South coast of Australia, car trip, 2021

 

Photographs and commentary: copyright Jonathan C Nevill,  2021, unless otherwise credited. Camera: Samsung Galaxy S7.
Date: June 12 - July 4, 2021.

 

During April - June 2021, I left my home in Hobart, and travelled (by road) as far north as Yeppoon and Great Keppel Island, in Queensland.

The purpose of this trip was to visit distant friends. 

 

This photo-essay is a partial record of a second trip, following the first one, to visit distant friends along Australia's southern and western coasts.

 

Towards the end of the first trip, I was planning to leave my campervan in Melbourne, and fly back to Hobart. This was partially to say goodbye
to friends who were leaving Hobart (in fact leaving 31 Coolabah Road Sandy Bay) to travel interstate. 

However covid locked down Victoria at just the wrong time, so I left my campervan in Adelaide rather than Melbourne, and flew home..

Having spent two weeks in Hobart, I flew back to Adelaide on June 12, and picked up the van. 

 

On the drive to Adelaide I passed through Mildura, a district known for wine and citrus fruits.
And dust....

 

 

 

Drone photo by Robert Klarich 2020.

 

Hobart as usual had some beautiful sunrises while I was there...

 

 

 

On returning to Adelaide, I stayed with Penny and David. I visited Scoresby and Anna, Prakish and Pragy, and 

Sophie came with me. We visited the botanic gardens. Here they have a single water-lily plant occupying a whole pond (almost). From South America.

 

After leaving Adelaide, we stayed at Cygnet Park Sanctuary, in Kangaroo Island.

Above: our accommodation. Here evening brings a chorus of cockatoos, then barn owls, then silence, punctuated now and then with the calls of other night-birds.  Staying here was relaxing... very cosy reading by the warm wood-fire. The nearest other humans were many miles away.

 

 

Ancient geology is fascinating. The landscape changes dramatically over un-imaginably long periods of time...

 

Below: Kingscote Pier

There are three species of seal at Kangaroo Island. The population of Australia Sea Lions is getting smaller... this is of serious concern, as the total population is small.  On the other hand, populations of New Zealand Fur Seal (otherwise "long nosed fur seal") are increasing in size. These (above) are females with 'teenage' pups.  Here a National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) sign reads "These animals are resting; please do not disturb them". 

The birds are silver gulls, pied cormorants, and pelicans.

 

Western Cove, KI, is large, shallow and sheltered.

And deserted, at least on the day of our visit...

 

We visited the northwest corner of Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park, KI.

With it's striking lichen colours...

 

Here, at the close of the day, the setting sun catches breaking waves...

 

Storm clouds approaching the small village of American River, in Kangaroo Island

 

Casuarina woodland, the feeding habitat of the endangered Red Tailed Glossy Black Cockatoo.

Cygnet Park Sanctuary, where we stayed, has a program for re-planting Casuarina habitat. The cockatoos also depend on old Eucalyptus for nesting hollows.

 

After leaving Kangaroo Island, I accidentally visited the northern part of the Eyre Peninsula (I missed a turn-off and found myself on a road running parallel to the highway, but further south). Emily (the girl on Google Maps) assured me that the road was OK, but actually is was not so great.

The northern Eyre Peninsula is largely arid and flat, with lots of saltbush, mulga and mallee (at least where farmers have not cleared the native vegetation).

Here: saltbush in the foreground, mulga in the middle distance, with low hills carrying saltbush and mulga in the background. It was a still cold morning, with mist hanging on the hills. 

I enjoyed the drive. I was totally alone on the road. It brought back memories of a family 'adventure' when I was a child: we drove from our home in Melbourne to Alice Springs, along what was then a dirt track (now a major highway). I think the year was 1958.

 

Once back on the Eyre Highway, I drove across the Nullarbor Plain. I stopped to visit a friend who was teaching at the Yalata Aboriginal Community School.

Few people are living in this country now, apart from small aboriginal settlements. The small European townships which did exist have dwindled away. 

Roadhouses exist to support highway travellers.

After leaving Ceduna in South Australia, heading towards the west, the next township is Norseman in Western Australia (1200 km later).

 

Norseman was founded on gold mining, many decades ago. The town is made up largely of humble miner's cottages. There are a few small shops, some of which are abandoned and in a state of decay. Driving through the town there were cars parked by some of the houses, but I saw no humans (or dogs). It was strangely quiet.

Although mines are still operating in this region, techniques have changed, with some processes now highly automated.

