Sunday, 7 April 2013

No further west than this

Steep Point
3 April 2013 

The nurse at Denham said to me we couldn't miss heading to Steep Point if we were on a trip around Australia. I had been looking into it and just thought it sounded like an impossible day trip...but luckily our Easter neighbours told us about Tamala Station...and we're so glad we got there.

Besides being the most westerly point on Australia's mainland it's a part of the Zuytdorp cliffs that start north of Kalbarri and continue along the western coastline of Dirk Hartog Island (just across South Passage from Steep Point).

We've been learning a lot about all the ship wrecks along this stretch of coastline so Simon and I were particularly keen to see the Zuytdorp Cliffs (named after one of the Dutch ships wrecked on the cliffs in 1712).  I love cliffs but I think these one really need to be seen from the air to get the best perspective.

We'd read an article about Steep Point in 'Action and Adventure' and I was left with the impression it was a great but terrifying place to fish and that it wasn't really very hospitable or family-friendly.  So we were stunned with the beauty of the place.  We'll be keeping on the beaches here one day - and I'd love to come back in 2016 to head over to Dirk Hartog Island to be a part of the 400th anniversary of Dirk's landing.  Dirk Hartog Island looks VERY impressive.

In a word, we loved it.  And we're looking forward to coming back and camping here one day!

* Photos with the bonnet in them were taken by the GoPro camera Simon has set up on our windscreen. A bit naff I know, but it's the only way we can show what the track into Steep Point was like. Couldn't believe the number of 4WDs pulling boats!

Country around the border between Tamala and Carrarang Stations. Beautiful. 

Dirk Hartog Island in the distance. (check out the cliffs there). You can camp on that beach in the foreground.

Part of the drive in to Steep Point

The beach on the Inside Passage (I think that's what's it's called, just the other side of Steep Point)

That the 4WD of some fisherman - couldn't see them anywhere!

Zuytdorp Cliffs

The kids stayed in the car while Simon and I trekked to see the cliffs.

They got out to read a memorial cairn to a prawn trawler that went down here in the 60s. Amazing story.

Looking south towards Kalbarri.

Looking north with Dirk Hartog Island in the background.

Our boys!

So beautiful we just had to go swimming at our lunch spot.

Home to Tamala in time to go fishing. Isobel caught a shovel-nosed ray which we released.

Sunset on our own little beach at Tamala.

Next morning at Tamala - it was so still there was not a ripple in sight.

The Long-tom Simon caught at Tamala. It was a fiesty one to catch!

A beach in the middle of nowhere

Tamala Station  
2 April 2013

We’re camping on a station on our own beach. The water is so still and clear that I can see stars sparkling in its reflection. There’s not a sound, not even of lapping water (other than the click clack of the keyboard as I type). 

Tamala Station is nicely positioned for us between Denham and the most westerly point of Australia’s mainland.  We think it will take us 3 hours from our campsite to reach Steep Point tomorrow – although it’s only about 130 km from here.  We (Simon and I) are both really excited as we’ll get to see the Zuytdorp cliffs, the southern edge of Dirk Hartog Island and if we have time, some blow-holes. The kids really couldn’t care less.

Simon and I doubt this will happen again – that our campsite is on our own beach.  Maybe we’ll be the only ones camped at a beachside campsite along the way, as has happened at Walkers Rocks on the Eyre Peninsula in SA, but to have every campsite as your own beach as you do here at Tamala is very rare and a very special privilege we’re enjoying.

Out in the dark somewhere, Simon is catching bream for our dinner tomorrow night.  It’s so dark that from his fishing spot down the beach a little way from the tent, you can’t see the white car or the tent. 

Off in the distance looking east we can see a glow that we assume is the tiny town of Denham  - so small that the chicken takeaway shop only sells hot chickens on Thursday and Friday and where we struggled to buy fresh bread it was in such hot demand.  So small that emus stop the traffic on the main street and sea snakes are regular visitors near the town’s jetty (not that I saw any). But because we’re out in the middle of nowhere, that tiny town glows in the dark night sky. 

Meanwhile on the other side of the continent my darling, sweet brother will fall asleep on the night of his birthday, and might briefly think about us visiting Steep Point tomorrow (known for its awesome game fishing). Simon’s sister and her family might be having a restless sleep in Brisbane as in the morning they jet off to the US for their epic  6 month camping trip of the east coast. 

And here we are, at the southern tip of the Henri Freycinet Harbour, in the World Heritage listed Shark Bay Marine Park, a long way from anywhere… and liking it.

Sweet dreams. 

Note: Isobel, Hugo and I ran out onto Shell Beach today and Isobel had a quick dip.  The water was so clear and beautiful it was a shame not to be able to stay longer.  What a spot!  Isobel loved it.

In the background you might be able to see a fence going into the water - it's the Project Eden fence

Shells, shells and more shells - 10 m deep and a few km long. 

Grid to get through the Project Eden fence (see earlier post about Project Eden)

She's so hip.

Before we arrived at Tamala we re-stocked at Denham and phoned Tony for his birthday.  This is what we saw!

Back to Skipjack Point

1 April 2013

My family promised me we could head back to Skipjack so I could try to see those elusive sea snakes!  So we headed to Cape Peron and all started the short 1.5km walk to Skipjack but it was hot and sandy so Simon turned back with the kids and drove there.

But when we first got up on the sand dunes/cliff of Cape Peron we could see some fishermen looking intently into the water. And there was a huge dugong just 20 metres or so from the water’s edge!  Can you believe it! One of the women yelled up to us in case we hadn’t realized what they were staring at. I managed to get a photo but we didn’t have the telephoto lens which is a shame. It would’ve been amazing to capture. 

Look hard to see the dugong.

The walk had some info boards about the meeting between the local Indigenous people, the Malgna, meeting the French explorers in the 1800s.  All the stories are written from the French perspective and tells that the locals were OK when Nicholas Baudin’s expedition came here but 15 or so years later when Freycinet came back, they were more anxious.  Who wouldn’t be? There was an artist on board this expedition and his drawings/paintings are really fascinating.  The naturalist on board was Francois Peron and he collected about 100,000 specimans to take back to France.

Interestingly, Freycinet brought his wife Rose aboard his expedition and she’s the first woman believed to have circumnavigated the globe.  They camped here at Shark Bay for 2 weeks – there’s an ‘unofficial’ painting of her at their camp.  I didn’t get a chance to go into the Discovery Centre/museum at Denham which has the actual French bottle that was used in the 1700s by Saint Alouarn to claim this coastline for France.  His proclamation happened at Turtle Bay on the northern tip of Dirk Hartog Island not far from where Dirk Hartog and his countryman Willem de Vlamingh had left their pewter plate(s) about 100 years earlier.

Once I got to the lookout at Skipjack Point we saw a huge school of tailor circling in the water, about 6 turtles, lots of huge eagle rays, and some whoppers of sharks (the biggest we’d seen so far).  This place really is absolutely amazing.  No wonder it’s a world heritage listed area.

Still no sea snakes. 

As you can see, once your not on the beach you're in the desert.

View from Skipjack Point

Otto made a friend.