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Two photos in this post were taken by my friend, Rosemary Barnard, a consummate photographer: the railing of the lighthouse stairs and the graves.

Without the incentive of a visit from an old friend, I would never have got round to booking a trip out to Baranguba, the island I see lying low on the horizon whenever I walk along my bit of coast, I’ve been once before, some years ago, an evening trip to celebrate my birthday and watch the penguins come ashore. This time it was an 8.30 start, a couple of hours on the island with a national parks guide, and a bit of tearing round the ocean in search of whales.

There were many pleasures: the burst of speed once we’d crossed the dangerous Narooma Bar (life jackets compulsory); the view back to my coastline and the wonderful range of mountains behind it; the rising and falling on the swell as we waited for whales to breach; the delight of seeing the gleaming black back, the white belly, the spouting and the tail in the air; the colonies of seals (Australian and New Zealand), lolling on the rocks and cavorting in the water; the colours and shapes of the boulders and vegetation; the lighthouse, the place where its stone was quarried, and the view from the top, over the island and across to the mainland; the nesting colonies of cranky seagulls and civil terns; the regeneration of the vegetation and the restoration of the lighthouse keeper’s cottages; the sad graveyard where three children were buried; the sacred rocks used for Aboriginal men’s business; walking in the warm sun; the rush down the coast almost to Mystery Bay when we were nearly back to Narooma because more whales had been sighted; the shore-hugging journey back to the bar; even the agitation at the thought of the ladder and the step backwards on an unpredictable swell as we re-embarked.

Where the lighthouse stone was quarried

Gulaga and Najanuga

For the Aboriginal story, read http://livingknowledge.anu.edu.au/learningsites/kooricoast/10_gulaga_story.htm

Gulaga is the big mountain you can see in this photo (Captain Cook called it Dromedary), and the tiny peak connected to it on the left is Najanuga.