Cape Kidnappers, Wednesday, September 14 2011
We arrived at the car park opposite the Clifton Café at about 9am. There were 18, using the van plus two cars. The weather was sunny, a little breezy and quite mild, as forecast.
Our aim was to reach the gannet colony. The “insider” information was that the repaired track up the hill was accessible, and we would be able to see the colony. Failing that, it would be a beach walk only.
This particular tramp on this particular date had been arranged to fit in with the tide timetable and to start an hour later than usual.
Walking through the motor camp, we saw evidence of the flooding that had swamped the area earlier in the year. New storm water channels and diversions have been installed to protect the sites. There is no way a little bit of rain is going to get these campers to move.
The greyhounds at the front of the group (Peter and James) soon came to a halt because when we arrived at Black Reef there was no way of getting around the corner without getting more than your legs wet. After about a half hour of team bonding (more like Russian Roulette to find a volunteer to go first and Vic didn’t agree that the oldest should go first either), the first and most impatient got around and set off to the colony leaving the others to wait a bit longer.
We met a DoC employee and a volunteer working on the track from the beach up to the shelter. When finished, it will look very good, with new signs, rope handrails and sleeper retaining walls. The Doc worker advised that access was OK and that they were almost ready for the opening of the season in October.
After a short break at the shelter, where we had an early lunch and the stragglers caught up, the majority headed for the track to the colony. The steep track from the shelter up to the farm paddocks had been the area most affected by slips from the deluge. The track would have been impassable.
Unfortunately, the hillsides above the track look far from stable, so further slips are a possibility.
The number of birds in the colony was only about a quarter of what to expect in the egg laying/hatching season. The birds that were there were adult males sitting on empty nests and waiting for their females to arrive. There were a few, as yet unattached males, standing around the perimeter.
The return to Clifton took about two hours. There was a strong headwind for part of the way. Overall, the walk was easier because there were more sandy areas exposed by the tide to walk on. To get around Black Reef this time, the water was only ankle deep.
The Café was still open when we got back, so the majority had a cuppa and a cake to celebrate an excellent day in the sun.
Trampers: Vic Bullock, Ken Ross, Keith Moretta, Paul Exeter, Peter Slagter, John Burrell, Jenny Burns, Anne Mahoney, Denise Greer, Kai Kyle, Robyn Smith, Murray White, Sandy Lamb, James Farrell, Tara Fairfield, Dermott McCaughan, Rosemary Jeffery, and Kelvin Shaw