Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Postscript: Notes & Photos of Beached 'Leatherback Turtle'

May 21, 2014
Most DVBC members at the Waratah Bay base Camp were able to witness an extremely unusual occurrence by getting a good look at a dead Leatherback Turtle that washed up on the beach at Waratah bay. Leatherback Turtles are the largest of all turtle species growing up to 1.75 metres long and weighing 500 kg. Our turtle at about 1.2 metres was very much a youngster.  Compared to other marine turtles they have a wide distribution worldwide, and are the only species that inhabit colder southern Australian ocean waters such as in Bass Strait.  Unlike other turtles and other reptiles Leatherback Turtles are ‘warm-blooded’, that is they are capable of raising their body temperature up to 18⁰C higher than the water temperature around them.  Unfortunately these ancient turtles which have evolutionary roots dating back more than 100 million years (the time of the Dinosaurs) are now listed as critically endangered due entirely to human activities.  The premature death of our turtle was probably from ingestion of plastic bags mistaking them for their favourite food, jellyfish.

notes & photos by Andrew

Friday, 28 February 2014

Day four: 1) Boat Tour #3 2) Vereker Track 3) Walk Darby Saddle-Tongue Point Derby River 4) Walkerville Exploration

Thursday February 27,2014 

1) Boat Tour # 3
Leaders: Jenny and Bill
What is it like to ride a bucking bronco? Why does the flap on my Gore Tex jacket go as high as my nose? We found out today on the Zodiac ride down the east coast of the Prom. Being the third group we had been warned to dress very warmly which we did and appreciated the layers as we took off into Corner Inlet. The goggles (provided by Michael)  protected our eyes from the cold and the flap the rest of our faces. We passed the beacon on Lighthouse Point on our way to Refuge Cove but didn't see any sea-life other than white-faced cormorants and Pacific gulls, none of the 80 dolphins seen last week (the captain's report)! The walk at Refuge Cove was very relaxing and the ride back to Port Franklin was so easy that Jenny said: "I wish it was rougher!" Bill recommends the meat pies at Foster's Bakery and we enjoyed seeing Agnes Falls.

one photo to be emailed by Maree

2) Vereker Track, Easy, 10.5 km, 3 members ( Faye, Jeannie, Andrew)
Leader: Andrew

The same summary as Michael's on the previous day and this supplement

A highlight of the Vereker track at this time of the year is the abundance of Common Brown butterflies to be seen in the long tunnel of dense T-tree lining a section of this delightful walk.  Andrew was able to fill us in on the life cycle of this butterfly which is currently a subject of research in relation to climate change.
Beetle on Vereker track! How pretty!
Darby Swamps
Faye & Jeannie
Red Hill Track
Vereker Track

3) Derby Saddle to Tongue Point to Derby River, a simplified 'complicated 2 walks' car shuffle 
Leader: Michael
After complicated calculations by Karen, the car shuffle involving Andrew, Faye and Jeannie being left at the end of 5 Mile Road for the start of their Vereker Track to Derby Beach walk and Michael, Karen, Pat and Denys at Derby Saddle for the Tongue Point and back to Derby River walk was elegant in its simplicity. It only involved two cars for two walks because both ended at Derby RiverBridge.  Michael, Karen Pat & Denys followed the well worn saddle track to Tongue point with its stunning views over Waratah Bay and south over Bass Strait.  Two young Austrian men agreed it was one of the best in Australia.  Overcast weather with a bit of breeze and a nice sunny day to follow made for a stunning walk even though it has been walked many times before.  Not the season for flowers.  There were large patches of teatree and casuarinas post the last fire all racing for a place in the sun.  The sea was emerald and turquoise and crystal clear with hardly any white horses.  A great walk and worth doing anytime particularly in the Spring.

