Venus and other Gods

Venus is the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty, among other things, and we have been wandering along a coastline that we certainly Love. Its’ Beauty is in the rugged cliffs and sandy bays that dot the landscape along the western coast of South Australia.

Unfortunately Venus was travelling with Euros the God of the South East Wind and he was displaying his might. For several days now it has blown too strong for us mere mortal kayak paddlers to venture out into Venus Bay and then out into the open Southern Ocean.

Even the locals stayed ashore today. This was inside the calm bay and you can see the whitecaps on the water

Even the locals stayed ashore today. This was inside the calm bay and you can see the whitecaps on the water

Our plan had been to spend a couple of weeks exploring along the rugged coastline, visiting places that we had been before and exploring some new spots. The coastline between Venus Bay and Smoky Bay is especially beautiful from the water with a series of cliffs towering above and lots of small bays and inlets to explore. In the past we had spent many days paddling and swimming with dolphins and sea lions in Baird Bay as well as relaxing on other deserted beaches.

With the wind howling we couldn’t even get the kayaks off the roof of the car, let alone get to any offshore locations or even into the generally sheltered waters of Venus Bay.

Looking out towards the headlands of the protected Venus Bay

Looking out towards the headlands of the protected Venus Bay

So it was onto the FatBikes for some coastal fun around Venus Bay and across to Entrance Beach.

We jumped on the bikes and set off to explore along the coastal dunes

We jumped on the bikes and set off to explore along the coastal dunes

The sign says 4 wheel drive and we had 4 wheels so on we went

The sign says 4 wheel drive only and we had 4 wheels so on we went

After exploring around dunes we visited the Venus Bay Conservation Park which allowed us access to some wind swept but deserted beaches. The drive gets interesting when you reach the track over the and dunes.

You can just spot the kayaks on the roof of the car as we made our way along the track

You can just spot the kayaks on the roof of the car as we made our way along the track. The track is marked by posts as the track is lost in the sand

Robyn “the snake charmer” managed to have a chat with a good size brown snake who took off up the sand dune leaving only his “snake trail” in the sand. We didn’t follow.

Snake trails across the dune which were blown away within minutes

Snake trails across the dune which were blown away within minutes

This area is quite beautiful with views across Venus Bay.

Looking out towards the islands in the bay

Looking out towards the islands in the bay

We spent time sheltering out of the wind along with the local inhabitants.

Some of the locals sheltered with us on the beach

Some of the locals sheltered with us on the beach

The one paddle that I had really hoped to do was a visit to the “Dreadnoughts”, a group of bommies off the coast of Sceale Bay. On a paddle here 17 years ago, with a group of sea kayak instructors, we tried to weave our way through the breaks. Unsuccessfully I might add. The sea was calm and green as we admired a breaking bommie which soon turned to a wall of white foam when a set of rogue waves came through, cleaning up a couple of the group.

Today you wouldn’t want to be out there.

The photo doesnt do justice to the size of the waves as they extend right across the bay

The photo doesn’t do justice to the size of the waves as they extend right across the bay

We dropped into the once thriving town of Port Kenny. It had been a port serviced by the Mosquito Fleet of flat bottom boats that carted wheat and other goods from the towns along the coast, in the early 1900’s but sadly there are only a few houses and a pub left. There are remnants of previous travelers.

This was probably a very up-market model in its' day

This was probably a very up-market model in its’ day

We moved west in hope of better weather and camped at Smoky Bay. The wind still blew as we retired for the night.

We awoke to a hot and still morning. With no wind and clear blue skies we quickly unloaded the kayaks and paddled off to explore Smoky Bay.

A quick dip to cool off before heading out.

A quick dip to cool off before heading out.

Calm and very clear water ahead

Calm and very clear water ahead

Not a breath of wind and we were 2 km from shore

Not a breath of wind and we were 2 km from shore

We paddled for an hour or so to the other side of the bay where there are large numbers of oyster beds.

Oyster beds in the shallow waters of the bay

Oyster beds in the shallow waters of the bay

We saw Cirrus clouds streaking the sky as we turned for home. The wind again started to increase but  at least we had snuck in a good 2 hour paddle for about 900 km of travel and a week of waiting; still that’s sea kayaking for you.

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.

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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.

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

Cheers
Ian Pope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Holiday Coast

We are paddling the “Holiday Coast”. Everywhere there are people fishing, people walking, people just relaxing in the sun. It’s strange we haven’t seen any kids on the beach and everyone looks 60 years or older, then we realise we are on the “Grey Nomad Trail”.

The Nomads criss-cross Australia following the sun in their 4WD vehicles towing huge caravans and congregating at any place that has good fishing and a half decent tavern. We feel a little out of place as we set up in Point Turton, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia; our car is dirty from the desert trip, unlike all the shiny new ones in the park and our Ultimate Xplor desert camper is a third of the size of any others here.

