The Moderating Influence of the Sea …

I have enjoyed a few days in Anglesea on Victoria’s coast. The sea imposes a moderating influence on the weather. It was a cool and pleasant interlude while at home it was hot. Adding to my personal sense of moderation was the pleasant company and generous hospitality of the very good friends I was staying with.

Anglesea is towards the eastern end of the Great Ocean Road. If you’re traveling east to west it’s where the journey starts to be interesting. The road is Victoria’s premier tourist attraction and although I have mixed feelings about it there is no doubt that it is both visually splendid and worth a fortune to the state’s economy.

It’s been in the news a bit lately because, woe be upon us, erosion. The media have been discussing the impending crisis in terms of climate change and sea level rise. Thousands of tourists travel thousands of miles to see the effects of thousands of years of erosion. Sea stacks, arches, steep cliffs are all the result of erosion. And we’ve just started making a fuss about … erosion.

The Great Ocean Road

Coasts can be classified in several ways one way is to divide them into coasts of submergence and coasts of emergence. There are nice examples of both in the map above. To the right is Port Phillip Bay. At the height of the last glaciation the Yarra River ran across a plain and discharged into the ocean at the heads. As the sea rose the plain was inundated providing Melbourne with a large bay to sail around looking at a coast of submergence. For most of its length the Great Ocean Road skirts a coast of emergence.

Emergent coasts are a result of local tectonic uplift of the land surface or a fall in the elevation of sea level because of a reduction in the water volume of ocean basins. Quite often, emergent coasts have rocky coastlines with cliffs and nearly flat platforms that extend inland where older coastal plains have been tectonically raised and are now elevated above the modern land and water interface.

Pennstate U.

Another way of classifying coasts is as erosional or depositional.

In places where there is an abundance of wave energy or ocean currents and/or a lack of sediment available for deposition, erosion of the coast will be the dominant mechanism of change. Quite often, erosional coasts are narrow and characterized by resilient rocky shorelines that are exposed to high energy waves and supply relatively little sediment to the adjacent shore.

Pennstate U.

Where deposition dominates the land is advancing, where erosion dominates the land is in retreat.

One of the features people go to see is the Twelve Apostles.

Twelve Apostles in 2003 – Wikipedia

There were never twelve but there’s one fewer today.

These stacks are formed of limestone that was laid down under the sea about 23 million years ago. The region was subsequently uplifted. The seaward edge of the uplifted land has been undergoing erosion ever since. At the height of the last glaciation, 21,000 years ago, sea level was about 125m lower than at present. (And has been as much as 2m higher in the intervening period.) The cliffs and stacks we see today have been carved out by the Southern Ocean since then.

The sea may have a moderating influence on the temperature but it can have a savage impact on the land. That bulge in Victoria’s coast and the Southern Ocean are not in equilibrium. The sea will continue to eat that coast regardless of further sea level rise.

Home Again …

So this African sojourn comes to an end. As always when I’m writing about travel I have picked up new subscribers. Welcome to you, it’s nice to know that there are people out there, but what have you got in store now?

My neck of the woods is the Goldfields region of Victoria, Australia. It has a rich history and is rich in wildlife. People travel long distances to see Australia so stick around and I’ll show you what I can of it.

This may not be as exciting as an elephant about to charge the side of the vehicle but I took it this morning about 200 metres from my house.

Wallabia bicolor

Above the Clouds …

Mountains are often shrouded in cloud, rainforests wouldn’t be rainforests without the rain. Our stay in Bwindi was probably quite typically cloudy and rainy but the day we left was a gem. If you came here every day you could probably expect an experience like this about once every four hundred years.

The mountains in the background are the Virungas which mark the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are eight major volcanoes in the chain including Mount Nyiragongo, an active volcano that I climbed last year. See that account <HERE>. The night-time time-lapse is well worth a look.

From here it was a drive to Entebbe and a flight home.

Up in the Clouds …

Part of Bwindi Impenetrable forest is at high altitude (up to 2,607 metres or 8,550 feet). So despite the proximity to the equator temperatures are relatively pleasant. There are plenty of birds to be found but because of the dense forest finding them is sometimes challenging.

Handsome Francolin
Black-throated Apalis
Doherty’s Bush-shrike
Montane (AKA Black-tailed) Oriole
Great Blue Turaco
Crowned Hornbill
Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eater

We were also treated to a brief glimpse of a Black-fronted Duiker. These reputedly make good eating and are consequently very shy.

