A bumpy boat ride
Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
241Trip End Mar 15, 2007
Mackenzie's Island Cruises are a family company operating in the area (towing services as well as Tourism cruising) for over 50 years offering day cruises through some of the 105 islands of the magnificent Recherche Archipelago. We cruised aboard the new luxurious MV Seabreeze II, a 24 metre purpose built catamaran licensed to carry 164 passengers in superb comfort. With three viewing levels, including a top deck with 360 degree views, and, as they said, we would be even closer to nature than ever before. We enjoyed a full commentary during the viewing of wildlife in its natural environment:
The morning started out with a cruise 'round the Esperance Bay and some interesting facts about it
The fellow running the catamaran really knew his stuff and told us about the Port (3 berths for deep sea ships; one for grain exports, one for metal imports and another for mineral exports) tugs (huge with a turning radius of its length within about 7 seconds) and ships (one was the third largest in the world I think - called a Cape ship as
On the trip we went 'round Esperance Bay we saw everything from great swimming beaches to rocky outcrops which only birds and sea life inhabit. As the sea was fairly choppy, we saw wonderful breakers and blue, blue waters though it was a somewhat grey and expected to get rougher as the day went on. We turned towards Charlie and Cull islands where there is a light beacon to help mariners navigate. On some of the islands in the Bay until the 50's or so, sheep and goats were raised by Dan Mackenzie; sheep were taken off but goats remain they are feral. There are about 80 of them and increasing. The islands are very good to grow things on as the bird guano is great fertilizer.
There are also colonies of Australian Sea lions and Cape barren geese here: we also saw oystercatchers and shags (cormorants) as we bounced by in the sea. The sea really got kinda rough as we passed from those islands on to the next (Thomas and Gunton) and while I like to be outside, it was not a lot of fun outside
On one of the Islands (Gunton, I think), there are a couple of sea eagles - beautiful birds - who came down to feed in the water right in front of us. All right, the crew did throw a couple of fish out to them. They are lovely birds with huge wingspans. They apparently next on the Island and I was able to get a couple of very nice photos. After curving around Seal Rock (One of the favourite spots to view NZ Fur Seals, Australian Sea lions and cormorants in close proximity to each other) we landed on Woody Island.
This was the highlight of the morning. It was a 1 hr (approx) stay and included morning tea (incl in cost) at the new Visitor Centre. At one time, Woody as well as the other 100 or so islands in the Bay were imposing peaks on an extended coastal plain. As the climate warmed, the sea rose and gradually claimed the plain, isolating each peak in its turn. Around 8,000 years ago a land bridge that linked Woody Island rot hew mainland was submerged and the island became an ark for the wildlife that remained.
As an optional activity, I took a half hour short guided walk to Twiggy's Landing
Winding through a mosaic of coastal scrublands and stands of tall trees, the Island Top Walk reveals a surprising diversity of habitats... each with its characteristic suite of birds, lizards, and other tiny creatures. A short walk to a hillside lookout provides sweeping views to the mainland and islands of the archipelago. We did not see much there as the weather was really closing in.
The ride was very rough and I think if the boat had not been so large and powerful, we would have been in trouble and I would most definitely been sick. We saw some barely visible outcroppings called Devil's Rocks which had waves just pounding over them. They looked very dangerous.
We spent an hour or so on Woody Island - named this because it has about 4 meters of good growing soil and many trees most of which are eucalypts
We got back to Esperance about noon and the weather had really worsened. I continued updating my journal most of the afternoon.
About 7 I headed out between the rain showers, for dinner. The only place close by was the Esperance Traveler's Motel. The café there had an event on but they had a pub attached. I did not know what it was called but shortly found it to be a "Skimpy's". I had never heard of Skimpy bars before. The waitress had on gold tabs over her nipples, a pair of purple underwear which rode up her bottom and a mauve scarf around her waist. That's all. It was rather a surprise and I did not quite know where to look; however, the beer and burger were okay. I also met a gal from town (formerly from Kalgoorlie) called Melanie and her boyfriend, a boilermaker called Russ. Between the waitress and the clientele, it gave me rather a flavour of Esperance.