The next day bring drizzling rain in the morning but all is saved when we are invited by Ken and Janet to join a Melbourne Cup lunch in their Corporate Box. Lots of food, lots of drinks and lots of fun makes for a memorable day.

The weather brightens and we get on the water again. The coastline although mainly low limestone cliffs is quite interesting with  lots of shallow reefs to explore.

Leaving the beach we head towards the jetty

Leaving the beach we head towards the jetty

Cormorants fishing from the rocks.......probably having more luck than the fisherman

Cormorants fishing from the rocks…….probably having more luck than the fisherman

We dropped in at the local swimming hole. There’s a low rock walkway out to steps but it was submerged when we passed.

Gavin drops in at the swimming hole

Gavin drops in at the swimming hole

We paddled towards Point Souttar and Corny Point in near dead calm conditions.

Ian and Robyn admiring the view

Ian and Robyn admiring the view

We stopped for a chat to one of the local fisherman……

Landing another calamari

Landing another calamari

……and then spent some time exploring along the coast.

This coast is generally protected from the southern gales but we did find the wreck of the Yelta in shallow water east of Point Turton, where only the boiler is now visible. It was run aground in 1926 when the steam driven vessel started to take on water.

The boiler of the Yelta

The boiler of the Yelta

A great stretch of coastline on the “foot of Yorke Peninsula” and well worth the effort of exploring by kayak.

Robyn                                         Gavin                                      Ian

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On an Ebbing Tide

Tides just come and go and we take them for granted, not realising the complexities of the oceans tidal basins and their interaction with the land masses. Kayakers talk of “riding the tides” to get a free ride along the coastline or being wary of “tidal races” where the landmass restricts the tidal flow.

Tides are always there; as regular as clockwork although they may vary in height and speed in different places. In South Australia we don’t have large tidal flows but we do have strange “dodge tides” where little if any movement occurs for a day.

But when you paddle Australia’s “inland sea” everything changes.

The tide seems to have “gone out”. Lucky I bought my kayak trolley !!.

The long walk

The long walk

The last time I launched here the tide was right in with water lapping the sand dunes…….but that was 1989.

Fast facts
Where. Lake Eyre (Kati – Thanda) South Australia.
Area. About 1100 sq km.
Tides. On average there is water in the lake every 8 years or so, but it has completely filled only 3 times in the last 160 years so it’s a long wait for high tide.

 

 

Urban Paddler

It’s winter outside with today’s maximum temperature forecast to be 18 °C (64° F). I  really would like to stay in my warm bed, but Steve has organised a morning paddle with Helen and I was invited, so out into the cold I go. Of course it’s not really cold by some paddlers standards; there’s no ice to crack, no need for a drysuit although it did necessitate a beanie and paddling jacket.

We only had a couple of hours so it was local waters for us. Glenelg is one of the closest beaches to the city of Adelaide and has developed into a shopping and entertainment centre as well as having a pretty nice beach, although quite crowded in summer.

It used to look like this back when Steve was a boy……

glenelg jetty old

.. but that was before the storms of  the mid 1950’s. Now it’s just the remains of the breakwater in 10 metres of water which guard the new jetty.jetty 2We launched nearby  and headed along the coast to Glenelg beach proper to explore the old breakwater. In summertime I often pull up here and jump in for a snorkel amongst the concrete remains that are home to many fish species, but there’s was no way that was happening today.

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Launching from the West Beach Marina

The urban sprawl of Glenelg

The urban sprawl of Glenelg ahead of us

But there is always beauty to be found, even in the Urban Landscape.

Looking along the Glenelg Blocks

Looking along the Glenelg Blocks

Yep you guessed it. A couple of New Zealand “backpackers” had decided to set up home right in the middle of this prestigious area. New Zealand Long Nosed Fur Seals, like other New Zealanders are common in our waters.

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Now that is definitely a face only a mother could love.

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Helen decided to get a few mug shots in case Australian Border Protection wanted to check their entry permits.

Helen the photographer

Helen the photographer

We hung around for a while watching the Pied Cormorants doing a little fishing, until the smell of “fish breath” got too much.DSC_0095

We watched the Army /Airforce conducting maneuvers with Black Hawks and other helicopters overhead.DSC_0081

This area has changed dramatically over the years with the growth of hi-rise apartments and hotels on what was once sand dunes. Luckily they are mainly confined to this one area so most of the coastline south of here is still “Blot Free”.DSC_0078

A school of fish bubbled to the surface creating havoc with Seals, Cormorants and Seagulls diving for a feed.DSC_0103

The thought of a feed sent us scurrying homeward. Urban Paddling is a great way to spend a couple of hours of water time and the Glenelg Breakwater is certainly worth a visit no matter what the weather.

Ian                             Steve                  Helen

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