Some Days are Diamonds

Some Days are Diamonds ! The night was hot with the north winds of Summer blowing from the inland deserts of Southern Australia but they had abated when the alarm clock kicked me out of bed an hour ago. There is a stillness to the morning with no movement to disturb the left over heat from yesterday. The moon has long gone and it’s dark as I plod down the beach ramp pulling my “My Sun” sea kayak on it trolley.  I can see a ribbon of white at the waters edge and know that the shorebreak will be manageable this morning, at least until the tide starts it’s race inwards.

Out of the darkness appears Steve who already has his kayak on the beach and is geared up and ready to go. I swear this guy doesn’t sleep. We quickly gear up and launch as the sky brightens with the first rays of sun still over the horizon. We are on our way on another “Diamond Day” and will see the sunrise from the water.

The sun peeks over the hills and burns away the wispy clouds of night and brings with it a light breeze that is just enough to ripple the clear water.

The “Diamond Moment” of Sunrise…photo Steve King

We wander our way along the coast, first visiting our favourite reef areas and then heading further along the coast, enjoying the views towards the southern cliff lines.

Changing colours in the cliffs as the sun rises

As predicted the wind has increased a little in the last hour and there is now a definite chop on the water as we head back home catching a few runners on the way. We easily negotiate our way through the dumping shorebreak and slide up on the beach, all smiles.

Another “Diamond Day” has begun and we have enjoyed it from a magnificent vantage point.

But sometimes that “Diamond Day” can lose it’s sparkle, leaving you with severe case of sandy bum.  The shorebreak can be savage at times and the sea kayak sometimes has a mind of it’s own.

You pick up a wave out the back which immediately doubles in size and peaks menacingly over your head. You throw yourself into a brace as it slams down with a deafening boom. Then it all goes all watery as you are spat out, rolled and rocketed towards the shore in knee deep sand filled water. Well at least you’re back on shore; upside down in a few inches of water maybe, but still you made it.

Hold your breath and brace… Robyn Pope

The Shorebreak …photo Gavin Lodge

Autumn is here and that’s the perfect time for early morning paddles with a friend. March has calmer winds and you just add another layer of clothing before heading out and of course there’s never a shorebreak in Autumn. If you’re looking for an early morning paddle then Steve’s the man in Adelaide.

Hope to see you on the water.
Ian Pope (with thanks to Steve King for dragging me out of bed)


It’s a beautiful summers morning. The sun is warm on my back as I slowly glide along the rocky coastline. The water temperature has jumped up with the recent spate 40 C days and I’m following a small school of fish and have already run through them a couple of times and had quite a feed, so now I’m just sauntering along enjoying the sun and the crystal clear water.

There are a number of small fishing boats out on the usual grounds and I decide that later on, if I can be bothered, I will surface next to them and give them a fright. I just love the way they yell and scream when I appear and there is always the mad scramble for cameras. Lots of video being beamed live to Facebook although the language seems a little out there at times and I wonder if it get censored first.

Then I see him. Strolling along by himself in a flashy little kayak. Quite some distance offshore, probably going out further to avoid the stink from those outboard motors, he is all by himself and would be easy prey. They say they are “all white meat and not many small bones” but I’m reluctant to try one as you have to peel away that fibreglass kayak shell first and I’m already full from a good feed of fish.

Still it could be worth a pass just to give him a scare and send him scurrying back to shore. I quietly glide up behind him and check him out; an older male of the species judging by the white hair and wrinkles.

I don’t think he has seen me so maybe I pop up next to him

I slowly passed right by him just deep enough so that my dorsal could nearly hit his paddle. Yep he saw me as there was that scream of surprise they seem to all have. Are they really that surprised at seeing me saunter by ? It’s not like I’m somewhere unnatural. I’m not strolling along the Esplanade or something.

Hey, the old guy is scrambling to get his camera aimed so I plunge back down into the depths waiting for him to paddle madly to shore. Hmm..he’s still sitting there quietly scanning with his lens so maybe he thinks I’m a playful dolphin. I’ll make another pass just to see his face when he realises I’m not a dolphin nor playful.

I give my back a little rub on the kayak hull, and that does the trick, with camera dropped and him paddling flat out towards shore. Look at him go, I think he’s almost faster than the fishing boats. My job done for the day I slowly saunter southwards enjoying the sun on my back and contemplate whether I should drop in on a couple of surfers later, just for fun of course.

Have a nice day



The sky is light blue and the water is crystal clear. You can feel the heat of the sun warming the sand as the northerly wind brings the heat from the inland. It has just gone 7am and there are a few people walking their dogs on the beach before the heat begins to really sear the landscape. There is already a heat haze visible far out on the horizon telling us that it will probably hit 40 Celsius later.

