Tag Archives: nature

Wilson’s Promitory

imageTo the east of Melbourne lies “the Prom”, one of the first National Parks in Victoria, reserved in 1898. Kangaroos, wombats, wallabies, emus and rosellas freely wander through an incredible array of habitats from coastal heathlands to fern-strewn rainforests. Melbournianites have only to travel two hours out of the CBD to visit the best of the continent’s south. Nearly half of all the birds in Victoria are found here, including the most rare. It’s Victoria’s Garden of Eden and people revere it as such. The guide book cautions: “The Gunnai and the Boonerwrung people have always held the Prom in great awe, and treated it with uncommon respect. We should tread lightly here.”

In just seven hours we covered the “first tier” of tourism at the Park, and enjoyed a 12 km hike.

Stop 1: Tidal River, Normandy Bay

Traveling through the park, you are driving on the 1942 road; first built to access the Prom’s southern beaches and train commandos in secret. You arrive to the base buildings now used as a visitor centre and continue on to the beach at Norman Bay. This beach is known as one of Victoria’s most beautiful, and a good source of shell fish and fishing grounds. In one of the last Ice Ages, the sea level was nearly 150m below today’s levels, and Wilson’s Prom and Tasmania were linked by a land bridge. Over time, wind swept sand from the exposed ocean bottom built up and formed the plateau through which Tidal River now flows. Today, some of the plants on the Prom are only also found in Tassie.

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Granite rocks at Squeaky Beach

Stop 2: Squeaky Beach

Here on Squeaky Beach, 380 million year old granite formations break down and form the beach. If you get the friction just right you can hear the squeak of pure quartz crystals rubbing against each other. Tidal River and Squeaky beach actually represent a divide between white sandy (quartz) beaches to the east and yellow shelly (calcareous) beaches to the west. You can also notice a brown tinge to the water, a tannin leached from the nearby swamp paperbarks. Fish use the calm waters to lay eggs and wombats, possums, gliders and bats live like kings among the coastal scrub and messmate forests (a type of stringy bark).

Stop 3: Hike from Darby Saddle to Tongue Point

imageI will now call this “the hike with views that get better and better”. This walk starts at Darby Saddle, a previous watering hole for early 1900 visitors, meanders up to Spark’s lookout. A park ranger for many years, I imagine this was one of his favourite spots, lending an amazing view of the rocky islands and Tongue Point. One more “up” to Lookout Rocks and then you descend to a coastal heathland. Wombat lairs line the seldom used trail (for Prom standards) and looking back on the Prom gives  a rare view of the coastline. After dead-ending at a tiny rock protrusion, I continued back to the main trail, but went a little further to visit Fairy Cove. This tiny beach had a late afternoon visitor, which made the return climb back up to Darby Saddle (300m straight up) worth the trip.

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It’s rare treat to see a wombat so out in the open.

Stop 4: Sunset over Bonsai Mangroves

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Emu tracks in the damp mud of low tide.

An easy 2km walk bring you in close counter with wallabies in messmate forests, opening out on to Miller’s landing. Here, lies the southernmost mangroves in the world. Tracks are easy to spot in the soft sand and mud and it’s supposedly a good place for bird watching. When we arrived the beach seemed deserted, but the sunset was a pleasant end to the day.

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Sunset over the southernmost mangroves in the world.

 

Hiking on Great Ocean Road

Winter is the New Desert

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I forgot the world could get so cold. I assess: fingers unpleasantly tingling, but core body temperature stable. It’s 25 degrees, but I’ll survive. This time around, winter doesn’t seem so bad. Must be a desert thing.

Last Good Hike

Today was one of my last hiking days and it was a good one. A friend decided to show off a Jacumba resident’s straw bale hauls – one of my favorite towns up the grade to the west of Imperial County. Staying at the haus over the weekend was a couple who run a farm on a Pima Arizona reservation. They showed us around the property – completely off the grid and 5 structures that serve as the main house, generator room, guest house, outhouse, and amphitheater and then explained their own new product. They are bring the ancient beans (bahf) used by the Huhukam back to the American diet. I’m trying the delicious sounding wheat berry salad for dinner tonight.

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Ramona Farms has been working with Wholefoods since March on a plan to go regional. Very exciting for them and a timely conversation since the museum is doing an exhibit on Native American Foodways in May 2014.

Then we were off to Meyers Valley for a fantastically leisurely hike over the impressive boulders of the Jacumba wilderness. Don’t you just love the thrill of hanging from two fingers and reaching for the next hold. Riveting.

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This, of course, all on the back of a weekend spent getting acquainted with the Laguna Moutains in Cleveland National Forest, which seems to me one of the few places in the world you can look down from an alpine forest onto a desert that I sometimes call home.

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Above: A meadow valley by the currently dry Big Laguna Lake, tons of ceramic scatter by the edges… wouldn’t you want that view as you prepared tonight’s meal? Incredible. And home of my very good friends, the Lucas’, the last members of the Kwaaymii band of Kumeyaay. After the last two years of talking about Tom Lucas’ contribution to preserving the family culture, it felt like a little bit of a pilgrimage to actually see what we’ve been discussing.

Hiking Pilot Program

The IVDM is recognized for its advocation of hiking. What we are known as is the “museum that  does the hiking”, and ironically enough, we don’t actually lead hikes, just provide a resource from our website that points people in the right direction.

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Except I do a lot of hiking.



This summer seemed long. I’d gotten used to being in the desert every week and the 120 degree days and our Museum assessments didn’t agree with that schedule. As soon as the weather turned I was testing my new hiking boots, arranged a CPR/First Aid training day, and planning once a week hikes on our days off.

It’s been great.

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Valley of the Moon, Jacumba Mtns.

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Bow Willow to Rock House Canyon, Anza Borrego State Park

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History on the Go!, Algodones Dunes