July 21, 2007:
After a decidedly restless night last night during the Bird Island Puffin Festival, we packed up once again and moved out from the campground in search of much needed coffee!! We returned to the internet cafe where we were able to clear emails as well as get our caffeine fix for the morning!
After a few hours, we headed off to the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse, built in 1843 and officially opened as a National Historic Site on August 9, 1978. A few metres off-shore from the Lighthouse is Bird Rock where a colony of Atlantic Puffins nest. These relatively small cute sea birds use the turf on the top of the island to burrow into and lay their eggs. They are a little difficult to see without binoculars from the lighthouse.
Walking high above the coastline along a trail leading from the lighthouse in Bonavista Bay, we noted the rocky outcrops which are tilted layers of sedimentary rock that look as though they'd been suddenly thrust up from the ocean floor, giving the coast a rugged and diverse appearance.
We walked to the Statue of John Cabot, a Venetian explorer (also known as Giovanni Caboto) who landed at Cape Bonavista in June 1497 after a voyage from Bristol to seek a western passage to Asia for supplies of spice, porcelain, and gold, instead they found cod fish. This was the first official English voyage of exploration in the Western Ocean, which derived Britains subsequent claims in the New World and, the beginnings of her overseas empire.
Next we headed to Dungeon Provincial Park where there be Sea Arches! The arches were formed by the unrelenting ocean washing away sedimentary layers of rock. The remaining rock then fractures allowing the pounding waves to flow in and slowly turn the fractures into gulches and then sea caves. Eventually the ceiling of the sea caves will collapse and leave a large pillar of rock standing just off shore. There are many examples of this process all around us in Dungeon Provincial Park.
We also paid a visit to the Matthew Legacy Site (in the Bonavista Harbour), where there's a replica of the sail boat Matthew in which John Cabot made his journey across the Atlantic Ocean in, in 1497. The year 1997 marked 500 years since his landing and at the time a full replica of the Matthew was sailed from England to Bonavista. Although that ship is long gone, another replica of the Matthew was built in 1997 by local shipwrights and christened in 1998, it is this boat we boarded during our visit. A custom built boat shed was also constructed to house the Matthew during the winter months and features a 24 metre long by 8 metre wide docking bay with a lifting cradle. During the winter the Matthew is lifted above the high tide mark to protect it from winter storms and ice, as well as to enable yearly maintenance of the hull. It is definitely a worth while visit while in Bonavista, and priced at around $6.50 per adult.
We left town and headed for the Paradise Campground about 7 kms out of town for hopefully a better night sleep than the previous night! We'll be heading back to town tomorrow to view the Atlantic Puffins.
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