Montague Island (Australia)

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Montague Island Nature Reserve
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Australia Locator Map.svg
Map of Australia
Nearest town or city Narooma, New South Wales
Coordinates 36°15′S 150°13′E / 36.250°S 150.217°E / -36.250; 150.217
Area 820,000 m²
Established 1990
Visitation 6,000 (in 2002)
Managing authorities New South Wales National Parks
Official site NPWS page

Montague Island (36°15′S 150°13′E / 36.250°S 150.217°E / -36.250; 150.217) is 9 kilometres offshore from Narooma on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. It was sighted by James Cook and named Cape Dromedary, then identified as an island and named by the master of the Second Fleet convict transport Surprize after George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax.[1][2] Montague Island is a popular tourist destination, known for its lighthouse, wildlife (especially little penguins), and recreational activities.[3]

Lighthouse[edit]

Main article: Montague Island Light

On the island is a lighthouse maintained by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. The lighthouse was designed by James Barnet and built in 1881. It was automated in 1986 and demanned in 1987. The lighthouse is 21 metres tall and the light is 80 metres above sea level with a nominal range of 20 nautical miles (37 km) and a geographic range of 17 nautical miles (31 km). The original Fresnel lens was removed in 1986 and is now on display at the Narooma Lighthouse Museum.[4]

Intending visitors to the lighthouse (both day visitors and overnight stays) must first check with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The next lighthouse to the north is the Burrewarra Point lighthouse.

Amateur radio expeditions to the island were organised in 2010 and 2011.

Wildlife[edit]

Forty nine species of fauna have been recorded on the island by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.[5]

Little Penguins[edit]

The island is home to a large colony of Little Penguins on the island. As the island has no foxes or feral cats, the penguins have no predators other than other sea birds and seals. With the restoration of native habitat and the provision of penguin breeding boxes, penguin numbers have increased, and there are now approximately 12,000 on the island. The female usually lays two eggs, and during a good year, both chicks will survive. The birds come ashore at dusk after feeding at sea, and visitors to the island can watch the birds from a platform near the jetty.

Crested Terns[edit]

Crested terns, Sterna bergii, have brilliant white feathers covering the body while the head is completely black.

Shearwaters[edit]

Shearwaters, also known as mutton birds, nest on the island. Species recorded are:

Seals[edit]

The northern tip of the island is the seasonal home to a seal bachelor colony. Due to the site's remoteness, it is only possible for visitors to see them from a boat.

The majority of the seals are Australian Fur Seals, Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus. New Zealand Fur Seals (Arctocephalus forsteri), Subantarctic Fur Seals (Arctocephalus tropicalis) and Australian Sea Lions (Neophoca cinerea) have also been observed.

Environmental restoration[edit]

Kikuyu grass is a major weed on the island. Originally introduced in the early 19th century to help feed the animals kept by the lighthouse keepers and their families, it has spread to cover most of the south island. To control it, NPWS officers poison a section, then burn it, before replanting with help from volunteers. In the less accessible areas of the northern and eastern parts, an aerial spraying program is used to manage the kikuyu where it infests shearwater breeding sites. The kikuyu is a barrier for the shearwaters and penguins who cannot penetrate it to move or to burrow. Various native species are used to replant areas after the kikuyu grass has been controlled.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Flinders, Matthew (1814), A Voyage to Terra Australis, London: G. and W. Nicol , entry for 3 February, 1798
  2. ^ Reed, A.W. (1969) Place-names of New South Wales, their origins and meanings (Reed, Sydney)
  3. ^ "Adventure - Montague Island Nature Reserve". VisitNSW.com. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of Australia: New South Wales". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 
  5. ^ (Wildlife atlas)[dead link]

External links[edit]