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Published: February 8th 2010
It's a long way down
Darryl looks down the fabulous 'Fishermans Steps'
Day 283 - Peterborough
We had an easy night’s sleep in our cosy little caravan on the front lawn of the beach house. Peterborough is such a beautifully tranquil little spot - its great.
Julie’s friend Kalvin was already off on his bike, he had a doctors appointment in nearby Timboon to assess the progress of his dislocated little finger which was a result of a fall from the bike a week or so ago. We thought it was about time we got a bit more energetic too so after a quick breakfast we headed out with the others, plus doggie Lira, for a walk along the cliff tops to the Bay of Islands and Halladale Point where in 1908 the ‘Falls of Halladale’ was wrecked. We’ve yet to visit the shipwreck museum in Warrnambool so our knowledge of the wrecks is very slight but through a book Julie has back at the house we are learning! The wreck is no longer visible as it lies in ten metres of water providing a great home for marine life no doubt. The four-masted iron barque was heading for Melbourne from New York when it became stuck fast off the shore
but unlike so many of the other wrecks along this treacherous coastline, everyone survived.
The walk took us across the pretty golf course and then along the coast where we watched an expectant surfer waiting for the perfect wave. The ocean was putting on a good show this morning and the waves were bigger than we seem to remember seeing through our whole trip! It looked a precarious position that this surfer was in, the waves were coming straight into the rocks so we guessed he was waiting for a set with a slight change in direction. His patience paid off and he was rewarded with a great swell which he surfed beautifully, we were most impressed!
Julie is a great tour guide and takes us through the nooks and crannies along the cliffs. She points out some carefully carved steps in the cliff leading down to a small secluded beach and proudly tells us that her Dad carved those! Wow, how cool! Julie knows this whole area so well having spent many happy years here as a kid with her parents, brothers and sisters.
On the way home we swing by the local shops and then
spring a quick visit on Julie’s Mum, Mary. She lives down here now and at the sprightly age of 81 she walks daily and is as fit as a fiddle in mind, body and soul. She’s a lovely lady and greets us warmly for a quick chat before we head back.
Kalvin wasn’t back when we arrived and when the others put their feet up with the paper, Darryl & Julie grabbed the chainsaw to set about cutting back some of the trees growing a bit too close to the side of the weather board house. With perfect timing they’d pretty much finished when Kalvin cycled in triumphantly after a good report from the doctors. His fingers is healing well and the stitches should be able to come out very soon!
Despite all this prior exertion he was still up for a fishing trip so the three of us jumped in his ute and headed to the beach. The boys were in charge of catching the fish and dodging the waves, I was there only in support! We get there about an hour before high tide and the waves are higher than this morning and crashing into their
The Falls of Halladale
A photo of a very old photo that Julie had at the beach house. This depicts the ship stuck fast on the rocks off Peterborough
legs. They walked the beach, casting out as they went and trying to cast beyond the breakers. Staying on two feet proved too difficult for both of them and within minutes of each other they got dunked by the waves. First to go was Kalvin. I’d been lining up to get a photograph of him but he just disappeared out of sight. As I lowered my eye line there he was on the sand / in and slightly under the water trying to hold his already damaged finger in the air to keep it dry. I thought I’d save his pride and didn’t take a shot but instead watched closely & started to walk towards him to make sure he made it to his feet. A friendly wave and cheery smile let me know he was ok and I carried on over for a chat and to commiserate with him on the loss of his hat which had vanished in the dunking. Next thing I saw was Darryl walking towards us looking pretty soggy. He’d got knocked over by the very next wave and had still been chuckling about Kalvin’s dunking when he too hit the sand! Empty handed (in
terms of caught fish) we started to walk back along the beach to the ute. We stopped to chat to another fisherman who put Kalvin on to a good spot in Portland, just a little further along the coast. The forecast for early Friday morning is perfect for salmon apparently so he draws a map in the sand to explain where the best sites are.
The chap was a local from Nirranda which is 30km inland from Peterborough. We mentioned our plans to visit Moonlight Head in the next couple of days and he said he’d done the building permit for a huge resort proposal there. A businessman wanted to be able to fly tourists in and then accommodate them in the new resort, the locals had gone nuts and as yet the plans had not been passed. From what we’ve been told Moonlight Head is an extremely beautiful area with semi-precious stones on the beach and really quite a spectacularly natural sight. Let’s hope the locals get their way and the resort remains on hold.
