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Tassie 1/21

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wow, after working hard to catch up with you all I had a hard time getting up for the tour. I'm so glad I did though! Here's what I learned.

The Cape Wickham Lighthouse is a lighthouse on King Island, Tasmania. At 48 meters tall, it is Australia's tallest lighthouse. It is also the tallest lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere! It is also listed on the Commonwealth Heritage Register.

The lighthouse was originally established in 1861, in response to the sinking of the barque Cataraqui sixteen years earlier, a disaster which had resulted in the deaths of four hundred people.

A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts having the foremasts rigged square and only the aftermast rigged fore-and-aft.

In the 18th century, the British Royal Navy used the term bark for a nondescript vessel that did not fit any of its usual categories.


A Rigging Schematic


A Barque at Full Sails

While it was being constructed, some worried that the lighthouse would cause more shipwrecks than it prevented, as lighthouses usually showed the way to safety rather than warning of danger as the Cape Wickham lighthouse was designed to do. The lighthouse was completed and shipwrecks frequently continued to occur until the Currie Lighthouse was completed in 1879.

The Currie Lighthouse was built following agitation by Archibald Currie and others for a lighthouse at Currie Harbor in 1879. Planned and fabricated by the Chance Brothers in England, it was devised as a 69 ft tall square pyramidal truss iron tower with an iron cylinder centered inside and then shipped to Tasmania to be erected.


Currie Lighthouse

The lightsource's focal plane is situated 151 ft above sea level. The adjacent keeper's house was turned into a museum in 1980.


Lighhouse Light

The Cape Wickham lighthouse was built from locally quarried stone, the lighthouse was manned by a superintendent until the light was automated in the 1920s. The superintendent often came into conflict with hunters and other established inhabitants of the island, with one 1873 report stating:

There are certain lawless men who have taken up their residence on the island who make a practice of annoying the Superintendent in every possible way, destroying his cattle, pulling down the fences and taking his hay and in fact they say they are determined to make the place too hot for him, and I much fear it will end in some serious injury to the station or perhaps to the light itself.
—from Guiding Lights by Katherine Stanley


Cape Wickham Lighthouse

The superintendents were required to be extremely self sufficient, as only one supply ship visited the site a year. Some of the lightkeepers resorted to looting and theft to supplement these supplies, with one keeper being dismissed for storing goods that his brother had looted from a shipwreck.

In the 1920s, it was determined that it was no longer necessary for the light to be manned on a full-time basis, and automation systems were added to the lighthouse. At this time, a number of the surrounding buildings were also demolished, including the superintendent's residence. The lighthouse continued to be looked after by the lighthouse keeper from nearby Currie.

During preparations for the 150th anniversary of the lighthouse, it was discovered that it had never been officially opened. To rectify this oversight, Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce officially opened the lighthouse in a ceremony on November 5th 2011.

There are eleven timber flights of stairs in the lighthouse, with twenty steps each, which must be climbed in order to reach the top. Surrounding the lighthouse are the remains of a number of associated buildings, including a small church. There are also a number of gravestones, many belonging to those who were shipwrecked in the area after the lighthouse was built.

One of the other stops that was so wonderful was the King Island Dairy. As one who just LOVES cheese it was so hard to keep myself in check.

Welcome to King Island - a beautiful little island between Victoria and Tasmania's North West coast, in the Roaring Forties of Bass Strait. It's rare that mother nature creates an environment so perfect for honing the art of cheese making. Today, the herds that graze on its pristine, wind-swept pastures produce some of the purest, sweetest milk in the world. With a heritage in dairy since the early 1900s, our coveted milk is collected by the dairy every day, where our highly skilled craftsmen make world class and award winning specialty cheese and dairy products.


The girls hard at work!

Swiss-born Ueli Berger has an inexhaustible passion for cheesemaking which began very early in life. As the grandson of a cheesemaker and son of a dairy farmer, his European childhood provided plenty of opportunities to explore the craft. After studying cheesemaking in Switzerland for three years, Berger was chosen from a group of 48 cheesemakers to work for an Australian soft cheese manufacturer. In 1998, he moved to King Island to become King Island Dairy's head cheesemaker. With a career now spanning more than 25 years, Berger has earned acclaim both nationally and internationally. This includes awards from the New York Fancy Food Show and the World Championship Cheese Contest (Wisconsin, USA), to the Australian Specialist Cheesemakers' Association, the Dairy Industry Association of Australia, and the Australian Grand Dairy Awards.


