Harrison’s were on the island since Friday and, before anyone else arrived, had a sugar bag of rubbish collected from walking the full length of Withnell Bay and back.
Perth to Hamelin Pool Turn off is about 8 hours and a further hour and a half into Steep Point for the barge on Sunday.
We’d been told years ago by other club members that at Steep Point you either get flies or strong winds.!
A really strong Steep Point southerly blew all night…!
Asking “how did you sleep?” of the other 4WD volunteers camped on the beach …?
Angela had abandoned the rooftop.. she was getting sea sick.
Tony dropped his tent down onto himself to stop the constant flapping noise.
Those on stretchers and swags sleeping in the open, slept like babies once they’d covered their heads against the fine driven sand.
On site now were the 4WD contingent . From the Land Cruiser Club.. Malcolm (Snr) and Graeme, Angela (our cook) and Mark, who turned out to be a very able cook’s offsider. Tony and Keith, Subaru Club and of course Malcolm (Jnr) and Trish, Mitsubishi Club and Bruce and Judith as Trackcare.
With small tents only and no shade apart from that thrown by cars, or tents or Brinkley’s Ostrich Wing, we decided to sort the gear left the previous weekend. Found gazebos so erected them for shade for all.
It was a very open camp site. Not one tree over 60cm! Urgent requirement by then was a toilet…which Malcolm Harrison created out of ‘found’ bits and pieces and the Harrison’s shower tent. (‘Found’ was a sun sterilised carpeted toilet seat..we just needed a hole and a hole cover. Hole cover being acrylic, sort of sand coloured and unnoticeable, users were advised to remove it before use..!! )
Mark cleaned up one small BBQ and fixed the controls and jets so that it worked very well… while Bruce cleaned up the big hooded BBQ. (When it came to using them later, Susan the Project Leader from Parks and Wildlife, didn’t recognise either of them… the big one because it was so clean it looked almost new.! and the other one because it was actually part of dumped rubbish..!)
Monday: Parks and Wildlife organisers and volunteers didn’t appear earlier Monday as planned as the Denham barge had “died” temporarily.
The Denham and 4WD groups met late in the afternoon and the Clean Up Crew was complete. With them came the food…which relieved those there already as they’d naturally only brought sufficient supplies for the “other days”.
All set-to arranging the headquarters. Angela cooked us some dinner.. and thankfully the whole time at Withnell there was minimal wind.
Tuesday: Breakfast and briefing over. Lunch boxes filled. Areas and jobs were allocated.
Harrison’s firstly started at Sandy Bay shearing sheds with the bulk of the volunteers then moved off to Quoin Head 17km across to the west side of the Island, to clear two very large fire pits that campers had buried and filled with bottles and rubbish and anything else they couldn’t be bothered taking with them when they left. Ironing boards, toilet seat on a milk crate, chairs, broken step ladder. Then they worked their way back along the track to Sandy Point dragging from the undergrowth and cutting poly pipe into 5m transportable lengths and piling it on the side for later collection.
Tony and Keith, Graeme and Malcolm, Bruce and Judith as part of the bigger group spent till after lunch clearing the rubbish and old iron and bits natural to a long term working shearing shed. Then someone found another dump deeper into the undergrowth and that took the rest of the day.
We were all pretty tired by the time we returned via the various long rough drives back to camp. Then had to try to clean ourselves up after 38deg heat, lots of dust and dirt and sweat. A pity the bay was so shallow we couldn’t dive in.
But don’t be mistaken…the dirt and sweat arose from very satisfying achievements across the island..!
Wednesday: Both Harrisons were now on a mission to complete the removal of the poly pipe on that track, while the others went to roam the beaches and rocky spaces, collecting everything from buoys and star pickets, more ironing boards, down to fine pieces of plastic that are damaging to sea life. Interestingly there were very few cigarette butts.
We chose coves and beaches to clear. Some stayed where visitors to the island camped regularly, and just as regularly left their rubbish. Mystery Beach however seems to be a losing battle. Action of waves and winds probably, but it’s always strewn with flotsam.