Black-fronted Duiker

Gorilla …

Guest post by Gayle …

The boys had seen both Mountain and Lowland Gorillas in the past so they went bird watching.

The Gorilla trackers met at the visitor centre where we were entertained by some enthusiastic dancing from some of the local ladies.

Scouts are sent out early to locate the gorillas. We were briefed and assigned to teams. We would be walking from one to eight hours.

I was in a party of eight. We were driven to our start point which was on the top of a ridge. And over the edge we went. It was steep and because of very recent rain it was slippery. There was no formed track, the guides were cutting a way for us.

Fortunately for me we found our gorillas after two hours. We were instructed to leave our back packs and food with the porters and make our way towards the gorillas. We would be with them for an hour but we were not to touch or disturb them.

The party of Mountain Gorillas consisted of two males, two females and two babies. The males slept or pretended to as we watched, while the females and young played in the trees until they were ready to join the others on the ground. It was an amazing experience being so close up with nothing between us. They did not seem to mind that we were there and moved among us without fear.

photo – GHD
photo – GHD
photo – GHD

Our guide made sure everyone got good photo opportunities and didn’t short change us on the time but it was soon time to head up hill. Now the hard work would start.

I was very glad that I had hired a porter. She was a lovely young lady in her mid twenties named Gertruda. She was very fit and enjoyed her work helping others to see gorillas in the forest. Gertruda carried my backpack and watched my every step down and up the steep and slippery mountain. We were very friendly by the end of the trek and both enjoyed the experience we shared together.

Gertruda and an exhausted but elated client

Seeing the gorillas is something you really must do when visiting Uganda. A booking is essential and hiring a porter makes the trekking less strenuous.

Back at the visitors centre you enjoy a celebration with your group of your achievement and a certificate is presented to each individual.

An amazing life-time experience in Bwindi National Park.

Impenetrable …

Time to say farewell to Kidepo National Park in the far north-east of Uganda and head for Bwindi in the far south-west. It was a two day drive spending another night in the Kampala Metropole.

Highlights en route included …

Shoebill

and standing with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern. Oddly enough this was in a little town called Equator.

Bwindi National Park protects 331 square kilometres of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. For species diversity there is nowhere better in East Africa. The forest is home to more than 1,000 species of flowering plant, Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, 118 other species of mammals and approximately 350 species of birds including a good proportion of the Albertine Rift Endemics.

We were staying on top of the mountain at Gorilla Mist Lodge.

Gorilla Mist Lodge, Bwindi

With Three-horned Chameleons for our neighbours.

Rwenzori Three-horned Chameleon male
Rwenzori Three-horned Chameleon female

The Karamojong …

Both Pian-Upe and Kidepo National Park are in Karamoja. They are wonderful places and without the protection that they offer to the wildlife Uganda and the world would be the poorer.

But these places were the homeland of the Karamojong, displacing them from the parks reduces the land available for them.

The Karamojong are traditionally cattle herding folk. They speak a Nilotic language as opposed to the Bantu languages of most Ugandans. This group of people include the Masai of Kenya not far to the east. The quest for pasture and water in an unfenced country has led to clashes with their neighbours. Even now cattle raiding is not unknown. As the Amin era descended into chaos they helped themselves to rifles and Karamoja became unsafe to visit.

Even now the Australian Government’s Smartraveller Website has this to say …

Karamoja region, reconsider your need to travel

Think seriously about whether you need to travel here due to the high level of risk. If you do travel, do your research and take a range of extra safety precautions, including having contingency plans. Check that your travel insurer will cover you.

Kidepo would be out of the question …

Within 50 kilometres of the border with South Sudan, do not travel

The UK’s travel advisory is more moderate …

Inter-communal violence happens in north-east Uganda (sometimes referred to as the Karamoja region) as well as occasional attacks on security forces. Foreigners are not usually the target of the violence but you should remain vigilant and exercise caution if travelling in the region.

It does advise extra caution near the Sudanese border.

The Karamojong have, in the main, been disarmed and tourists are accompanied by armed rangers in the parks. We were advised not to take photographs of cattle, it could happen that the owner is both suspicious and superstitious and might respond violently.

After years languishing behind the rest of Uganda economic development is bringing education, healthcare and new opportunities to the region.

We visited a Karamojong settlement near Kidepo housing people that had been displaced from the park. We were made to feel very welcome. We were shown the interior of a traditional house, shown how sorghum is ground to make flour, treated to a dance which we were invited to join and offered handicrafts to buy.