Stories and Poems from past participants
A quality tour to Croajingolong
By T. Newcombe (Vic)
“From the moment Jenny met us in Bairnsdale, I was amazed by the excellent organization of this tour. Firstly, we were whisked away to Bruthen for lunch where an incredible picnic lunch was set before us. Chicken, ham, a wide variety of salads, locally baked bread and more. What a start!
Our first three nights were spent at Point Hicks. Such a delight to lay in bed listening to the waves so close by. We went on several very interesting walks including visiting the incredible dunes and nearby coast. What made the walks so interesting was the vast knowledge of flora and fauna by Jenny and others of the group. I never knew there were so many varieties of fern!
As the stay ay Point Hicks Lighthouse was self-catering I had imagined peeling potatoes and getting meals ready. Not so. Jenny produced sumptuous feasts before we even realized she was cooking. Our job was the washing up, which we gladly did. I so enjoyed the home-made and local products Jenny supplied. All the jams, marmalades, pickles, sauces, were home-made or locally produced, and such a variety of teas – too many to try them all.
The next two nights we spent at Gipsy Point Lodge. Thank goodness we were on a walking holiday, as again we were spoilt with excellent meals. The walks were varied and interesting and the animals a delight. Not forgetting the ferns of course!
I did so enjoy this short break away and felt invigorated by being active outdoors with nature. My lasting impression is the quality of this tour. Everything was first class and I thank Jenny for sharing her knowledge and love of this area with me.”
Reflections & highlights from the Croajingolong National Park Tour
By Dorothy Francis
In October when Victorian wild flowers were at their best I joined the 7 day Croajingolong Coastal Ecotour with easy day-walks along the coast of Victoria. This magnificent National Park stretches from Sydenham Inlet to the NSW border covering 87,500ha. The name Croajingolong is derived from the local aboriginal tribe ‘Krauatungalung’ meaning ‘people of the east’. In the past there was abundant wild life included shellfish, wading birds and other marine life along this magnificent wildlife wilderness. The aboriginal people would have had a good life with the many estuaries and inlets that a stretch along this vast coastline.
We were a small group of four who joined Jenny; our expert leader, driver, guide & cook for the first 4 days then Maria took over thereafter. Most mornings & afternoons we did short leisurely walks of 3 to 4km. Despite poor weather forecasts, the weather was very kind to us, only needing an umbrella for about half an hour all week.
The highlights for me were the many sightings of Humpback whales with their calves frolicking out to sea off Point Hicks on their migration to Antarctica for the summer. The group listed 70 wonderful bird species and 137 sightings that the experts shared with me a novice. I loved the profusion of wildflowers, especially the many native orchids that were so tiny but spectacular. We spent much of our time walking along minor tracks or on our knees, to see the next & the next wild flowers and taking photos.
At remote Pt Hicks we stayed in a lighthouse keeper assistant’s cottage built in 1890 and did several local coastal walks. They are used for holiday makers now as the Lighthouse light is automated. Once three ‘keepers’ worked three shifts every 24 hrs and their families had to live in this beautiful but isolated spot. These days caretakers rotate each two weeks and are responsible for the weather/sea forecast three times a day & looking after visitors to the area.
This rugged coast is where Capt Cook first sighted the Australian mainland from the ‘Endeavour’ in 1770. It was named after the 1st Lieutenant Zachary Hicks who made the sighting. Until recently the only access was by sea to a nearby sandy beach 20-30 minutes walk away or by horseback down a windy unmade track, now it’s only a 45 minute drive from the main road.
After leaving Pt Hicks we went further east to the north arm of Mallacoota Inlet staying at Gipsy Point Lodge and enjoyed the beautiful scenery from the lodge with lots of wild life such as a King Parrot that would eat out of your hand, Kangaroos grazing down by the inlet and a curious Kookaburra in a gum tree in the grounds. Inside there was a wonderful log fire in the huge guest sitting/dining room where coffee/tea was available 24hrs a day and we enjoyed our meals together.
