Picnic on the Mantle of the Earth

One of the things we do as Australians is eat and breathe dust. In summer it’s everywhere, kicked into the air at the slightest movement, carried on the lightest wind, while in winter it’s still in our clothes, our houses, in every little nook and cranny waiting only the smallest disturbance…

Here in Newfoundland you almost have to go looking. The air is crisp and clean and even now in late summer it is more likely to be thick with moisture, be it the high humidity of mists or fogs, than fine driven dirt. The locals say that when God came to the end of creation he had a few grains of dirt left which he threw onto a rock and named Newfoundland. The other side of this equation is that the soil is shallow or non-existent stunting the trees, making the rare patches of soil precious for home gardens, potato and berry growing. Also means that so long as you can climb over the rocks you are not likely to get bogged. And combined with the fierce coming winter it makes the rapid speed of growth of each temperate day imperative. Makes the thick lush growth we have shared with our photos appear from every cleft, hill and bog. Except in one realm…

We have just returned from walking on the mantle of the earth! Otherwise known as ‘The Tablelands’, securely preserved within the Gros Morne National park, it is a barren alien landscape rising out of the otherwise deep green of the island.

When the plates of these continents came together in their last great shuffle some 500 million years ago, the pressure was so intense that part of an ancient seabed was thrust up between them.

Later to be further carved and revealed by glaciers, this is as deep an exposure of the inner layers of Ghia’s heart revealed on the surface as anywhere on the planet… perhaps this is what makes these islanders such a warm and hearty bunch…

Nothing grows on the rocky Tablelands except where the surface has been disturbed by rock falls or human intervention. One of the most tenacious settlers is the Newfoundland Pitcher plant, found anywhere across the island from bogs and forests to this and other bereft landscapes. It is able to do this as its nature is hyper-accumulative which means that it is able to glean its nourishment from the environment rather than relying on substance from the soil. It lures and entraps bugs to feed itself and celebrates with a stunning flower…

Gros Morne, meaning large mountain standing alone,” or more literally “great somber” has an unexpected largess on this little island. A pocket of fascinating and diverse geology brought to the light of day.

We traveled to Trout River settlement, an out-port till only 40 years ago when a gravel road was put through. We found a strong presence of a Barnes clan and have included a few photos.

Thanks to our friend Sandy for sharing her favourite places and a wonderful few days full of laughter, a wealth of local knowledge and Scrabble.

Still no moose…


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