We escape the land for a few hours exercise as we head the kayaks out into Gulf St Vincent, heading south along the coastline. It’s great to be away from the heat of the land and the hustle and bustle of the city which will soon be into full swing with the after Christmas shopping.

You don’t get much calmer than this

It’s good to be gliding along this familiar coastline, especially on a clear morning. The last months have been occupied with many other things. Bike riding to the northern tip of Australia, mountain biking and Fat-biking in the northern Flinders Ranges and travelling the coastline with friends, with a little kayaking squeezed in.

Seascapes are the things that bring me back to the ocean. That place where the land meets the sea in a quiet slurping of a gentle swell around the rocks or in a deafening roar as large waves pound the coast. I’m paddling a favourite piece of coastline not far from the city of Adelaide. It’s a place I have been many times and always find it interesting and calming.

Quiet waters and rock sculptures

Today is definitely a “quiet slurping” day and we are able to get in close along the cliffs to enjoy the movements of the currents.

Just the three of us

We glide along visiting the rocky outcrops where Steve is always found. It’s not really best practice to follow him as the Seaward Passat double is like driving a shopping trolley with wonky wheels when you get in amongst the rock gardens. Both of us were admiring the view and taking photos as we hit a submerged rock and slew sideways, nearly capsizing. How embarrassing would that have been? Note to self; at least one of us should have a paddle in their hands for support if needed. “Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but gelcoat” is the old saying; well this time we left a nice chunk of gelcoat on that rock meaning a minor repair job this week.

The water was so calm Steve even managed a classic “selfie”.

We often lose Steve amongst the rocks and Cormorants

We quietly glided along the line of cliffs admiring the underwater seascape as well as that above.

Clear water and weathered rocks


Towering cliffs along the way

Then we turn and head for home and make a bee line for the launch spot. Steve heading off to another Xmas get together and us checking in at a favourite coffee shop.

Have a great 2018 hopefully with lots of paddling. We certainly will. 🙂




May was History Month

The Month of May is History Month in South Australia, so with that in mind we packed up our toys and headed North and South looking at South Australian early history.

First it was to the far north of state, towards the centre of Australia, following the old “Ghan” railway line and then branching out to the edge of the Simpson Desert. The Old Ghan railway line was closed in 1980 after the line was moved due to frequent flooding. Robyn’s family have many ties to the north with her grandparents being involved with the Telegraph line that was built between Adelaide in the south and Darwin in the north a distance of 3000km

I never tire of the outback landscape with its’ ever changing colours and geography.

Yep that’s me. The area is the “Breakaways” and juts out from an otherwise flat gibber desert

Stunning colours at any time of the day

That’s Robyn doing a little exploring

We visited many ruins as well as a few surviving outposts  and watched many sunsets across the northern plains.

One of the ruins of Farina Township on the way to Marree along the Ooodnadatta Track

Golden sunset from our camp

The sunset was fantastic but the storm clouds meant the track might be closed by rains.

It’s interesting to meet unusual people along the way and to chuckle at the humour of these outback places.

Golf anyone. Only $5 per round and remember that the plane has right of way down the fairway

This is a great golf course and affiliated with St Andrews in Scotland. Obviously they never checked out the course !!!

Sometimes  there is a meeting of the “ships of the desert” and this time it happened 25 km north of Lyndhurst. A camaleer and his wife had been walking cross country with 6 camels from Gympie in Queensland and were headed west to Roxby Downs. That’s about 2000km as the crow flies and then they have the return journey.

That’s my “ship of the desert” against the tree. Diamant Fatbike with 5 inch tyres and lots of suspension.

Inquisitive buggers these camels.

The scenery is stunning in its harshness, even when we have had great rains and the vegetation is green and thriving.

Not much greenery here. Spot the bikes parked in the “carpark” at Blanche Cup mound Springs Oodnadatta Track.

Anyway there were too many places to describe and far too many photos to show here.

Then it was back south to revisit a couple of our favourite haunts by kayak. We often paddle past 2 wrecks, one well known, at the edge of suburbia in Gulf St Vincent, and one at the far south end of Gulf St Vincent that few people remember.

The Star of Greece wreck is just out of Adelaide near what was once the small village of Pt Willunga but is now almost a suburb of Adelaide. I have paddled past it countless times over the years taking time to snorkel the area during the summer months, when it is often uncovered. This is an easily achievable paddle for any sea kayaker in good conditions. Generally we launch from Moana Beach and paddle south for an hour or so (6.5km) to reach the wreck which is only 200m off the Pt Willunga beach.

