The mysteries of Yoho beach

It happens every year. Somewhere between Friday the 13th and the Winter Solstice on 21st June we watch the weather patterns for the perfect day that will take us back to Yoho Beach. That type of day where the sky is just a  haze, sea the colour of ink and the horizon almost indistinguishable, is when we return to continue our research on Yoho Beach.

During summer we often paddle past Yoho beach, which lies in Gulf St Vincent just a few kilometers north of the gulf’s entrance at Cape Jervis. It’s a lovely place to paddle on a warm summer day, passing along the rock strewn coastline, looking at the abundant bird life and keeping an eye out for the local dolphin pods but the swells are rarely low enough to land. But in winter at the appointed time we return to continue our study of the mysteries of Yoho Beach.

We set off from Rapid Bay for the hop along the coastline passing the towering cliffs of Rapid Heads and enjoying the frolicking seals. The water is calm, dark and certainly deep as we round the headlands.

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Paddling along this area is always eventful, especially when you get in close to the cliffs and ride the surging waves as Michael soon found out.

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After a while the Headlands of Yoho come into view, with the winter grasses blanketing the slopes.

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It’s an odd place, sort of eerie, a strangeness that creeps up on you every time you land there. You always feel like you are being watched by someone lurking on those bald rock strewn hills; but there is never anyone there. Like someone is looking over your shoulder when you wander along “beach combing” the area, but I’ve never met anyone else on the beach and know of only a few people who ever stop there to explore or enjoy lunch on the grassy slopes.

This year we bought with us “Professor” Rodney B.,  a newcomer to this area, who could hopefully cast more light on the strangeness of Yoho.

We carefully landed in the small channel and came ashore.

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An ancient rock wall stands guard halfway along the beach, it’s purpose long lost and the people who built it long departed.

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A small creek winds its’ way to the ocean making an excellent habitat for local fauna.

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The first sign that something was different here was what we found when beachcombing. Left foot thongs. Never a right, only a left. Some people call them Flip-Flops others Sandals but in Australia they can only be Thongs. Over the years we found some with Asian branding, some with English, a few with German and Arabic, some near new, others with the imprint of the previous owner well worn into them. All sizes, all shapes, all left foot they magically came to be washed up on this lonely beach.

A colourful thong

 

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We kept returning over the years to see more thongs as well as a scattering of other shoe styles, still all left foot, and recently we have been coming across more  left foot Crocs wedged amongst the rocks.

washed up amongst the seaweed

washed up amongst the seaweed

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Lost and lonely

We have even picked up a compass, it was probably discarded as it too pointed Left.

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Pointing left of North

We often gathered with a nice bottle of McLaren Vale Shiraz and wondered about this place. We pored over tidal flow charts looking for answers and even started taking measurements in the area. We erected markers next to rocks so that they could be measured each year.

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Over the years we found that they too were wearing more on the left side than the right. The wind is also strange here, no matter which direction you turn it always comes from your Left.

Is it the unusual dodge tides that frequent the gulf that allow only left footwear to come ashore and why not the right as well ?. Is it the high pressure cells that pass through over summer, rotating in an anticlockwise direction ?.  Is it a stranger phenomenon, something that we don’t understand about this lonely beach ?.

Recently I was sorting some old camera equipment and saw my old Minolta waterproof camera that I had used in the 1980’s and when I found it still had film I decided to have it processed. The pictures were of sea kayaking and camping  near that beach.

An early visit to the area. camped on a rocky beach near Yoho.

An early visit to the area. camped on a rocky beach near Yoho.

And then there it was.  Maybe the answer to the riddle of Yoho beach partly hidden in the trees.

The Spaceship perched above the nearby beach

The Spaceship perched above the nearby beach

Was it the arrival of the spaceship, perhaps spinning anti-clockwise that created that Left vortex that is still there today?. I’m not sure that we will really ever know the answer but it sure makes a good reason to paddle along the rugged coastline, stop for some beach-combing and maybe even lookout for that spaceship 🙂

Ian, Robyn, Michael and “Professor”Rodney B.
Paddlingsouth

The Second Valley- kayak Second Valley to Rapid Heads

I don’t actually remember the first time I paddled into the Second Valley. It must have been in the very late 1970’s as I have found photos of our expeditions further south at Cape Jervis in 1984. Luckily “ The Valley” viewed from the sea has  changed  little in that time. Ron Blum, long time resident of the township, published  “The history of Second Valley” in 1985 and I remember kayaking with him around that time. We both went on to paddle kayak marathons together especially the Murray 400km and Murray 200km races. Ron is still active in the Marathon Canoe Club  and a link to his achievements is here. (I was the club’s first secretary)

I have been asked several times recently about paddling the area, so it was here that I decided to start a month or so of paddling along the coastline of South Australia, hoping for some interesting photos. Second Valley on the Fleurieu Peninsula is 100km south of Adelaide, the State’s capital, and has become a regular haunt for sea kayakers and scuba divers.

