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7 January 2019 / leggypeggy

Potato Point loaded with history

Potato Point, New South Wales

Around the rocks at Potato Point

We’ve had a wonderful week at the beach house, enjoying the company of family and friends. Daughter Libby and son-in-law Daniel came for New Year’s Eve, along with Daniel’s mum and stepdad, Kaye and Elmar from Perth, Western Australia.

Then Derrick and Anne arrived from the UK. A few years back, we travelled with Derrick for two months in South America.

So we thought it was important to show the visitors some great scenery and a good time. Libby and Daniel suggested Potato Point and I had to admit it had been years since I was there.

It was the perfect choice. We started at Jemison’s Beach, known for its rough seas and wild winds. Waves were hammering the beach, expanding an already large sand cliff.  It was a reminder that Mother Nature is boss. We walked north along the beach to the actual Potato Point.

Mother Nature attacks the sand dunes

Mother Nature attacks the sand dunes

The village of Potato Point (population about 135) is surrounded by the Eurobodalla National Park. Its name comes from the Brice family. They grew vegetables and potatoes there, and rowed them out to ships standing off the point for transport to the Sydney market.

But the more important and long-lasting history of the area is its connection to the Aborigines. The Yuin are considered to be the traditional owners of the region.

I was moved by a remarkable story written by Noel Perry. It recounts, from an Aboriginal point of view, the 1797 landing by explorer and whaler George Bass. I found it online and can’t see that it is copyrighted, so here it is.

Looking down on Jemison Beach

Looking down on Jemison Beach

Aboriginal view of the George Bass landing
‘Travelling south during an expedition which resulted in the discovery of Port Phillip Bay, George Bass stayed overnight at Tuross.

‘On the evening of Saturday, December 16, 1797, his whale boat stood off a point of land which he named Marka Point, the place now known as Potato Point. The next day he landed and walked to what we call Tuross Lake. For someone on his way to test the existence or otherwise of a sea lane between the Pacific and Indian oceans, this break in his journey was but an interlude. He recorded that the area was waterless and empty of human inhabitants.

‘However, to the people whose territory it was, the arrival of a whale boat under sail was a most dramatic event. Fifty years later, when Cooral, an Aboriginal friend, told it to him, a resident of Moruya wrote their version down.

Potato Point in New South WalesPotato Point in New South Wales

Approaching Potato Point

‘When George Bass and his crew dropped anchor, Cooral, then a young boy, was asleep with his tribe on the cliff above the beach. At dawn, when everybody woke up, they were dismayed to see an enormous white thing just out to sea, its wings spread as if for flight. After a hasty discussion they decided that a monster bird of some unearthly kind had come to pick them up like a hawk does its prey.

‘They fled in terror. They did not stop until they sank exhausted in a gully of the stony creek near what we call Coila. Even there they did not feel safe, for who knew if the great white bird was not hovering above them ready to strike, and they had nothing with which to defend themselves. In their panic they had left all their possessions, all their weapons and their food, behind them on the cliff top. The elders were the first to think beyond fright. They decided that a look-out should be posted to watch the lake and the bravest of the tribe should go back to see what had happened at their camp site.

Potato Point, New South Wales, Australia

‘While everyone else crouched in silence, tired and hungry, a courageous little group returned to the sea. Concealing themselves, they paused near the springs and scanned the horizon.There was nothing unusual to see. The monster was no longer there. After much debate they agreed they should walk along the beach to see if the great winged thing had molested their camp site. Creeping cautiously along the high tide mark they bunched together when their leader suddenly stopped.

‘On the sand were unmistakable signs of a canoe of some strange make having been pulled out of the water. Stranger still, there were prints of human feet and beside them others so weird as to be unbelievable. Footprints of two-legged creatures, without toes, prints such as they had never seen before. Despite their fear they tracked the prints of the toeless creatures. But when the prints led towards the place where the tribe was hiding their dread intensified. The one thought that now possessed their minds was that some further horror had come among them. With all speed they hastened back to warn the others.