 

Until I saw this sign, I had not realised that rock drilling could be a competitive sport. Maybe one day in the Olympics?

At a guess, an important element of the sport is the clean separation of load ore from waste ore. Note the pink lines in the above image.

 

Travelling these highways, every now and then you see a car abandoned in a ditch beside the road.

I always wonder what the story is behind such vehicles: I presume most are the result of the driver falling asleep.

This vehicle has had its registration plates removed. It also carries a police sticker warning the owner that it will be towed away if not removed.

 

 

Vast areas of this region were originally clothed in woodland, with its associated fauna. The endangered Mallee Fowl, and the Numbat are examples.

Populations of these animals continue to decline, facing not only habitat destruction, but predation by introduced pests, such as feral dogs, cats, rats and mice.

 

Farmers clear native vegetation by burning, and by uprooting using a chain dragged between two tractors.

An early steam tractor. Wire ropes around the rear wheels served to obtain traction.

 

The modern equivalent: a diesel tractor.

 

A breakwater at Esperance (a regional city). Of course I found myself wishing that I still owned Ocean Child...

I liked Esperance. It had a good feel to it. Clean and cared-for. People were friendly. The ocean water seemed clear.

 

There are hardwood plantations in this region, on land which, of course, was once wildlife habitat.

I suspect that even wildlife habitat is still being cleared and turned to woodchips for export. These piles above are chips waiting for export.

 

Just north of Esperance lies the Stirling Ranges National Park.

This (below) is a photograph of a sign.

Look carefully. You'll note that the Parks and Wildlife Service is a part of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

Attractions? The so-called "Granite Skywalk", pictured above, is one such 'attraction'. It would appear that a government department which once had the important focus of nature conservation has now been diverted into creating tourist attractions. In my mind, this shows how little politicians actually know or care about the natural world - the world on which, ultimately, all life on Earth depends. This is like creating a government department Roads, Railways and Pea Soup! Pathetic!  The original important focus has been trivialised.

 

Albany on the south coast of Western Australia.

The small coastal city of Albany sits on a protected harbour. Across the water: the city on the left, grain silos to the right, and again to the right, hardly visible in this photo, are stockpiles of woodchips waiting for export to Japan and China. A lot of important habitat has been exported from Australia (and doubtless other countries) as woodchips.

 

The south western corner of Australia is characterised by magnificent granite coasts and archipelagos.

Greens Pool, near William Bay, has featured in lists of "the world's best 100 beaches".

There are so many wonderful beaches in Australia that I would have a lot of trouble ranking them... and what's the point, really?

Having said that, Greens Pool is a great beach, with a shallow protected pool which has also (although tiny) been made a marine sanctuary.

It's easy to access, and safe for kids. And it certainly is outstandingly beautiful.

 

Nearby, Elephant Rocks is another spot renown for its beauty.

The beach at Elephant Rocks from the air (photo NPWS).

 

Elephant Rocks.

 

Nearer to Albany, the Natural Arch and The Gap are beautiful places. 

Natural Arch.

 

Cliffs at The Gap. Note the darker gneiss intrusions into the paler granodirite. 

The WA NPWS has build an elaborate viewing platform for tourists at both The Gap and Natural Arch. 

There have been a number of fatalities at these and other cliff sites. One site 'The Blowholes" was even equipped with a satellite beacon for emergency use. However this was subsequently stolen and not replaced. Stealing such a device is a stupid thing to do, but unfortunately predictable.

 

Below, Waterfall Beach, in the same area (Williams Bay).

Note the two small rocky reefs in the foreground. 

All Australians have had the experience of watching waves break along a rocky shoreline, but how many have been able to watch waves break from a fish's viewpoint?

You can do that here. It's my intention to return to this site to try to photograph the waves as they break on the shallow granite reef.

 

On my drive from Albany to Perth, I spent a night at a national park protecting woodland habitat, Dryandra.

I arrived in the dark, and left for Perth in the dark the next morning.

I was surprised and pleased to see a pair of Bilbies. Although these animals, before European arrival, ranged over about 70% of the drier parts of teh Australian continent, they have little defence against feral cats, dogs and foxes, and of course the clearing of their habitat for agriculture. Today they are largely confined to the arid northwest of Australia. However a tiny population does exist in the woodland at Dryandra National Park. 

 

This was my first (and probably my last) siting of these elusive creatures. The pair came right up to my van, gave it and me a quick inspection, then vanished into the darkness as quickly as they had come. I read that pairs are usually two adult females, the males having (apparently) little interest in the females after copulation.

Photo: copyright Alany.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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