Two 4WDs were asked to accompany the ute and trailer to remove a pile of rubbish reported in an area along the western cliffs, where there was only a rudimentary track to follow. We’d all had a very early start to the day so that we wouldn’t have a repeat of the late finish from the previous day. This route from Mystery Bay south was wonderful to experience but took a little longer to navigate. No early return for us.
A sandy hill climb. Ute and trailer first, then Land Cruiser, then us. The others kept on driving. We’d come to a hitch… after a couple of tries Bruce let the tyres down yet further. Two more tries and we called the others back unsure if we were actually following the route they’d taken. Pressure down yet again and with many comments regarding Cruiser vs Pajero..though the Ute went first.. harder sand..that’s our story and we are sticking to it.
Further south, with a “real track” on the map just the other side of a ridge, but with no obvious easy route over the sand ridge, we attempted, the ute first, to run up a track with deep moguls. A number of attempts with Steve demonstrating skillful manoeuvring of a reversing trailer, and then it was the ute’s turn to lower tyres. Cruiser went up to position above in case towing was needed.
Low tyres and the ute made it.
Pajero’s turn. Didn’t make it.
Then Bruce realised he still had the handbrake half on.!
Unfortunately for his reputation..he admitted it to the others over the radio…suddenly it was a small island with radios receiving everywhere.. Oh well!
Thursday: DPaW people towed trailers to Herald Bay and prepared the rubbish for later removal from the island. Options for the rest of us were to either sightsee and/or to comb various beaches for debris. On Eastern side of island debris is minimal. On the western side many coves are inaccessible though appear quite pristine when viewed from cliff tops. We headed south about an hour to Louisa Bay for fishing and swimming and were rewarded by a large pod of whales frolicking close enough offshore, about a kilometre, with us hearing the whomp as they hit the water and at one stage we heard “whale speak”.
Last mealtime get together had a Special Award presented. The Golden Poly Pipe Award. Given to the Harrison’s for their Exceptional feat of clearing that track of poly pipe. Golden Pipe so named as Malcolm and Trish had stood bits of yellow painted pipe to mark the piles on trackside. Malcolm thanked everyone and then declared it should be a Perpetual Trophy. There are many more tracks lined with black poly pipe and many more groups to come in the future. They signed and dated a gold glove finger.
Friday: Pull down, and the gear packed on the trailers. Camps dismantled and we all headed off. Some went north to fish for a couple of days. Harrisons and Brinkleys drove south then west to see and hear the blowholes.
We returned to the barge point to camp, ready for early Saturday transport.
Cooked a meal. Made a comfortable camp and then the winds picked up. Of course.! We were at the Steep Point end.! Then sharp gusts created mini sand storms. Sand over everything. Closed the Ostrich wing as the wind was too strong. Shielded the stretchers from the sand and went to sleep. Harrisons opted to sleep under the fly screen only part of their tent, with a tarp tucked in over bedding.
Wind dropped. Stopped. Under the stars. Bright moon.
But by sunrise every bit of uncovered bedding was wet from humidity..!!
Is it possible we create our own little microclimate if there is no wind? We wouldn’t have minded a ‘breeze’.
Saturday: 8am Barge pushed by winds and waves. Very interesting watching the experienced and inexperienced moving on or off the barge. At one car over and one car back we had time till it was our turn.
That night was spent at Hamelin Pool Caravan Park beside the Old Telegraph Station. We’d definitely recommend as an historical place to see. And after our Dirk Hartog waterless camping, even their brackish hot water showers were, in our minds, five star rated. By then the others who’d opted to stay to fish had decided they’d had enough and pulled into the park to camp too. We all had dinner together in the Camp Kitchen.
We spoke with a Brazilian father and daughter staying there. According to them the Hamelin Bay Stromatolites are known around the world. They just don’t seem to be well known in Western Australia.
Shark Bay..So much to see in such a relatively compact area of Western Australia.