Interesting Stuff: Hawks Nest: Christmas 2013

Another hot and lazy start to the day. We’re in camping mode with slow starts and early ends to the days filled with activities once we get moving. Day three of our Christmas break and it rained in the night as forecast. It has cooled everything down and emptied the campsite of a few more families. A couple we’d met at the Camper Trailer annual gathering in Batlow earlier this year arrived yesterday with their daughter, son-in-law and two children; it’s a small world.

Yesterday we biked around to the Koala Reserve but saw no koalas which was disappointing. On such a warm day they would possibly have been well into the bush and the signage discouraged us from entering their domain. So we biked around the periphery and looked on from the road side. The reserve is a wildlife corridor to the Myall Lakes further north; the roadsigns warn that ‘koalas cross here’. No koalas but so many cicadas in various stages of their life cycle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe exact duration that Australian cicadas remain underground as nymphs is unkown, with the exception of the Greengrocer, which has been known to have a nymphal cycle of seven years. Once the nymphs reach maturity and conditions are right, the nymphs emerge in large numbers and climb onto a clear vantage point, such as a tree trunk, stump or grass stem. This allows the adult stage to be able to pump haemolymph fluid into the wings without obstruction. Many of the moulting nymphs fall victim to predators, such as birds, as they moult from their nymphal skin. The final moulting process (to adult form) takes from 20-150 minutes giving ample opportunity for predators to strike. There is evidence of this stage of their cycle all around our garden, with cicada shells clinging to fences, free trunks, heavy-stemmed plants and on unmown sections of lawn. It still takes some time for the wings to harden once fully formed and it also takes a while for the newly moulted adults cuticle to attain true colour and provide camouflage.

The bird life is prolific and as the village’s name suggest it was named after a large nest of hawks that early settlers found. Hawks Nest was named after a large tree which was a favourite nesting place of hawks, situated near the old hotel and used as a navigational marker in the early days. The area was occupied by the Worimi Aborigines prior to white settlement. The first Europeans to work in the area were timbergetters who took an interest in the forests (mostly red cedar) along the Myall River early in the 19th century. The timber was hauled by bullock train to mills, then carted by punt down river to Hawks Nest and the Winda Woppa peninsula. Ships bound for Newcastle and Sydney picked up the timber, unloading the stone they carried for ballast on the banks of the river, much of it being used in the construction of the rock walls which can still be seen today. A timber mill was built at Winda Woppa in 1920 and shipped out 13 million square feet of wood in 1922.

The Singing Bridge joins the township of Tea Gardens to the village of Hawks Nest. Before its SingingBridgeTeaGardensconstruction in 1928 a ferry transported people between the two locations with waiting times of up to six hours during holiday peaks. It got its name because during a south easterly wind the bridge railings act as a wind harp generating musical sounds.

The Information Centre is a must to any new town or village we spend any time in. The local history and snippets of Aboriginal culture and historical interest make each place unique. After all a beach is a beach is a beach – sand, waves, but each town has its own rhythm which takes time and a little uncovering to find.

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