It was  one of those strange sort of days where you stand on the beach ready to launch, still unsure that the weather will behave. That strange bank of low cloud on the horizon, the headwind whipping up a small chop offshore and the thundery looking cumulus clouds to the east.

The winter has been cold and windy this year and we have had to cancel many planned kayak trips, instead spending the time on mountain bikes, (some of our photos are here and here) so we were looking forward to getting a couple of days on the water.

A check of the latest forecasts and current weather observations, for the next 2 days, was certainly within our limits, so it was “Westward Ho”. For Rodney and Steve it would be their first visit to the south western coast, with Ian having explored there many times over the years.


The first thing that we encountered was the possibility of paddling blind in a sea fog, because sure enough that low cloud was a sea fog rolling straight at us.


Luckily it just seemed to skirt around us, leaving us an easy passage, in a slight headwind, towards the exposed western side of Wardang Island. After a couple of hours paddling the wind did as predicted and moderated giving us a beautiful day of paddling along the coast.

We visited the local Pied Cormorant colony.



The thundery clouds passed us well to the east, making Rodney a happy boy.


The beauty of this area is definitely the seascapes and the exhilaration of paddling among the  jumble of jagged rocks, passing the graves of several ship wrecks. It’s hard to do the area justice with  just a “point and shoot camera”, bobbing around in a kayak but we hope you like our efforts.


There are always places you have to explore more closely.




Our lunch spot couldn’t have been more idyllic. A protected beach on a deserted island.


The afternoon light on sea stacks made for interesting effects.




Sometimes it looked like collapse was imminent…….


and other areas had long since collapsed.


Legend has it that munitions were stored here during WW2, although I have never climbed into the chamber to confirm.


We finished the day camped on a smaller island.


Watching the sunset whilst enjoying some classic Shiraz wines, from the McLaren Vale and Clare Valley wine regions, along with local cheese and olives and lots of other goodies. What could be better than that ?.




Next day the wind failed to cooperate, being head on all day. We explored more areas along the coast…..


….before heading across open water to check out Green Island. Locals say that 60 years ago a hermit lived on the island in a small house he had built from shell grit and cement blocks. The house is  still standing (just) and you can also see where he had built rock fish traps.


So we said farewell to the Pied Cormorants and started the headwind slog back to civilisation.

Paddlers and photographers.

Sir Rodneypope2









Rodney                               Ian                                        Steve


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