2014 Aug 31 & Sep 1 – Days 73 & 74 – Gander, NL to Bonavista, NL

Day 73 was a down day.  We did nothing and went no where.  Day 74, Labour Day, was sunny and warm all day.  Yay!

We left our hotel in Gander at 10 am, stopped briefly to see the mural at Gander airport, then continued east on Hwy 1, driving through Terra Nove National Park.  We made two stops within the park boundary – both to lookouts.

First was Blue Hill which was located 7 km from the highway up a gravel road.  There was a great view over the forests punctuated with lakes and ponds (Ponds in NL are small lakes, not marshy water – although some places called Ponds are bigger than some places called Lakes – go figure).

IMG_8334 IMG_8335IMG_8301IMG_8313Parks Canada places these nice red chairs at many of their lookouts.IMG_8320The second lookout was Ochre Hill; this too was a lengthy drive up a gravel road.  From the parking lot we walked up the path and the steps and along the boardwalk looking out over the forest and to the open Atlantic water at the end of Clade Sound.  There is a forestry fire watch tower that we were able to climb as far as the last stairwell below the tower hut.  With the day so lovely it was well worth it.

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More red chairs.

IMG_8344 IMG_8345 IMG_8346 IMG_8348Not too far from the park’s southeastern boundary we turned off onto Highway 233 drove up the Bonavista Peninsula. IMG_8359 IMG_8366 IMG_8370

IMG_8376We arrived in the town of Bonavista at 3 o’clock so had time to check out the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse.  The light keepers two story house was built around the base of the lighthouse tower – first time we have seen that.IMG_8406 IMG_8407 IMG_8408

The light was first used in the Isle of May lighthouse in Scotland in 1816.  When Scotland was changing their lights to a newer kind Newfoundland bought the catoptric light and set it into the lighthouse at Harbour Grace Island in 1837.  It was moved to Bonavista in 1895 and used until 1962 when the light was automated – 146 years of service.  It is the only remaining light of its type and one of the few lighthouses in the world that you can see an original seal oil fueled light as was used in the 19th century.


We saw so many lovely boulders and rocks in the shallow shore waters on Saturday but today’s rocks created huge cliffs or stone islands. The coast around Bonavista Lighthouse is very rugged with sheer drops of 100′.  Wandering around the clifftops was really cool.

IMG_8381 IMG_8382 IMG_8384 IMG_8385 IMG_8387 IMG_8392 IMG_8394 IMG_8395 IMG_8401 IMG_8403 IMG_8417 IMG_8424 IMG_8425 IMG_8430Memorial commemorating John Cabot’s landfall at Bonavista May 1497IMG_8432 IMG_8434 IMG_8437After we left the Cape we drove 2 km along a gravel road to The Dungeon Provincial Park where there is a collapsed ocean cave; creating a huge bowl with two open arches to the water.

IMG_8440 IMG_8442 IMG_8445IMG_8439We then checked into our B & B but only stayed long enough to drop off our stuff.  Our host had recommended a couple of restaurants and had explained some of the sights around Bonavista he thought we may be interested in seeing.

The one that caught my attention immediately was a spot just down the road past Elliston at Marberly where there was a good chance we could see some Atlantic Puffins.

We had planned to go to Elliston after dinner because when we had stopped in Summerville to have some lunch (parked in front of the Cenotaph) the fellow from across the street, who had been mowing his lawn, came over to chat.  After he heard we were on our way to Bonavista he suggested we go a few kilometers further to Elliston.  “There is a very nice memorial to the Sealer’s at Elliston,” he said. “It is well done and definitely worth a visit.”

John had stopped at the restaurant Preston had recommended to make a reservation but the lady said she had a table available now if we wanted to eat right away.  It was 5:30 so we ate first and then drove to Elliston and the Sealer’s Memorial.

The Sealer’s Memorial commemorates two separate disasters that claimed the lives of 251 men in the winter of 1914.  March 30, 1914 166 men left their ship, the SS Newfoundland, to walk 7 miles across the ice to the SS Stephano.  A storm blew up and 34 turned back. The rest decided to press on and were lost in a vicious blizzard for two days during which each of the two captains assumed the men had reached safety on the other vessel.  78 died.

The second disaster occurred during the same storm when the SS Southern Cross sunk with all hands.  The names off all who died and all who survived are engraved on the two sides of the memorial and the statue shows one of the men holding his dying son in his arms until he too perished.  There were many father’s and sons names engraved on the stone.

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IMG_8455Typical Newfoundland-style ‘Salt Box’ house.

After visiting the memorial we drove another kilometer to Maberly. We walked the path to the cliff edge as the sun was beginning to set. Just off shore there is a gigantic rock that is a popular hangout for the Atlantic Puffin (also known as the common puffin) who breed and nest in Newfoundland every spring and summer.  They are small members of the Auk family.

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The sunset was pretty nice too.

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