“What’s that blue thing?” People had texted me after I sent the photo out. Truth is, that’s exactly what I said when I saw it. The Eight-armed Sea Star (Meridiastra calcar) is, according to some sites, quite common and its colours can vary greatly. It’s omnivorous so living in a rock pool offers many opportunities, but getting to see some this day was more luck that good management.
Beneath my listlessness, curiosity raged. Had to go somewhere. I’d promised myself that I’d return to the rock shelf beneath Warden Head lighthouse and have a go at shooting crabs again, since I hadn’t done as well as I might have the first time. I’d tried yesterday but high tide and high swell meant that the area was unattainable. Shame about the stiff breeze today, but the tide was right.
There’s a drop off point beyond the “dancing ground”, an aboriginal sacred sight I found out about one day outside the local library. A man with indigenous heritage dressed in traditional garb and carrying boomerangs looked like a photo opportunity so I took advantage and, since he was available, I queried him about the dancing ground. Apparently natives would gather there and summon the good spirits from the ocean to spread their joy inland. The Coomee Nulunga Walking Track is named after the last recorded survivor of the Murramarang tribe.
It was in good spirits that I left the bike at the lone picnic table just past the Bunan Bagan dancing ground and descended the stairs. Everything looked fine except a strange cloud that hovered over nearby Ulladulla Head. The good news was that it was blocking the sun, so even light was promised.
Where I’d been blocked yesterday was now available. A small swell still kept popping up now and then, spraying skywards in key places. I paused to capture the explosive foam before heading for crab country.
I knew they hid under rocks but, after checking a dozen or so, worked out that I was still short of where I’d seen them previously. The cloud kept me interested though, couldn’t quite work out what is was going to do. It threatened to do something, but what?
Luckily I’d chosen the right footwear, my waterproof work boots allowed me dry foot access to the shallow pools though the best crab shots were to be had on the very edges. Eventually I found some, a near albino one arousing my curiosity before I gravitated towards the sea.
The further I went, the more depth in the rock pools and the greater diversity in sea life. I became entranced and went to inspect every pond. There were some amazing finds, such as a multi-coloured hairy conch like shell with a small black and white whelk on top of it and a pink urchin elsewhere but I felt the stunningly patterned star shaped jelly was their equal.
I moved to the ocean wash, seeking anemones but the brightly coloured kelp flexing back and forth caught one’s attention. Couldn’t help but think “with fronds like these, who needs anemones”. Couldn’t help myself there.
Every pool offered something different and the colours and contrast with the 270 million year old bland headland were a photographer’s delight. I felt blessed to be here.
It was around then I looked back up at the position of the lighthouse and figured it must be about halfway, might as well do the full loop trail, along the beach to the south and back up through Warden Head Reserve and the carpark. It took me away from the winds and along the sandy waterfront, which was empty for the first time since I’d been there. It’s where the surfers ride the best break in town, called the Bombie, and the local council have put a row of bench seats so spectators can watch the action. It’s a favoured spot for lunch, there’s always a tradie or two hanging around at that hour and say g’day to a couple of them as I pass up the staircase, through the carpark and across the main road then back on the Coomee Nulunga Trail and there was a feeling of gladness that I’d come out today and my curiosity had taken me to the rock pools. Sometimes exploration has rewards, today had been one of those times.