Winds and Windmills

Many borders are closed and COVID is loose in several states across Australia so our only safe holiday choice was to stay in South Australia. Our first adventure was to clock up some mountain bike kilometres in the north Flinders Ranges with a couple of friends.

The weather was warm, the wind less than friendly but we still managed to travel loops on the Mawson Trail as well as other less travelled routes. Add in a hot day walking in the Aroona Valley, visiting the Blinman Hotel “the pub in the scrub” and we had a week of fun sorted.

The winds were still unfriendly when we left the North Flinders area and headed to the edge of the Nullabor plain to visit the iconic surf break of Cactus Beach. The surf was blown out by the southerly wind with no surfers out there today or for the next few days.

Blown out at Cactus

Where there’s Wind there’s Windmills. The town of Penong is several kilometres inland from the ocean but still has its’ share of wind and windmills. There is even a windmill museum with a number of restored windmills in action. These days they are for show as solar powered pumps have taken over the pumping duties.

My duty was that of photographers assistant, carrying gear and generally keeping out the way. We were in luck as in the late afternoon the wind abated and the giant Comet 35 windmill slowly came to a halt. The local Penong football team was in the grand final next weekend and was having their last training session under full lights at the nearby oval. The field of windmills slowly rotated to face the oval and the lights reflected off their blades.

Long exposure at night
Sunset on the massive Comet 35

Our time was running short so we headed back home to Adelaide with the surf forecast there showing signs of good swells. Sadly the swell had eased the day of our arrival and we were greeted by a less than impressive surf break. With the need to get wet I paddled out with Steve to grab what fun we could.

Here’s a 1 minute clip of fun. Thanks for visiting.

Lazy Sunday

Yesterdays stormy weather has passed and there was a tiny ray of sunshine poking through. I had thoughts of a Lazy Sunday morning, perhaps stroll along the beachfront and grab a coffee and croissant (with Covid face mask of course) or maybe just lounge around watching the Olympic games telecast.

Sadly it was not to be.
A few deranged paddlers wanted some fun and they all said they only had the early morning free. Lots of excuses.

Steve (King of England) “I have a band practice after lunch”
Philip (Our German Correspondent) “I have to take my son swimming”
Gianni (International Man of Leisure) “I have a new bottle of Grappa that must be sampled”.

Anyway with paddle in hand I lugged my green Jackson kayak down the 5 flights of steps at the appointed hour to get amongst a few badly formed waves. It turned into a lot of fun with all of us getting hammered whilst trying to master the ocean. Luckily we were able to get a few snippets of video to make it all worthwhile.

Hope you had a nice Lazy Sunday.
Ian and Robyn (camera operator)

The Kayak Launch

It’s a nice day with almost no wind and we decided to go for a paddle on the sea. Great idea ! The first thing you have to master is the “Kayak Launch” so that you can get out there and enjoy the fun times.

Charles on our “Sunday Sea Sojourn”

There’s all sorts of tips and tricks on internet media but a picture tells a thousand words (apparently) so here’s a few photos from Ian, Philip, Charles and Mike to show you how it’s done.

First make sure there are no small waves coming.

Ian (L) and Philip (R) show excellent wave judgment

Remember a support stroke might be needed to stabilise your kayak.

Ian effects a support stroke

Don’t worry if water splashes over you, it’s a wet sport.

Sometimes the wave might slightly impede your forward motion.
If a wave splashes towards you remember to close your mouth

When approaching a small wave lean forward to keep the kayak on an even keel.

Mike keeping it under control and on an even keel

Hope you have a nice day.
Ian, Philip, Mike, Charles and Robyn (our Photographer)

Adventures in Paradise

Cambridge English Dictionaryparadise noun usually singular, a place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be:

The water was clear giving a fish eye view as we powered along over the sea bed of sand, sea grass and shells. Paddling on the edge of the mangrove forest the water was clear but changeable in depth. One minute you felt like the bottom was rising up to meet you and next it was dropping away into the green depths.

We normally spend our kayaking time in deeper waters and often offshore, however the weather has not been kind these last few days, which is what you expect in the first month of Winter. So closer inshore was our best option and a great place to see the local birdlife.

