Cape Kidnappers, Wednesday 7 June 2023
Banner Photo: Most of the group at our turn-around point and lunch stop
Twenty people descended on the Hygge cafe at Clifton about 10am, which might have surprised the staff. And this is not the normal way to start a club tramp. Although it did feel a bit like we were cheating, I far prefer this to pitching up in the dark, cold Park Island car park at 6.45am like we normally do.
We had done this walk many times before and it never disappoints. Stomachs loaded with coffee and scones, we took to the beach at 11 o’clock for the low tide at 1.30. Weather was perfect, just a couple of light passing squalls of no consequence.
We didn’t have the beach to ourselves, though. A half hour in, we came across a group of four wearing orange or lime-green hi-viz. Crisp, bright, new and immaculately ironed along with bone-white, clean-as-a-whistle hard hats. When we saw ‘GNS’ (Geological and Nuclear Science) on their lapels, we knew something was up. We were to discover what on our return walk.
As expected, our clamber around the rocks at Black Reef was not possible without getting wet feet. The tide over time has gouged holes knee-deep. Some in the group changed into sandals to keep their footwear dry.
The track from the beach up to the shelter is closed, we think due to weather-related track damage. We could see substantial erosion on the seaward side of the structure. We weren’t bothered. The sand and rocks were a good place to sit and eat lunch and enjoy the coastal ambience.
The return walk was the same as the in walk; spread out and in small groups. Now we were able to see what our friends from GNS were up to. A fairly large drone was launched, packed with instruments to survey the cliff face. It takes precise measurements and can detect how much erosion of the cliff has occurred over a time period. It may help understand how fast these magnificent cliffs are being claimed by the ocean.
We know from our own observation that the face is unstable and continues to fall into the sea, as it has for thousands of years. In fact, we passed a fresh fall which happened after we had walked in.
Another highlight was seeing a seal basking. It didn’t seem bothered by 20 people ogling as they walked past.
The walk was completed soon after 3pm. There was no opportunity for gannet-spotting but we weren’t expecting to and it’s out of season for nesting.
This was a lovely walk on the beach. Thank you to Alison for organising.
Trampers: Marie Deroles, Doug Matheson, Elly Govers, Gerard van de Ven, Cherie Le Lievre, Di Reid, Rosemary Jeffery, Ted Angove, Simon Hill, Juliet Gillick, John Dobbs, Gaye Ebbett, John Bennett, Sue Gribble, Geoff Donkin, Andrea Hanna, Margaret Palmer and reporter Bruce Hodgson