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.

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

Meet up with Sepia Apama

The morning had dawned cold and still which is a little unusual for these parts. There is normally a breeze from one direction or other that has to be taken into account. No wind, however, a sea fog was rolling in but didn’t discourage a paddle along the rocky coast line of the upper Spencer Gulf. We spent time wandering along the coastline passing Douglas Point and Fitzgerald Bay, headed towards Stony Point on the edge of False Bay.

A strange colour in the sky and a sea fog made for an eerie feeling.

The sea fog slowly rolling towards us.

Not much changes in this part of the coast. This is a photo of Pt Lowly in 1905 and again below on our visit. All of the buildings are still there.

Many overseas visitors seem to think that all the animals of Australia are out to sting, bite or eat them. Of course this is not true, but the snakes, sharks and crocodiles do seem to sit heavy on their mind.

But what about Sepia Apama ? They can camouflage themselves and spring out at their prey from behind a rock. Luckily they don’t have much of an appetite for German Backpackers or in fact any nationality, although, if you start poking your finger in his/her direction you night get a very nasty bite. So who is Sepia Apama ? Sepia Apama is more commonly called the Giant Australian Cuttlefish. Giant because they grow up to 60cm long and weigh up to 5kg.

It’s winter and that is mating season for tens of thousands of these interesting creatures who change color to camouflage themselves. The water was very clear and calm so they could be seen all along the rocky coastline of False Bay.

The best way to meet up with Sepia Apama is a dip into the rather chilly 11 degree C water with your camera wearing every bit of wetsuit you own, so here’s 2 minutes of what we saw on our quick dip. You will see the” mating procedure” at around 55 sec. on the video. After mating the female attaches her eggs under a rock

Great paddling area and some unusual creatures.
Ian and Robyn

 

 

 

 

Haystacks…..not just a load of hay

On our wanderings across the western coastline of South Australia we have come across lots of harvesting at this time of year. Not only are there long road trains carting grain to the silos but also lots of hay being stacked into large haystacks.

These days it’s more likely to see hay in large “rounds” stacked together rather than the traditional haystacks but we have found a couple of unusual varieties as well.

Rounds of hay are more the norm these days

Square bales stacked high

It doesn’t have to be a stack of hay bales to be called a Haystack. On the Eyre Peninsula we found “Murphy’s Haystacks which may look like an old fashioned Haystack but are rock formations.

Murphy’s haystacks

The kayak paddler comes across many and varied landscapes including islands. This one is called Haystack Island.

Haystack Island off the coast of Yorke Peninsula. On a day with glassy swells.

Haystack Island with a change of weather

It might not look like a Haystack from a distance but when your up close it does take on the colours and shape of hay.

Colours change as the light changes

It seems Australians have an imagination for names but for me the best Haystack is my visits to Haystack Island.

A long time between C-Boats

What’s a C-Boat ? It’s a slang term for canoe and generally one that is used for racing or white water.

Over 25 years ago I thought that it would be fun to try paddling an Olympic flatwater C1. It was extremely challenging having to balance on one knee whilst engaging maximum effort with the paddle. It took me 12 months to be able to paddle the C1 around Delphin Island, West Lakes; that’s a bit over 5km and that was not at full power. I made it to the start line of a few local Sprint Regattas, wobbling my way into the starting lane and somehow managing to make it across the finish line.

That’s me on the way to the starting line….it’s an old photo and has slowly deteriorated, just like the paddler.

I was invited to race a 500 metre event in a C2, when no one else was available. We were disqualified because I fell in with 100m to go, but paddler Hugh Stewart finished strong and upright. Swimming across the line with your paddle is apparently not counted. Later I actually paddled a 100 km race as part of the Riverland Paddling Marathon in a C4 and I think that was the finish of my C-boat career and my right knee.

Earlier I had paddled a Gyromax C1 on a white water river managing to stay upright until the final rapid where I centre-punched an avoidable rock, capsized and was washed upside down into a large eddy.  Everyone was laughing so much they didn’t get any photos.

The Final Rapid aptly known as the “Final Fling”. I was close behind Marty who was paddling a plastic Polo kayak (a Combat from QK in New Zealand from memory) We had decided to try some “odd kayaks” that day !!

Recently I inherited an ageing Gyromax C1 from Roy Farrance, of Canoes Plus in Victoria, and set about restoring the foam saddle and knee blocks. Being vintage late 1980’s the craft was manufactured from cross linked polyethylene which is not repairable, so when the cockpit coaming parted company from the rest of the craft it became a flat water C-boat.

My dreams of paddling it the local ocean surf breaks were dashed; probably a good thing !!! I didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of Jesse Sharp who paddled a Gyromax C1 over Niagra Falls in 1990 and hasn’t been seen since. (the Gyromax survived)

A high price to pay for a world record.

After a re-fit it was down to the beach for sea trials.

Now I remember what it feels like to be kneeling.

In line with “the period” I rummaged around in the shed and found a “Geoff Barker” canoe paddle (circa late 1980’s I think)

Amazingly light and certainly beautiful

I slowly worked on technique…or what little I could remember of it.

Well it’s just another “Toy in the Toybox” according to Robyn but I think it will spur me on to a lot more leg stretching.

To finish off have a look at this vintage piece of film. Linville Gorge 1989 features the amazing (in it’s day) Gyromax and the Perception Dancer kayak (Yep I had one of those as well circa 1984).

Cheers

Ian