Scene-near-Rapid-Bay-George-French-Angas-1847.jpgThe image above was by George French Angas in 1847 depicting local Aborigines fishing at Second Valley. Not a lot has changed as you can stand at the small jetty and easily see the features from the painting.

Our idea was to launch at Second Valley, paddle along the rugged coastline, past Rapid Bay and onto Rapid Heads where we often found New Zealand Fur Seals, Sea Lions and Dolphins.  The small beach is an easy launching spot although it can be crowded with locals cooling their heels on a hot summers day. We set off around 9am to miss the predicted scorching 43 degree heat of the day and also avoided any crowds. We call any more than 3 people a crowd !!!

Ready to launch at Second Valley beach

Ready to launch at Second Valley beach

The last of the fishing village heritage disappeared with the removal of the tumble down boat sheds from the headland in 2009, however you can still see some of the foundations and the old launching winch.

Robyn passes the remains of the old fishing sheds and launching winch

Robyn passes the remains of the old fishing sheds and launching winch

After rounding the rocks on the outer of the bay you get a view of what’s to come.  You can see Rapid Bay just a couple of kilometres away with Rapid Headland in the distance. Few people venture far around the coast so often you will have the place to yourself as we did.

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Heading towards Rapid Heads

Heading towards Rapid Heads

Not far along you come to the Second Valley sea cave. Its not huge but just big enough to get a couple of sea kayaks in there. At one time we had 6 kayaks in at once but it was very squeezy. Robyn waited at the entrance as I explored the cave, taking a couple of minutes for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. The cave entrance is easy to navigate however care should be taken when there is a SW swell evident.

Taking in the view along the rugged coastline

Taking in the view along the rugged coastline

Once in the cave it was easy to turn around and find Robyn taking a photo at the entrance.

Paddling out of the cave I found Robyn taking photos

Paddling out of the cave I found Robyn taking photos

Further on there are other small grottos to explore and lots of spectacular rock formations…….

Paddling along the ancient coastline

Paddling along the ancient coastline

 

Another fissure to explore

Another fissure to explore

 

Ian exploring one of the small grottos in the cliff

Ian exploring one of the small grottos in the cliff

…..and a couple of secluded beaches which we would visit later for a relaxing swim.

One of the many small secluded beaches

One of the many small secluded beaches

Further on you can make out the Rapid Bay jetties. The larger structure was used as a loading wharf when BHP was mining in this area. The jetty has now fallen into disrepair but is a haven for fish life. A smaller jetty was built near it for recreational fisherman and scuba divers.

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The structure also makes for some interesting photos.

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Looking towards Second Valley

Looking towards Second Valley

After passing Rapid Heads, where there is often a confused sea around the bommies, we found the seals playground. Today there were only a few New Zealand Fur Seals lolling about, but often there are also Australian Sea Lions in residence. The Pied Cormorants seems always to be here in reasonable numbers and the trick is not to disturb them lest they decide to take off in a hurry, necessitating the empyting of their bowels. Not a pretty site splatting across the deck of your kayak, or you (always wear a hat !!).

Pied Cormorants, commonly called Shags all ready for take-off

Pied Cormorants, commonly called Shags all ready for take-off

We met up with all the usual suspects. NZ fur seals bobbing around the bow of the kayak and dolphins speeding past on their way south.

Suddenly there was a set of whiskers on my bow

Suddenly there was a set of whiskers on my bow

 

Robyn is visited by an inquisitive seal

Robyn is visited by an inquisitive seal

Second Valley and Rapid Bay areas offer lots to the sea kayaker and the whole day trip is only 12 km or so, allowing plenty of time to explore or have a relaxing lunch on one of the secluded beaches.