John the boat tour captain at Gipsy Point took us out in his boat for 4 hours one morning and showed us the marvellous wildlife; many birds such as sea-eagles nesting in a gumtrees and diving for fish, a brilliant kingfisher, kookaburras, tiny blue wrens, and many other sea birds & birds of prey. We saw a metre long black snake in the sun on the riverbank, and a number of different types of lizards including Gippsland water dragons basking in the sun near Genoa Falls.
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the trip and can recommend it to anyone interested in our wonderful country and its flora and fauna. A wonderful trip; thank Jenny for all your organization.
Croajingolong Coastal Ecotour
By J. Penington (Vic)
From the time we had lunch at Bruthen we know we were in for surprises.
Point Hicks in a small gale is majestic, one can understand how the wind sculptured the tea-tree covered slopes to an undulating expanse of immaculately shaped ridges and troughs.
I was a surprise to look down upon the numerous sea eagles as these magnificent birds patrolled the shore line below us.
Nothing was more delicately balanced or more colourful than the view of the light house floor when seen from the top of the stair will. The framing of scene by the spiral stair railing was perfect!
The Genoa Falls with water dragons, in the late afternoon was a delight of tranquillity and moving water.
Gipsy Point Lodge garden in the early morning revealed an exciting profusion of native birds, too many species seen to be enumerated.
The profusion of orchids in the vicinity of Gipsy Point inspired an interest in the novice “orchid watcher’.
The fight between a kitten ring tail possum and a raven, on the beach at Mallacoota was interesting, the little animal attacking its giant adversary as soon as it regained balance after being tossed about by the tail. Jenny’s handling of the rescued youngster, which travelled in a bag suspended from the rear vision mirror until it had recovered, was a delight.
Over all, a great experience of plants, birds, terrestrial animals, aquatic animals, mountains, sea and rivers.
My Croajingolong Highlights
By R. Flett (Vic)
One persons highlights are not necessarily the highlights for others, but we were a pretty compatible group, enjoying one another’s company and sharing experiences and knowledge - of birds and plants, childhood and travel, life in general and in the particular. These are certainly underpinning the memories of my days, in Croajingolong National Park. The line from Tennyson’s poem, Ulysses, where Ulysses says, “I am a part of all that I have met” seems to be threaded among it all too. So, our highlights:
- The first glimpse of the elegantly tall Point Hicks Lighthouse
- Going to sleep the first night in the keepers’ cottages, with the sounds of the rough sea and the window frames being rattled by the wind
- Understanding the hardship and isolation experienced by the keepers, their wives and children
- Being able to climb the 162 steps and stand beside the glass prisms which magnified the original lamplight a million times to send its unique Flash, Flash, 6 second delay, repeated message fifty kilometres out to the horizon. And being able to look back down that spiral stairwell, the staircase a ting a great beauty in its heritage colours.
- Seeing the seals out from the point while having breakfast on the cottage verandah, swallows flitting about, blue wrens on the grass and New Holland Honeyeater in the bushes just beyond the stone wall.
- Enid and Anna were the first to see the lyrebird along the Dunes Walk track
- The rescue of the baby ringtail possum
- Ian Mitchell taking us to see the Sea Eagles and their (vacant this year) nest
- John’s finding just one Flying Duck orchid when it was time for us to give up and more on!!
- My spotting the flash of red in the tail feathers of three Glossy Black Cockatoos. “There they are! Please stop. Back up. They’ve flown that way across the clearing” And we all were able to get a good look at them before they flew off, again displaying the flash of red. Then it was time for us to be on the road for home too.
Soldier Crabs on the move at Croajingolong
By A. Pritchard. (NSW)
“What an incredible Park- the natural scenery is unique and majestic and the flora and fauna superb. Seeing whales so late in the year was fantastic, the seals on the Skerries were terrific, the lone black fronted plover [or Hooded Plover? -Ed.] on the beach at Wingan amazing, but the most unusual thing I enjoyed most was the army of blue Soldier Crabs on the move at the mud flats.
There must have been thousands, all with a mission, they moved in unison with a definite purpose and when we got too near, wheeled off together in the other direction! AMAZING!
The bowerbird in his bower at Wingan was an added extra bonus, so all in all, a very rewarding experience. Thank you Jenny.”
