Sunday, 23 November 2014

Cactus- an Australian Surfing Reserve.

The change from Nullabor to farming lands and civilisation is very startling from West to East. The sameness of the landscape is suddenly shaped by the odd fence, endless grain crops and ever increasing letter boxes. We turned left at Penong, headed for Cactus, an Australian Surfing Reserve and I had an odd de ja vu feeling, like I’d been plopped straight into the middle of a Tim Winton  novel. The beautiful colour palate of yellow and blue was in everything- the sea, the crops, the dusty roads and that ever present sky.
Overlooking Caves, 'LOCALS' carved into the wood.

Driving into Cactus had the same feeling as Red Bluff back on the Western Australian coast, but in a much more luxurious way- the absence of goats, toilets that flushed and even hand basins were dotted around the clearly demarcated campground giving an air of order and cleanliness missing at the more organic Bluff. Off to the west, Caves pumps relentlessly and there was a noticeable absence of the supposedly agro locals who surf the break and hate tourists - God forbid you drop in on them! The only fights we witnessed were over whether Coopers really is better than Little Creatures. Seriously, there were legions of ‘Old Guys Rule’ t-shirt wearing blokes on their annual old boys’ trip, all calling wifey somewhere between the last surf and beer o’clock. Few short boards were around, though there were a few on ‘short’ Stand Up Paddle boards- Fiela was bemused to say the least, being a staunch hater of SUPs in general. Rock shelves, coastal heath and white beaches add to the charm of the place.  
Cactus seagulls.

Ron the owner and caretaker came around each night to collect rubbish and fees and drop off fire wood. Thirty years ago Cactus was feral with surfies carving up the waves and destroying the fragile dune ecosystem. Ron came on a surf trip, bought the land and set about regenerating it in such a way that Cactus became recognised as an Australian Surfing Reserve. Competitions and corporate events are prohibited and even the publishing of photos is heavily discouraged. His concern for the land is palpable: our two wee treasures had zoomed up and into the dunes the minute we pulled up before I could give them the low down on its regenerative status. Marguerite admitted immediately to Ron she’d been through the fence in a fit of naughtiness, to which he replied simply “I saw. Don’t go back in there.” Sometimes the quietest voices are the loudest and Marguerite became the Dune Police for the rest of our time here, dobbing on anyone seen even remotely walking near the cordoned off area.
Beautiful Cactus.

Fiela fished more than he surfed, landing a big Australian salmon off the rocks and a heap of anxiety off the beach: despite the near perfect surf, the numerous brass plaques commemorating those people who’d lost their lives in the water to sharks had put him off setting foot in the water. He’d finally worked up enough surf envy after a morning watching the barrels roll in, but by the time he’d ummed and aahed over whether his spring suit would really be warm enough (to be fair, we’d watched a guy that morning pour hot water into his steamer- it was cold!), the wind had turned and it was all blown out anyway.

But despite the missed opportunities for surf we’d had a lovely time here. I’d cooked all our fresh vegetables up in lieu of the quarantine checkpoint we would have to go through in Ceduna and after a week of brief showers out in the wind, we were all ready for the creature comforts of a caravan park. Our next stop was Streaky Bay and the Eyre Peninsula.

1 comment:

  1. Marguerite, I love your honesty! Can't imagine your naughtiness. Such a sweet little eco-warrior.