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Burrup Peninsula and Beyond, August, 2009
Photos and text: Robyn Khorshid
Click on pics below for a larger version

A group of nine experienced paddlers from Ascot Kayak Club and Swan Canoe Club, Perth, had a leisurely six days exploring the wonders of this wilderness area by sea kayak.

1 "Dehydrator" and husband, "The Ghost Who Paddles" meander over the sand flats at lowish tide at Watering Cove, a short paddle north of Hearson Cove, the put-in place for the six day paddle.
 2 Here's "Octupussy" with a favourite snack - plenty more where this came from, at Watering Cove.
3 Spectacular cliffs up to 100m high tumble into the sea along the east coast of the peninsula and Dolphin Island. That's "Backpackers' Delite", left, and "The Ant in the Hat" waiting for the others to catch up.

 4 Packing up from overnight camp on the mainland at Sea Ripple Passage: "Likes to Watch Whales" with the red boat.
5 More cliffs: Dolphin Island in the foreground and the Burrup Peninsula in the background.  That's "Lone Sailor", waiting for a puff, but it was too calm this day to put the sail up. Winds can make paddling in this area daunting, even impossible, for much of the year.
6 Ancient rock engravings abound on the Burrup Peninsula and the islands of the archipelago: these figures (definitely male) appear to be carrying fish - plentiful in this area.
 7 The last beach on Dolphin Island before entering Flying Foam Passage around the corner. Notice the unusual layering in the basaltic rocks in foreground.  Not a popular surfing spot.
8 Arrival at Gidley Island. "Youngster", on the right, is checking out the best fishing spots before anything else!

9 The columnar jointing of the rocks on the east side of Gidley Island is impressive. Plenty of water around at high tide.

10 The rocky promontory in the background here is the close up in the previous photo, 9, and this is the same bay as in photo 8 but this is what happens at low tide. Extensive sand/mud flats in many coves make timing important for paddling in these waters. 

11 Western end of Shark Alley, the passage between Angel and Gidley islands. The Indian Ocean is in the background. There's surf just around the corner. One is reminded of civilisation here; the ship in the background is headed for the Port of Dampier, one of the busiest in the southern hemisphere.

The tidal flow can be strong in these narrow passages between the islands, but not enough to have to avoid peak times. Paddlers do need to avoid low tides, however, as the passages can be high and dry then, like the shallow bays. Interesting for a wander.

 12 The Thylacine: 2 m high.
A series of large flat rocks on top of a hill on Angel Island have some engravings of this now extinct creature. They're considered old, but not ancient, like much of the rock art of this area. 

13 This small cove on Angel Island was our second favourite beach, the favourite being the one in the pic at top of page. "The Ghost Who Paddles" is eyeing up the fish in the small inlet with a sometime creek flowing in. The water here was warm in August; mostly the water was too cold for pleasurable swimming. "Lone Sailor", in the background, is keen to get going with a favourable breeze for a change.

14 Apart from beaches and rocky shorelines mangrove thickets are everywhere. This is Blackhawk Bay on Gidley Island.

The mangroves are the best for fishing - as the sharks are well aware. When I arrived at this small opening in the mangroves two small sharks were lurking in the shallows (but disappeared quickly)! Whales, turtles and dolphins were also regularly seen in deeper water.

15 A helping hand at Withnell Bay. Note Woodside Petroleum's LNG plant on the south side of the bay. Some finished here, others paddled an extra 14km around the 'exclusion zone' and then through the Port of Dampier, arriving at the caravan park's front gate. They made it just in time, as an iron ore carrier followed them closely in to dock at its jetty. (It's okay! One of the paddlers was in contact with the Port Authority and had permission for the 'mad dash'!)
We are most grateful to Phil Harris, SCC and John Lally for their help which led to a great trip including the best that this area has to offer paddlers.  

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