Monday, 13 July 2015

Pancake Creek... sans pancakes

Easter Osprey checking us out.
In the last post I think I had mentioned that we were once again headed for yet another early morning departure. Leaving at 5.30am to be exact, which means getting up at around 4.30. Seriously... this is messing with my head! Since when is 4.30am a legitimate time anyway? Not even the birds get up at that time! 

I slept part of the way after taking another happy-not-to-purge pill and twelve hours later we arrived at our destination... Pancake Creek (named after the cutter Pancake that anchored there in 1862.) Even coming around the corner in the evening light we could see that it was a lovely spot. With only a few other boats in the large bay, we chose a spot fairly close in to shore and set anchor for the next few days. We knew that the tides were quite large and that the beaches dried out to some distance and so we picked our anchorage carefully.

Tide's out! Closer to the beach than we anticipated but still safe.
The following morning we dropped the dinghy and went ashore to find the path that would lead us to the Pancake Creek lighthouse. We knew that whilst we were to be away, the tide was going way, way out and since the hundred metre dinghy drag isn't our favourite sport, we came prepared with food, water and a picnic blanket on which to snooze and await the incoming tide.

Ducking through a hole in the trees, we found ourselves following a series of 'markers' that led to the main path. These 'markers' consisted of anything orange hanging in trees....ribbons, string, hats, an old drink bottle, small buoys, shoes... whatever could be found that happened to be orange... ingenious (remember kiddies, recycling is important)!

Lacewing Butterfly
The first place it led was through the remains of a large stand of trees. The ground beneath them was flat and bleached and completely devoid of growth and, in death, the ghostly white tree trunks stood as silent sentinels to an untold story. Not a sound was heard in this part of the journey, and when we spoke, the words sounded muffled in the air, which was simply weird. 

An Eastern Osprey and nest near the ghostly forest of dead trees.

Following the orange detritus, we easily found the narrow, grassy path and set to, occasionally dodging huge dangling spiders and breaking through webs as we went (Dave led the way... yay!) towards the lighthouse. It was a fairly easy walk around the headland, with a nice variety of birds to spot and apart from the spiders, was really pleasant. Along the way we saw signs towards other areas, which we decided to explore on the way back if we weren't too knackered.  

Sorry about all of the bird photos but I did say we saw a few :)

One of those dangling bloody spiders!
Rainbow Bee Eater.
Fantail Cuckoo
Grey Fantail
Leaden Flycatcher
Little Brown Cuckoo with his lunch.
Noisy Friar Bird on a large Black Boy stalk.
Spangled Drongo (seriously, what an awesome name!)
Varied Triller.
Silver gull immature.

Pied Oyster Catchers,

Sorry about all of the bird photos but I did say we saw a few :)
An absolutely wonderful Beach Stone Curlew.

At the lighthouse, we found that we weren't able to go up close because there was a tour group (the paying customer always comes first) that had arrived from 1770 (the town, not the era) in a big, pink aquaduck but the caretaker did tell us about a vantage point a bit further along where the views were awesome, so we we snapped a few pictures of the lighthouse and then to take in the sweeping vistas of the gorgeous Jenny Lind Creek (named after the schooner Jenny Lind which ran aground on Feb 2nd 1857). She was right.... it was awesome.
The stunning view towards 1770.

After doing the paparazzi thing, we backtracked and popped in to the small cemetery (I LOVE wandering cemeteries and anyone who knows me will know that I have an absolutely wonderful fascination (some may call it morbid, I call it an interest in history) with them and whenever I come across one, I will most likely put in a lot of information and/or photos.) 

Whilst there, the tour group and their very knowledgeable guide arrived, which was great because we got to hear all about the tragic histories of those who were buried there. Surprisingly, very few of the interred had died a natural death.

There were multiple incidences of accidental drowning in the creek and on the seaward side, one 16 year old lad became lost in the bush after hitting his head whilst cutting trees and perished there, there were deaths from illness and accidents, a baby was scalded with a pot of boiling water and treated with butter on the burns, as was a common but useless treatment back then. She died in agony nine hours later... that poor baby.

One woman (Kate Gibson) it was said, had committed suicide and so, considering it a sinful act, her name was omitted from the family grave. However, it was more likely that she had been murdered by her husband as there was apparently a lot of evidence that, had it happened nowadays, would have convicted him. The story goes that she was living in Bustard Head with her husband, Nils Gibson, and four daughters. In 1877, for some unknown reason, she just left the cottage one morning and walked out into the bush. Next morning, one of her daughters found her. Her throat was slashed from ear to ear. Her husband alleged that she had taken her his cutthroat razor, just walked out of the house and committed suicide. However, the fact Nils always had the razor on him, even when he went out in his boat (where he claimed he was when his wife died, even though there were no witnesses to that), should have aroused suspicion but for some reason Nils apparently hadn't noticed it missing. Kate was found the following day by one of her daughters, lying flat on the blood soaked ground with one arm lying across her chest. The fact that it is almost impossible to slit one's own throat from ear to ear was not taken into account. Nor was the fact that the razor, which had been missing was, days later, found beneath a tree root near the tragic scene. A mystery indeed. One of Kate's daughters was also a drowning victim and another died from epilepsy. Nils himself eventually died from cirrhosis of the liver. On the family headstone, Kate's name is omitted as 'suicide' was seen as being against the church. She is just 'Dear Mother'.

Bustard Head has always been marred by tragedy, with its first victim being a workman who suffered a blow to his head during the lighthouse’s construction and who died the next day. With his passing came a bizarre series of shipwrecks, drownings, an abduction, a murder, Kate Gibson’s 'suicide' and several other unusual deaths. There are a total of nine graves in the cemetery, with a couple of them child sized and unmarked. Very sad but also interesting.

After leaving the cemetery we decided to take the slight detour to Aircraft Beach, a wide, long expanse of flat, solid, golden sand on which, you guessed it, aircraft have been landed. It was yet another stunningly gorgeous, empty beach.

Aircraft beach... simply gorgeous.
One of thousands of tiny crabs to be building little piles of sand.

Petrified fungi

Well up the beach.

When we got back to the dinghy the tide was well out and so the blanket was spread, snacks and water came out and we picnicked and Dave snoozed and I took photos on the beach until the tide had come in enough so that we didn't have to traverse the worst of the mud. We again felt so lucky to be able to see somewhere that is not ordinarily seen.

When stranded, take a nap.

Slashes across a deep blue sky.

Whilst in Pancake Creek we met up with a whole bunch of people for sundowners (which is drinks, nibbles and more drinks as the sun goes down :) )... Erica and Dallas from "Momentum', Warwick and Judi from 'Bamboozle' and a lovely lone sailor named Alan.  We also met some new friends, Trish and Andrew from the vessel 'Sengo' a huge Leopard catamaran where they live and sail with their two gorgeous cats.

From Left: Judi, Alan, Cap'n Tweaky, Erica, Dallas and Warwick.
I regret to say that not a single pancake was cooked that week (how could we have neglected to make pancakes in the most obvious place to eat them??) Methinks that it may happen in the not too distant future now that my taste buds have been piqued, then again, when is it ever the wrong time for pancakes? :)

And now it's time to once again hit the ocean and find ourselves a little swatch of sunshine in Yellow Patch... stay tuned.

Location: Bustard Head, Eurimbula QLD 4677, Australia
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