It seems winter is dragging on forever. This last storm has some of the strongest winds and biggest swells of the winter. For those unfamiliar with Sugarloaf Rocks, the main rock is at least 25 metres high, probably more.
It was hard to stand still to take the shot – every time a gust of wind hit, you were forced backwards!
The whale watching season has started! At the moment there is about 1 humpback an hour passing on their way back to Antartica for the summer feeding grounds. It is very early in the season, and individual whales seem to be arriving – perhaps these are unaccompanied males. As the season progresses the numbers will increase (last year they peaked at around 8 an hour in October), and we will start to see pods with mixtures of calves and grown whales.
For those who aren’t familiar with the humpback migration off Western Australia here are some facts.
Each year an estimated 36,000 humpbacks leave the Antarctic waters and migrate north to Campben Sound north of Derby. The Antartic waters are too cold for newborn calves who have very little or no blubber to protect them. The mothers-to-be travel north to give birth in the warmer waters, and the rest go with them. They seem to gather in Flinders Bay near Augusta before rounding Cape Leeuwin and going north. This occurs April/May and we rarely see these whales in Geographe Bay – they seem to travel a long way offshore. Up north the new mothers have to fatten the calves before their return to Antarctica. Whale milk is around 60% fat and the calves put on a layer of blubber nearly 1m thick, and this all comes from the mother. While up north the whales have no food source, so it is believed they don’t eat from the time they leave Antarctica to the time they return.
On the return southwards journey many of the whales travel closer to the coast. Those closer inshore eventually wind up in Geographe Bay. When they reach the shallow waters of the bay they turn west and round Cape Naturaliste before continuing south. It seems perhaps 15-20% of the whales travelling south wind up in Geographe Bay and they can often be seen less than 50m from the shore. Castle Rock, Meelup, Pt Picquet, Eagle Bay, Rocky Point and Bunkers Bay are all good vantage points as well as the whale lookout near the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse.
Plan A was to go to Kilcarnup for a night shoot, and even included getting there early to scout out the best locations.
Things started going wrong early – confusion between Adelaide Rd, Dunsborough and a GPS which insisted on Adelaide St, Busselton. They still didn’t improve when someone (me) forgot to pack my camera and we had to backtrack. Mark Stothard drove down from Perth, and Mark, Paul Pitchugin and myself went down to the start of the Kilcarnup track where we were met by a ranger who informed us the track was closed. Apparently a humpback whale died and was being buried with an excavator.
So we went elsewhere – to Goanna’s (between Moses Rock and Honeycomb beach). We were met by Christian Fletcher and Tony Hewitt. There was some pretty big surf around and there were as many different styles of images as there were photographers. It was fun. Here are a couple of mine.
The low, almost setting sun and a slow shutter speed accentuated the patterns of the foam.
This sort of shot has all sorts of possibilities. You can isolate individual features such as rocks as separate layers, delete the black surrounds and then rearrange the landscape as you like! Deleting the black surrounds allows you to place rocks behind each other over the background. And the darkness hides most of the editing errors! Don’t go looking for this place because you won’t find it from this photograph.
All in all – it was a lot of fun.
Nannup has a festival at this time of the year. Lots of tulips in the main street, craft shops, and the historical society have a great collection of old photos. The place I like best is an antique shop that is an old shed packed to the rafters with everything (and I mean everything). Bargain Hunt would do well to base an episode on this shop.
There has been a lot of rain this year, and especially over the last few days. Big Brook dam is overflowing and this is a shot of the spillway. (Big Brook dam is in Pemberton in the SW of Western Australia).