Saturday, September 12, 2009

Overnighter to Hutchies Bluff

Gaye and I have just returned from an overnight visit to Hutchinson's Bluff, which is at the western tip of the island. It was a work/pleasure trip in that she tagged all the track markers with reflective tape in order to assist the progress of any walker caught out by the dark, while I attacked the overgrown fern with a scrub bar.

We stayed in the hut out towards the Bluff. There are four huts on the island and these humble dwellings are a rare privilege to stay in because they are all fully stocked with food (and you KNOW it's going to be there). There is no concern about rats or mice bothering you, because they no longer exist on Raoul. The cookers can be a little cantankerous as they are fuelled by pressurised kerosine, primed with methylated spirits. If you don't do things exactly right - particularly with the one at Hutchies - it can scare the bejeesus out of you by suddenly flaring up to the roof with a big orange flame. Consequently, Gaye hid her eyes on the bunk or stood by the fire extinguisher while I did all the igniting.
Inside the hut - Gaye cooking up the rice for dinner
The highlight of the trip was gazing down from the spine of the island and seeing a Humpback whale propelling itself right out of the sea and then smacking back down with a cascade of water and a crack that arrived with us a full second after splashdown. To see such a huge creature leaping at the sky like a salmon was completely breathtaking!
A thousand feet of cliff face beneath your feet
Also very exciting was just negotiating the track - in a couple of spots you can only move while hanging on for dear life to a fixed rope and the ground drops straight down into the sea beneath your feet. It is such a knife-edge sliver of earth in other places that one more decent slip would make the end section into another island altogether.
Fixed ropes are essential to keep you on the track

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