Our feet barley touched the ground when we got back to the house, I don’t think we even ate lunch before we
were off again on another adventure. The two of us, Kalvin, Al and our ‘trip leader’ Julie set off to discover tracks less walked! We went to the Grotto first and made our way down the very impressive boardwalk to the wall at the bottom taking in the great view of the high seas along the way. We’d been here a couple of weeks ago with Grant, Anna and the girls but the sea was nothing like it is today! Like a true local Julie clambers over the small wall, wades through the pools of water and clambers up to a great position looking over the seas below. It’s a beautiful view and one she clearly loves. Al & Kalvin are interested to know how deep the pool of water is. It collects its water from the ocean when the waves come over the rocks. It looks pretty safe so I go for a quick swim to check it out and have a very short ‘dive’ (more like a ‘duck’) down to discover it is in fact pretty deep and rather chilly! Just as I’m thinking about clambering out a huge wave pours a bit more water into the pool
to bring the temperature down even more. It was at this point Al realised the glasses and thongs I’d given him for safe keeping were now floating around having been washed off the rock where he’d left them. Oops! Luckily Kalvin spotted them and saved them before they sank! While all this was going on we had a bikini clad young slip of a German lass doing various modelling poses at the mouth of the water hole, shockingly I couldn’t find any photos of her on the camera which had been left in the capable hands of Mr Howells - what an opportunity to miss!
From here we walked back up the boardwalk and started to head towards the car park but there’s an old fisherman’s track on the right and Julie tells us this is another of the places her Dad took her when she was a child. The area is called Pulpit Rocks (I think) and we can see a V shape in the cliff top which Julie tells us is from the fishing pot lines that her Dad used to throw down into the sea from here! We don’t go too close to the edge, the
cliffs are quite brittle so better safe than sorry and we only walk where Julie does.
The tour isn’t over yet! Julie finds a pull in just along the main road and leading from it is another track. In the distance along the coast we can see The Arch which is another well known rock formation but from here we get a clear view of some well formed steps cut into the cliffs leading down to the beach. These steps would have been used by fisherman years ago but these days there’s no way to get to them, the cliff has crumbled away too much. We’ve not visited the lookout for The Arch so we don’t know if the information there mentions these steps or not, hopefully it does because they’re certainly a wonderful sight and a great bit of history. While we were round at The Grotto we heard a tremendous bang and it was so loud that Darryl wondered if it was a section of cliff face falling away somewhere nearby. Well, as we walked along the track we spotted a breakaway section that Julie reckons wasn’t like that when she was last here. Crikey, that’s a
bit close for comfort!
It turns out that it’s another set of steps that Julie is taking us to now, these are actually called ‘Fishermans Steps’ and until recently you were able to walk down them but not anymore. There is a huge crack along the cliff top and signs have been erected to keep any visitors on the safe side, not that many people would even know they existed - it’s the sort of thing only the locals have knowledge of … until maybe now! Another sign tells us that the steps are closed and on a day like today you wouldn’t go down them anyway, the waves look to be crashing over the ones at the bottom - that might have been an illusion but it was a good excuse nevertheless! We had so much fun getting off the beaten track today, with our bit of bush bashing. What a great chance to indulge Julie’s excellent tour guide skills!
A hot shower was in order when we returned to the house and then it was nearly time for dinner which was cooked up with some sort of help from everyone.
Beautiful Lira needed a walk
after dinner so we went with Julie to Wild Dog Cove which until the 1960's was known as 'Rubbish Tip Bay' because so many people used to dump unwanted items off the cliff top onto the beach below! Hard to believe that a place of such scenic beauty was allowed to be abused for so long, thank goodness that's long since stopped. From here we drove to a nearby surf beach and walked up the cliffs to yet another crazy fisherman point! This time you needed to walk along a thin cliff top and then use stakes in the ground to lower yourself or the pots down. With the light dimming we headed for home.
What a day! We’ve had a great time and although we should be leaving tomorrow we’re very tempted to stay longer and uncover more of Peterborough’s secrets.
Dar and Sar
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