Thursday, 26 June 2008

Cape Hillsborough - Em's First Fish, Banoffee Pie, Coconuts, Turtle Rescue and more!

Cape Hillsborough National Park will definitely be a place etched into our memories of this trip.  We stayed at a privately run resort rather than the bush camp area down the road and it was wasn't bad value for money.  The area was stunning, P1070159 and was named by Captain Cook after the Earl of Hillsborough apparently...anyway here is a quick sample of what we got up to there (as I am writing this a few days later when we've already done so much I am forgetting some of the good bits!):

Em finally caught her first fish!  A whiting.  P1070130 Very nice it was too - after gutting it in the ocean we threw it straight into the fire wrapped in foil, it was only small (!) so was a tasty starter.  We got chatting to a couple of local old fisherman chaps as every evening we saw them coming back from the rocks where they'd been fighting off giant squid or catching sharks or something, and swapped stories about what we had caught (or mostly not caught) and they kindly gave us a little whiting they caught, and didnt want to keep, so we got to perfect our gutting and cooking skills a bit more!

There was a smart camp kitchen there and one morning Em decided to make Banoffee Pie - much to the delight of a couple of kids camping near us who came running over asking what the nice smell was!  Later on they came over to our camp and offered us a coconut that they had removed from the shell already and told us how to open it to get the milk and stuff inside (they were only about 5 and 10 years old, but I don't think I've ever opened a coconut before!) in exchange for a tasting of the banoffee it wasnt quite ready that day they came back the day after with flapjacks for us and we gave them banoffee! Em's banoffee was delicious and was thus devoured in a few hours by me & Em.  We also managed to scavenge some of our own coconuts and then spent about 1 hour getting them out of their casings.  P1070228 Seriously it is bloody hard work, even with a tomahawk!  Later in the week we spent a bit of a drunken evening with two nice French campers, Anne-Laur and Clement, teaching them what we knew about coconuts (not a lot) and having a good laugh on the beach late at night watching them try to open one!  P1070161

We also had some chilling time there swimming in the pool to cool off and practice snorkelling - this was to prove useful in the upcoming trip at the Whitsundays.

There were a few little bushwalks in the area, and at low tide we made it over the causeway to Wedge Island and poked around there for an hour or so.  On the way back we were walking close to the incoming tide and I almost stepped on a stranded green turtle - I almost stepped on it as it looks like a rock (has barnacles on its back so it was pretty old I reckon!) and was as big as a rock that you might step on!  I am talking about 3 feet nose to tail maybe?  He was pretty heavy to lift too.  The photo below doesnt give you an idea of size as we were rushing, but he was big!  It was properly stranded so was obviously a bit of a stupid turtle, as it had had time to dry out in the sun.  Me & Em thought it was dead at first, but it was blinking, so after much discussion about what to do I lifted him up and faced him in the direction of the incoming tide now about 2 metres away.  His flippers moved about 1 cm and he lifted his head up - so we realised he may not be dead/dying.  So I moved him closer to the sea and he seemed to appreciate that, but still didn't do what turtles do and swim away gracefully.  So I gave him a little push from behind to get him afloat and lo and behold the big ancient mariner drifted out to sea!  I like to think that when he lifted his head up a few times to breath as he was swimming away he was also saying thank you.  There are signs everywhere around the beaches saying don't interfere with marine life and ring such and such a number if you see stranded animals, but there was no mobile reception and help was probably an hour away so I am glad we made the decision to help the poor bloke and hope he remembers us whilst he is cruising around on the ocean currents!


We were sad to leave but needed to head on up to the Whitsundays and were unsure how to go about seeing these beautiful islands and the Great Barrier Reef itself, so needed to be local to it to decide.  Paul & Emily also turned up at Cape Hillsborough for one night and had been trying to reach us to tell us they were kayaking around the Whitsunday Islands, but we'd been out of range and hadn't got their messages, so they were busy preparing for that and we needed to get our arses in gear!  So onwards North to Airlie Beach......


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