Winter cameos from the west coast of Victoria


Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-6316
Loch Ard Gorge, between Port Campbell and the Twelve Apostles.  If you were to go out the gorge entrance Muttonbird Island would be immediately on your right. In 1878 the clipper Loch Ard was wrecked here in a storm. Of the 54 passengers and crew, only two teenagers survived.  Only 4 bodies were found.  How Tom and Eva survived is a fascinating story readily accessible on the internet.  There was talk a couple of years ago of an ocean swim being organised from the beach in the gorge, out the entrance, around Muttonbird Island and back through the entrance to the beach (with small boat support) subject of course to conditions being suitable.  The distance of the proposed swim is about 2kms. Talk of currents and sharks would not have deterred the 50 or 60 experienced ocean swimmers who in my view would’ve turned up.  A swim on a similar stretch of coast near Peterborough was conducted a couple of years ago, and was very successful and thoroughly enjoyed by the 40 or so swimmers (see photos immediately below).  It was not a race. It commenced from a beach with cliffs either side, like a miniature version of Loch Ard beach.  Prior to entering the water the mood was beautifully set by a small bagpipe band filling the air with their plaintive but strong and stirring sound.  It was a privilege to be 600-700m offshore looking back from sea level at that exotic coast.  The reefs and drop-offs over which we swam were teeming with life.  Unfortunately, the Loch Ard swim has not yet occurred. I’ll be there when it does.



Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-6420
The curtain falls.  This shore break was well formed by an offshore wind and such of the substantial swell at sea as was able to survive a 180 degree change in direction to arrive on the beach at Apollo Bay.
Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-6459
The offshore wind at the northern end of the Apollo Bay beach threw great rooster tails of spray over the back of the breaking waves.
Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-6461
Apollo Bay in the depths of winter. A few found some uncrowded tidy little waves in the shore break north of Tuxion.  The sea temperature is currently 13 degrees C.
Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-6487
A house in the foothills in this image is owned by a friend of mine.  I can’t imagine he ever tires of the view.
Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-6454
On the right is the breakwater on the eastern side of the Apollo Bay harbour. Three kms to the south east of the harbour is a reef with two parts, known as Henty Reef.  Unless the swell is sizeable, it can’t be seen from the shore. The breaking water on the left of the image is the main reef, and the mound of water to its right is over the related reef some 800m distance.  Such a mound when seen in isolation is a sign that the sea is stirring.  Today swell could be seen on both reefs which suggested that the forecast of 5-6m swell at sea was not far off the mark.
Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-2
That is, until this wave appeared. There was obviously a very big swell at sea.   I was standing on the sand dunes north of Tuxion 4kms from the wave when I took this photo.   I have never before seen the bombie at this size, especially on a high tide.  This was a one-off big set. I had been watching the location for over half an hour with no such wave appearing and after taking this photo, I waited another half hour without seeing it repeated. Swell of this size usually fails to take the left hand turn into Apollo Bay, and just keeps marching north or north east across the open ocean. In lesser swells, there is often overhead surf just off the breakwater in the image.  While the photo was taken between sets, there was nothing like what was breaking over the bombie arriving at Apollo Bay.  An awesome sight.
Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-6457
Local small swell in the foreground, serious ocean wave ‘out the back’ on the bombie.
Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-6409
The beach at Apollo Bay lies north south, and curves around to the north east towards Wild Dog Creek and Skenes Creek. This means that perfect offshore wind conditions can be found at some point along this long arc of beach in winds between west and north.  This was the shore break between Pisces and Wild Dog Creek this afternoon. The walkers on the beach appear to be leaning into the wind, which was strong.
Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-6432
Every breaking wave throws out a mane of spray which hits the water and any surfers behind the wave like heavy horizontal rain.
Pt Campbell & Tuxion Waves 8-17-6386
From the macro to the micro. This is a spent wave returning to the sea in rivulets running off a reef.  A split second of the movement of the ocean captured by a camera with a high shutter speed reveals shapes, motion and beauty often missed by the naked eye.
Tuxion sunrise August ed 2-6555
Dawn at Apollo Bay (the morning after the Saturday on which the above photos were all taken).  I went for a 1200m swim straight after taking these dawn shots.  The water was 13C, but I was snug and warm in my Patagonia wetsuit and hood.
Tuxion sunrise August-6553
The official start of a whole new day. Wealth beyond measure.

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