Life is good

Sometimes we are reminded of how lucky we are. Every day we should take the time to appreciate the good in our life.

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Burnt path

Another Sunday, another bush walk. Starting South of Sydney, in Cronulla, with a long beach to walk across to then enter the historic Kamay Botany Bay National Park on the Kurnell Peninsula. Its historic significance dates to 1770 when it is said that Captain Cook landed here. It is now, supposedly, one of the best whale watching spots in Sydney, though we were a bit late to watch the humpback migration that happens in June/July.

We kept wondering why the walking platforms were all burnt, had a fire been a controled fire or a natural disaster. Of course, reaching the end of our 14km walk we discovered the walking track was closed to public. I guess they dont have a lot of walkers starting on the Cronulla side.

So it happens that a few weeks past a fire consumed 350 hectares of land south of Sydney, with speculations that it was an arsonist who started it on Sunday 3 September. It was impressive to see a land come back to life as it is used to fires in the hot summer days; plants had already started blooming and growing again after just a handful of weeks.

Practicing with a view

A couple of years ago a friend roped me into doing a walk. This was not just any walk. It was a pretty long walk. We covered 55km in one day. The longest walk I have done in a day. I had always liked walking but ever since I broke my own personal records in that bloody long walk, bushwalks have become a thing I particularly enjoy in my life in this neck of the woods.

This year, it was me encouraging someone else to do a walk with me. Only 28 kms. A walk this far needs training if you dont want to end up in bed incapable of moving the next day. So here we are. Walking walking walking.

The first walk was mostly tracks I had done before. Good familiar territory. But on our second walk we ventured to the first official National Park in Australia – the Royal National Park. And said to be the second national park in the world proclaimed in 1879. These stunning views in our 23km walk brought back memories of walking in the Downs in the South of England. Going up then going down – going up then going down.

Sustainable lobsters

Lobsters and rock lobsters are caught in salt water whereas those caught in fresh water are crayfish. We have been lucky to be able to have rock lobsters a couple of times this holiday. Rock lobsters, unlike lobsters, have no claws. But they are just as tasty. 

In the coast of Cervantes, rock lobsters are plentiful and regulations are strict to ensure a sustainable consumption of this delicacy. We walk through the factory and learn that rock lobsters can be put into a sedated state when they are in 5 degree waters. They can survive up to 30 hours in that state and keep the great price people pay to choose their meal live from a tank. They must, however, have no more than 3 legs missing. 

Lobsters quality is in the weight and are classed from A (the smallest size, though there is a minimum size for them to be caught) to H which can be up to 2.5kg. You would think that countries would fight for the big H sized lobsters but it is not the case. Places like Japan prefer the A and B grade crustaceans whereas places like Dubai like the size. 

In any case, any size is tasty so long as it is sustainably fished. 

Finally, a sunset. 

It has been a few times I have been in the West coast. It is a magnificent place to watch sunsets, or one would think. Until very recently though every sunset where I was intently watching and waiting, clouds always covered the horizon. Not today. 

Today we sit on a pier. The new pier of Jurien Bay. The old pier has been practically taken down, except for the pylons that are now part of an artificial reef that has been housing life and is used for a 120 meter round snorkel trip. 

On the new pier we fish, we read, we have a beer, we watch a dolphin going by chasing squid. Our turn to watch a magnificent sunset because a few days ago our spell was broken, and now we can watch sunsets in all their splendour. 

It’s pink!

I recently learnt that some of the saltiest bodies of water in the world are actually pink. In exploring the coasts of Western Australia, between Geraldton and Kalbarri in Western Australia, there is a pink lake called Hutt Lagoon.

It used to be believed that the presence of an algae is what made the lake look pink but studies have discovered that it is most likely the presence of a bacteria. The dominant bacterium produces a pigment, which helps the organism harvest light for energy that is spread across the entire bacterial cell. This means, when you look at the lake, you mostly see the pink colour of the bacteria. Of course the time of day, weather, etc., influences the tone of pink of the lake. 

Two waters

Initially I didn’t think much of Shark Bay but after a couple of nights there, the place really grew on me. Shark Bay is called Gutharragudain in the local Aboriginal language, which means two waters, refering to the two bays that form Shark Bay. 

Aboriginal people have lived in this area for thousands of years. They believe that the most important things in life are Culture and Country. Learning to live in this world come from their philosophy of life Education, Understanding and finally Respect to the Culture and Country. By teaching the future generations on the harmonious way of living with nature (or Country), Aboriginal people have been able to survive harsh environments in Australia. Shark Bay has the best of two worlds, the red sands of the desert of the Outback and the sea. It also has what comes with that which is the constant need to find fresh water; especially as around the Shark Bay area the salt concentration in the water is 1.5 times that of which any other ocean. It is Kangaroos who find the source of water; they dig half a meter in where they smell the fresh water and let the hole they dug fill up with drinkable water that is filtered through the sand. Other animals then follow and drink from the waterholes these marsupials created. This is one of the many things Aboriginal people have learnt from living and respecting Country. 

Like this, there is much wisdom that our Aboriginal tour guide, Capes, shares with us as he tries to help us understand how to interact with country. The Aboriginal ingredients are now becoming a culinary delicacy in many fine dining restaurants. Chefs come to seek for plants and animals to cook for their clients. Our guide tells us how wrong that is. Each dish tells a story, has a song, a significance and obviously a season. The season for when the plant or animal is available – which are closely related. Not on demand. 

Our tour guide takes us to the big lagoon in the Francois Peron National Park which once upon a time used to be a station to farm goats and sheep. Since 1993 it has been a National Park, world heritage area. Conservation efforts have been put into place, including project Eden to reintroduce endemic species and the extermination of pest animals like feral cats, foxes and goats. To achieve these killings, throughout the park there are sausages put in with 1080 poison that is made from an endemic plant to which endemic animals have tolerance but invasive species will die from. Capes tells us about the program they are trying to put in place in which Aboriginal people can catch the goats and sell them for their meat and thus make a living, intead of killing and wasting the animal. 

The hard work of kayaking 5kms almost all day really was worth it.