November 09, 2010
Hope Isles consisted of two islands, one thick with lush jungle, fringing reef and golden sandy beaches. The other island was low and flat also surrounded by reef but with the added extra of mangroves that may be hiding some juicy mud crabs.
The main island was a National Park and allowed camping in several spots that were well shaded with the lush vegetation. There was a constant coo from the hundreds of Torres Strait Pigeons that were nesting in them and from the distance you could see them in the trees like white Christmas decorations.
The surrounding reef was alive with all varieties of fish and there was always plenty of rod action any time of day. Carl from Tic Tac managed to bring back some big crayfish from one of the spear fishing trips they did around the island.
The thick vegetation on the island was clustered with Torres Strait pigeon nests. The parents would fly off early morning and return in the evening to feed their chicks. The boys were exploring the great tree climbing that was on offer when they came across some chicks that had been displaced from the nests. Fearing they would not last the day, the boys made some new nests and placed them back in. When they returned the next day, they found the chicks alive and well and obviously being cared for again by their parents.
When the seas had calmed a bit we took the tender to the other island to put some crab pots in. We found the island to be nothing like we expected. It was surrounded by reef which was crystal clear, and then there was a fringing growth of mangrove trees encasing the island. Through the trees there was a sandy beach that was loaded with interesting things that had been washed up into mounds. The Torres Strait Pigeons were nesting here too. The most interesting aspect of this island was an inland saltwater lagoon that was tidal. The water was again crystal clear with a sandy bottom with many tall trees growing straight up to form a canopy that nearly completely blocked out the sunshine. Here we found enormous mud crabs swimming about freely until they saw us and then they retreated deep into their holes.
We spent a few hours here but had to be careful of the outgoing tide as there was no way to cross the reef when it had gone out. There was also the ever present croc factor to be aware of as we were only a few kms off the coast and large reptiles had been spotted regularly resting on the beaches of both islands. Wading waist deep was probably a bit risky but we kept our eyes peeled.(see video)
A walk around the island was always interesting. There were so many turtles here in the shallows, I counted 12 right in front of me while I was standing on the beach. You could even see the shadows of Giant Trevaly cruising the shallows for bait.
One night when the wind had dropped we collected all the driftwood and made a fire on the beach. We wrapped sweet potato in foil and cooked them on the coals and also put a big pot of prawns cooked in sea water on the coals. The sunset was amazing and we sat around the fire until the embers died.
It had been easy to spend a week here but now the seas and wind had died down and it was time to pull the anchor up and head on a bit further south.