Fascinating archaeology, breathtaking scenery and some unique experiences of nature are in store for those taking a day trip from St. John’s to Ferryland, which is about 75 km (46.6 mi.) south.
Ferryland Site of the Colony of Avalon
In the little town of Ferryland is the most ambitious archaeological dig in Newfoundland. Over the years the remains of the Colony of Avalon, founded by Sir George Calvert in 1621, have gradually been unearthed and over a million artefacts revealing what was life was like in the colony have been unearthed. Some of them are on display in the Interpretive Centre which will be your first stop before touring the dig. Here you can watch conservators working on the artefacts, preserving them and sometimes reassembling objects from shards found on the site. Outside are re-creations of the gardens that supplied the hardy settlers with food and flowers.
A picnic at the adjacent Ferryland lighthouse comes highly recommended. Lighthouse Picnics offers the best of downhome treats from smoked salmon to Blueberry Cake which you can enjoy while looking out over the sea, perhaps inspecting icebergs and if you are lucky a whale or two. The stunning seascape is not to be missed.
Bay Bulls for Whales, Birds and Icebergs
On your way back to St. John’s stop in Bay Bulls just next to the wonderfully named Witless Bay. On the harbourfront in Bay Bulls you will discover a number of whale and bird watching tours. Among them are Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Watch and O’Briens Whale and Bird Tours. The very informative tours that operate from Bay Bulls take you out on the Atlantic and depending on the time of year, up close to icebergs. Then you will sail south to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve to see the largest Atlantic puffin colony in North America. The four islands that comprise the reserve are literally covered with nesting seabirds. Just one species, Leach’s storm-petrel, has been counted to number over half a million nesting pairs.
On your drive back to St. John’s from your tour of the bird islands stop in Petty Harbour at Maddox Cove. This picturesque village, although very close to the city of St. John’s has an air of being miles away on an isolated coast. The views of the harbour squeezed between rocky hills are unforgettable.
Visit Bidgood’s at Goulds
Near Petty Harbour is the town of Goulds where a stop at Bidgood’s Traditional Newfoundland Foods & Crafts is Newfoundland tradition for every “townie” or resident of St. John’s. If fresh from the sea is what you crave, Bidgoods has a fine fish counter. They also sell prepared foods that are sure to tempt every tourist. Try a caribou pie, or fish and brewis, pronounced brews (a salt cod and hard tack dish), or home style flipper pie (a traditional treat after the annual seal hunt) or moose pie. Newfoundland jams made from blueberries, partridge berries and bakeapples or cloudberries are great gifts to bring home from a visit to Newfoundland. For those who want to partake of traditional sweets favoured by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians consider Purity products such as spearment knobs, jam jam cookies or molassas candy kisses.