Potato Point looking north

Potato Point looking north

Birds congregate on Potato Point

Birds congregate on Potato Point

‘This further news caused more consternation and panic. Not only was the tribe at the mercy of a great bird which might swoop down on them at any moment, but now mysterious toeless beings were coming towards them on land. They spent the day crouched under the trees. At night they huddled together for warmth. They had no fire, no food, no possum rugs to cover themselves and no weapons with which to defend” themselves. It is no wonder that an old man could remember with such detail all that happened during that terrible time. He could not recall how long they stayed there, but at last hunger and cold won over terror. The brave ones once more went back to the camp.

Dead blue bottle

An offending blue bottle. Hope this one didn’t sting anyone

‘At last they reached the campsite. Nothing seemed to have been touched. Food and dilly bags still hung from the trees, weapons and rugs lay about undisturbed. They hastened to tell the others. Slightly reassured but still fearful, the tribe went back. They ate, collected their possessions, and then moved to another place. The big white bird was never seen again and there were no more sightings of toeless footprints. Life gradually returned to normal. By the time Cooral and his peers attained manhood they had heard of similar happenings far to their north and of the coming of the spirits of men, turned white.

‘George Bass had recorded the area as uninhabited. To him it was just one more uneventful day. Yet the memory of that momentous episode, the terror, the courage, so impressed the mind of a young boy that 60 years later he could still remember it in vivid detail.’

P.S. Here’s a pic of a blue bottle (sometimes known as a Portuguese Man ‘o War). The east coast of Australia has been overwhelmed by them this year. There have been 13,000 reported stings in the last two weeks.

Potato Point, New South Wales

Lovely view of Potato Point. Derrick is in the orange t-shirt. Elmar and Kaye are on the right. Photo by Daniel Veryard

 

71 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. a mindful traveler / Jan 7 2019 11:29 pm

    Looks like a great spot on the coast. I have not heard of Potato Point before. Thanks for sharing a bit of history as well Peggy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. beetleypete / Jan 7 2019 11:58 pm

    What a wonderful story, from the point of view of those aboriginal people.
    Those jellyfish look menacing indeed, Peggy. I hope you don’t encounter any at sea.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 8:21 am

      Thanks Pete. When you see jellyfish or blue bottles on the beach, you know not to go into the water.

      Like

  3. ralietravels / Jan 8 2019 12:01 am

    That was a fascinating story about the aboriginal view point. How typical of all humanity to fear [sometimes legitimately] what we don’t understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 8:23 am

      The Aborigines’ fear was definitely legitimate. They suffered horribly at the hands of the white man.

      Like

  4. Popping Wheelies / Jan 8 2019 12:34 am

    That is a riveting story, very thought provoking. The blue bottle problem is rather serious, indeed. Best of luck to all of you in dealing with the matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 8:24 am

      It’s easy enough to avoid blue bottles. We just need to stay out of the water when we see them on the high tide line.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Vicki / Jan 8 2019 1:51 am

    Most interesting, Peggy.
    Thanks for sharing that fascinating piece of history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 8:25 am

      You are most welcome. It’s the first time I’ve seen an account like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. efge63 / Jan 8 2019 3:04 am

    First i want to wish you the best for the New Year to you and your family!!! Thanks for sharing this wonderful place and the story!!!

    Thank you for reading my posts!! I really appreciate this!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. thewonderer86 / Jan 8 2019 4:33 am

    I love the name!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 8:26 am

      I was pleased to learn how it came to be called Potato Point.

      Like

  8. derrickjknight / Jan 8 2019 5:03 am

    Excellent pictures and fascinating story

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dave Ply / Jan 8 2019 5:17 am

    Interesting story. Amazing how perspective can affect events.

    I thought Blue Bottles were bigger. I gather it’s safe to touch the business end after they dry out?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 8:28 am

      Blue bottles can be much bigger. This was a small one. And yes, I think they’re harmless when they’re dried out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rhonda / Jan 8 2019 8:50 am

        It’s still wise to avoid treading on them, Peggy. From one who suffered a few stings as a child, some from dead and dried out bluebottles…

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 6:10 pm

        Yikes, thanks for confirming Rhonda.

