Waves and Whales

On the road again, this time in mid winter and for the first time in years, without a kayak on the roof rack. Decided that the winter weather was just too changeable in the Great Australian Bight to consider launching kayaks, so it was pedalling not paddling.

The idea was to check out a number of launch sites for future expeditions as well as spend time in places we often pass through but rarely have time to explore. We spent a couple of days in the Wirrabara Forest Ippinitchie Creek camp ground. A great place to stay and ride the surrounding forest tracks and even better when you are the only one there.

Ippinitchie Creek camp site

Ippinitchie Creek camp site

Some time ago, the nearby community of Wirrabara Forest must have been thriving with a tennis club and scout hall. This is all that remains.

Tennis Courts - the net posts still survive

Tennis Courts – the net posts still survive

Scout Hall near Foresty Headquarters has now been restored

Scout Hall near Foresty Headquarters has now been restored

After another stop along the way at Melrose, to ride a few of the famous mountain bike trails, we headed for the Gawler Ranges National Park. Unfortunately we were hit by severe rain storms soon after we left the bitumen road which turned the track into a stream of mud. Very interesting driving when the Toyota Prado and the camper trailer are going sideways down the road and the mud reaches up to the doors. After a couple of hours in slow 4WD we hit the bitumen again and headed further across the Nullarbor Plain.

For those who don’t know the area, this is a vast flat treeless plain stretching 1100 km. across the Great Australian Bight, covering an area of approx. 200,000 sq. km..That’s about 1 1/2 times the size of England or 1/4 the size of Texas.

It’s other claim to fame is the worlds longest golf course with one hole played at each town across the Nullarbor. The greens are artificial turf and the rough is horrendous salt bush. The other problems, apart from losing your ball, are snakes, other bities and at Nullarbor Roadhouse the airstrip cuts across the “fairway”.

Chipping onto the green on the 3rd hole.

Chipping onto the green on the 3rd hole.

At the head of the Bight we found about 30 Southern Right whales, many with calves lolling around at the base of the cliff. We were also lucky enough to see 2 recently born albino calves. Less than 2% of calves are born albino (white) however they do gradually turn dark as they grow up.

We also visited a number of areas that I had surfed over 20 years ago. The waves in this area are fantastic and extremely powerful however this trip the swell wasn’t large enough to produce the waves that places like Cactus and Granites are famous for.

Waves sets off the Headland near Fowlers Bay

Waves sets off the Headland near Fowlers Bay

Spent a few days off the beaten track in Fowlers Bay area which is a nice area for a spot of fishing and whale watching as well as enjoying the sunsets and moonrises.

The "road" to the beach in Fowlers Bay

The “road” to the beach in Fowlers Bay- 4WD needed here

"Mexican Hat" rock

“Mexican Hat” rock

Sunset over the Calca Peninsula

Sunset over the Calca Peninsula

Moonrise over the Fowlers Bay Jetty

Moonrise over the Fowlers Bay Jetty

In the Port Lincoln National Park, we found a few nice 4WD tracks to explore by bike,

The track to McLarens Point

The track to McLarens Point

This track had some natural hazards. Firstly a black snake on the track…..

Black snakes - an unusual sight in the colder months

Black snakes – an unusual sight in the colder months

And then I had an unplanned dismount when I startled 2 Emus who bolted in front of me. Things got a little interesting with 200 kg of bird flashing across the handle bars.  The track ended at McLarens Beach, another perfect and deserted destination.

McLarens Beach- another deserted beach at the end of the track

McLarens Beach- another deserted beach at the end of the track

Later we rested near the waters edge only to see a Whale lolling about in the shallows of the bay. Of course there was the usual list of animals including the Port Lincoln Parrot, Blue Wrens, Currawongs, Sea Eagles and nightly visits from Emus and Kangaroos.

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