Monday, 3 October 2016

Darelle and Sally's Swimming Adventures: Congwong Beach, La Perouse 3 October 2016

It was cold. But true to our Adventure Creed, we did get in up to our waists! To count as an "adventure, we have to immerse ourselves.

This is Congwong Beach at La Perouse. A lovely sandy stretch, still water, no swimming enclosure.
It looks across the Heads of Botany Bay towards Kurnell. The small island is called Bare Island.

The beach has no facilities actually at the beach, but there are public toilets in the car parking area a couple of hundred metres away. The shops at La Perouse has several cafes and restaurants.

La Perouse is part of the traditional land of the Gweagal and Kameygal peoples of the Eora nation.
Its current name is after French navigator Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse, who landed with two ships, the Astolabe and Boussole, on the northern shore of Botany Bay on 26 January 1788. Captain Arthur Phillip of Britain and the first fleet of convicts had arrived in Botany Bay a few days earlier.  The First Fleet was moving around to Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) on that day, having found Botany Bay unsuitable for a settlement due to a lack of fresh water. Lapérouse was received amicably by the British, and offered any assistance he might need.

Relations were cordial, the French were not under orders to claim Terra Australia for France. Lapérouse sent his journals back to Europe with the British ship Sirius.

The expedition's naturalist and chaplain, Louis Receveur,  died at Botany Bay due to injuries received in a skirmish in Samoa, and was buried at Frenchman's Cove below the headland. He was the second European to be buried in Australia (the first was Forby Sutherland from Cook's 1770 expedition).

The French stayed for 6 weeks, built a stockade, observatory and garden on the Laperouse peninsula, before sailing for New Caledonia, Santa Cruz, the Solomons and the Louisiades. Lapérouse wrote that he expected to be back by December 1788,but the two ships vanished. The expedition was wrecked on a reef in the Solomon Islands, during a cyclone in April or May 1788. The shipwrecks were discovered in 1964.

Bare Island was described in 1770 by Captain Cook, who anchored on the opposite shore, as a "small bare island." In 1877 a fort was built on the island to reduce the odds of an attack on Sydney by what was considered its back door. Work was begun in 1889. In 1890 a Royal Commission found that construction was faulty due to the use of inferior concrete, and it started to crumble before it was completed. It was soon redundant, and decommissioned in 1902. in 1912 it became a retirement home for war veterans from the Crimea, Sudan and China campaigns. It became an historical site in 1963.

Tom Cruise rode around it on a motorbike in a chase sequence in Mission Impossible II.

At first we thought the water would be ok, as this woman was swimming slowly back and forth. Turns out she was made of hardier stuff than us! 

Darelle went first

We managed to make it to the tops of our legs; then they went numb.

The footbridge to Bare Island

The Heads of Botany Bay

Hold on to your hats, girls! 

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