        Like

  10. afterthelasttime / Jan 8 2019 5:22 am

    Very nice story. Thank you! Looks like your Tasman Sea is ferocious on that day. By chance did you buy a bag or two of oysters for New Years Eve?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 8:28 am

      You know as too well. Of course we had a bag of oysters for New Year’s Eve.

      Like

  11. Rhonda / Jan 8 2019 6:50 am

    Great story from that viewpoint, Peggy. I’ve often thought about how terrifying those ships must have appeared to those watching from the shore and I haven’t come across that story before, so thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 8:29 am

      You are most welcome Rhonda. I hadn’t come across a story like that, so had to share.

      Like

  12. gerard oosterman / Jan 8 2019 10:22 am

    Between sharks and blue bottles, I am happy to be 600 metres above sea level. Great photos, Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. onecreativefamily / Jan 8 2019 10:58 am

    Beautiful photos. Growing up I learned to watch for jellyfish or man-o-wars, once you get stung you pay more attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Kristine Howard / Jan 8 2019 12:31 pm

    Hi Peggy Excellent story, research and photos. One of the Howard family’s favourite places. Kristine

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 6:11 pm

      Thanks Kristine. It is a beautiful spot. Sorry it took me so long to return.

      Like

  15. shawnthompsonart / Jan 8 2019 1:50 pm

    Really nice seaside pictures!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Alison and Don / Jan 8 2019 8:49 pm

    I love the story of the Aboriginal experience of George Bass and his ship. It’s the kind of history we should have been taught in school, but weren’t of course.
    I’ve been to Potato Point. I seem to remember my parents had friends who had a house there. It’s been so long I can’t remember what it was like. My most recent foray to the coast was to Guerilla Bay back in 2015.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 8 2019 9:59 pm

      It’s a pity that the Aboriginal view isn’t shared. We need to know that history too. Our house is in Rosedale. We can walk to Guerilla Bay.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Gilda Baxter / Jan 8 2019 11:54 pm

    Gorgeous and wild place to take your visitors. Such incredible history there also 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 9 2019 7:42 am

      I imagine many places in Australia have such a history. It just hasn’t been recorded or widely shared. Pity.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Curt Mekemson / Jan 9 2019 7:50 am

    Fascinating story, Peggy. Kind of how I might react to a flying saucer that landed on our property. 🙂 A lovely, wild, beach! I could hang out there. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  19. kkessler833 / Jan 9 2019 1:20 pm

    Great post! Love the photos!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Sy S. / Jan 9 2019 2:23 pm

    LP,

    Potato Point looks like a very interesting place to photograph… early morning or late afternoon sunrise/sunsets over the ocean? Being in OZ (upside down from Eastern USA) I don’t know which is better for photos… and winter or summer. And maybe slow shutter speeds (like a few seconds) to show the interesting patterns of the waves breaking on the rocks.

    The old Aboriginal “Point of View” story was also interesting and how they might have reacted to seeing a big white bird on the horizon and ready to swoop down on them … and with mysterious toe- less creatures.

    Further, I did not know about “Blue Bottle” “Portuguese Man of War,” so Googled. They are similar to Jellyfish and with a terrible sting to other fish and humans. They have been pushed ashore in Australia this past weekend and thousands of humans (as you said) have been stung. I do not know if they are also in the East Coast of America and in large numbers to cause problems (like in the summer when people go swimming… in August we do get Jellyfish, but not very dangerous Blue Bottle ones.

    Sy S.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 9 2019 10:28 pm

      Oh my, your comment is packed with information. I’ll touch on some of it. The Blue Bottle (Portuguese Man o’ War) is definitely on the east coast of the USA. I got stung in Florida when I was about 9 years old. Some of our jellyfish are deadly too. And the Stone Fish is another killer.

      As for shutter speeds. I just experiment and see what I get. Works for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. jeanleesworld / Jan 9 2019 10:32 pm

    Thank you for the morning history lesson! Hope you didn’t get stung. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 9 2019 10:34 pm

      No, I didn’t get stung. It’s a simple matter of checking the high tide line before going in the water. If there are blue bottles there, don’t go in.

