The granite rock formations and caves on the coast around Albany, in the south of Western Australia are amazing to see. Michael grew up in Albany and we went there for the weekend a couple of weeks ago. This was the first time I’ve been to Albany since childhood holidays and although I’ve seen photos of the coast since then, it’s quite a change from the limestone rock formations and caves with which I grew up. And the coast around Albany can be dangerous.
This coastline is unprotected from the Southern Ocean. Michael has a few stories of people he knew who died on the rocks and surrounding water and a week before we visited two men were washed off rocks by a king wave. King waves are unexpected and can cover entire parts of the rocks on the coast for a few minutes and wash away whatever’s in their path. The rocks can be slippery because of these waves and the salt residue they leave behind and climbing on the rocks or fishing off them can be treacherous. If a person falls into the water, it’s impossible to climb back up the rocks, you might get thrown back against them by waves and you must swim around the rocks to a sandy beach which can also be inaccessible (and you might have to contend with ocean predators on the way).
Growing up a teenage boy, Michael also has stories of the stupid things he’s done while drunk and sky-larking with his friends on these treacherous rocks.
On the day we visited The Gap and the Natural Bridge, in Torndirrup National Park, Michael and I climbed quite close to the dangerous edges and I discovered how breath-taking it is. It’s exhilarating to look down into the blue, blue ocean and think, “I’m glad I’m not being battered by those waves.” I was also glad the breeze was light and the weather fine, although king waves can occur in any weather and at any time of the year. Michael has abseiled on one rock face of the Gap when he was in high school. I wonder if they still let teenagers do that these days, in our litigation-crazy times.
I bored Michael by taking lots of photos of the plants that cling to life on these wind and wave swept rocks, but I’ll have to come back in spring when they flower to see their full glory. We were even lucky enough to catch some animal life because we came (earlyish) on Sunday morning, before the tourist rush. I was also happy to miss the current crop of teenage locals who the night before left their burnouts and empty beer bottles on the rocks and in the carpark.
While we were in the area we also went to Denmark (half an hour from Albany), visited my friend Josephine and her baby Isabel, and skated Denmark’s new sk8park. It rips, although there’s not much shade when the sun’s shining, not that the sun shines much in Denmark :)