Ueli in the maturing room at King Island Dairy

Here are the types they have.

Soft White cheese is surface ripened, ageing from the exterior to the interior through a process that enhances the character of the cheese. When ripe, the center of a soft white cheese should have a delightful creamy soft texture when cut. The exterior coating will have a velvety white rind. Here in America it is known as Brie. A heavenly cheese that pairs well with just about anything from Roast Beef to Fruit! They carry a full 8 different varieties.



Washed Rind cheese is among the world's strongest smelling yet sweetest tasting cheeses. The robust aroma with a sweet and earthy flavor that is slightly nutty. The cheese surface is washed during production with a brine solution containing a special bacterium, brevi bacterium linens (also known as brevi or B linens). The Brine solution gives the rind its distinctive aroma and red-orange color. They have two different types.



Blue Vein cheese is a unique category of mold ripened cheese as it ripens from the interior, as opposed to the exterior (like soft white cheese). It mostly has a strong tangy flavor, a pungent aroma and a smooth and creamy texture. Blue vein cheese is distinguished by a network of blue-green veins of mold. The veins are created during production when the cheese is 'spiked' or 'pierced' to allow oxygen in, which promotes the growth of the blue mold. Similar to the "Blue Cheese" here in America. They have six different varieties at this dairy.



The origin of the name cheddar comes from 'cheddaring', a cheese making method that originated in Somerset, England which refers to the way curds are managed during production.

Cheddar is a close textured cheese which, depending on its age, has a delicate to rich flavor. Cheddar can be waxed, cloth wrapped, smoked or flavored. The many flavor variations of cheddar reflect different cheese making methods and the length of maturation they are allowed to attain. Aged cheddar crumbles in the mouth whereas mild cheddar will slice well for use in sandwiches.


Stokes Point Smoked Cheddar

Black Label

King Island Dairy Black Label is an artisan range, made by hand under the tutelage of our Head Cheesemaker, Ueli Berger.

A unique mix of cultures are blended with rich King Island milk, creating the signature flavor for each King Island Dairy Black Label cheese. Throughout the maturation process the King Island Dairy cheesemakers maintain a watchful eye, responding to the varying characters of each wheel. Only when the cheesemaker deems it ready is the cheese allowed to leave the sanctuary of the island. There are three Bries, one Wax Cheddar and one Cloth Matured Cheddar.

The King Island Dairy Black Label range is only available from select fine food retailers, restaurants and hotels.


Black Label Triple Cream Blue

King Island Dairy Pure Cream is a voluptuous and indulgent cream that is pasteurized and naturally thick, containing no preservatives, additives or thickeners. It has a milk fat content of around 53%, making it even more rich and creamy than most thickened or double cream. Cream is perfect to dollop or spoon onto dishes as it holds its shape well. It's a great accompaniment to desserts and soups and can be added to hot dishes to enrich the flavor. Just reading about it I've gained weight! Mmmmm.



The great attraction of King Island Dairy's Yoghurt is its rich, creamy and truly indulgent flavors that are tantalisingly moreish. Looks like cream but tastes like yoghurt. Sticks to the spoon when dolloped. Extremely versatile - a delicious treat on muesli, fruit and desserts or just by it self. It contains no preservatives or thickeners and has the added benefit of acidophilus. Acidophilus is a good bacteria that your intestines need for proper digestion.

Vanilla Bean

Indulge yourself with this decadently rich and creamy yoghurt from King Island's lush green pastures - the natural source of our famous award winning dairy products.



Desserts. Two of the finer things in life - King Island Dairy Pure Cream and Belgian chocolate, combined to create our dairy dessert sensation. Truly indulgent, rich and creamy. A Decadent mouth-watering treat on its own or dolloped onto seasonal fruit. What a great way to end a meal.



After getting back from our tour I decided to take a look at the Calcified Forest. The Calcified Forest is 7000 years old! These remains are all that remain of an ancient forest, revealed when the lime-laden sand which had covered and preserved the stumps has been re-exposed over the years from the constant Roaring Forties storms from the Southern Ocean. Just the thought of all that sand covering the trees and then being uncovered was just mind blowing for me. After going there however, I could see how it was possible. The wind was very strong and constant. Several times I thought I was going to be blown over even with my walker. I have to say it was very interesting to see. Here are a couple of pictures of what I saw.







Here is a map of where the forest is.



Well there is just enough time for supper and a nap and then join in the Penguin Watching Tour.

That was just what I needed. That nap was worth its weight in gold!

I got to the tour in plenty of time and walked around learning a bit about the penguins that we'd be seeing tonight.

