Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fossils and ibis and lobsters ... oh, my!

Limestone imitates colossal fantasy wedding cakes at the Victoria Fossil Cave 
Stop by the Wonambi Fossil Centre first for tickets to the guided tour. And note the correct spelling ...
not of 'Wonambi,' but of 'Centre.' 
The area was recognized and World Heritage listed 20 years ago...
...and here's why! 'Spectacular' is an understatement. Want more? Scroll down:
Looking between the jaws of the sleeping dragon. Check out those teeth!

This is not Thylacoleo carnifex -- in fact, it's Simosthenurus occidentalis

This shaft was drilled in the early days after the caverns were discovered ... they were pouring concrete
to make the paths and walkways, in an era before the word "preservation" was understood!
Checking out of  the William McIntosh Motor Lodge the net morning. We'd be home for dinner, but...
lots to do and see first! (That's the trusty old Camira, not Lola, of course ... 2009. Right.)
This is what we'd hoped for at Bool Lagoon! This is just a flooded hollow off one side of the road out of Naracoorte...
Imagine how Bool Lagoon would be, when it's, uh, wet! Ibis Cape Barren geese, mallards, and scores of swallows.
The thriving metropolis of Lucindale ... we're headed for Kingston S.E.  now.
And as Tolkien said, the road goes ever on...
...through pastoral landscapes under a steadily lowering sky. Yes we're losing the weather.
Kingston S.E. -- the bridge over the Maria Creek ...
-- which features some wonderful artwork and sculpture, such as...
-- seals, carved in a local stone -- not sure what kind.
One of the most interesting things in Kingston S.E. is the Analemmatic Sundial. Say, what?!
Seriously! It's a 'sundial of human involvement.' See this info board at full size -- it's perfectly readable here.
Dave demonstrates how it works, and -- know what? It tells the right time, too! It's tickling 10:00am.
Geographic sculpture and welcome swallows at the gas station --
Tiny, tiny birds that rarely sit still. You seem to see these guys everywhere in South Australia, except in town.
The other landmark for which Kingston S.E. is famous ... it's hard to miss.

The Big Lobster -- "Larry the Lobster," in fact! And for scale,
here's Dave sitting right under it. It's, uh, big.
Cape Jaffa Historic Lighthouse was moved to Kingston S.E. from Margaret Brock Reef, 15km SW of here --
The National Trust info board tells all.
Horses out for a day at the beach, just an hour's drive over from Naracoorte.
The hiking/biking trail through the salt bush, just above the beach. Watch out for snakes!
The beach at Kingston S.E. ... inviting, but we didn't stop for long, because -- 
We're off to the Coorong now, headed back to Adelaide on the Princess Highway.
The Victoria Fossil Cave was -- like the Alexandra Cave -- warm and humid. It's also vast, with paleontology going on right before your eyes. Excavations continue apace, with students working on new discoveries. (A couple of years after this, the caves were flooded when torrential winter rains hit the region, which would have delayed the work, but hopefully not destroyed the sites.)

One of the most dramatic of the creatures unearthed in these caves is Thylacoleo carnifex, a predator on top of the food chain in its day; and wouldn't you know it, Jade couldn't get a good picture of the fantastic skeleton on display in the depths of the Victoria Cave: the light was very low, and with the guided tour group, she could never jockey into a good position for long enough to get a shot! So --

The artist's reconstruction of Thylacoleo carnifex, borrowed from the Australian Museum website, and
used here within their copyright guidelines.  © Australian Museum
(Yes, Jade chased up the copyright guidelines for use of the image, and this is exactly what they specified.)

Also -- from Wikimedia comes this great shot of the skeleton ... in fact, it's the shot Jade couldn't get on site, on the day:

From Wikimedia. Credit: Karora ... License: Public Domain.
Now, according to Doctor Mike, who routinely works with fossils, reconstructions and Thylacoleo, this is an outdated reconstruction. This, above, is the first reconstruction that was built by Prof. Rod Wells and the late Ed Bailey, in 1992. The Wikimedia image dates from 2006. However, a much more recent "build" is available, but no one is -- yet -- using it. Here it is:

Picture by Dr. Mike Adamson, who worked on the reconstruction in 2011. 
Picture by Dr. Mike Adamson; 2011.
"This was the second Thylacoleo which was built, taking less than three weeks, and it was finished and mounted just three hours before the Investigator Lecture." -- Dr. Mike Adamson 

It was getting late by the time we returned to the the William McIntosh Motor Lodge ... dinner and a good night's sleep were in order, because we were checking out early the next morning. We were headed home, but a lot of miles and some great places were ahead of us. First destination: Kingston S.E.

The "S.E." was added to differentiate this coastal town from the Kingston on the Murray River. It's a very nice town, strung out along a lovely beach. The sky was lowering ... we were losing the weather, running back into clouds and possible rain, just as we'd set out into, days before. First: go-juice in the car. Then, check out the "sundial of human involvement" ... hey, it works! See the pictures, above, in which Dave demonstrates.

And then ... The Big Lobster. Larry the Lobster. And the name doesn't deceive: it's huge. It sits right at the end (or beginning) of the Princess Highway -- in fact, the physical address is 1, Princess Highway. Alas, in recent years Larry has been allowed to fall into disrepair, and if you look at the reviews of the cafe for which the lobster is the draw-card, well ... turns out, it's not actually somewhere to stop if you're hungry and/or in a hurry. Folks say the food is just okay but the service is slow and the prices are high. Hmm. Good thing we'd packed an awesome picnic basket!

So we headed down to the foreshore for lunch, using one of the gazebo-style structures because quite a wind was whipping across the beach. All the way from Naracoorte, we'd been playing tag with a horse transporter. First they'd stop, then we'd stop, so we were always in touch -- and in fact we were headed to the same spot. A farm family from one of the properties right by Naracoorte were taking their horses for a day at the beach. They recognized the Holden Camira ... she was easy to spot, and identify; Camiras had a problem with their paintwork. Holden used something called "Ocean Mist Green," and it literally fell off, so Jade's dear old Camira was "patchy," to use a generous term. But she also went like a rocket, and we kept her probably longer than we should have, before Lola joined the clan. So the farm family recognized us, and we recognized them -- we got to talking, and it made for  lovely interlude.

Suitably refueled, we checked out the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse. We'd wanted to climb it, but it was closed, locked up, on the day ... well, dang. Another time. And speaking of time -- we had to be moving, if we wanted to see something of the Coorong while the light, and the weather held. So --

Next time: Salt Creek, black swans, and the Coorong.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...