The Western Shore

The Aagot, an iron Barque of 1242 tons, built at Glasgow, 1882, as the Firth Of Clyde, but now laying on rocks on Wardang Island. A gale on 11 October 1907. wrecked the ship in rough seas and  imprisoned the crew on board until the ebb tide moderated conditions and allowed a member of the crew to swim ashore with line. wreck_aagot I’ve paddled past the wreck site a number of times in fair weather and seen the outline of the anchor poking from the rocks at low tide but this time we looked at the wreck from a different angle. We had paddled offshore 13km from Pt Victoria to the north western side of Wardang group of islands with a fresh headwind and short chop. This route is quite shallow and reefy in places and always makes for interesting wave action when the wind is up. We camped the night waiting for a better weather window, but it seemed to disappear, being replaced with a stiff headwind and SW swell. IMG_9904 Our journey down the western side of the island started well enough with a 10-12kn headwind and  sloppy sea but within 2 kilometres of the wreck site it had shifted up a gear to 12-17kn with larger swells and a breaking sea on top. Wardang Goose Is 122Not ideal conditions for kayak photography so we decided to land at one of the small protected beaches and check out the wreck site from the land. Of course there was a savage shore break which proved to be a little fun, especially for Robyn and Ian in the Seaward Passat double kayak. Rodney fared better with a text book landing on the sand. Wardang Goose Is 177

Wardang Goose Is 187 Few people visit this uninhabited island group and generally you will only encounter the occasional fishing boat. Wardang Goose Is 171 We however found numerous tracks of the local inhabitants. Wardang Goose Is 134 A walk over the rocky headland bought us to the wreck site and we could see that in a gale this coast would have been treacherous. Not surprisingly there are many ship wrecks on this coast as it is a low island group that can easily meld in with the mainland when viewed from sea. The island also didn’t have any navigation light until 1909 and even then various maps showed it in different places just to cause a little more confusion. This few kilometers of coastline has the remains of the ships, Aagot, Australian, Investigator, Notre Dame D ‘Arvor, Monarch and McIntyre.

The Aagot anchors lay below these waves.

Wardang Goose Is 159 One strange thing about  beach combing the area was an abundance of right foot thongs washed up. Only right foot…never the left….what a strange phenomenon.

Our time exploring was cut short as the wind threatened to further increase off shore. We made a perfect departure from the protected beach timing our breakout perfectly to avoid the shore break. The run back to camp was fast and furious sliding down a following sea and occasional breaking waves to arrive at the protection of the north tip of the islands. The north tip is home to a colony of Sea Lions and a large number of Pied Cormorants who inhabit the rocky outcrops so it was relaxing to hide in the lee and enjoy the antics of the locals.


Wardang Goose Is 226 Wardang Goose Is 209 Wardang Goose Is 197 We had left our campsite guarded by a Peregrine Falcon who had taken up residence in an old radio tower. IMG_9922 We landed back at camp having had an interesting paddle and looking forward to the evening meal with celebratory red wine. Rodney had chosen an excellent Grant Burge Balthasar 2012 Shiraz and Grant Burge 2010 Corryton Cabernet Sauvignon and Robyn and I provided a lovely Eccolo Wines Sangiovese. The wines  and pre-dinner snacks were enjoyed with great gusto watching the sun set and the full moon rise. Wardang Goose Is 292 Next day we headed along the eastern coast of Wardang Island with thoughts of the Narungga people who had been travelling to Wardang Island long before the arrival of Europeans. The island could be accessed at low tide by wading out to Green Island and then swimming for  kilometres across a deep channel. People would sit on the shore and sing songs and wave branches to distract the sharks from swimmers. I started singing quite loudly when a fin appeared of the stern of the kayak but luckily it was only a dolphin.

Mining of Lime Sand had begun on the island in 1910 and lasted for several years until easier  to access deposits were located. There are still remnants of the small community that was involved in mining and agriculture. The island was once stocked with sheep and large water tanks were constructed, living quarters, shearing sheds and other facilities were built. Several families stayed on the island to manage the stock and the children attended a small school. A barge was used to ferry materials and stock to and from the island and later a ketch, ‘the Narungga’, would move between the island and Dolly’s wharf. IMG_9908 The ketch “Narrunga”, shown here tied up at Dollys Wharf. narnarungga Little remains of Dollys Wharf these days. Wardang Goose Is 037 The last part of the paddle brought a few light rain showers indispersed with periods of bright sunshine and light winds. A fitting end to another great paddle. IMG_0711   …and a few extra photos from our trip.


Thanks to Rodney for the photos, delicious snacks interesting wine and of course to Robyn for all other catering.

Ian, Robyn and Rodney. Paddling South …..where not everything goes to plan

Rocky Islands paddle

We continued our journey along the South Australian coastline staying overnight at Mambray Creek campsite. A short walk in the morning meant a meeting with some of the local wildlife.

A number of kangaroos bounded across the track…..IMG_5601

and then we spotted a rarely seen Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby watching us from a safe distance.


A goanna about 2m long strolled past


and had a good look at Matt and Kathrin.


Kookaburras watched us from the gumtrees and had a bit of a laugh.