The scientific name of the Little Penguin (formerly known as Fairy Penguin or Blue Penguin) – Eudyptula minor – is most descriptive. Not only are these penguins the smallest of the species, but Eudyptula means ‘good little diver’.

They are only 16 in tall and approximately 2.4 lbs. The Little Penguins are the smallest penguin species in the world. They are flightless seabirds who breed in colonies along the southern coast of Australia, as far north as Port Stephens in the east to Fremantle in the west.


The crowd returns

Their dense waterproof plumage is dark blue on the upper parts of the body and white on the underside. The single Australian subspecies is distinguished from the five New Zealand subspecies by having a margin of white feathers on the tail and on the rear edge of each flipper.


You can see from this photo just how dense their plumage really is.

The Little Penguins usually breed on offshore islands and along parts of the mainland coast that are inaccessible to predators. Most breeding sites are adjacent to the sea, with burrows in sand or soil or under vegetation, but in some areas the birds nest in caves or crevices in rock falls. The type and structure of vegetation in the breeding areas varies from sparsely-vegetated caves and rock screes through grass-, herb- and scrublands, to woodland and forests.

The world breeding population is thought to be between 350-600,000 birds, comprising 300-500 000 in Australia. These figures are undoubtedly underestimates as new colonies are still being found. Bass Strait, with 60% of the known breeding population, is the stronghold for the species in Australia. However less than 5% of breeding pairs are found on mainland Tasmania, where ever-increasing human pressure will probably result in these colonies extinction. The largest populations are found on Tasmania's offshore islands.


The Three Musketeers

Their breeding distribution in Australia, extends from the Shoalwater Island Group (Penguin and Carnac Islands), near Perth in Western Australia, across the southern coast (including Bass Strait and Tasmania), and up the east coast as far as South Solitary Island in New South Wales (near Coffs Harbor).

While the species is not endangered, some populations are threatened and penguins no longer breed at some previously occupied sites. In addition, the size of some breeding colonies has diminished since European settlement in both Australia and New Zealand. Conversely, several new colonies have become established in the recent past, for example at St. Kilda in Victoria, where approximately 200 birds now breed on a breakwater constructed for the 1956 Olympic Games.


The loving couple in their nest.


A parent with the chicks.

The Little Penguin’s streamlined shape and its efficient flippers enable it to seek prey in shallow short dives, typically between 10m and 30m. Its diet consists of small fish, some squid or krill (shrimp-like crustaceans) and occasionally crab larvae or sea horses from the sea floor.


Tiny Krill


Now for one that you can actually see!

Each evening as it gets dark, groups of penguins gather beyond the surf where they may be heard calling to each other. They surf in from their day at sea and walk up the beach to their burrows. In large colonies, hundreds of birds may come ashore in a brief time.


Tons at a time

Some Little Penguins return to their burrows year round, but most stay at sea over autumn and winter.

Fairy penguins have a distinctive song, which moves from a bass rumble to a trumpeting cry, accompanied by flipper, beak and body movements. At night, and especially in the breeding season, the din of a penguin colony can be considerable.

Researchers at the Phillip Island Nature Reserve have been following the fate of one particular male penguin since 1994. On one foraging trip while gathering food for his growing chick, the penguin dove down to 57 metres - three metres deeper than the previous deepest dive of 54 meters.

Fairy penguins live on average for 7 years, and some retain the same mate for life. Most Little Penguins do not breed until they are two or three years old. Breeding is roughly seasonal, peaking around spring with some pairs breeding twice in one year.

A clutch of two white eggs is laid in spring. Male and female birds share the 36-day period of egg incubation. When the chicks hatch they are initially helpless and are brooded continuously for about 2-3 weeks. After this period both adults leave the chicks unguarded in the nest during the day, while they forage at sea to obtain food for the rapidly growing chicks. By 8 weeks of age the chicks have lost their down and acquired the waterproof plumage necessary for independent life at sea. These young birds are not seen again at their original colonies for at least a year and may disperse widely during this period.


Itty Bitty Baby


Moulting chicks that only a mother could love!

Well it is really time to go to bed. It's been a fun filled day with the group and I can't wait to see and learn about what is around the bend. Have a great night everyone. Sleep well.



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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

INDIANABON 1/22/2014 5:45AM

    Wow! I think you must have remembered every detail our tour guide told us about! Great blog! emoticon

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EMMABE1 1/22/2014 12:36AM

    Another great blog - I love your blogs I learn so much!!

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