Waitpinga

Waitpinga at dawn
Waitpinga at dawn

Last weekend Lauren and I got away for a couple of days of camping at the Newland Conservation Park on the southern coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula.  The camping ground is situated in the Waitpinga region – a stunning area consisting of native bush, wildlife, mountainous dunes and a long stretch of beach.  I can’t recall if I’d visited Waitpinga before, but if I had it would have been sometime in my childhood where memories tend to blend with various places located around the Fleurieu.

Though the camping ground is a popular destination this time of year, the area was conspicuously quiet; perhaps due to the uncharacteristically mild weather since New Years Day, which is normally brutally hot [1].

We arrived at the campsite on the Saturday afternoon around 6pm (still light due to daylight savings) with overcast skies, a (very) light breeze and a temperature just below 20 degrees.  After sighting some Currawongs circling the dunes and being greeted by a hospitable Kangaroo and its Joey, we headed over the boardwalk through the dunes to check out the beach.

Resident Roos. (image: Lauren Playfair)

The etymology of ‘Waitpinga’ is derived from the Indigenous inhabitants [2] name for the region as ‘windy place’ or ‘home of the winds’.  Despite the phenomenal roar and ferocious activity of the ocean, the wind was virtually absent despite the occasionally light wisp of a breeze.   This was surprising considering that this is a southern ocean that opens into Backstairs Passage and the Arctic (some 6000km due south), though the advantage was obvious: it made for some audio recordings that wouldn’t be hampered by the shear of the wind.  😀 (!)

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The light was beautiful at this time of the day (around 7pm), and the horizon was remarkably sharp and clear – the silhouette of Kangaroo Island and the tiny Pages could be sighted from the beach.

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Of course the weather was not to remain like this for the remainder of our stay and by Sunday morning following a brief hike on Tugwell Hill Road the wind started to pick up from the west with a couple of brief rainstorms by lunch.  By the time we made a trip to Victor Harbor to pick up some essential supplies (mostly wine) everything was resembling the South Eastern Fleurieu in winter with leaden skies, horizontal rain and heavy winds.  The fairground near the Granite Island Causeway looked particularly miserable, save for the welcome aroma of cinnamon doughnuts.

Thankfully the weather calmed down a little by the time we arrived back at the campsite in the afternoon.  We moved our tent to a more sheltered area amongst the beautifully twisted limbs of low lying gum trees and tried our hand at some ‘bush haloumi’.  Essential stuff.

Bush haloumi!

Though I’d made some decent audio recordings on Saturday and Sunday (including some lovely moments shortly after dawn on Sunday), the best recordings came on Monday morning with ten minutes or so of finches, wrens, crows, Currawongs and Rosellas surrounding the campsite.  UPDATE: listen below!

[1] It would appear that the ‘regular’ South Australian mid Summer weather is about to bear down on us belatedly as we are entering five consecutive days of 40 degree highs (40, 41, 43, 43, 40) before some welcome respite on Saturday with a cool change.  I believe this will be the most extreme heatwave in Adelaide since 2009, when we endured six consecutive days above 40 degrees.

[2] Most likely the Ramindjeri Nation, who were based mostly around the Encounter Bay region. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~safpfhg/indigenous.html

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