Coast Australia S2 – Episode 7 Recap
EPISODE 7: SOUTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES – Seven Mile Beach to Gabo Island
Neil Oliver discovers the fatal engineering errors behind Cape St George Lighthouse that cursed Wreck Bay for four decades. In Callala Bay, Tim Flannery uncovers the life saving properties of seaweeds. On Gabo Island, on the Victorian side of the border, Emma Johnston witnesses a secret method for growing unusual pearls in wild abalone. In Eden, Neil Oliver investigates the truth behind the folktale of Old Tom, the country’s most famous killer whale. Alice Garner revisits the weather-bomb horror of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, that became a race for survival. Tim Flannery unearths a piece of lost British treasure that went down with the Cumberland ship in World War I. In the peaceful town of Currarong, Brendan Moar explores a century-old love of coastal-gazing, and the mighty fibro beach house. Finally Neil Oliver recreates the great age of speed, racing vintage cars along their old stomping ground of Seven Mile Beach.
CAPE ST GEORGE LIGHTHOUSE / NEIL OLIVER
Location: Cape Saint George, Jervis Bay National Park
Neil Oliver meets local historian Bridget Sant to explore the history of this heritage-listed lighthouse ruin.
Built in 1860 with no input from anyone with maritime expertise, the Cape St. George lighthouse was built in the wrong place. This had serious consequences for the ships it was intended to guide. The problem was the light could not be seen from the northerly approach to Jervis Bay, and barely from the South and so, instead of saving lives, it seemingly lured ships into the very place they were trying to avoid – Wreck Bay.
For 30 years the ill-sited lighthouse was counter-productive and over a dozen ships were wrecked because of it.
The light was eventually replaced in 1899 by Point Perpendicular Light at Point Perpendicular, which was a much more suitable location.
The light remained a navigational hazard as its sandstone reflected sun and moonlight. It was finally reduced to rubble near the turn of the century to avoid any further disaster.
STEM CELL SEAWEED / TIM FLANNERY
Location: Callala Bay, northern end of Jervis Bay
Tim Flannery meets Marine Systems Ecologist, Dr Pia Winberg at Callala Bay where a variety of Australian seaweeds can be found. Dr Winberg has been working with seaweed in the area for the best part of 15 years. She introduces Tim to ground-breaking science that is using seaweed gel to help create human tissue. Seaweed gel has a unique defensive function that is a perfect medium for growing stem cells – the key to repairing cellular damage.
Dr Pia Winberg is Executive Officer of Seaweeds Australia and Director of the Shoalhaven Marine and Freshwater Centre (SMFC) at the University of Wollongong.
OLD TOM, THE KILLER WHALE /NEIL OLIVER
Location: Twofold Bay, Eden
Neil Oliver travels to Eden to find out more about the extraordinary story of Old Tom and the killer whale pack of Twofold Bay. While history records that the whalers of the Eden area had a cooperative relationship with a killer whale pack (who kept their prey corralled until the whalers could complete the hunt), Aboriginal Elder Ossie Cruse explains there was a unique connection between his forbearers and the killer whales in the area going back to the Dreamtime.
Historian and animatronics builder, Greg Mckee, has been obsessed with the story of the Orcas (and one in particular named ‘Old Tom’) for over twenty years. He introduces Neil to Martin Davidson, the great grandson of Eden whaler George Davidson who apparently had a unique relationship with Old Tom.
THE CUMBERLAND / TIM FLANNERY
Location: Off Gabo Island
Tim Flannery investigates the intriguing story of the wreck of the Cumberland – a relic from World War One.
In July 1917, off Gabo Island, a huge explosion blew a massive hole in the 9000 tonne steam ship, Cumberland. The Cumberland was headed to Europe, filled with a secret cargo of precious metal ingots – which were critical war supplies. The Government suspected sabotage and offered a 1,000 pound reward to anyone who could identify the person who destroyed the ship. Months later it was revealed that the culprit was the German minelaying raider, The Wolf. This was the first conclusive and unnerving evidence that the Germans were laying mines this far from Europe.
Attempts to salvage the cargo in 1938 failed, but a successful attempt was made in 1951, blasting the ship apart and pulling out 189 tonnes of lead and copper. Tim meets Eden local, Robert Whiter who has inherited one of the copper ingots found in the wreck.
