Broughton Island

Bob Westerman joined us on the Broughton Island trip as ornithologist and photographer.
This is his report.
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U3A BUSHWALKER’S CAMP ON BROUGHTON ISLAND

BY MICHAEL SMITH

The day came at last for 8 of us to board the boat for Broughton Island, along with camping gear, food and water.
The island is a vivid 12 nautical miles out to sea. Water, be my friend.
The captain and crew attached to a mooring in Esmeralda Cove and inflated a zodiac boat using air from a scuba tank. It took an hour to get the bodies and camping gear ashore in numerous trips. Then followed the comedy of pitching tents and erecting some shelter from the sun on this treeless island. Swimming and snorkelling followed. Just as it got dark we headed across the island to where the Little Penguins come ashore. Under Orion, the Southern Cross and Sirius, we waited in the dark. A full orange moon rose to bewitch us.
We did find one penguin in a cave. It was part feathers and part down. Either a chick waiting to be fed or an adult moulting. We decided not to bother them any more. 

We scattered for our first walk, the easiest one planned. A careful walk through hundreds of muttonbird burrows took us to the edge of a 15m high cliff which we had to slide down without breaking our silly necks. It appeared like a very risky thing to do. I went first and even the most timid made it. We walked in to the remarkable Rainbow Cave with the sea still gurgling through it. There is an Aboriginal legend about this place involving a boy swallowed by a snake, followed by his brothers who rescued him. We rock hopped around the island past the Aboriginal grinding grooves and had a swim. We still had a long scratchy walk through the islands waist high vegetation to reach the safety of our campsite.

Overnight one of the fishing boats broke its mooring and washed up high on the rocks. The owner was taking photos for the insurance claim. Next high tide, with some help he managed to put it back in the water. It floated, the motor ran, and he went fishing.

Another walk took us to the top of the island 89 m above sea level, again through dense, unpleasant, weedy undergrowth. The beautiful places of Broughton require some walking to get to them. For the present there are no tracks and the undergrowth is too thick for it to be enjoyable.

There is one modernized toilet on the island and from 7.30am it would start up some necessary mechanical process and keep it up until 3pm. The sound was so loud that it would hurt your ears if you used the facilities. It sounded like a jet engine starting up or a badly tuned hurdy gurdy. Despite the constant sound of crashing surf you could hear the noise from 100m away. It was a pity that the only place on the island we were allowed to camp was next to it.

We had a lazy, peaceful time. We got no news of the pandemic on the mainland. I had time to muse on the muttonbird chicks in the burrows all over the island. After dark they start calling to each other, their parents, anyone. They are hungry and lonely and expect to be fed soon with squid, fish and krill from one of their parents, who will spend the night with them. In a month they will fly off and the world, both hemispheres, will be theirs.

 

 


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