Punch Bowl to Blow Hole
At the top of the hill is the Punch Bowl. I’ve been told it’s an extinct volcano or it might just be an old quarry. Brought the trees on the east side of the road the hill drops down a cliff to what is left of the crater. The west side is where my thoughts are. The long steady slope of lush green paddocks, with the odd fence.
It is from the top of this hill that the hang-gliders run into the prevailing winds from the south-west, launching themselves and their kite, up to the clouds, sky and sun beyond. Free among the updrafts of ecstasy to glide as if they were eagles, totally removed from limitations of life under foot.
We watch their graceful motions.
Five minutes walk down the unsealed road south, and on the east side, is our Holiday House. Hidden in the pine trees is Grandma and Grandpa’s house, the original farm house, with 270 degree views over the ocean, obscured headland and the two islands. The chicken sheds have been converted into self contained houses for family visits and holidays. Twenty-six beds in all for the whole clan.
The five acres of providing the playground for the ten grandchildren. Grandma, the perfect host, would have breakfast at 7am for anyone who was awake, including “Percy” the gardener/handyman. If someone had left the gate open, our fist job was to heard the neighbours cows back into the top paddock. The day had begun. The giant 3D truck tire swing, dam, woodshed and hedges setting the scene for the regular Adventure Hunt, an all in family game of cricket in the driveway area; sometimes a pinecone was returned instead of the ball.
A youngster’s wonder land.
Continuing down the unsealed road, hedgerow to the west and past the Stevens’ chicken farm to the east, the Main Road. We got our first pet cat “Milo”, a tom, from the Stevens. Milo would come with us on Holidays, but often disappear for days or was AWOL when the time came to go home. He was usually visiting his Mum at the Stevens’.
The only sealed road for kilometres. Care had to be taken crossing, a blind crest east and 100km speed limit. Cars and trucks, irregular as they were, would appear from nowhere.
The way into town or the lighthouse.
Dog-legging across the Main Road is the access track south to the carpark at the Cliff Tops. During the wet winter months, it wasn’t unusual for cars to get stuck in one of many deep mud holes along this track. A visit to one of the local farmers asking for a tow out wasn’t unusual. The Cliff Top a blustery place. You needs to get out of the piecing winds. It’s a treacherous drop over the edge to the bluestone pavement below.
The white-caps never end.
Long gravel steps start the downward Winding Path from the carpark. Paddocks one side and shrubs before the cliff face on the other. Curling onwards, the Winding Path narrows to a dirt track, barely a foot wide, to meet an overgrown creek on the left. Further down the gully is the creek crossing. Sometimes there is an old plank to form a tiny bridge, more often it’s a leap to get to the other side. Careful, it’s slippery. Rising to the right is a small, almost barren headland. I never went out there, one slip and over the edge to the rocks and waves way below. With the crashing of the waves getting closer, the gully opens out to the black basalt foreshore, but first one more jump across the creek.
Rocks are beneath your feet.
With basalt rocks comes basalt sand, the Black Beach. It’s more of a grey with all the ground-up periwinkles and random shells mixed in. Widening out, often with kelp and drift-wood scattered, the Black Beach. Closed in at each end with sprawling rocks and a narrow entrance, it looked like an ideal swimming beach. No-one ever did, everyone new the undertow would suck you out to the mouths of the ocean breakers. Down the beach to the east and back onto the basalt, staying close to the cliff face at high tide.
Watch your step.
Around the headland the Rock Hopping would begin. In and out, up and down, round and round and over rock pools filled with crabs, small fish, urchins and who knows what else. Bare feet – at your own risk. Between the cliff and the breakers, the Rock Hopping seemed to go on and on. The There’s few signs of mankind, the occasion ship or yacht motionlessly drifting past. Always on the lookout for the rouge wave, the horizon would be obscured by a wall of spray sooting high into the air as the monsters rolled in, pounding the rock wall. On and on.
Eyes on the tide.
Eventually, watching your step all the way, the Blow Hole comes into view. With the right rolling swell, through an innocuous hole in rocks, the hole blows like a giant whale 20, 30 feet into the air. The invisible chamber below the hole; the whale’s body, the ocean its lungs. Sit back and watch the creature breath. Close your eyes and listen it breath.
The ocean never stops. Continuously bruising the rocks into oblivion.