Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lizard Island

About the island-

Lizard Island was a sacred place for the Dingaal Aboriginal people and the island was known to them as Dyiigurra. It was used to initiate young males and for the harvesting of shellfish, turtles, dugongs and fish. The name Lizard Island was given to it by Captain Cook when he passed it on the 12 August 1770, he said that the only animals they saw on the island were lizards and there were plenty of them. Cook climbed the peak here to chart a course out to sea through the many reefs and this peak is now known as 'Cook's Look'.

By the 1860's sea cucumber fishermen that the waters had substantial quantities of this creature that was a delicacy in Asia. In 1879, Captain Robert Watson and his wife Mary and baby son plus two Chinese servants modified an abandoned cottage to live in. Robert Watson was also a cucumber fisherman and was often away from the island during his absence Aborigines from the mainland killed one of the servants. Mary who was known for her courage and endurance fled with her child and the other servant  by using an iron pot (large rectangle tub) used to boil the sea cucumber in hope of reaching the mainland. The vessel floated away from the island and it drifted to Howick No 5 Island where nine days later they all perished from thirst. Their bodies were found 3 months later along with the diary that Mary kept. In relation to the attack and expedition was mounted against the Aborigines but it is almost certain that they were the wrong Aborigines.

In 1939 all the islands in the group were declared as a National Park. Today it is still a national park but it also has a luxury Resort that is very exclusive and the Australian Museum's Research Centre.

Tuesday - 02/10/2012

Watson Bay is a good sheltered bay during the regular high winds, the wind is not stopped but there is very little fetch on the sea, naturally the closer to the beach you anchor the less wavelets you will experience. We are away from the beach by choice as we have phone and internet service although not great we can check the weather, emails and keep the blog up to date.

Although on occasions there are strong winds one can still go ashore the closer you get to the beach the calmer it becomes, head straight into the wind with the weight at the back of the dinghy so the bow sticks up and add a few good revs on the motor and you will stay dry for the trip in.

We went ashore this morning for a walk and get rid of the garbage, yes the island takes your garbage. There is a large bin near the beach by the Marlin Bar where yachties can take their garbage for a donation, there is a honesty box on a post to place your money.
(The Marlin Bar)
(The menu this week)

The Marlin Bar is open from 1700 hours Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I am not sure but this bar is not as luxury as the resort and I think it is designed mainly for the staffs use. They make a good pizza there and there are a few meals on offer for a good price.

The island has a number of walks including the Peak itself to see 'Cook's Look', I know my friend Mark is itching to visit this island to do that climb. We did it last year and with the weather conditions at the moment I don't think we will do it this year. They say the best time to do it is in the afternoon on a calm day so the sun gives you the benefit of seeing the reefs in the north and east. I would grade the walk as a hard walk/climb it was a 2 hour time to get to the top last year and you will need to take some drinking water with you.
(This plaque is at the top of the peak)
(The view from the Peak)
(Watsons Bay from part way up the Peak)

There is a walk that you can do right around the island but you have to do it at low tide or you will have a lot of rocks to climb over. There is the Research Centre walk passed the airport and the will conduct tours of the centre.
(The beach in front of the resort from Chinemans Lookout)
(Research Centre Beach)

On the walks you may or may not see the many lizards here but you will see hundreds of their tracks on all the walks.

On our walk yesterday we stopped to look at the well pump and was surprised to see that it was broken. The cast iron bracket that assists in giving the pump action has broken off. The water from this pump they advise to boil before you drink  but I feel that is a liability issue, I have tasted the water and it is fine. Talking to another yachty about the broken pump he assured me that the resort will let you top up your containers if you have a need. I would have probably topped up here but we are close to full and it will probably be easier to get water at Seisia.
(The broken water pump)

We walked to the resort from Watsons Bay beach and took the garbage, it is easier to dinghy straight to the beach near the Marlin Bar and then go back to Watson's Bay Beach, (the Marlin Bar is on the north end of the resorts beach).

This is a beautiful island and is as good as what we have seen when sailing the Pacific but it is not commercialised other than the resort and that is off limits to yachties/boaties, so you have to have your own provisions, I have covered the water issue and I would say if National Parks fix the old pump the resort will stop filling the water containers. Mail can be sent to you through the research centre who do it out of kindness so do not demand services from them. If you plan a long stay it is wise to register with Sea Swift in Cairns and have someone get and deliver you needs to them for delivery to yourself when the barge comes here, they do have information on the internet.
(The wetlands green growth of pandanas, mangroves and paperbark)

There is a great diversity of land and vegetation here and beautiful different blue coloured seas. For those that don't mind roughing it there is a camp ground but you need to obtain a permit from National Parks although I am not sure where the camper can get water from now the pump is broken  because that's where campers used to shower by use of a shower bag filled from the old hand  pump . People can fly in here from Cairns and some people just come for a day visit flying here in the morning and back in the afternoon . The campground has tables in each campsite and four large poles where a tarp can be rigged for shelter from the sun and rain, there is also one twin burner gas cook top made available for campers. I noticed a barrel that has odds and ends a camper may use with a log book to record your visit.
(The campground)

Wednesday and Thursday

We have stayed on board with the high winds, the winds have not let up at any part of the day and night it has howled in the high 20 knots and no relief in sight until Sunday. We may still sail Saturday because although the high winds the seas between here and our next stop Howick or Ingram Island, not decided yet, the seas will only be 0.5 metres due to the protection of the reef. However, between there and our next anchorage with these winds is between 3 and 4 metres, although I have sailed in these conditions before I don't choose to if I don't have to.

The other big problem we face is when the wind reduces we have three days of good sailing conditions then no wind at all. Joys of sailing.

 (No we have not climbed the Peak this year the photos are from last year, I would climb it but I don't want to be two up on my mate who has yet to do it).




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