Montague Island Day Two

Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia, 8 to 11 November 2019

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The lighthouse in the early morning with the sun behind it.

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Crested terns.

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Crested terns courting.

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Silver gull.

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Silver gull chicks.

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View from the lighthouse, looking over the cottages (where we stayed).

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View from the lighthouse looking south, showing the stones sacred to the Aborigines and also the small lighthouse cemetery.

There are two children and a keeper buried there.  The children got sick but there was no access to the lighthouse, apart from trying to hail a passing ship.  The children died before medical assistance could be occurred.  More on the keeper later.

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Looking west to an islet of great cormorants.

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Looking north.  There are two parts to the island, joined by a narrow neck.  The northern part is out of bounds due to breeding birds.  An artist from our group is sitting at a table at the bottom and there is a colony of terns to his left.

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Looking down more closely on the colony of terns.

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A view of the lighthouse from the back gate of the cottage we stayed in.

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The same tree from the stormy images of the previous post, this time n the calm of daylight.

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The cottage we stayed in, behind the tree.

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The old wharf, a long exposure of 15 seconds.

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Tiny flowers on the ground near the south end of the island.

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Banksia cone, banksia serrata or old man banksia.

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Banksia serrata cone.

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Sea eagle.  I only had my macro lens with me; I could have got closer wit my long telephoto.

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View of  lighthouse and cottages from the south.

There was a time when supplies were unloaded at the old wharf and taken up to the lighthouse using a horse and cart.  Part of the route was up the rock below the cottages.  The horse didn’t like this and used to run away and hide when the time came.

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One day it all went wrong.  The horse slipped on the rock incline and the cart came careering down the slope on top of the keeper.  His spleen was ruptured and he died some days later, ending up in the lighthouse cemetery..

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The path back went through a silver gull rookery.  This is at the edge of it.

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A silver gull incubating an egg on a rudimentary nest on the ground.

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Later, we went down to the new wharf to see the little penguins coming in at night.  These are silver gull chicks in the fading light.

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Terns against the sunset.

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The little penguins are coming ashore.

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They climb up surprisingly high to nest.

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Then red lights were turned on around the platform where we were standing, to provide light without disturbing the penguins.

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There was a stiff wind above us and silver gulls were hanging motionless in the air.

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Montague Island Day One

Montague Island, New South Wales, Australia, 8 to 11 November 2019

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We spent a weekend at Montague Island, off the coast of New South Wales near Narooma, organised by NatureArt Lab, based in Canberra.  We also went with them to Sabah and this time it was mainly with artists rather than photographers.  I also went there in 1987 when I toured around Australia taking photographs of lighthouses for the book From Dusk Till Dawn.

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We needed to drive down from Canberra and be at the wharf for the boat at 11:15 am, so to eliminate the risk of misadventures we drove down from Canberra the night before.  Late in the afternoon we discovered Handkerchief Beach, south of Narooma.  This is a picture of Montague Island from there (actually properly spelt Montagu but that is a losing battle).  We would be staying near the lighthouse in the lighthouse cottages.

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The lagoon at Handkerchief Beach.

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It appears it gets windy at times.

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A nearby pelican next morning as we are waiting to embark.

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From the boat, underway but still inside Narooma’s Bar, a cormorant is drying its wings.

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Humpback whale going down.

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We were lucky to be escorted by a mother and her calf for most of the journey to Montague.

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There are many seals on the rocks by the sea.

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And we encountered quite a few lounging around in the water.

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At some distance, sitting on his favourite rock, is this white-bellied sea eagle, in this case with a full crop.  He does not live on the island but flies out every day from the mainland.

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The seals are either Australian or New Zealand Fur Seals.  The New Zealand Fur Seals are smaller and darker and climb further up on the rocks but they are very similar and I’m not going to try to tell them apart.

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Launching into the sea.

The New Zealand Fur Seals have been recently renamed Long-Nosed Fur Seals (in Australia) because people may have thought they were not native to Australia though they live in both places.  They were called New Zealand Fur Seals because they were first described in New Zealand and are still called New Zealand Fur Seals in New Zealand.  This renaming seems to me like pointlessly kowtowing to ignorance so I will continue to refer to them as New Zealand Fur Seals.

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Great Cormorant and Crested Terns, still from the boat.

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A colony of Crested Terns, from the road to the Lighthouse.

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In the late afternoon, we were hit by a huge storm with high winds.

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A little later, walking back from Cottage 1 to Cottage 2 at the back of the cottages, I was blown along by a wind so strong that it was pointless to try to walk against it.

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Some of the terns relocated from the more exposed side of the island to the relative calm in the lee of the cottages and the island.

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Then an hour and a half later, it was clear and calm.  This is a sacred aboriginal initiation site at the end of the island, not accessible to the public.  The rocks represent the whale, the shark and the tortoise.

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(Trivia note:  There are now more than 15,000 images in this blog, not counting the links to nearly 11,000 live music images, and also more than 350,000 words, equivalent to several books).

Montague Island

I visited Montague Island in August, September or October 1987.

11 July 1987 Arca Swiss Monorail 5x4" 150mm Linhof Schneider Technika Symmar  f16/22 15 seconds, Fujichrome 50 Low res scan from book

Nagaoka Field Camera 5×4″
150mm Linhof Schneider Technika Symmar
f16 1/25 second, Fujichrome 50
Low res scan from book

I don’t have the original slide. My notes say “panorama” but I think it is just a single large format image cropped in.  Stitching panoramas was not an easy process in the film days.  I’m using a 150mm lens, which is a normal lens, equivalent to 50mm in a full frame sensor.  I am a fair way away here, probably a couple of hundred metres away from the lighthouse.

It must be the lighthouse keeper standing up in the back of the 4WD ute. He is on the road up from the boat landing.  Over to the right of him and the lighthouse is a solar array, which must have been very high tech for 1987.

The lighthouse was built in 1881.  It is nineteen metres high and stands sixty metres above sea level.

The island has been a wildlife sanctuary since 1953 and a nature reserve since 1990.  There are many resident species of birds including little penguins, mutton birds or shearwaters and crested terns as well as frequent sightings of sea eagles and a variety of smaller raptors.  Fur seals are also resident, both Australian and New Zealand varieties and sightings of dolphins and whales are common around the island.

It was also a food resource for aborigines in the days before white settlement, involving a perilous journey from the mainland in bark canoes.