Author: Mrs A
Location: Barunguba Island (Montague Island) & Wallaga Lake
For several years we have read about Montague Island in various magazines – most recently in the Australian Geographic – and been curious about the mystery it holds. It is the second largest offshore island after Lord Howe (also on our wish list) and home to many native birds as well as a large colony of New Zealand fur seals.
We met our skipper at the Town Wharf in Narooma at 7.40am and were soon off on our little boat heading the 8km across the water to the island. Along with the two crew members there were 9 other guests this morning, and we wrapped up warm under the cloudy skies.Crossing through the Narooma Bar we were required by law to don lifejackets, but soon took those off for a more comfortable ride. Upon reaching the island we were given the option to jump into the 20 degree water for a snorkel with the seal pups…but the cool breeze blew across the water and we decided to give it a miss this time. We had a nice cup of tea while two of the guests jumped in for a dive, before heading around to the wharf.We were met by a volunteer and a National Parks Ranger who escorted us up a grassy, mown path past huge granite boulders to the top of the island and lighthouse, telling us stories of the flora and fauna and the work that has been done to restore the land to its former glory. The island was first occupied by Europeans in 1880 when the construction of the lighthouse and its cottages commenced, but the native landowners have a history stretching back many thousands of years, with several sacred sites on the island and evidence of numerous shell middens demonstrating where they had shared meals over the centuries.A walking tour of the island revealed graves and stories of the hardship the lighthouse keepers and their families had to endure while keeping the seas safe for ships, with a beautiful poem written in memory of those lost – Charles Townsend killed by untreated injuries he received when his horse was spooked and tipped him and a heavy cart of supplies over, no phones or radios for help then, and the young child killed by whooping cough in the days before vaccines.Beautiful views greeted us at every point, and we saw many little penguin and shearwater burrows which come to life at dawn and dusk.After a few hours on the island our boat came to pick us up and return us to the mainland. There we hitched up the caravan and left Narooma, driving a whole 15 minutes down the coast to our next location, just north of Bermagui at Wallaga Lake.
We’ve settled in here for a few days. It’s extremely peaceful with incredible views over the water and many native birds about. Tassie loves it here too and spent an hour out walking this afternoon, even managing to catch a skink (which she released unharmed, minus a tail which it chose to drop in its defence!). We’re looking forward to setting out on a paddle on the lake in the morning.