Impressions of my trip to Croajingolong National Park
By J. Crakanthop (NSW)
On one of our walks from the lighthouse we went along the original track from where supplies were offloaded from ships onto the jetty ready to be hauled to the lighthouse site. What a big undertaking! The stamina and resolve of those original workers has to be admired. It must have been a daunting task to haul all the requirements to build the concrete lighthouse, plus supplies for the workers. With exposure to the extremes of weather and climate it must have been a testing time for the workers. Those pioneers certainly had it tough!
During our walk back from the Thurra Sand Dunes, we chanced upon a lyrebird which was fossicking in the understory of the rainforest. It appeared to be very tame and not the least disturbed by our close presence, but the minute one stepped off the track, that bird immediately took evasive action, so it was indeed keeping a very close eye on us. To me it was a magical experience to be so close to a very special bird. The delight was enhanced by the feeling of calm in the quiet of the rainforest where time seemed to stand still and the world and its worries a very long way away.”
My first visit to Point Hicks
By P. Stewart, (Vic)
It was my first visit to Point Hicks and I was looking forward to spending time at such an historical site. After an hours journey from Cann River the last bend brought into prominent view the top half of the startlingly white structure of Point Hicks lighthouse thrusting itself into the brilliant blue sky.
Our accommodation was in the assistant lighthouse keepers’ quarters. The house was surrounded at the sides and back by high, dry stone granite walls. It was a lovely hot, dry, still day on our arrival but there is no doubt the wind speed would be extreme at times.
From the front porch was a multi million dollar view of Bass Straight and being on a promontory a potential opportunity to see both the sunrise and sunset over the ocean. An historical marker on the rocks at the point was directly in front of the house. This was the land first sighted by Lieutenant Zachary Hicks of Captain Cook’s first voyage of discovery in 1770.
We were fascinated by a group of perhaps two dozen or so Australian Fur Seals ‘rafting’ a short distance in the ocean from our porch viewpoint. Even with a big swell and waves crashing over a rock nearby they floated (usually on their sides with one flipper waving in the air) as if anchored to the sea bed. The three days we were there they were observed in exactly the same location at all hours of the day.
On our first full day we went for a walk to see the extensive sand dune systems at Thurra River. As we walked past an unattended camp site set up with tents and equipment our group was captivated by three to five large goannas moving through the camp site. One plastic rubbish bag had already been split open and contents strewn around. The giant lizards jostled for position sending the losers running for cover. As we watched a large fellow easily climbed the trunk of a woody shrub and reached out to a second rubbish bag which had been hung in the bush to keep marauders away. When the campers finally returned they would have quite a mess to clean up.
The next day we visited Wingan Inlet. We walked to the ocean beach and along the beach to the entrance. From there we were able to observe through binoculars a large Australian Fur Seal colony on a small rocky island at the entrance to the inlet.
The next day we said goodbye to our lighthouse home after a climb to the top and an interesting talk by the keeper.
We travelled the Princes Highway towards Mallacoota. A stop was made for a walk down to some falls on the Genoa River. Here we found six or more Gippsland Water Dragons basking on huge boulders beside the gently flowing water. The Gippsland Water Dragon is a large lizard. It is usually a shy species but in certain tourist areas they can loose their fear of humans. We were able to get very close to them to get some great photos.
The accommodation at Gypsy Point Lodge was first class. A walk up to the lookout at Genoa Peak was just what was required to help keep our waist-lines in check. Stunning views were seen of the surrounding Croajingolong National Park. Gabo Island with its lighthouse could be seen in the distance and that I hope will be a trip for another time.
Thank you Jenny for an enjoyable week.
An extremely enjoyable trip. Tom and Maria were great fun and looked after us all very well. Good food, fantastic scenery and Gipsy Point Lodge exceeded expectations. I could indulge my passion for birdwatching while others did more demanding walks.
"A well planned tour with a most satisfying balance of activity, sightseeing, plants, birds, coast and mountains. And a prevailing goodness of food, care and the company of fellow travellers. I have enjoyed the week very much."