what happened here
that your rocks all stand on end?
my iphone pics
seagulls float in groups
gannets wheel above the surf
tangled piles of kelp
26th March 2016
We parked the car by a small sandy bay bordered by handsome jagged rocks, and wandered our separate ways to commune with the wild landscape. After exploring the beach and scrambling around a rocky point past crashing waves, I headed inland to find that recent fires have gutted the bush on this dramatic coastline. From an exposed rocky peak, a currawong called across an ashen slope of tangled black skeletons. I confess, I relished the chance to enjoy these beautiful naked forms, now exposed to view. The sculptor in me celebrated the wonderful shapes usually hidden by leaves.
Wandering back along one of many 4WD tracks that crisscross this region, cutting into sand and exposing ancient shell middens, I came across coastal shrubs and trees that had escaped the blaze, thanks to humans with hoses. Near holiday shacks, the unburnt, leafy coastal wattles, bearded heaths, ti-trees, boobiallas, paperbarks, banksias and correas all looked so different to the skinny twisted black forms only ten metres away.
Later, wanting more information about Sarah Anne Rocks, the only websites I found talked of “off-road permits” and the “medium difficulty level” of spinning your wheels across this beautiful wilderness. It seems that dune buggy tours and 4WD adventures are more popular than walking and communing with nature. I found no sites listing the flora or fauna, or giving geological information on the formation of these amazing rocks. So much for the priorities of tourists…
Wandering back to our car, parked in front of a string of fishing shacks, I found our rear tyre looking dangerously deflated. We had all forgotten about its slow leak… A family holidaying in a comfortably renovated “shack” kindly pumped up our tyre, and invited me to join them around their newly installed outdoor fire place.
“Things have changed in the last few years” the matriarch told me, nodding across the low foredune to the sea. “We came here as kids, and dad would go out out fishing. There used to be soft tufts of poa between our shack and the beach, but sea spurge has taken over. It floated here from Africa.” Her grandson tosses a branch into the fire. “And there’s hardly any kelp here now.”
“But there’s plenty on the beach!” I object.
“Not like it was. There used to be thick forests of swirling kelp. It’s easy to get the boat out past the rocks now,” she shakes her head. “They say the bull kelp is endangered. The sea is getting warmer.”
“Did you see the circle of pebbles?” her husband asks. “They are the only pebbles around here, and they go down deep. Go back and climb that hill and look down the other side. You’ll see them.” And I did…
While I was chatting around the fire, Em was off creating new music with her violin, and Dan was quietly photographing a hooded plover (hooded dotterel) brooding over her eggs as they hatched in the middle of the beach, right where I had wandered earlier! I hate to think that I could have stood on an egg that was about to hatch. Here are a few of Dan’s photos. Look carefully. A sand-coloured egg with dark flecks is visible in 3 of the 6 photos.