There was a splash behind us and a fin speared past into deeper water. It seems that the local Bottle Nosed Dolphin pod was also patrolling along the mangrove forest. I readied my camera which meant they immediately bolted out of range.

We had a view of the mangrove forest

Did I hear singing coming from somewhere deep in the mangroves ? Was I imagining things ? It sounded like an aboriginal song and hopefully it wasn’t the local Barngala Aboriginal group singing to the dolphins and sharks to herd the fish in closer to shore where they could spear them. I’m all in favour of dolphin encounters, and welcome their appearance but I sure don’t want to see a sharks’ fin surface next to me. I think my paddling partner, Robyn, would blame me for an shark appearance.

We nudged into a small opening and found a creek that led deeper into the mangroves. There was evidence of past human use of the creek with a boat launching ramp now laying in disrepair.

The creek winds through the forest
A now abandoned launching area
Crystal clear water and lots of small fish darting about
Oyster catchers feeding in an open section of mangroves

A great day exploring the coast even if the weather was at times overcast and the temperature calling for gloves and beanie. Sometimes you need to get up close and personal to appreciate the aquatic environment.

This was an “Adventures in Paradise”. Paradise for the local Bottle Nosed dolphins; Paradise for the fish and other species that breed in the shallows; Paradise for the birds overhead and those foraging in the shallows; Paradise for us paddlers exploring along the coastline. Paradise because Spencer Gulf is uncrowded on the land as well as the water. Paradise because not only were we able to explore by kayak but the area hosts the worlds’ largest aggregation of the Australian Giant Cuttlefish.


Paradise also because COVID has been spreading in the other Australian states and South Australia had no local transmissions, so we have little in the way of restrictions. Something that won’t last forever given the state of the world.

After our kayak sessions we greeted the Giant Cuttlefish in their own environment, which is freezing cold in June. Donning every piece of wetsuit we owned gave us an hour of intrigue watching the mating ritual of the Cuttlefish. Seems a pity that the male mates and then dies 🙂

Remnants of a southern ocean swell meant slightly less than perfect visibility and a surge rolled us around somewhat.

I had only a small point and shoot waterproof camera so please excuse the average quality photos. Unfortunately I managed to drown another SLR camera recently (my second Nikon AW1) whilst filming fur seals playing under my kayak. I think it will be a return to a Canon unit for me.

There must be millions of these guys along the coast
Hey this guy was red a minute ago…now he’s blue

Sometimes the Cuttlefish were just as curious about us as we were of them. This one got up close and personal.

Who’s more curious ?

Here’s a link to a video I took previously in the area.

For you older folk out there, does anyone remember the TV show “Adventures in Paradise” which screened from 1959 to 1962. I certainly remember the adventures of the yacht Tiki 3 as it plied the South Pacific trade route. Starring James Holden, Gardner McKay and Lani Kai I must of had an interest in the sea at a very very early age.

It’s time for us to leave the ocean and head inland. Mountain Bike rides are always an Adventure in Paradise, especially when we can enjoy some trails in the northern Flinders Ranges.

Cheers
Ian and Robyn

Going Solo

My memory is still quite good, well I hope so anyway; it’s just the rest of the body that’s feeling the effects of time. It’s 1982 (I think) and the day is slightly overcast but at least the wind had dropped overnight. I slid the kayak into the water and checked and rechecked all my gear. No need to turn on any of those electronic gadgets to track my speed and distance as I didn’t have any. Were GPS units even invented then ? I had a small deck mounted compass and a map in a plastic bag and that was it. The kayak was an ancient “Sea Leopard” that was interesting to paddle but it’s low deck meant you were always in for a wet ride and the hatches were not exactly waterproof.

This was my first solo paddle of any note. A crossing of Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island and return with a favourable tide later in the afternoon. Actually it remains one of the few times I have set to sea by myself. Mostly I have been part of a pod or at least one other, so there has always been someone to sing along with.

Solo paddling adds another dimension to the adventure of being at sea in a small craft well out of sight of land. So when I see a young paddler pushing the boundaries and paddling open water crossings solo I am very much in awe. Even more so when James Fishers decides to make a series of videos on the way.

Here’s a link to his Youtube videos of his trip across Spencer Gulf from Pt Lincoln to Innes National Park. I hope you enjoy his “home movies”.
Cheers
Ian Pope