Botany Bay: The Land

(Follow up to Botany Bay: The Beach)

Inland from the water, a driving trail leads visitors in a loop around the woodlands.  The first stop on the map is the 1840s Bleak Hall Ice House.  Botany Bay is the result of a 1930s merger between a Colonial-era plantation, Sea Cloud, and a late 18th century plantation, Bleak Hall.  Though many original structures have not survived, the Ice House remains a well preserved example of the Gothic Revival architecture used throughout the latter estate.  


The Gothic-style Botany Bay Ice House with gingerbread detailing.  Click to see full screen.


When you step inside the building, you notice a basement where the ice was kept.  The walls are constructed of tabby (see image below) to keep the space cool and sturdy.  During the 1800s, southern ships headed north to collect large ice blocks.  They were insulated with sawdust on the journey to the Carolinas.  Upon arrival at the plantation, the blocks were placed in the cool cellar of the ice house and, again, insulated.   

(Fun Fact: According to SCIWAY, "Legend suggests Sea Cloud received its name through the marriage of a member of the Seabrook family to a member of the McLeod Family.") 

The Botany Bay Ice House.  Click to see image full-screen.

Tabby construction was a combination of oyster shells, lime, sand, and water.  Seen here is a wall from an original structure thought to have been used as a barn.

Tabby construction was a combination of oyster shells, lime, sand, and water.  Seen here is a wall from an original structure thought to have been used as a barn.

After passing the various structures, visitors head, by car, into the dense forest.  Now, it may seem counter-intuitive to drive rather than walk through nature.  While it's well-documented that I enjoy a stroll through the woods, at Botany Bay I'm fine with remaining in my vehicle.  Mind you, I do get out to take the occasional photograph.  In one of the first areas after the Ice House stands a grove of live oaks.  There is quite enough room to pull over, roam a bit,  and snap an picture.  A little further down, however, in a much narrower area, I tried the same thing and ended up walking right into a sticky spiderweb.  

This brings me to why I find driving an acceptable method of exploration:  there are quite a few dangerous critters lurking about the property.  I made the mistake of reading a webpage full of warnings after visiting Botany Bay.  The creatures to look out for are snakes, alligators, poisonous spiders, disease carrying insects, and ticks.  The page included all of the aforementioned and warned that with its remote location and spotty cell service, help does not come quickly to Botany Bay.  So, if you are hell-bent on encountering a snake, I recommend visiting the Edisto Serpentarium located just down 174.  They have anti-venom.


As evidenced by these images, beautiful sights can be observed through the safety of your car window.  It makes one think about the intense challenges colonists must have faced.  Imagine traveling by boat all the way from Europe and landing upon this dense, primitive landscape.  Even then, it was filled with foreign reptiles, animals, and insects.  I'll never stop marveling at the colonists' perseverance, and the wisdom and ingenuity no doubt possessed by our Native American brothers and sisters.

Driving path through the woods.

Driving path through the woods.