|Is that a lighthouse, or are you just glad to see me?! Griffiths Island, Port Fairy|
But a frisson of danger changes everything – and an element of uncertainty elevates the ordinary, or even just plain old pleasant, into something more remarkable, doesn't it?
Or is that just me?
|Griffiths Island lighthouse from Port Fairy foreshore|
But the amalgamation of Griffiths and Rabbit islands in the mid-1800s via a breakwater, causeways, retaining walls and riverbed silt today provides a breeding haven for Short-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), commonly known as mutton birds – an imaginative name bestowed by early settlers in honour of the main use to which they were put.
|Muttonbird nesting burrow, Griffiths Island|
A 'lifer'* for keen twitcher** Pilchard, our October 2011 visit was ideal timing – the birds had arrived, but had not yet returned to the sea for their post-mating two week 'honeymoon'! According to the Natural Resources and Environment pamphlet 'Griffiths Island Shearwater Colony' to which I'm indebted for much of the information in this post, anyway!
|Coastal Vegetation, Muttonbird nesting area, Port Fairy|
But Griffiths Island isn't just about birds. While no evidence remains of the whaling station, unsuccessful mission and lighthouse keepers' cottages of yesteryear, the 3km interpretive walking trail passes the shearwater viewing platform and lighthouse before detouring onto the beach.
And the snake.
And the snake.
I would have taken a photo if the uncharacteristically balletic wings of 'flight' hadn't somehow shifted me several metres away, shrieking like a girl, within a split second!
And Pilchard would have identified the snake if only it had uncoiled while he was standing right beside it … despite my reassurance that 'snake' was specific enough for me!!
Enough to send us scuttling back to one of Port Fairy's two bakeries for a restorative snack! Although you're right ... it wouldn't take much!!
On the cusp of the Kanawinka Global Geopark area of volcanic diversity, largest of its kind in the world, and the Bonney Upwelling*** where nutrient-rich water from Antarctica flows onto the continental shelf in certain conditions, Griffiths Island, Port Fairy and surrounds form a unique region of amazing natural phenomena well worth another visit.
And with any luck next time the snakes will stay away!
|Griffiths Island Lighthouse, Port Fairy Victoria|
* Lifer = bird never sighted before
** Twitcher = birdwatcher – yes, the feathered variety ...
*** Cool names, huh?!
Want more information? Here's a few links!