You FEEL the magic as you pass down two miles of canopied road to the entrance. As new visitors we are given strict and careful guidance from the volunteer staff. Watching their faces, it is clear we are entering a special place, a place to be cherished and protected.
|Our volunteer hosts -- good cop, bad cop|
Botany Bay joins two plantations on the Atlantic coast of Edisto Island, nearly 5000 acres now managed as a game management area. Traditional feed crops and woodlands are cultivated ultimately for the wildlife. The rest of us are permitted to visit for no fee, but warned to take nothing home. They are quite serious about this...
Few of the original plantation buildings survive. This was the Ice House where slabs of ice cut from New England ponds arrived by tall ship and were stored below the floor in spaces insulated by sawdust.
The attraction, of course, is the wildlife, and, even at high noon on a windy day, songbirds were everywhere. Eagles swung overhead near Jason's Pond, turkeys were strutting along the edges of fields. Crops of sunflowers, millet and other low country crops enliven the plantation during the summer and provide cover and food year round.
The plantation protects over a mile of seacoast in its natural state. This section is eroding quickly and the sand is littered with a ghost forest of palms and hardwoods.
The waves that lick around them bring in a variety of shells that would quickly be bagged by tourists anywhere else. Here they stay, although some are arranged artistically by passersby.
Botany Bay is the kind of place we would like to visit again and again, in different light, in different seasons. We will be back.