Thursday 18 February 2010

Montague Island

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Last weekend we headed out to Montague Island with a pack of family to celebrate Mum and Dad's 40th wedding anniversary. Montague is a nature reserve with heaps of wildlife: large seal, little penguin (aka fairy penguin), and shearwater (muttonbird) colonies are in residence, along with a lighthouse and the original lighthouse-keeper buildings which have been turned into a fairly swanky hotel. We spent 2 nights on the island, which was fun despite having the most amount of rain seen on the island (Narooma had over 100mm for the weekend) in some time.

The journey out to the island was more exciting than I expected. The island is only a few k's off the coast, but there was a bit of a swell which made getting out over the Narooma bar interesting. I can see why plenty of boats have been capsized crossing the bar - even in our powerful boat the skipper had to sit and wait for the right wave.

When we got close to the Island Em spotted what we thought were dolphins, but turned out to be pilot whales. They look like dolphins that ran into a brick wall, and are very rarely seen around Montague. There were also heaps of seals and shearwater's feeding around the whales. We spent quite a while watching them, checked out the seriously stinky seal colonies on the rocks and then arrived at the jetty.

Once we were on the island, we got a tour which included information about the island's history and NPWS' efforts to rid the island of the dreaded Kikuyu grass. This grass pushed out all the natives and was killing the fairy penguins by entangling them and starving them to death.
The NPWS have got rid of almost all of it, replacing with natives, and building penguin boxes so the penguins are happy (Ralph gets FoxTel). We watched the penguins come up from the water at sunset, although numbers were fairly low because this is their molting season and many stay on land to shed feathers.

The buildings were beautiful, and the house had everything we needed for a good weekend. The light looks amazing at night with the beams shooting out into the darkness - I just wish I could have taken a decent photo of it... Bizarrely the light is only as bright as a single car headlamp! It runs off batteries charged with solar power, and a generator for backup.

1 comment:

Garth said...

Ah yes - I've been there! Went in November a few years back, and got to see lots of humpback whales. Awesome!