May being History Month I revisited the story of the wreck.

Built in Belfast in 1868, the Star of Greece, laden with wheat, was wrecked in a violent storm off Port Willunga on the 13th July 1888. Some discrepancy exists in the actual number of lives lost, due to doubts about the number of people aboard the vessel when it left Port Adelaide, but most historians conclude that at least 18 perished.

The most striking part of the tragedy was that the ship was only 200 metres from shore when it broke in two amidships at 2.00am. The alarm was raised at 7.20am by a young boy taking his morning walk but because the Willunga telegraph station didn’t open until 9.00am, former harbourmaster Thomas Martin was unable to contact authorities in Adelaide until then.

The response to the call for help was disastrous. A combination of poor communications, bad roads, and an inability to find a good vehicle and horses to bring the necessary rocket gear for a rescue attempt meant that it was 4.00pm when useful help finally arrived. By then all the survivors were ashore and the others aboard had already drowned in the roaring surf.

Local residents had gone to the nearby beach to assist those who did manage to make it to shore. They bore witness to the deaths of those who fell into the sea, exhausted after desperately clinging to the rigging, and those who drowned in the mountainous seas as they tried to swim ashore. Helpless, they waited until some mariners made it to the shallows and then took them to nearby lodgings to recuperate.

Luckily the Gulf St Vincent where the wreck lies is generally calm and  easily accessible by kayak however I have seen mountainous seas on that beach when the winter SW storms arrive direct from the Antarctic.

This was not a great day to visit the wreck with a NW wind blowing and rain but that’s unpredictable sea kayaking

Some of the wreck is always exposed and in summer you can normally see remnants of the hull

One of the other interesting wrecks that I often pass is the Ellen, which lies in shallow water on Morgans Beach, which is the first beach as you pass into Gulf St Vincent rounding Cape Jervis.

Not much remains of the wreck except the boiler and breather tube which are visible at low tide. Occasionally in very calm conditions I have been able to paddle to the boiler and you can still hear the boiler breathing as the swell pushes air through the breather tube.

The Ellen Boiler

On Saturday, 12 December 1908, Ellen returned from Hog Bay on Kangaroo Island en route to a destination on the mainland with a load of fish valued at £50. Ellen encountered very rough conditions when passing Cape Jervis. The rough conditions included a sudden swing in wind direction from the South West to the North West. As a result, the ship drifted astern towards the shore until its stern run aground on the rocky seabed. The bow was then swung around onto the rocks by the waves thereby completing the wrecking. The heavy sea then continued to pound the wrecked vessel, washing fittings and timber overboard and onto the shore. The crew escaped to shore via the use of a dinghy while Mr Newlands swam to the shore. 

The Ellen aground at Morgans Beach

Recently I visited Morgans Beach  and stood on the same rock (I think?) as the person in the photograph.

Both wrecks are well worth visiting especially on a calm day when you get a close inspection.
Well that was May, History Month for us.
Ian and Robyn


The Reef

Horseshoe Reef. It’s been around for a long time; certainly longer than me and I feel a strange attraction. I remember being on the beach as a child watching the small boats fishing along the inside of the reef. I visited on school holidays, snorkeled out to the reef as a teenager and still explore it regularly by kayak.

The reef is part of the Mullawirraburka dreaming story of the local Kaurna aboriginal people telling how Mullawirraburka threw his spear into the water to bring the fish closer to the shore forming the reefs of Pt. Noarlunga and Christies Beach.

As the name suggests the reef is formed in an arc with the open end pointing to shore. On the seaward side the reef drops from a steep platform to a  flat expanses of stone and toward shore the reef becomes steeper then drops into 5m of water.

The reef is seldom flat calm. More often there is a confused sea caused by the meeting of waves but always it’s a fun place to hang out.

The outer steep reef edge generates a powerful wave which wraps around both ends of the reef  and in the right conditions these left and right waves peel around the horseshoe shape in opposite directions to collide with huge force.

That’s where the fun begins. You can catch a small wave heading south only to be met with one coming north and you are often spat out upwards; or sometimes you are just buried by a few ton of water. You might come back up the right way but not always.

Steve playing around on a calmer day……dsc_0461

The reef is a place for experienced paddlers and on the right day is an excellent place to put a few sea kayak skills to the test.


The Reef on a stormy day

The Reef on a stormy day

But beware the dangers below as there is not only the reef to worry about but also its inhabitants. I guess we may not be the only ones enjoying the reef today.


Get out and enjoy our local area but remember to “keep it safe” and stay within your ability.

Ian Pope