We had a number of people visit from boats anchored in the cove closest to our house. I was doubtful a barbecue would take place because the wind was “fresh”. The sky was the clearest it has been and the weather was mild, it was 100f in Melbourne during the day. But the party happened and we went down to the cove. While we were looking at the stars, we saw a satellite pass overhead. We have seen the Southern Cross and the Milky Way but Tim mentioned that there were clouds in the same place over a couple of nights. They looked like another galaxy. It turns out they are. We saw the clouds of Magellen, which are galaxies orbiting our galaxy. The mind boggles.
Then today, when I left the compound to walk to Winter Cove, I saw the smallest wallaby Joey yet. it was tiny and gangly. I watched for a while but needed to pass and it clambered into its pouch. At Winter Cove, I found a small skull, seagull or tern is my best guess. The day went from seeing objects at the limit of the naked eye’s visibility to small creatures along the tracks
We’ve become Wallaby wranglers and we are getting pretty good at it. We had about four wallabies in the outer circle of gates and over a few days, we managed to get all but two out.
Then, I went to get drinking water and found one in the inner compound, right next to the house. They chew on the grass, which is good, but leave wallaby poop around, which isn’t so good. We used some amazing teamwork and got it out the front gate.
It was a beautiful day to take a walk and I went to Winter Cove, about 4 kms from house. The only problem was these new little flies have arrived. They don’t bite or anything but are “in your face”.
I got to the beach and saw the catamaran anchored nicely and found a small bird skull.
Everyone told us that visitors would come after the Christmas and they have. It began with Customs agents yesterday looking for any suspicious boating activity and ended with an eight legged visitor this morning.
Last night there were six boats at anchor in our view. There are others in coves we can’t see from the house. We met a couple yesterday who came here on their 28 foot catamaran!
Tim spent the day cleaning gutters and I was still working on floors and yogurt. Then we walked to the lighthouse to close it up for the night.
This morning I ran into this guy when I was baking english muffins. I got a lot braver with my photos when he was under glass.
They splashed around so much, we had to refill the bath.
There has been some weird bird activity. There were two groups of Cape Barren geese but we think one group has been banished away from the house and down to Garden Cove. We saw them there a couple of days ago when we walked to the cove. They wouldn’t move off the path in front of us. They just kept goose stepping faster and faster. Before they left, one goose would run after the others with wings spread but wouldn’t actually fly. They occasionally stray back and quickly get shooed away.
We were sitting in our favorite room, the sunroom, which is enclosed in glass on the side of the house when we both saw a hawk chasing a goose in mid-air. The hawk is one-quarter the size of the goose.
View from the sunroom, above. The caretaker’s house with the sunroom, below.
The Sydney Hobart race continues although the larger boats have finished. So far 17 of the 88 boats dropped out and the weather has eased. We hope that some boats stop by and visit on their way from Tasmania back to Sydney.
Yesterday was a nice day for a walk. The sky was clear and there were 48 knot winds. Luckily I had my handy new headband and off we went. At the lower left of the picture is the pier. On the right is the road around the hill and to the compound. Below is a picture of the old way. Straight down the hill to the pier was a “whim” or tram: Iron rails on the ground like a railway on which a cart was hauled up. The power came from two bullocks (I don’t think they used horses) who walked in a circle, which turned a gear, which turned a gear.
Behind the “engine” to the left are the remains of some of the track leading down to the cove.
A panoramic view of Dover Island to the left (south) and Erith Island to the right. Most of my photos from the compound are directed between the two islands where a swashway sometimes separates them.
Another perspective of the Erith Island, from Barn Hill
This incredibly deep ravine on Barn Hill. I couldn’t go any closer to the edge to improve the perspective.
I’m no meteorologist but these clouds look like some interesting weather might be on its way.
I had unfinished business in the garden to attend to and left the house at dawn. I ran into the usual cast of characters along the way. I worked through rain showers and managed to plant twelve varieties of vegetables as stage one of my garden management plan.
Caretakers before us built the beautiful enclosure to protect it from the wind, sea spray, rats, wallabies and birds. (I think they are the same ones who built the bed we sleep in from lumber they found washed up on the shore. We are such light weights.) Check out the handle on the sliding lock.
They couldn’t keep this guy out though. I decided not to plant near him at the moment.
Strong winds are likely to keep the visitors away over the next couple of days. When I measured the rainfall reading today, I checked the wind speed and it was 34 knots. Hold onto your hats. Every day we have to report the rainfall via a little fax machine, which is sort of like a credit card machine, to the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology.
We walked the trail to Winter Cove and confirmed that a sailboat we had seen in West Cove yesterday was safely anchored. They were and had the company of a fishing boat. The harbor was in the lee of the wind and you wouldn’t even know it was blowing from the west. We explored the campground on the beast and found several whale bones including an intact portion of the spine.
I had a successful day of cooking and baking today after a couple of disasters yesterday. I’m going to limit my cooking information to a new page, 300 meals on a deserted island.