4) Walkerville Exploration
Leader: Connie

In fine mild weather Connie, Ron, Pam and Dianne set off around 10 am to connect with walks which required awareness of tide times. Our first walk was from the top Walkerville road  down a narrow track through the heathland  to a cliff top lookout which gave great views across Waratah Bay to the Prom and around to the Walkerville cliffs while sitting on a bench for our morning tea. On our return we stopped and photographed  several very large Wombat burrows. Next we drove down to Walkerville North Beach to commence our walk over the cliffs in the direction of Walkerville South Beach with  some steep climbing at first on a narrow track and signs of recent landslides. A side track led us up to the Historic Cemetery with graves dating well back into the 19th century. The bodies of many local workers involved in the mining of limestone from these cliffs are buried here; it operated between 1846 and 1926. The lime was shipped up to Melbourne from the nearby wharf. We found and photographed the gravestones of the ancestors of friends of Pam and Ron. Next we walked on to find the impressive  lime kilns which are being carefully preserved  for future generations to see. Then we walked down to Walkerville South Beach, found a good lunch spot which we shared with many Fantails hovering around us. Our walk continued along the now water free beach back below the cliffs to our waiting car at Nth Walkerville.


Ron acting out how wombats protect themselves by entering their hole. These were extremely large in sandy soils.
Coral ferns identified by Connie as fire fuel!
Start of walk along the beach to connect with climb up to cemetery and viewing platform of lime kilns

A small cemetery full of history. We didn't see the ghost reported to be seen early mornings next to Margaret's tomb!

Lime kilns

Ron's find of a part of a dead shark, an animal he highly admires

Day three: 1) Boat ride #2. 2) Exploratory Walk Vereker Track Redhill Track to Derby River. 3) Cotter's Lake to Derby River

Wednesday February 26, 2014

1) Boat tour #2 Franklin Port to Refuge Cove return
Leader: Connie
Oh dear!  Drizzling rain! Not what the second boat group had bargained for. We (Ron, Pam, Andrew, Connie and Jeannie ) left Waratah Bay feeling just a little worried. Yesterday's group had advised us to  dress warmly, use our goggles and ride the bumps. However, the best advice for the Wednesday group turned out to be the change of clothes that most of us packed. We arrived back at Port Franklin wet, cold and bedraggled - not from rain but from the spray created by the strong westerly. However, we too had thoroughly enjoyed our stopover and walk across the headland at the stunningly serene Refuge Cove. On the trip over we had been fortunate to see black-faced cormorants, pacific gulls and a small pod of Australian Fur Seals bobbing around quite lazily. On the return journey we were followed briefly by three Common Dolphins- just the  bonus we needed to make this a total experience. 

Andrew, Connie, Jeannie, Pam and Ron still in high spirits on return after a wild and wet ride
Jeannie, Ron, Pam, Connie (still dry!)
Refuge Cove, an idyllic vista
Sealers Cove with Mt Latrobe (the highest mountain in Wilsons prom) at the upper right
Entrance to a cave on Rabbit Island
Roosting Black-faced Cormorants. Rarely seen on mainland coast when feeding
The only boat tour who saw seals, a compensation for a wet & bumpy ride! 

2) Exploratory Walk: Vereker Track Redhill Track to Derby River (7 members) 10.5 Km, Easy
Leader: Michael

A first for the club so far as we know, this Northern Prom Walk starts at the same point as the Millers landing walk but follows below Mount Vereker across the sand plain covered in heath to meet the Red Hill Track and thence to Derby River just north of the cattle grid near the river. The walk follows a slashed firebreak across the plain with extensive views towards the west coast sandhills and south to the Latrobe Range and Mount Leonard.  It is any easy 10.5km walk and can be combined with the derby river walk to the beach and back.  Michael, Pat, Denys, Dianne, Marianne, Marie and Karen were the trail blazers.  The walk was repeated the following day by Andrew, Faye and Jeannie using Karen’s elegant carshuffle to get them to the start and meet them at the finish.


