A lucky number of eight paddlers this year for our annual Australia Day sojourne down to the cooler climes of our south coast at Broke Inlet, within the D’ Entreasteau National Park west of Walpole. Geoff Emery, Jocelyn Sisson, Colin Scully, Rose Chaney, Trish Schuttler, Pete Ormond and Steve David joined yours truly on Monday 23rd for a three day paddle/ camping adventure that, as always, provided a good mix of invigorating daytime paddles and relaxing evening chats around our (non-existent) campfire.
This year we camped at Windy Point, our most commonly used campsite on the relatively remote south western side of the Inlet. (Note to potential future Swannie campers – don’t be put off by the place name because in fact we have always incorrectly referred to this camping area as ‘Windy Pont’ when in fact that name officially belongs to another point, on the opposite side of the Inlet). ‘Our’ Windy Point is usually well protected from wind and, more importantly, from potentially annoying other members of the human race, as it is accessible only to kayakers.
The ocean bar was open this year! Although this didn’t enable us to purchase refreshing beverages throughout the trip, it did mean the Inlet’s water level was tidally influenced and not quite as low as we have experienced in the past. It also meant that water quality was improved, particularly in the channel leading to the beach, where it was an amazingly clear aquamarine colour reminiscent of Ningaloo (well, I do have a good imagination!).
On Tuesday 24th Jocelyn took the reins as part of her Guide/ instructor training and led the group paddle up and into the Shannon River, via Shannon Island. Under Geoff’s ever watchful presence (as an Assessor) Jocelyn did a great job dealing with various fake ‘problems’ with radios, shoulder injuries, a rouge paddler going off- script (really Colin you should concentrate!), and an unexpected capsize to test her skills. ‘Delegation’ emerged as one of those skills (always important to keep dry, calm and collected, while someone like Steve has inexplicably gone for a swim!).
On Wednesday 25th we paddled to the ocean outlet, being rewarded by a vista of thundering surf and the perfect opportunity to invoke safety concerns as an excuse to avoid any kayak rolling training. Pete and Geoff nevertheless had a refreshing swim while the rest of us just enjoyed walking the beach in the absence of other summer holiday makers (in 4wds). A benefit in getting there just before Australia Day!
Those undertaking walks closer to camp were rewarded with a hidden wetland area, a variety of geological outcrops to avoid stubbing your toes on, and the opportunity to speculate on the origin of the wind-blown foam and the mysterious excavation holes (pigs?) along the water’s edge, as well as the array of animal footprints across the adjacent low sand dunes. Wildlife, in terms of bird numbers, was not as prolific as on some earlier trips, however this was compensated (ALMOST) by a visit from a local dugite seen heading for Trish’s tent. All opportunities for some ‘arty photography‘ in this wonderful remote part of WA.
Our other R and R activities around camp involved relaxing stints of reading, snoozing in tents (only Rose being clever enough to bring a hammock), and procrastinating about how to make the next night’s sleeping arrangements more comfortable. Gathering around our fabulous imaginary fire each evening, and with the cosy ambience of the group’s elevated tarp (thanks Geoff), we engaged rise) in the traditional Broke pastime activities. They included drinking (what a surprise!), story-telling, comparing the utility or otherwise of other people’s camping equipment (I’m still upset about your disparaging remarks about my coffee plunger Steve!), trying to repair broken camp chairs, and debating the health benefits of no actually eating the various freeze dried meals that emerged on the last night – and, when cooked, bore little resemblance to anything from known food groups. Luckily Rose was able to provide us all with a small portion of whisky to help get it down, or erase the memories.
With a moderate wind on both days, Geoff and Steve had good runs with their sails (also tried out by Pete), and we all had the opportunity for some ‘solid paddling’. The latter should not be confused with any of that competitive RFT (Rod Fry Training) stuff which permeates through our club at this time of year! However, one suspects the RFT virus may have been responsible for Jocelyn’s headache on Wednesday morning requiring a rest before she and Geoff did a quick catch-up paddle to meet us at the ocean beach, and then again to engage in a quick 10.5 km paddle sprint to circumnavigate Bald Island on the last morning (Australia Day).
On gathering before departure on Thursday 26th I think we all agreed it was nice to have a modest sized group for 2023 and doing the trip in the days leading up to, rather than over, Australia Day. This enabled us to avoid car parking issues, and almost all boaties and 4wd campers, as well as having more easily managed group paddles and a less congested camp site.
Thanks all, for a great trip to start the year.
4 February 2023