Unlike yesterday's grey day, this morning was glorious and sunny. We woke to a spectacular sunrise, light easterly breezes and the shrill pre-dawn whistles of little (aka blue) penguins bidding farewell to their families as they headed to sea for the day.
We headed to shore early, looking forward to exploring the island a bit. We took long jeans, socks and heavy walking shoes with us and changed on the beach. We could see a sign higher up on the hill as we walked along the shore, but couldn't make it out. Even as we got closer, it was hard to read the worn, faded lettering, but we got the gist: “Death Adders reside in large numbers on this island”. That was certainly food for thought.
There were no distinct paths to the top of the hill. Dense bush and lots of bird nests and critter holes had us lifting our feet high, stomping and testing each step before the next. Falling into an adder pit was not on the day's activity list. We climbed up to the first ridge for good views and then, wimp that I am, I was uncomfortable about venturing any further and descended quickly, but cautiously. David uttered nary a complaint.
We walked further up the beach, approaching the sea lions cautiously and giving them plenty of ground.
They headed for the sea, but kept a wary eye on us as we continued along the shore. They followed us up and down the beach, daring to come a bit closer at times until we made eye contact and then they'd dive under the surf and surface several yards further out.
We beachcombed awhile, with our audience watching every move. Limpets, turrids and abalone shells littered the wrack line. Other than a small iridescent abalone shell, we left the rest behind. We could see penguin nests in the bush closest to the beach with clear tracks leading to and from each nest.
We walked the beach till we could walk no more … big boulders and deep water occluding our path. Our sea lion buddies still kept us in view. Some climbed onto outlying rocks for a sunbath and others maintained sentry duty.
We launched the dinghy and began to explore the rocky coast from the seaward side. We thought the engine noise would deter our friends, but they swam around, under and behind us with alacrity, and though still a bit timid, they were more comfortable in their own element and a bit braver.
Ashore we saw tens, if not hundreds, more sea lions. Sooty oystercatchers, Pacific and silver gulls and terns sat on rocks or stood at the shore's edge, avoiding the waves and looking for a snack. We saw a small flock of Cape Barren geese flying low over the water, then spotted several more walking higher up in the bush, their size and lime green ceres identifying them immediately.
The other side of the bay was inaccessible for landing, but offered some interesting rock formations. One huge boulder looked ever so much like a huge dinosaur egg, broken open. As we dinghied closer, we noted it was a “window” rock.
We were back to the boat by midday. David made a celebratory “Crossing the Bight” pizza to go with our home-brewed Australian Pale Ale for dinner. The dinghy's hauled, the pole is rigged for a downwind sail, and tomorrow we head to Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago. We are getting closer to civilization (Port Esperance) and low on granola bars.