Published: January 1st 2007December 11th 2006
That's more like it
At the north end of Morton National Park, and on the road from Canberra to the coast, lies the village of Bundanoon. It's famous for the annual April celebration of its Scottish heritage, no doubt a time of calm and considered reflection to compliment the activities at the nearby Buddhist monastery. However my reasons for visiting were for what promised to be a guaranteed glow worm sighting, and a potential wombat encounter.
I was the sole resident of the hostel, and one of just 2 diners in the Chinese restaurant that was 1 of just 2 eating establishments in the village. The waitress was about 7 years old. It was hard to imagine the place exploding in a riot of kilts and sporrans.
Once night had fallen, the glow worm adventure could begin. There was a sign in the hostel requesting that you wear long clothing and no repellent, and not make much noise, as the glow worms are apparently sensitive to smells and sounds. The path to the Glowworm Glen would have been an easy stroll by day but by night it was an obstacle course of steps, uneven stones, and head-high branches, especially when the only illumination
came from a torch whose batteries were about to give up the ghost.
Things got off to an exciting start when, barely 10 yards down the trail, there was a sudden rustling in the undergrowth nearby. It was of a volume and intensity that could not have come from something the size of, say, a mouse. As I peered into the weak torchlight, a wombat ambled out of the trees and crossed the path in front of me, seemingly unconcerned by my presence. This was a significant moment for me, as I'd yet to see a wombat in the wild and had pretty much given up on the thought, especially with them being nocturnal and my previous night-spotting attempts having had zero success.
Buoyed by this unexpected bonus, I forged ahead along the path, tripping, stumbling, and swearing. The final descent to the grotto was down some flights of steps, and from these I could already see green specks in the darkness where the glow worms were doing their thing.
As I finally reached the viewing platform, with no sounds in my ears but those of the forest, and no indication that I was anything but alone
in this out of the way place, I got one hell of a shock to see several pairs of shoes at the periphery of my torchlight. This was so unexpected that I may well have sworn out loud (not at them, but they didn't know that). Having seen virtually no-one in the town itself, and then walked a kilometre in the dark further into the countryside, it was strange to find the grotto so awash with other glow worm seekers that I couldn't even find room on the bench to sit down. Of course, with Bundanoon being known for the grotto, and glow worm observation best done in darkness and silence, I perhaps should have been prepared for this.
Once my nerves had resettled themselves, it was a unique experience watching the glow worms. With their luminous green dotted throughout the grotto, the place looked as though Predator had wandered by with a cut finger. I tried a few long exposure shots without much success, the results being fairly similar to taking photos of the Milky Way. And in fact that's a good analogy, as the glow worms were their own little galaxy of green stars.
return journey, I saw an echidna rooting around beside the path, so this would have to count as a highly successful expedition.
On leaving Bundanoon the next morning, I dropped by the disappointingly unimpressive Fitzroy Falls before hitting Kiama on the coast. Kiama is famed for its Blowhole, a natural rock formation that produces a vertical blast of water when the sea enters the channel just so. Unfortunately, with little swell running that day, the Blowhole ... sucked. Perhaps they should consider combining it with Captain Cook's Memorial Jet. I was directed to another headland slightly south of the Blowhole in order to see the Little Blowhole, which made up for in consistency what it lacked in size, so I was able to get the blow I'd come to the town for. I also trundled up to the top of Mount Saddleback, which would have provided an amazing all-round view if it hadn't been so hazy, before hitting the Prince's Highway for the short haul back to Sydney.
There are more photos below