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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Chocolate Cake and Porpoises at Fingal Headland

Today was idyllic. I spent most of the morning on the cliff at Fingal Head near the village I featured in my most recent post. It was a time of teal coloured water, blue skies, porpoises and magic waves and rocks.

I took a knapsack holding my camera, a bottle of water and a very large slice of chocolate cake. Bliss.

Fingal Headland is but five minutes drive from where I live on the North Coast of New South Wales in Australia. Lucky me!

A visit by a dozen porpoise who swam lazily past around the headland was a real highlight of my visit. These guys often frolic in the waves, but this lot was quite relaxed and content to go with the flow of the currents.

The island off the headland is named after James Cook, the British navigator who won the race to 'discover' the east coast of Australia, the Great South Land, in 1770.

It's very close indeed to the Tweed River on the border of New South Wales and Queensland and Fingal carries on the Scottish theme. It was named after these amazing rocks (below) which are very similar to Fingal's Cave in the New Hebrides in Scotland, and the Great Causeway in Northern Ireland.

The rocks are hexagonal shaped columns formed when hot lava shrank in a way similar to mud cracks when it dries, and the cracks apparently extended downwards into the mass of lava as it cooled and shrank, and the columns were later exposed due to erosion.

The lava at our Fingal came from the plug of a volcano called Mount Warning a few kilometres inland, and also named by Cook who gave the the mountain the credit for 'warning' him of the presence of a rugged coastline.

These beautiful rocks formed right around the headland and established a causeway which the locals call 'The Giant's Causeway' after the Irish formation.

The sea rushes through the causeway at this point, creating dramatic plumes of white spray - exciting against the lovely teal blue of the ocean on a sunny day.

There is a small lighthouse at the tip of the headland.

It's been on this site since 1872 as part of network of navigation aids around the Australian coastline - as the sign says.

It really adds quite a bit of drama to the beauty of this place.

Naturally, the headland is quite a favourite with people who like to fish. I once saw a huge ray rise up from the sand as I gazed into the sea below the rocks. Impressive!

I didn't see this guy catch anything.

More basalt rocks and, of course, pandanus. Our cliffs wouldn't be quite the same without them.

The teal sea looks tranquil and some people are lulled into a false sense of security.

Get too far down the cliff and a rogue wave can knock you right off the ledge. I was being the ultimate shutterbug when this lass received quite a shock. Her dry seating place was suddenly bombarded with spray and moments later she was very wet indeed.

Look carefully and you'll see someone else tempting fate here.

Me - I'd rather find a safer swimming hole ... There are plenty of them around.

When it's summer at your place, can you go for a swim?


  1. Thanks for the photo-talk-and-walk tour. I love these kind of blogs where I feel like I'm right there oohing at the hexagonal rocks and wishing the guy would catch a fish. We live ten minutes from the ocean in South Carolina and you can swim in the summer. Summer lasts about ten months out of the year.

  2. Oh June that was lovely, for a while there in my imagination I was away walking over the rocks and watching the sea - it looks beautiful! I know what you mean though about the danger - I've been to the Giants Causeway and it is incredible too.... during one of my many visits to Portrush - we tried not to go too often though - it 'always rained' every time we went ! It is many years since I have been to Ireland and I would love to visit again - unfortunately I am married to a man (with blue eyes) who 'hates' the water and the movement of it.... I'm not keen - but he can't stand it - so there's not much chance of us going ...... Never mind I can imagine it well as we used to (in another lifetime - with my first husband) go every year for holidays camping together with my mother in law father in law , Aunt, Uncle and Roy's two brothers - We traipsed all over Ireland I 'loved' it ... First time we went Roy and I got engaged in Dun Laoghaire (Eire).. omg so many memories!

    Blimey, I could write a book - oopss better not go there ahem ! I haven't done any more of my Dad's story - too much going on atm I'm afraid..... It will probably not get done knowing me - maybe next year when my head's a bit clearer - hehe what did I just say ? I'm kidding my head will never be clear ...

    Better shut up now, I started this epistle making comment on your photos and comments - as usual I haven't shut up !! Hugs Kate x.

  3. Hi Bagman
    Our summer probably lasts the whole year - there's just more of it at some times.
    Pleased you enjoyed our jaunt. I'll be doing another post on Fingal next time. About the bushland and the Aboriginal presence in the area.

  4. KATE
    You need NEVER shut up! It wouldn't be you and that would be such a pity.
    I hope your head will clear soon. It's very hard to be truly creative when you're worried. I know the feeling. I hope to get back to my writing before long.
    I'd love to see the Scottish and Irish basalt. Been to both countries but not for long enough.

    I just can't imagine the pain of not being able to enjoy the sea.
    Hugs June

  5. What a magical trip I just took to such dramatic and wet landscape! Love it!

  6. Water water everywhere as a certain bird lover once said ...

  7. Lovely...absolutely lovely, June.

  8. What beautiful images. You have taken me on a delightful trip this early morning from Nashville, Tn. in USA. Only thing I missed was the chocolate cake.

