When you round the corner at Cape Otway heading west, the wild ocean factor multiplies. The waves are bigger, the cliffs are higher and the ocean seems vaster. It feels wild and remote. The hardy few who surf these raw swells mostly seem to know each other. They are a select bunch. The paddle-outs are long, the waves can be huge, the rips require local knowledge and paddling fitness. The tracks into some of these surf breaks are secret surfers’ business. So are many of the names of favourite breaks. Tribalism exists in and out of the surf. Some of the breaks are so good they inevitably became famous. Two Mile and Gibson Steps (Gibbos) are in this category. Proximity to roads and towns and the internet didn’t help keep these secret. Unlike the north shore of Hawaii, rescue resources for surfers here are simple – they are attached to your shoulders. If you can’t save yourself the local view is that you shouldn’t be out there. But don’t read that as an invitation. If you’re not connected, the local view is that you shouldn’t be out there anyway.
On this day, there were plenty off whales well offshore. I identified only humpback whales, but the southern right whale is commonly sighted during the whale season here. Some swim closer to shore during their migration east in the winter months, but most travel well out to sea.
We found a vantage point on cliffs in the area which offered this view of the Twelve Apostles. It was way in the distance, but the 150-600mm telephoto lens at full stretch was able to capture this image. For me, it’s a fresh image of these iconic features which are nearly always photographed from the other side. Many locals who have seen this image were similarly surprised to see them from this angle.
Getting to this vantage point involved being off-road and off-track, and some bush bashing on foot. I was standing over 11kms from the Twelve Apostles when I took this photo.
Below is the uncropped photo of this humpback whale shown immediately above. I prefer this image to the one above. The whale’s domain is the vast oceans of earth, not just the water in its immediate vicinity at any given time. I find the above image interesting in its detail, but the one below draws me in somehow, and makes me want to keep gazing at it, pondering.