Later we packed up camp, finished our drive to the launching point and prepared the kayaks for a paddle 9km offshore to visit some small rocky islands and the White Rocks Sea Lion colony. As we left the protection of the bay the headwind increased to above 15 knots making for a rather wet paddle.


We punched into the head winds for a few kilometres before sheltering from the wind at a low rocky Island. Our efforts were rewarded as we watched the Pelican chicks being fed by their parents, although being downwind from the colony made for an interesting aroma to accompany my energy bar snack.

The colony was quite busy with the Spectacled Pelicans rearing young as well as large numbers of Pied Cormorants nesting nearby.G1

The young chicks were estimated to be around 30-45 days old with their feathers not yet fully developed.G3

Paddling another few kilometres we reached the protected side of the outer islands and hugged the coastline until reaching a remote sheltered bay where we camped for a couple of days.G4

At about his time the Lumix waterproof camera decided to stop working and we discovered that I had left the battery for the spare Canon waterproof in the car. So Matt and Kathrin’s encounter with 30 or so sea lions at White Rocks went unrecorded.

They had paddled out to the Sea Lion colony late in the afternoon and were rewarded by a group of 30 Sea Lions coming into the water to investigate them. They swam and jumped around the kayak, dived under it and generally made friends. The video would have been awesome !!

But we did get some nice photos of Matt’s attempt at hopscotch and the hazy sunset.



Our return journey to the mainland a couple of days later, started soon after dawn to race an approaching weather front. We paddled the last hour of the trip with the wind gusting well over 25 knots beam on, making it quite an interesting paddle. Again I was happy to be paddling the Seaward Passat G3 double which gave us a very controlled and mostly dry ride.

Sand tracks and stingrays

Our cunning plan was to leave the Calca Peninsula and move to the Black Springs campsite in the Coffin Bay National Park, where we could launch for Point Longnose and Pt. Sir Isaac.

The Calca peninsula is very sparcely inhabited and provides some great insights into what may have been in the past. The coastline is also inspiring with rugged cliffs and rocky bays.

I think this old homestead building has “gone to God” and certainly someone agrees.


Others had also gone the same way a long time ago.

Grave 1

Tiny grave decorated with ancient Abalone shells and a long gone blue flower vase

Grave 2

A wander along the coastline found Sea Lions playing in the surf.

sea lion rock 1

or sunbaking on the sand


and talking about girls

sea lion argue

Our journey came to a halt on our way along a 4WD track into Black Springs Well. Bogged to the axles in deep soft sand and unable to keep going forward. Luckily Matt “the shovel” was with us and in around 2 hours we were unstuck and on our way, but this time to a different camp site. Just another minor change in plan for the group.

The view of Mt. Dutton and Coffin Bays from the track above our camp showed the winding series of bays. Matt and Kathrin spent time on the water here while Ian and Robyn investigated the various walks.

Unbogged and going againBay view

Matt left some cool water in the upturned lid of his kayak hatch and had a few thankful guests in the late afternoon.

Birds hatch 1wallaby Joey drink

A visit to the beach meant a swim with another of the Bay’s creatures. A large Stingray kept circling in the shallows, just to stop everyone being completely relaxed on this beautiful beach.



Dolphins and sea lions

On the road again, this time with Matt and Kathrin who are visiting from Germany. Loaded with 2 double sea kayaks we travelled towards the west coast of South Australia in temperatures above 40 degrees C.

The  trip plan was to spend time in remote locations, paddle the coastline, swim with dolphins and sea lions, see lots of Australia’s wildlife and enjoy a few red wines along the way.Bus stop

Passing through Kimba, know as the town “halfway across Australia” or “middle of nowhere” you just have to have a photo taken in front of the “Big Gala”.Huge flocks of these noisy birds are common in this area.

Big Gala

After two days travelling, we set up camp and Matt and Kathrin enjoyed a relaxing 18km paddle in a shallow protected bay, to check out their borrowed kayak..

Launchig BB.

Next day was Dolphin Day when we swam with a large pod of dolphins and then spent time frolicking with Sea Lions. It sounds easy to film a pod of wild dolphins but the reality was far from that. They were in turbid water and were either going too fast to film or too close to get anything more than a fin in the frame. Still it was a fantastic experience to swim with the wild pod, Although the visibility wasn’t the best we managed to get some photos and video.

The sea lions of course were much easier to film as they played with us however only a few of them seemed interested in our games.

Thistle Island kayak expedition

Just got back from a week paddling around Thistle Island, near Pt Lincoln in Spencers Gulf. It seems that everytime I go over there I come up against headwinds, maybe it’s something I said to offend the weather gods.
Still we had a great paddle along the coast for 2 days and then out to the islands, camping on Thistle Island for a couple of days. A great trip with Mal H, Mal B, Miss Kathy, and Donna the photographer.
I came back with some great video, especially of a feeding frenzy of dolphins and birds. They had a school of fish on the surface and were really getting into them. Ofcourse I’m not sure what drove the fish to the surface but I can guess. Ofcourse Donna had 750 photos !!!! which means my video stuff will be saved by her stills.