Map reading lesson with Michael

3) Cotter's Lake to Derby River 7kms
Leaders: Jenny & Bill
Walkers:  Jenny and Bill, Faye, Janie 
Before beginning the walk we left Janie's car in the Derby River parking area then all drove back to Cotter's Lake. The first section of the walk took us down a 4x4 track towards the beach. Morning tea was enjoyed in a sheltered spot tucked down in the dunes.  The beach was clean and wide with beautiful small white capped waves rolling in and backed by sand dunes and sometimes eroded cliffs. Halfway along we met up with a group from LaTrobe University who were studying the environment. Further along we stopped to examine two dead Shy Albatrosses which appeared to have died from starvation. When we arrived at the carpark at Derby River we were eating a well deserved lunch at a table beside the river when the Vereker Track walkers turned up and joined us.  A lovely walk along a not very often visited part of the coast.  
Shy Albatross died from starvation?

Day two: 1) Boat ride Port Franklin to Refuge Cove, Wilson's Prom. 2) Guided walk Millers Landing, Wilson's Prom

Tuesday February 25, 2014
1) Boat tour Port Franklin to Refuge Cove return (100 km); Toora Wind Farm; Agnes Falls; coffee in Foster
Leader: Michael

Early morning at high tide, five intrepid sailors, Michael, Dianne, Karen, Pat and Denys, stepped into the high speed Kraken Tours boat at Port Franklin and motored down the mangroves lined river towards Corner Inlet. We were soon speeding along with views of Five Mile Beach and Wilson's Prom with its magnificent granite boulders.  Once we arrived at Refuge Bay, where there was an idyllic scene with a yacht & catamaran moored, we slipped over the side of the boat into turquoise waters. With a peaceful & remote feeling we sat on the warm sand to enjoy our morning tea-to be joined by a school group of girls trudging long the waters edge with packs almost as big as they were!  We then viewed the signs left by visiting boats & enjoyed a lovely walk along the track to the next beach. The track through the trees with views of the cove with its clear water & pristine sand was one of the most memorable parts of the day.The party rolled back into the boat & off we sped through choppy seas to view the caves & cormorant colony ( identified as rarely seen black-faced cormorants by Jenny & Andrew) on Rabbit Island. Once we turned the corner, we were hit by a strong hot northerly wind & had an exhilarating trip, racing the tide back to Port Franklin. As we approached the River, there were many  birds on the exposed sand banks; we finally climbed the ladder back onto dry land at the wharf. 

photo Denys, Port Franklin at high tide early am
Ready for an adventure; Pat, Michael, Karen, Denys, Dianne ( right to left)

Smoke from the Morwell open cut mine fires or the Prom's mist? On open water we could smell smoke coming from mainland........not the Prom
morning tea at Refuge Cove, Pat & Denys
A display of visiting boats signs & ribs of whales....
a short coastal walk to meet our boat waiting in shallow water
Mike prompted us to take our shoes off as a granite sand beach is therapeutic for your feet!
A cave at Rabbit Island
Black-faced cormorants on Rabbit Island; Mike's photo in focus despite the rocking boat!
Parks Victoria claims these falls are the highest single span falls in Victoria. A fact disputed by some members.......

2) Guided Walk: Millers Landing, Wilson's Prom, 11 members
Leader: Connie
Leaving Waratah Bay at 9.00 we headed through The Prom Entrance to the 5 mile track carpark.
We followed the track to Millers Landing en route experiencing wild life, an echidna,Wallaby and quite large skinks. At Millers Landing we took a break and viewed the Southern most Mangroves in Victoria and part of Corner Inlet. We were fortunate to have Andrew with our group and he was able to identify a wide variety or birds, Black Swans, Sooty Oyster Catchers, Pied Cormorants, Pacific Gulls,White Faced Herons,and White Sacred Ibis, all roosting on the mudflats and surrounding rocky outcrops.There was a haunting reminder (for some of our members who had to be rescued by helicopter) of deep ruts caused by the floods of 2011! It was becoming very hot so we decided to head back to camp for a swim, doze, walking on the beach or reading. Thank you Connie for a pleasant easy walk.

A White's Skink