I’m trying to figure out the various radios and where we can get weather reports. At the moment we don’t have any internet and earlier today, I couldn’t hear the garbled radio report on the VHF radio.
Yesterday we walked up to the lighthouse. It was so windy, I thought I would blow away. The lighthouse is beautiful. It was built around 1891 and has a fresnel style lens, probably first order based on its size. It used diesel fuel to power the motor, which turned the light. it flashed 3 times every twenty seconds and could be seen for 26 nm. There’s an ornate iron staircase and it’s quite lovely. Next time, hopefully the wind will let me go outside on the catwalk. Yesterday, the wind was howling and sometimes it sounded like there was a car or truck nearby and other times, there was a moaning sound as if the lighthouse was its own aeolian harp.
The superintendent’s house is in the compound near where we are staying and houses the museum. It is a lovely building and there has been a lot of work to restore it. Our compound is 2.5 km away from the lighthouse. The other keepers lived closer to the light and the remains of those buildings are near the lighthouse. The “compound” is an area surrounded by two fences to keep out the wildlife. The inner compound only includes our house, and the visitor’s house. The outer part of the compound surrounds the remaining buildings and our garden We have to open lots of gates when you want to take a walk.
We finally made it out the island. We left Flinders Island at dawn. The weather was predicted to be favorable, but not quite. Seas were rough and the boat was leaping, bouncing and crashing. When we neared the island, I said I was glad at least we waited for a calm day! It turned out it was one of the worst rides to the island the Parks Reserve Manager had taken.
The day was glorious though. Blue, clear skies and the wind died down. We got a tour of the island, all its systems and equipment, including a 3 cylinder, 4wd truck, the Beast, which has issues. Not acting too beastly at the moment, but it managed to get our stuff up the hill to the compound.
We spent most of the day unpacking and loading the refrigerator and pantry. Then we took a short walk up Barn Hill, overlooking the compound. I slept well until the winds picked up and it sounded like the house was going to blow away. The compound with the house we are staying in is the white area in the center of the picture. The compound contains the only living quarters on the island and right now we and the wildlife are the only ones here.
Since food has been such an important issue in our planning and shopping, I am going to at least list the meals we eat. It should turn out to be close to 300 when we are done. Here’s what we started with:
1) Lunch: grilled cheese and carrots
2) Dinner: peas from the garden, israeli couscous and grilled steak with apple pie for dessert, one of my best ever. And we had our first taste of cask wine. Not too bad.
The wind blew all night and day, then the rains came and went. Now all is calm. The birds are happy and singing (actually they were happy and singing during the downpours) and we got word that the boat leaves shortly before 0500 tomorrow. After a month on the road, we are heading out!!! Yeah. If our internet works, you will hear from me, if not, have a Merry Christmas, and wonderful New Year. The best news is I met a spinner/knitter through Ravelry here and she found some fleece and combs for me to bring out to the island and work on in my spare time. It’s really a very small world.
Too windy today. Maybe tomorrow. So we wait and watch. We walked into town yesterday to reprovision. In the meantime, we watch the weather reports on the internet, listen to the wind outside, relight the water heater when it gets blown out, watch bad TV, play games and eat…and eat. Then plan our next meal.
Luckily Chelsea instructed me in the best way to eat Tim Tams. Amazing. They are oblong chocolate wafer cookies. You bite off diagonal corners then try to sip a warm beverage of your choice through it. Only a small amount will pass but the real goal is to melt the chocolate on the inside of the cookie.
The preperatory bites.
Drinking through the cookie. The molten, melted interior.
The sad part is they are all gone and it’s a 40 minute walk to town.
We hiked to the summit of Strzelecki Mountain yesterday. You will have to take my word for it because I took a camera whose cable link is already packed and unavailable. So I will post those pictures out of context. Here’s the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife trail guide.
Strzelecki National Park
Our view was to the west until we circled around the back of the mountain. Plus we could watch our car slowly disappear as we ascended from the trail head. Elevation gain, 726 m over 3 km to the summit. I almost resisted making the final ascent because the views were already spectacular where I was, but I made it. Along the way, we saw a blue tongue lizard and heard lots of birds. We didn’t see any snakes, which is fine with me.
After the hike, we visited Trouser point and the beautiful, half moon beaches with lichen covered rocks. The rock formations were extensive and flat, which made a nice shelf along the water.
We are awakened here by the song of the laughing kookaburra. A pair of superb fairy wrens peck on the window when we are drinking our coffee. Black swans are an uncommon, common site for us. Blue winged parrots fly by our window. The Australian magpies are all over the roads eating carrion and have a haunting, throaty call. There is a flock of turkeys behind the cabin which get their panties in a bunch when cars go by.
Our backyard turkeys
We’ve also seen a flock of Cape Barren geese during our travels around the island. They have a distinctive green bump “cere” on their beaks.
Cape Barren Geese