  9. It looked like a scene from my dreams.. and sounds like a place i like to be- when i need to get away from it all.. but perhaps i will remember what you'd said should i even contemplate on taking another step closer to the edge.. smiles

  10. I scrolled all the way down to find a picture of that chocolate cake. . . where is it! ;)

    Everytime I look at your beautiful pictures I am one day closer to visiting Australia.

  11. June, Thanks for showing me these pictures and telling us about your wonderful day. I, too, could imagine it all and feel the warm sun. It was 8 degrees here this morning and my heat went out day before yesterday. They have been repairing it for 2 days. Thank God, it is now working. I did have a couple of electric heaters but it was cold in my house. If it does not warm up here soon, I may move! I am so ready for a walk in the warm sun.

  12. Thank you for taking the time to share these great photos with us. It really takes quite a bit of time to take the photos, download and crop them, write the commentary, and get the whole thing set up online properly. Even the word, Fingal, is so romantic and evocative. I loved both photo displays.

  13. Lucky you! In Mumbai, we have the sea as a neighbour, but it is usually too dirty to swim in.

  14. Pleased you enjoyed yourself MARGIE.

  15. ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY all the way to Oz and I let you down. No chocolate cake! So sorry. I don't want to torture you, but I sat down on a grassy knoll under a pandanus tree and made short work of my big slice, washed down by half the bottle of water. Yum. We'll both have to make do with my memories.

  16. Wow SILVER don't even imagine that!
    I was getting away from it all and it worked. A visit to Fingal is just the place to be when you feel a bit down. Recommended.

  17. BRENDA
    Bad luck about the chocolate cake. I was hot and I was hungry by the time I got to the top of the hill and so the post became a story of chocolate-in-the-past. Next time we'll share.

  18. JUDY
    Eight degrees and no heater! How soul destroying. Why can't we have everything perfect all of the time?

    Anyway, thanks for visiting. I hope you left with positive feelings.

    Yes, it's time consuming so I suppose that's why I do less posts than I would otherwise.

    I treat my photography as a bit of a holiday. I really did have a lovely time yesterday. My posts are an incentive to get going.

    How very sad. However, I reckon it's NEVER too late. We have an annual Clean Up Australia Day and that really helps keep things beautiful, and supports the culture of cleanliness. People get out in their thousands combing around public areas finding things such as abandoned shopping trolleys.

    When I was a little kid I remember that the roads were quite dirty with rubbish thrown from cars. We didn't think about looking after our environment.

    In recent years this has all changed and in the main people who are careless are looked down upon. Mind you, the civil authorities must play their part by putting bins out in sensible places, making it easy to do the right thing. These days if there are no bins people take their rubbish home with them, disposing of it there. There are regular rubbish collections in residential areas of course.

    A large proportion of Australians will pick up bottles and rubbish even after others, in order to maintain tidyness. It was the result of public education maintained and supported over many years.

    What a reward we have now!

  21. What wonderful photos! Makes me realize how much I miss living close to the ocean!

  22. What a great walk! I can´t imagine living by so much water!! To your last question. Yes we can go swimming, but only in man made water holes or swimming pools. Nothing like your place!!

    It's a great place to walk a dog - so long as we pick after our loved ones!

  24. Having lived near either the Pacific or the Atlantic most of my life, I'm getting used to inland living now in eastern New Mexico. I drove past what passes for a lake in town today. People sit around this water, fishing and picnicking, and it's really just a big, glorified puddle. We get very excited about a very little bit of water here.

    Thank you, June, for the beautiful photos and lovely tour!

  25. Hi BETTY
    Yes there is a lot of water around here. Fingal is a headland with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Tweed River on the other.
    We are right on the coast, of course, with many miles of white beaches to the north and south, and we have lakes as well - icing on the cake if you will.
    We used to have wonderful rain forests, but we successfully chopped most of those down, sadly.
    It's so important that we all do what we can to preserve what we have.

  26. Beautiful, I would love to see those rocks up close. I've always been fascinated by lava rocks for some reason.

  27. CLAIR
    That's the point isn't it? Home is where the heart is. And the 'heart' is mostly family and friends.

  28. I wish you could see the rocks up close too ERIC. They're quite smooth and lovely. And a great colour that changes with the waves.

    There is something very special about lava - after all it's from very close to the centre of our earth.

    I prefer it solid and not molten though.

  29. June,
    I'm back! Couldn't stay away from your blod for long. Loved the descriptions of the sea, and its dangers. The pics are lovely! Reminded me so much of the blue coast of Cornwall, U.K. at Land's End...