      Liked by 2 people

      • jeanleesworld / Jan 10 2019 5:45 am

        Aha! Got it. Here swimmer’s itch has nothing a person can see; you just have to hope summer’s been hot enough to kill off the wee bugs in the lake that cause it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Jan 10 2019 8:34 am

        I spent my childhood summers in Lake Geneva Wisconsin. I remember swimmer’s itch all too well.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Sheryl / Jan 10 2019 1:16 pm

    What a beautiful area!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Bob / Jan 10 2019 4:02 pm

    Excellent post, beautiful photos. My wife and I will be visiting Australia for the first time in April, both to buy lunch for our grandson who is at the university in Brisbane and to observe and photograph birds. You could no doubt give us many good ideas. Bob and Prudy, Tucson, Arizona

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 10 2019 8:20 pm

      I’d be delighted to share ideas with you. How long can you stay in Australia and do you plan to travel around?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bob / Jan 11 2019 2:15 am

        Thank you. We’re still in the planning stage, but hope to fly in and out of Brisbane, and spend 2-3 weeks in Queensland, first in Brisbane, then to Cairns and back, hopefully staying for the most part in one reasonably-priced place in both destinations, and day-tripping from both to nature-oriented spots like Lamington. Goal is to see as much wildlife, especially birds, as possible, enjoying the people and places simultaneously. By the way, I also enjoyed your postings from our part of the world!

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 11 2019 10:38 am

        There are some fantastic places to visit between Brisbane and Cairns. People are often surprised to learn they are 1000 miles apart. And Australian birds are just fabulous.

        Liked by 2 people

  24. ortensia / Jan 10 2019 6:42 pm

    What a funny name but the place really looks amazing

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Derrick / Jan 10 2019 10:07 pm

    This was a wild day, waves crashing on the beach, even under cutting it in places
    I had never heard of potato point, let alone the story
    Since I have been with John and Peggy I have learned a lot about the aboriginal people, they don’t live in tribes, it’s either a clan or a mob
    Staying with John and Peggy has been an education for us
    One day I hope to return the compliment and have them stay with us in the U.K.
    I hope I can return the friendliest and informative stay to them they have given us
    Cheers Peggy and John, it’s been a memorable stay

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 10 2019 10:39 pm

      Derrick, thanks so much for such a heartfelt comment. It’s been a complete pleasure to have you and Anne to stay. We’ll try to get to the UK sooner rather than later.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. fragglerocking / Jan 12 2019 12:42 am

    Lovely photo’s and such a great history. (came from Pete’s blog).

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Nilzeitung / Jan 12 2019 11:57 am

    Toll !!!!>>>>>>>>(((((((((°J°))))

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Chris Riley / Jan 12 2019 4:37 pm

    Looks like a beautiful place, and that history lesson through the eyes of past level cal residents. How frightening for them. Well told Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 12 2019 8:31 pm

      Thanks Chris. We really need to thank Noel Perry for writing it to begin with. It’s such a valuable record of what would have been a terrifying experience.

      Like

  29. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Jan 14 2019 5:32 pm

    What a gorgeous beach this is. Thank you for posting Coorals’ story of the landing of Bass’s ship. Fascinating to read what Aborigines thought of this strange huge bird and how it frightened them. In so many ways, the devastation of their culture was brought about by the toeless ghosts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jan 14 2019 8:14 pm

      Australia is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I should post about more of them.
      Also I thought it was important to share the story of the landing. You are right when you say the Aboriginal culture has been devastated, and no one is very good at figuring out how to fix it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Jan 15 2019 4:56 am

        Seems to be true all over the world, in part because the world is changing and isolation is no longer possible nor desirable. People are weary of living hand to mouth, especially if it’s for entertainment value of other people. I hope that essential aspects of all indigenous cultures remain intact but we “outsiders” should probably leave them alone. They don’t need our guidance; we’ve done a really bad job of that. Stories are a good way of saving cultures.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jan 15 2019 8:58 am

        Makes me think of the missionary fellow who was recently killed in the Andaman Islands. Horribly sad for him and his family and friends, but a stark reminder that we have to learn to respect other cultures and their desires.

        Liked by 1 person

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