ABALONE PEARLS/ EMMA JOHNSTON
Location: Gabo Island
*This episode is dedicated to the memory of Gerry and Mary Menke who died on 17 July, 2014 in the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 tragedy.
Gabo Island is one of the wildest parts of the Australian coast and it’s here that Marine Ecologist, Professor Emma Johnston mets Gerry and Mary Menke who cultivated pearls in the Black Lip Abalone. Gerry Menke pioneered the technique of keeping wild caught abalone in ocean floor cages where they are fed a diet of seaweed allowing them to be harvested year-round for their beautiful one-of-a-kind pearls.
THE 1998 SYDNEY TO HOBART YACHT RACE/ ALICE GARNER
Location: Eden, frontline of rescue operation
115 yachts started at the 54th Sydney to Hobart yacht race. By the time it was over, 6 sailors were dead, 5 yachts had sank, 66 yachts had retired and 55 sailors had been rescued by helicopters in what was the biggest peacetime rescue operation ever mounted in Australia.
Historian, Dr Alice Garner, investigates how the race unfolded into tragedy. Dr Roger ‘Clouds’ Badham explains the weather conditions that conspired to form what’s known as a ‘weather bomb’.
Trawler Skipper Tom Bibby’s incredible seamanship through 200km an hour winds and 60 foot waves helped rescue crew members from Team Jaguar. Alice hears his extraordinary story.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE FIBRO BEACH HOUSE / BRENDAN MOAR
Location: Currarong, Jervis Bay
Brendan Moar travels to the small village of Currarong, south-east of Nowra to meet historian Ian Hoskins. Ian charts the metamorphosis of the coast from a place of work to one of leisure. In the 1920s people began to build shacks and simple houses as places to spend their holidays. But it was after the depression and the war that the beach shack as we know it really took off. Fibro became the building material of choice for beach shacks. Simple, cheap and easy to maintain the Fibro beach shack has become an enduring icon of Australian coastal life.
SEVEN MILE BEACH RACETRACK/ NEIL OLIVER
Location: Seven Mile Beach
Neil Oliver speeds along Seven Mile Beach, which holds a significant place in Australian Car Racing history.
In the 1860s Seven Mile Beach’s sand was hard packed and fine grained – perfect for horse racing. Then, as the car craze swept the nation in the 1920’s, Seven Mile Beach became a perfect place for racing cars.
In 1928, Wizard Smith came to Seven Mile Beach to race Anzac, a car built from a Rolls Royce airplane engine bolted onto a Cadillac chassis. Also racing on the beach was the irrepressible Mrs J.A.S. Jones and her Crossley 20/70 Mercedes.
In 1933, Seven Mile Beach also became an important location for Australian Aviation history. Charles Kingsford Smith’s historic flight on the Southern Cross took off from the beach, flying the first paying passengers across the Tasman to New Zealand.
OLD TATHRA WHARF / ALICE GARNER
Built in 1861, the Old Tathra Wharf stands as a remnant of a time when, with no railways or roads, the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company was the lifeline for the south coast dairy industry.
At the time, building it was a huge undertaking – engineers had to sink turpentine logs into holes that were blasted into solid rock. Added to this, logistical problems of isolation and the fact that the track down to the wharf was steep and dangerous. At its peak it was bigger, with cattle yards and a crane. The Tathra wharf has great history of coastal trade – and other memorable comings and goings including the departure of the district’s soldiers for World War 1.
PROFESSOR COAST AND THE WORLD’S WHITEST BEACH / XANTHE MALLETT
Location: Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay
Hyams Beach claims to be the world’s whitest beach. Xanthe Mallet meets Professor Andrew Short to find out whether or not this statement is true, and how it became so white.
Often called ‘Professor Coast’, Andy has visited every beach in Australia. Today, he conducts an experiment on the dunes that explains how pure white sand is created.
THE BLESSING OF THE FLEET / NEIL OLIVER
Every Easter Sunday since 1956, the largely Italian fishing community of Ulladulla lead a parade of floats through the town, after which the local Catholic Priest blesses the trawlers and long-liners in Ulladulla Harbour. It’s an inclusive ritual and a cause for community celebration.