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Report 1901: A Month on the Rock

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2010

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Page 15 of 31: Back to Rocky Harbour via Port au Choix

photo by Michael


We were sad to leave the Northern Peninsula. We had loved the wide open spaces and the barrens. Route 430 was a much nicer run than the 432. There were good views of the Labrador coastline as we dropped down the hill at Eddie’s Cove.

It was a nice run down the coast to Flower's cove, an attractive settlement round a big bay. We stopped to do the Thrombolite Trail just south of Flower’s Cove. There is a small parking area at the side of the road and a boardwalk to Marjorie’s Bridge (complete with big sign above it) and path to the thrombolite site.

They are extremely old and rare fossil-like structures of blue green algae and bacteria. They thrived in the tidal flats of the ancient warm, salty seas. They look like huge, rounded, cracked bun-like boulders which were found along the the edge of the shore. We could see more across the bay.

We did the short detour to Port au Choix, which is at the end of the peninsula and catches all the sun. We stopped off at Port au Choix Visitor Centre. This is a large stark building sticking up a bit like a sore thumb in a landscape of coastal barrens. These are the site of one of the richest archaeological remains dating back over 5000 years with the remains of Maritime Archaic Indians, Groswater and Dorset Palaeoeskimos and Recent Indians (ancestors of the Beothuks). The existing vegetation pattern of limestone barrens with low patchy forest is probably very similar to that during the Palaeoeskimo settlement.

We watched the video and went round the exhibits. We looked at the start of the Dorset trail across the peninsula but decided it looked ‘boring’ as it made its way across fine limestone chippings.

Instead we drove to Point Richie Lighthouse and did the start of the Phillip's Garden Trail along the cliff top. It was a flat and uninspiring coastline with little relief. We could have been walking through a road stone quarry with all the chippings. We decided it was turning into a long and uninteresting walk so gave up and drove back through Port au Choix (a big, modern town with a lot of new housing and little character) to Old Port au Choix (delightful) and did the start of the other end of the Philip’s Garden Trail.

This was much better and more interesting as it took us through lush vegetation, low tuckermore and limestone pavement to the major Palaeoeskimo site at Phillip's Garden, which is a lovely spot. Groswater and Dorset Palaeoeskimos settled here and there are the remains of 50 houses made from whale bone and sealskin with fireplaces, middens and activity areas. They have been back-filled and reinstated after excavation so all that can be seen are the faint outlines of the semi subterranean homes in the turf. The alkaline soil preserved numerous artifacts including the remains of tools, weapons, discarded food and bones. Some of these are now on display in the Visitor Centre.

We stopped at the Anchor Cafe in Port au Choix for Fish and Shrimp Chowder ($5.95CAD) which was excellent - thick, good and filling.

It was now a glorious afternoon and we had a lovely run to Rocky Harbour with the sun lighting up the edge of the Long Range Mountains.

After Labrador and the Northern Peninsula, Rocky Harbour felt big, busy and very touristy but it didn’t seem as bad after a bottle of Auk Island Winery’s Funkey Puffin bought from the Liquor store.

We were booked into Bottom Brook Cottages. There are six white wooden cottages in an attractive grassy setting in the centre of Rocky Harbour, next to the stream. The owners were friendly and helpful. When they discovered we hadn't eaten moose yet during our trip, we were given a couple of huge moose steaks from their freezer to try.

We were in Cabin 1 so there was a good view of the sea from the front of the cabin. There was a picnic table and small balcony with BBQ. The cabins sleep four in two bedrooms but were small and would have been cramped with four adults.

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