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Port Noarlunga Reef
We’d been holed up in the house for a week and a half with work which is why there was no blog last week but this week we got out and did a bit of exploring. There is so much to see within an hours drive from here. The first place we went to was Port Noarlunga, a very pretty coastal town about 30kms away.
Port Noarlunga has a jetty, I think its compulsory in South Australia to have a jetty in every coastal town. They do make very good props for sunset pictures though. As well as looking pretty and being a good prop, Port Noarlunga jetty is particularly useful as it allows you a fantastic view of Port Noarlunga Reef from the end of it.
From Wikipedia : Port Noarlunga Reef is a narrow reef about 400 metres (1,300 feet) offshore and about 1.6 kilometres (0.99 miles) long and was formed from a consolidated Pleistocene sand dune. The reef runs parallel to shore and has two sections, with the area separating them called The Gap. It is a popular scuba diving and snorkelling location, with more than 200 marine plant species and over 60 fish species.
It was a cool and breezy day in Port Noarlunga but some hardy local took to the waters for a swim.
This unique property sits proud overlooking the reef and the jetty on the Esplanade.
The next day we took a break from work and visited a couple of historic places.
Goolwa sits on the mouth of the Murray River, it was once considered a contender for the capital for the State due to its strategic position on the Murray River however the growth of the railways put paid to that. It’s still a beautiful place. In a fit of irony one of the things Goolwa is now known for is the Steam Ranger, a steam train that runs a tourist route between there and Victor Harbour.
We decided to follow the Steam Ranger and leave Goolwa and drive to Victor Harbour.
On the way to Victor Harbour we spied a lovely beach while driving through Middleton. It’s a vague rule we’ve been following while Vagabonding that if we see something interesting we should go check it out, you never know what amazing things you might find. So we went and checked it out and what we found was indeed, pretty amazing.
At first it looked like another beautiful Australian Beach, which would have made it a worthwhile detour on its own. But as we explored a bit we very quickly discovered something very, very interesting. Every beach in every state we have visited in Australia we have seen something interesting and usually unique, this was no different we found Alien Eggs.
Hundreds and hundreds of alien eggs wrapped up in seaweed. I’ve never seen anything like this before.
They were all shapes and sizes and seemed to be made of hair or moss or something.
A bit of googling later I discovered they were not unique but very rare and made of algae. Using DNA sequencing and reference to herbarium collections, scientists at Macquarie University and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney have identified the algal balls as Chaetomorpha linum, a green seaweed found all around the world, usually growing as dense mat. Occasionally, these free-living seaweeds are rolled around by the currents and grow into balls and wash up onto the beach for Jenni and I to find. Seaweed biologists call this growth form aegogropilous.
Well worth the short detour for the sight and the education but not Alien Eggs unfortunately.
We spent only a short time in Victor Harbour and what we saw made us vow to be back. We knew little about the place, visiting on a recommendation. We parked beside the memorial gardens and were greeted by rows of giant Norfolk Pine Trees.
A Norfolk Island Pine tree was planted for every soldier that died, a plaque was placed on each tree with the name of each soldier. They look beautiful and were a fitting tribute.
A short walk along the esplanade and we were greeted by this sight. It looked like an interesting place to explore so it was there we headed.
There were some camels giving people rides along the beach.
We crossed the causeway to a place we now know is called Granite Island. It is a small island most famous for its colony of rare Little Penguins.
We didn’t see any penguins there but spurred on by her success at communicating with the Wallaby in Hobart she tried some penguin communication by walking like Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot for a while. Unfortunately it didn’t work too well, the penguins remained hidden.
Granite Island is small so even though it was getting late we decided to walk round it. It was worth it, there were art pieces and sculptures and interesting rocks at every turn.
We stopped to take a selfie.
The scenery was breathtaking as well.
We saw dolphins feeding in the bay but they stayed underwater most of the time and the pictures weren’t worth publishing. Well not after the Minnie Water episode. It was at this section that Becky video called me on Messenger from Northern Ireland and I had an opportunity to show her around Granite Island as well.
It was dusk by the time we got round. The jetty was packed with people heading back towards the island as we crossed it to the mainland. We were subsequently told that the Little Penguins, also known as Fairy Penguins, come ashore after dusk. It’s a tourist draw and families come across every night to see the spectacle.
As we drove home we vowed to return and spend a lot more time in Victor Harbour. It is a very interesting place.
We’re nearing the end of our South Australian adventure. To celebrate, the next day, we went for lunch at the Salopian Inn in McLaren Vale. Lunch was devine, we had roast duck. I can highly recommend it. On the drive back through the countryside we drove through a small village with an interesting history.
In 1845 an American Zoologist and Anthropologist named Paul du Chaillard travelled to South Australia with a menagerie of animals he had collected from his travels around the African continent with the intent of opening a zoo. He was drawn by the huge amounts of money being made during the gold rush and expecting his new venture would attract a large number of wealthy citizens. However, he never opened his zoo.
A very wealthy mine owner called Merian C Cooper, himself an amateur anthropologist, engaged du Chaillard to conduct some very experimental science on his animals and other local creatures. In a secure enclave in Roxby Downs, a remote part of South Australia about 600 kms north of Adelaide Cooper created a laboratory for Paul du Chaillard to work in.
Cooper had an outrageous goal, to create a totally new type of creature by splicing together two animals from two different continents. For 15 years du Chaillard tried to cross breed Echidnas with Anteaters and Wallabys with Lemurs all to no avail. Most pairings failed, a few created something that died soon after it was born but one pairing finally produced something that lived. It was the unlikely pairing between a Gorilla and a Kangaroo.
What neither Cooper nor du Chaillard knew was that Roxby Downs was right on top of Australia’s largest uranium deposit and was extremely radioactive. The animals that had been in the compound were changing at the DNA level from the radiation and this is what enabled this unlikely pairing to work.
The animal grew and grew, it had the upper torso of a silverback gorilla and the hindquarters of a red kangaroo. It was a formidable looking animal. Eventually it grew large enough and escaped, jumping easily over the high fence that surrounded the compound and disappeared into the night.
Du Chaillard and Cooper and their men chased the creature for hundreds of kilometres and eventually caught up with it and surrounded it in the hills just north of Adelaide in a place called Scaldwell. It terrorised the local townsfolk for hours but was eventually cornered. It jumped on top of the local Methodist Church and they surrounded it and shot at it until it was dead. Its body was taken into the hills and buried, never to be found again. And from that day to this the town of Scaldwell is known as Kangarilla.
In a few days we’ll be leaving South Australia for a bit more exploring. Before we go we will be visiting Kangaroo Island which will be the subject of the next blog.
We’ll be back in South Australia in a couple of months and have a lot more Vagabonding moments planned.
Live long and prosper.
PS: By a remarkable coincidence the the name “Kangarilla” is a word from the local indigenous Kaurna peoples language meaning “place of two springs”.
PPS: The World Blogging Inspection Committee know nothing
Kangarilla sculpture by Tania Kelvin