Cold air from the roaring forties hits the West Coast

John Langmead_untitled_8326_20190711_OnlineJohn Langmead_untitled_8324_20190711_OnlineMid-July winter weather on the west coast of Victoria, Australia. Temperature range this day was 7°-12°C. Winds gusting to gale force. Wild seas west of Cape Otway. Air temp adjusted for wind chill in the early morning was +2°C. These strong onshore conditions continued unabated for a few days and brought heavy falls of snow to the Victorian Alps. The higher points of the Otways also received a light dusting of snow.

 

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A squall line approaching the dunes near Marengo. The sun is about to go out.
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The ocean at Castle Cove (at the western end of the Glen Aire Valley).  This is a regular surf break for local surfers. But not this day.  Intimidating conditions.
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It would be a very long paddle out to the right hander towards the horizon on the far right of the photo.  As for the paddle in, you would surely have to weigh up King Island as a more attractive option.  My solitary reverie on this eyrie was cut short by an unexpected single and very loud clap of thunder close enough to make me duck and quickly retreat to the car. I saw no lightning.  It was associated with the next squall line visible on the top right of the photo, which brought very heavy big-drop rain and strong wind gusts for a short period. Nature has its ways of keeping me humble and focussed.
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Sheep paradise in the hills behind Apollo Bay. A short burst of sun between the squall lines. Alpha sheep possibly contemplating an attack. When on safari I don’t push my luck. I was grateful for the shot, and for the fleeting but powerful moment in the wild of looking this magnificent creature in the eye. I then left quietly, and respectfully.
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Back in Apollo Bay, the gale force winds were offshore at Mounts Bay (the first bay directly south of Apollo Bay).  The groundswell generated in the roaring forties was rolling in perfect sets across the bay,  trailing a majestic mane of spray. The photo immediately below shows the same wave a few moments later.

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The Outer Henty bombie (3 kms or so ESE of Marengo Point) was working in these conditions. Fleeting moments of sunlight highlighted the spray blowing off this solitary wave. I’ve seen it much bigger, but it’s always a spectacle for its solitariness.
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Shore break made perfect by the strong offshore wind.
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Local border collie revelling in the shallows near Marengo.
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The cold water seemed to invigorate these two good mates who frolicked with great energy in the cold shallows. This was good natured play, and contrary to appearances, the smaller dog was not eaten by the larger dog. The smaller (and I suspect younger) dog kept coming back for more.
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Little Henty Reef lies a short distance off Marengo Point. It is home to a permanent (non-breeding) colony of 100 or more Australian fur seals (50 or so of whom managed to get in this photo). Crested terns, grounded by the weather, took the front row. Virtually all the seals chose to huddle together to stay dry and presumably warm, but one well fed specimen made an effort to strike a pose with his head held defiantly high in the strong winds. Lord of all he surveyed.  I liked his attitude. Far from being daunted, he seemed to revel in the conditions.

 

Bookends of a calmer day, a few days before the passage of the cold front.

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Sunrise over Cape Patton, from Tuxion beach.
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L to R: the glow of the lights of Kennet River township; the lights of Skenes Creek township; the Milky Way; a ship at sea. Photo taken from Marriner’s Lookout. (Nikon D810, 15.0 second exposure, f/2.8, ISO 3200).

11 thoughts on “Cold air from the roaring forties hits the West Coast

  1. Isn’t “the roaring forties” such an evocative expression John? The first few photos do pictorial justice to the wild weather. That well fed sheep sets off the hand-of-man counterpoint to the untamed ocean. Loved the way you got the quiff on that Outer Henty wave.

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    1. The ‘roaring forties’ is indeed an evocative expression Hunto. It does its work without the need for any elaboration whatsoever. In fact there is a tightening low pressure system with a couple of cold fronts headed our way from the roaring forties as I write this, whipping up gale force winds, bitterly cold air and wild seas in final rehearsal for its arrival on our shores tomorrow. Apollo Bay will feel the full force of it in the early hours of Friday morning with winds of 55 knots and higher forecast, low single digit temperatures and rain and thunderstorms and snow to low elevations. I plan to be in Pt Campbell at first light on Friday to see the Southern Ocean at full force.

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  2. I think they’d do well to rename Henty Reef as John Langmead Reef. Love that shot of the squall line approaching the dunes near Marengo and the lone, sunlit sheep on those gorgeous hills inland from AB. I always make a point of balancing watching the road and checking out the view as I go past that spot before that sharp left-hander that takes you down hill. Nicely done John.

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    1. Thanks for the comments Andrew. There certainly are a lot of distraction points on the GOR. But given how you are currently spending your days, there’s nothing I could tell you about the importance of staying focussed! The photos from Sweden are great. Keep them coming.

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  3. poor Kennett River – about 2 lights to be seen in the distance

    I’ve known there is a haven for fur seals at Marengo for a long time but for whatever reason I’ve never seen them. Is that a permanent home or are they only there periodically John?

    Richard

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    1. No lights of Kennett are visible Richard. The two lights you referred to are farm houses. Kennett River’s presence is only revealed by that dull glow in the sky.

      The fur seal colony is a permanent colony. The seals remain in residence even when big swells on a high tide appear to wash right over their reefs. The reefs comprising Little Henty are protected by the 12 ha Marengo Reefs Marine Sanctuary.

      John

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