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

What lurks below ?

It’s cold morning on the beach. NO; that’s a lie. It’s a freezing morning on the beach. After a night of crystal clear skies, there’s no wind and the sea is mirror smooth. It’s so cold even the sand feels stiff and frozen.

I’m not normally found paddling around areas at the northern reaches of Spencer Gulf but these are not normal times. The cold fronts have been pushing across southern Australia bringing big seas to the Southern Ocean so I have moved inland a few hundred kilometres. South Australians have been let off the COVID leash, with no infections for around 2 weeks, we are allowed to travel intrastate.

Healthy mangrove forests along the coast

Sometimes you can pull up at a nice lunch spot on the edge of the mangroves and find that after sandwiches and coffee you have a problem. In nautical terms it’s said to be “aground”. A bit of pushing and shoving gets you back on the ocean.

Aground !!!

The water is cold and clear as you glide along alone. It’s these times that I sometimes wonder “What lurks below ?”. I often see dolphins, fur seals and sea lions as well as several species of water diving cormorants, but today I’m sure of seeing the Australian Giant Cuttlefish. I come in close to shore at the prearranged place so that Robyn can get some photos.

Now being our group photographer, she has not only has to be a fair paddler but also ready to make sacrifices to get good shots. Into the freezing water she goes looking for photo opportunities.

Freezing cold water is no barrier

Here’s a slide show of the congregation of Australian Giant Cuttlefish as they come into the cold, shallow waters of Pt Lowly to mate. They grow up to 60 cm weighing around 5kg. and have the ability to change colour and texture to camoflague themselves.

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Unfortunately we are not travelling with Gavin, our group Sommelier, which limited our choice of wine,  but I was able to temp her with a decent Pinot Noir as reward for her work.

Luckily we didn’t come across anything more sinister than Giant Cuttlefish which more than can be said for well known S.A. paddler Mike Dunn. You can see his “encounter” in the video below.

Stay safe. Social distance and wash your hands.
Ian and Robyn