  30. June!
    You have described my dreams, my dreamplaces a very much valuable writing i shall like to kep as a reference and go on reading whenever i may fel bad.
    Won't you visit my blog. There are 2 blogs there and waiting for your comments. Your comments are my source of inspiration for a lazy soul like me.

  31. Hello again Smita - I visited your blog and tried to leave a comment. I hope it got to you as there seemed to be something wrong with the comments.

  32. PRADIP
    Thank you for coming. I visited you and loved the photograph of the man among the trees. His face was beautiful.
    I'm pleased our lovely country has inspired you.

  33. Lovely to share your trip. It is amazing how different each beach can be, in this huge land. Love those rocks.

  34. Hi MEGGIE
    My 'trip' of five minutes drive! Pleased you enjoyed it.
    So true about this land of contrasts. How are the Central Coast beaches? It's several lifetimes since I tripped around those rock pools at The Entrance as a kid.

  35. Just in case you don't check back there, June, I've got six words for you on my blog in response to your comment there.

  36. Thanks, June for your comment. You are so inspiring!
    I am waiting for you to go back to Pip. Have you ended the story? Waiting...


  37. I began focusing on her just today Smita - we'll see what happens.
    I hope that I am inspired too ...
    Thanks for the comment.

  38. Told you that you lived in God's country June PLUS you had a BIG SLICE of chocolate cake too. Well done you! And gorgeous photos. Think I will seriously go and make a cake now. No, I am serious. It's amazing what reading blogs inspires you to do. It still hope to retire up your way some time. BLISS...

  39. You're right LILLY - I have it all!
    How did the cake turn out? And how much is left?

  40. Great to be near a sea! Most of my poems are full of sea imagery, and the magic of the waves, coastal colours, but yours come alive!

  41. Photographs and poetry both have a role of course SMITA. Pictures are probably more graphic and immediate. Poetry encourages the gradual unfolding of thought and ideas.

  42. Isn't it so much fun being able to blogger travel with each other? The photos were amazing, especially the porpoises!! LOVED them! Safe travels and keep cooking chocolate cake, too!

  43. Hello, June:

    Lovely photographs! Would be good for the local tourism board, I think.

    I don't know how to swim, yet, but it is on my bucket list of things to do.


    There were little whiffs of similarity between your pix of Florida and mine weren't there? Interesting.
    How's the trip home going?

  45. Hi CROW
    Tourism is big here of course - who wouldn't want to come for a holiday? But at least on this side of the border (Queensland/NSW)it hasn't gone over the top which it has (in my view) on the Gold Coast, Qld. High rises et al.
    Hey - not learned to swim? Get into it girl. That's almost inconceivable here. It's a matter of survival from childhood on ...

  46. PS: you've stirred up a longing for chocolate cake, too, which I must take care of this minute! (Going to the bakery.)


    What would have happened had I included a picture of my big slice of gooey chocolate cake in my pix? Even without I seemed to have stirred up a storm of desire ...

  48. Had you posted that cake slice photo, I'd have drooled all over my keyboard so badly that it would no longer function!

    Your expression, "...a storm of desire" sets me to thinking on just what that must look like to observers and feel like to those caught up in it. That phrase belongs in a song or poem. I truly enjoy your way with words, June.


  49. Thanks Crow. The English language gives one much scope.
    Message: Maybe keep away from chocolate cake?

  50. hello June
    lovely post about Fingal head i took a new years dive on the 1 of January at fingal heads beach,something told me to stay close to shore I wonder why.......

  51. Hi Mona
    You live so close to me and Fingal! Good to meet you and see your lovely arty blog.
    Fingal's Dreamtime Beach is not patrolled by surf life savers. It has rips (dangerous currents for those who don't know) so you have to be very careful and staying at the edge is wise.
    The shark-like fish I saw were porpoise and more likely to kiss you that bite you.
    I bet you enjoyed the native trees there - lots of natural patterns for your inspiration.

  52. Good morning June, I have come via Mona...
    I loved learning about Fingal Headland- thank you for the enjoyable romp. I walked up Mt Warning recently...wonderful views to the coast. You have a lovely blog...

  53. Good to meet another Aussie Delwyn. Mount Warning eh? That area has so much presence - it's no wonder it's a sacred place of the Aborigines.

    You're no slouch making it to the top. I've done it twice in my life, but not in the past few years that's for sure.

    Well done.

  54. Listening to you I should go for a swim. Its sweltering heat in India now. Lovely photos.

  55. Enjoy the swim NSIYER
    It's very humid here as a cyclone moves down the coast towards us ... We are crossing our fingers.

  56. It's been a while since I swam in the sea. Nothing quite like it is there?

    It's a while since I've played with a football - ie soccer. My son was crazy about it as soon as he could walk and now he's 48!
    So you are PR for a UK football club - could be worse jobs? Would be easier with Maradonna in the side of course, but not everyone gets to have number one on their wish list.


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