Tuesday, 9 September 2014

80 Mile Beach

Summer scenes for you winter soul.

80 Mile Beach, a few hundred kilometres south of Broome, stretches quite unsurprisingly for 80 miles. At its more southern end is the 80 Mile Beach Caravan Park on Wallal Downs Station where Winter Nomads have created a utopian fort, guarded by immense distance and surly staff. Should you battle passed these obstacles and procure yourself a spot, you must be capable of withstanding great mental torture such as twice weekly nomad markets, oldies belting out the classics with their synthesisers and saxophones, and strangely garbed women breaking into the Macarena and Chicken Dance on seemingly random days (but always during happy hour)... The beach is festooned with hundreds of anglers mostly tightlipped as to the best way to catch the elusive threadfin salmon, but wait for the tide to turn and suddenly you are alone, just you, white sand and blue water for miles and miles... Yes, 80 Mile is a strange kettle of  shells.

Shell and threadfin salmon prospecting.
 I'm not exaggerating. It is a beautiful spot completely under the yoke of its older patrons who have created quite a bustling social scene for themselves- and more power to them! At least this way they are contained in their endless summer stronghold. The beach is littered with gorgeous shells, though apparently they get bigger and better if you drive 20kms up the beach. Marguerite was quite happy to cruise around collecting shells and crabs and for Caesar it was all about chasing seagulls. The beach is very flat and with the massive tides, getting a swim at low tide requires a one kilometre walk.

Blending in with the other anglers.

We drove in and on negotiating the deadpan receptionist got a nice grassy(!) site near the beach access. We had a couple of the Three Months Of The Year crew next door who quite unreservedly cracked open a cold one and watched us set up. The weather was still pretty windy and cool, but the beach was beautiful and Fiela was off immediately, chasing what is supposedly an excellent table fish, threadfin salmon. We stayed five days (two more than I deemed sufficient but who am I, a fishing widow, to stand with gritted teeth in the way of an angler's dream?) and in that time he managed to get three. Promising bites that is (just three). In his defence, of the hundreds of people fishing the high tide, only five threadfin salmon in total were caught over the time we were there.

Fisherman as far as the eye can see on 80 Mile.

The tide has turned and the fisherman are gone 15 minutes later.

On a non-fishing note, the Dreavermans turned up and we spent wonderful evenings and afternoons toasting the West Australian sunsets and generally having a lovely time with these people we'd first met all the way back in Lake Argyle. The sunsets were pretty amazing too.

The weather gradually became warmer,  my feelings towards my frustrated fisherman chillier, and it was with stern voices we planned our departure for Port Hedland and Karajini National Park.

Nomad antics.

Marguerite and Phoebe, giving as much pizzazz to their chicken dance as they can muster.

80 Mile Camping.

Hunting seagulls.

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