On the Monday, our plan was to drop the ute into the Mazda dealership for a service and wander around town taking in the many sites it has to offer……..What actually happened was a little different.
On Sunday night a weather front came through, and as my friend Lou
would say, “it blew a hooley”. It was still blowing a gale and raining on and off in the morning, to the extent that if we had been planning on being on the road, we would have stayed put for an extra day. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t go over and take a photo of the ocean, but it was just too horrible to go out if it could be avoided. We called Mazda first thing and asked if there was any chance of getting a courtesy car, as the weather was so bad, and they readily agreed. That was so nice of them.
Once we were in the courtesy car we headed off to play the tourist. Firstly, to the lighthouse. It is at Point Moore, just on the edge of town. This one looks more like a traditional lighthouse than those further north. It was built 1878 in steel, from a prefabricated kit that was imported from Britain. It is still in use.
Next we went for a drive around the port area, where we were able. There were a lot of boats out of the water, in yards. The. Port appeared to be a large grain export facility, as well as iron ore.
Heading back into town, we noticed another Seafarers Mission building. Now we actually knew what that was.
The red and white lighthouse is used as a theme throughout town, with a couple of roundabouts having little ones in the centre.
Between showers, we had a quick look at the statue in Batavia Park. It is of Wiebbe Hayes, the Hero of the Batavia. I don’t know a lot of the story, so must read the book we have when we get home. In the early 1600s the Batavia was sailing from the Netherlands to Batavia (Indonesia) when it was shipwrecked on an island off shore of here. While some set off in a small boat to get help, some of the shipwrecked survivors became tyrants, to put it mildly. Hayes and some others were dumped on another island and expected to die, but they didn’t. Eventually, another survivor got word to them about what was happening and when rescuers arrived they were able to warn them and the bad guys were caught. I think that is how it goes.
As the weather was still pretty feral, we visited the museum, which is rather impressive. There was more information on the HMAS Sydney II tragedy, aboriginal history, settlement history and a section on the shipwrecks.
There was too much to take in, but this is how the early trading ships, such as Batavia, would have been packed, with the heavy ballast of stone, lead and cannons at the bottom, then barrels of goods and finally valuable textiles.
The wreck of the Batavia was discovered in 1963 and the ballast included the sandstone for the portal of a castle.
There were quite a few other artefacts retrieved from wrecks including a lot of silver coins from the Batavia. However, many valuable items were taken by individuals over the years.
Back outside, it was still fairly fine, if still windy, so we checked out some of the street art.
It certainly brightens us the town.
There was one whole ally of art.
Our next place to visit is the old Gaol, which is near this impressive building, which was the old hospital. It has lots of adjoining stone buildings as well. It is now known as Victoria House.
The Gaol is now a craft centre.
There is a small museum, giving details of some of the former inmates. Some made good after release, becoming valuable members of the community, while others continued to lead a life of crime and subsequent incarceration.
The gaol only closed in 1984. We liked the game of prison darts in the exercise yard. You stand behind the white line and throw a thong, trying to hit the centre of the white “dart board” painted on the ground. Mick did not score well at all.
Once inside you walk down a long corridor, lined with prison cells. Each cell houses a small individual craft shop.
Some were closed.
One cell was set up as it would have been, with a few relevant items on show.
A couple were open and trading.
This lady made every item in her store and was working away on more.
Poor little Mousey - stuck behind bars.
One store was in a larger room, which had been the kitchen and she had lots of wool for sale. She had previously owned a yarn shop and this was what was left. Balls of beautiful pure wool were for sale at $1 for a 50g ball. Maybe some came away with me….. I was too absorbed in selecting wool to take a photo.
Our next spot to visit was the main HMAS Sydney II Memorial. It stands high on a hill overlooking the city and out to sea.
All the flags were flying at half mast in honour of the Queen. Notice the base of the flag poles.
The centrepiece is the beautiful dome. It features 645 gulls, one for each crew member lost on the ship.
Sea gulls traditionally personify the souls of lost sailors. During the playing of The Last Post during the dedication of the memorial site in 1998, a flock of silver gulls flew overhead, giving the inspiration to use the symbol of the gull in the memorial.
Underneath there is a compass.
It is such a beautiful place. There is a huge flag pole. Initially, you just think it is a concrete tower, but on closer inspection it is in the shape of the bow of the ship, complete with the numeric markings up the side.
There is a rather moving bronze sculpture of a woman looking out to sea “The Waiting Woman”.
It was put in place before the wreck was found, and eerily, she is looking towards the exact position of the ship’s final resting place.
Look at the anguish on her face.
The final element, installed after the ship wreck was located, is a pool of remembrance, featuring 644 gulls engraved in a black granite circle, with the 645th in the centre, together with the co-ordinates of the location of the wreck.
Near the front wall of the memorial we came across a shingle back lizard. Not what we expected to see.
I don’t think it was very happy to see us either. He made a good show of being fierce. Poor thing, I hope it found its way safely out.
While there, we received the call to say the ute was ready to collect. There was more to see in our exploring, but it deserves its own post…..soon.