Midlands Coastal Trip

We planned to drive along the beach (as much as possible) between Wedge and Cliff Head, 145 kilometres north, during the xmas/New Year break.

Saturday was spent on the beach and dunes at Wedge.

Wedge to Milligan Island

We started our push north about 0930, shortly after Greg arrived.

Stromatolites are cyanobacteria that convert carbon dioxide to oxygen.

Stromatolites are ‘living fossils’ – exemplars of what life was like on Earth more than 3500 million years ago. At that time no other complex creatures were present on the planet. Stromatolites are built by microbes (single-celled cyanobacteria) that were the first forms of life on Earth. The cyanobacteria trap sediments with mucous to form enormous rock-like structures that, at first glance, don’t appear to be living. Each stromatolite is actually a very slow growing microbial colony that grows less than 1mm per year.

Apart from Lake Clifton south of Perth and Hamelin Pool in world heritage-listed Shark Bay, the only other known stromatolites are in the Bahamas and the Great Salt Lake, Utah.

The fishing and holiday town of Cervantes got its name from Cervantes Island two kilometres offshore to the south-west.

It is often erroneously stated that the name ‘Cervantes’ was applied to the island by Nicolas Baudin in 1801, after a Spanish writer. As a result of this misconception by the State Archivist many of the streets in the town received Spanish names. Why a French explorer would name an island after a Spanish writer only a few years after the War of the Pyrenees is an incongruity not satisfactorily explained. The real derivation of the name does, however, have a connection with Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote.

The name for Cervantes Island first appeared after a survey of the WA coast in the schooner Thetis by J.W. Gregory in 1847-48. It was named after an American whaler named Cervantes, which in turn was named after author Miguel de Cervantes. The ship was wrecked just north of the island on the 20 July 1844. The Cervantes was under the command of Captain Gibson at the time of the shipwreck and the survivors walked about 185 kilometres south along the coast to Fremantle.

Drovers Cave is 1.25 kilometres along  Sandy Point Road (a badly corrugated, loose sand track) from Jurien Road East, at 30°15’40.00″S 115° 5’33.00″E. It is not signposted and, depending on the amount of growth at the side of the track, it can be difficult to spot. Given that the entrance is blocked by a solid, locked iron door, in reality it is nothing more than a small hole in the ground. Not worth the effort of the vehicle-shaking, 2.5 kilometre round trip off the bitumen.

We returned to the bitumen and drove directly to Milligan Island Camping Node.

The Shire of Coorow is notorious for strictly enforcing its camping bylaws and, as a consequence of unrelenting demand to camp on the coast, developed the Milligan Island Camping Node, four kilometres north of Green Head. Thirty six bays without shade are offered to punters in what It is a poor excuse for a campground.

The bays are paved with irregular-sized, crushed limestone. Not all bays are level (seriously). The onsite caretaker extracts $15 per vehicle per night from the hapless punter. Campgrounds of this level elsewhere would offer an ablution block (showers, flush toilets and, possibly, a laundry). Milligan offers long drop toilets and a boardwalk to a crappy beach.

Avoid it if you can. Go north of Leeman.

Milligan Island to Cliff Head

Four kilometres north of Milligan our way north was blocked by rocks. We were able to go off the beach, around the obstacle and resume our push along the edge of the ocean for a further five kilometres to Leeman.

The coastline north of Leeman is mostly cliffs to Coolimba.

Finding a weed-free beach suitable for fishing was difficult. We gave it a try just short of Coolimba.

Our way was blocked on the beach 2.5 kilometres north of Coolimba so we returned to the shacks and access track and drove out to Indian Ocean Drive. Ten kilometres north we turned into Gum Tree Bay and pushed north along the coast. The track led us into an extensive dune system through which we were unable to find a way north.

We turned back south for a kilometre and got onto the beach. Four kilometres to the north we were into another extensive sand dune system. Initially unable to find a way through, we eventually picked up the track along the cliffs and continued north.

Apart from a deviation around Freshwater Point we were able to follow the coastline all the way to Cliff Head.

Cliff Head to Cockburn

Away by 0715. We had to head north for quite a kew kilometres before we could head east. Our first destination was the Imerys Talc Mine, just north of Three Springs, Australia largest. Undulating country mixed with low lying salt lakes made for an interesting drive.

We headed south to Carnamah.

Jingemia Cave was our last point of interest.

It was an uneventful run back to Cockburn.

 

© Kim Epton 2019
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Text and layout Kim Epton
Photographs Michael Orr, Kim Epton
1366 words, 63 images.
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