Walking with dinosaurs
As Bunurong Centre’s environment officer and, as one of the top spotters of dinosaur bones along Australia’s richest Cretaceous fossil site, Mike is well placed to talk about the past – back 115-130 million years ago when Australia was within the Antarctic Circle and dinosaurs inhabited a wide river valley that is now an intertidal rock shelf stretching from Inverloch to San Remo.
At The Caves, 6km south of Inverloch, Mike points out the fossilised stumps of trees; some with recognisable growth rings, that become visible at low tide.
“It would have been a decent forest around here,” he says. “It would also have been very dark with a whole lot of little dinosaurs running around in the gloom.” The first dinosaur fossil discovered in Australia in 1905 was “the Cape Paterson claw”, found further down this coast.
Mike was in the line search in 1991 which rediscovered the potentials of a site that soon rose to world significance because it proved that mammals had indeed been living alongside dinosaurs.
Each year since, hundreds of bones have been liberated from the fossil layer in an annual summer dig called Dinosaur Dreaming that is largely staffed by amateur palaeontologists.
Archies Creek Pub
In a one-road town with a population under 50 and set in the hinterland hillocks near Wonthaggi, The Royal Mail Hotel is where in early 19th century the post was dropped off. With an old red VW convertible permanently parked out front for the kids to play in, and a premises that is mainly dining room with two small bar annexes, these days it offers an absolutely country pub experience.
Until the late 1970s there was a series of well-established, scrap-built squatter shacks along the coast between Inverloch and Cape Paterson that had been there for generations.
Sam Gatto, immediate past president of the Wonthaggi Historical Society, says “there was a long, wonderful history to the little communities that were set up at Harmer’s Haven, Shack Bay and Eagle’s Nest. At Flat Rocks there were 18 huts”.
Because it starts at 10.30am every Sunday, Jane Seaholme, manager of the Kongwak market, admits that it’s otherwise known as “the lazy person’s market.” Held for the past 11 years in a couple of big tin sheds that were shops, produce and stock feed stores, the market has developed a reputation for specialising in vintage, retro and collectables.