
Photo : Camel Rock
Photos : Craggy coastline
Photos : Monuments
Before we left the rocks site we made a judgement that it was going to be a bugger of a walk back as it was heating up a bit and quite a lot of the distance back was uphill, so we'd hitch-hike. We made our way to the road, with no cars in sight and so walked a bit until we came to a nearby sign for the historic cemetery. You may know by now that I'm a sucker for them so we took the little side trip towards the grave-sites. On the way we found evidence that snakes were about.... a baby brown snake that was very recently dead on the road (for my non-Aussie readers, the babies are as venomous as the adults). So, after a photo of one dead thing we set off again to see more.
Photo : Baby brown
As we approached the cemetery itself, it seemed really nice, well kept and kind of old but I was in for a surprise. Towards the rear of the newer part was a small unassuming wire gate with a sign next to it. The sign showed that through the gate was the oldest part of the cemetery, but time, overgrowth and sand had taken its toll and cover or damaged all but a handful of graves. I went through the gate, weaving between, under and over logs, stumps, grass, trees and shrubs. It was beautiful, mysterious and sad all at the same time. When I came across the graves that were visible, nestled in amongst the tangle, with nothing but birdsong to break the silence, it was almost mystical. There are apparently plans to clear the overgrown perplexity of plants, dig through the sand and recover more of the hidden graves. I hope they do.
Photo: The Cemetery Gravestones.
.Photo : Old Cemetery Legend
Photo: Gravediggers hut
By the time we got back to the road, I was truly drained and for some reason, Dave refused to carry me (where's the devotion I ask you... so I'm a teensy-weensy bit heavier than the last time he carried me a few years ago. Hurumph!!) so it was thumbs out and hope that someone stops soon. And someone did! A couple of guys we had seen at the rocks stopped for us. They spoke little English but from what we learned, the passenger was originally from Afghanistan and had just come out of 18 months of detention at Nauru and was finally seeing some of the country. He seemed just so happy to finally be living in Australia, free from war, free from persecution.... just free. The other man was Asian and we got the feeling that they had known each other though the detention centre. They seemed like very good friends. They took us all the way into town and we wished them well on their trip.
Before returning to the boat we took a slight detour back to the information centre to ask if there was any way we could possibly hire a car anywhere. As a matter of fact, there was! The receptionist made a call to Mount Gambier and within ten minutes an Avis hire car was not only booked for the next two days, but would be delivered tonight straight to Port Macdonnell. Wow... now that's service!
Going back to the dinghy, we once again saw the guy who had been fishing when earlier arrived at the jetty and we realised it was Gary from a couple of days ago. After a chat and a tale or two, I was once again gazing down at the dinghy and wondering how I could make my descent into it look elegant, rather than looking like a marionette with a couple of broken strings. Luckily the tide had risen a bit so although I most certainly wasn't entirely graceful, I didn't look like an octopus spilling down a waterfall either. That's an achievement considering I could barely walk by this stage.
The worst part of the whole day was about to come. When we got back to the boat we found that yet another fender (a new one that had been tied to the side of Venture so that we could dock the dinghy alongside) had gone. From now on, fenders are welded on or something because this was getting ridiculous. Lesson learned... triple tie everything and don't entirely trust sailor's knots.
Tomorrow we're of to Mount Gambier.