Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sellicks Beach to Myponga Beach

"Jeremy! You're here, that means it's gonna be a tough walk." Well ok, maybe. This group of friends had been walking from Adelaide's most northern beach, North Haven, with the goal of following the coast southwards as far as Cape Jervis. Today was the first day off the beach, we were walking south from Sellicks Beach to Myponga Beach.

South to Cape Jervis: Sellicks Beach to Myponga Beach

It's true, I decided to join today because it was the first day off the beach. I have no objection to walking along a beach, but a suburban beach isn't something that really interests me. Today we followed the cliffs south from Sellicks Beach, and when we reached Myponga Beach we would take advantage of low tide and return along the rock platforms and beaches.

Following the cliff edge didn't last long, we soon headed further inland to the easier route of following a pipeline across farmland. There were numerous steep gullies making their way to the coast, and this route further inland made it a bit easier. There was one particularly steep gully, there was no service road for the water pipe to follow. The dry grass was quite slippery, and the weather conditions hot, as we slowly crawled down the gully.

Near Myponga Beach we took the direct route of following a dirt track into town. Myponga Beach is a town that has fascinated me, very small, it is only accessible by dirt roads off of South Road. It consists of two parts, an older area of shack-like houses, and newer houses spreading out over a hill overlooking the bay. There is a single-lane timber bridge that joins the two parts, crossing over a picturesque creek that breaks out to the sea. The beach is small, bounded by rocky headlands at each end.

I had a very refreshing swim, grateful for the cool water after our hot hike. For lunch some of us sat in the shade under bridge, others took advantage of a well sited verandah to get some shade. When a car passed over the bridge though we had to shield our lunches to ensure they didn't get covered in sand as it fell through the gaps between sleepers that formed the bridge surface.

From Myponga Beach we headed north back to Sellicks Beach along the beach. We followed a small hillside path, which soon opened up to follow the huge rocks that formed a rock platform. We crossed a narrow ledge, the cliff soaring above us to one side, a drop of three to four metres on the other. The ledge led to a small sheltered beach, bounded by cliffs, one containing a large cave. Again, I went for another refreshing swim, so picturesque.

We kept following the coastline, it was low tide but we were concerned we may reach a point that was impassable, but as we rounded each headland we soon realised we would easily make it through. From the cliff tops above, a few people had scouted the coast and seen a potential headland that may have been too difficult to get around. This would have meant we would either climb up a gully back to the farmland, or return to Myponga Beach and retrace our farmland steps. I think without low tide this might have been the case.

There were no further beaches until we were quite close to Sellicks Beach, gradually the rocks diminished in size giving way to large, flat rock platforms that were easier to navigate. Since it was low tide, the water was quite flat, a deep blue colour, and the gentlest of breezes blew off of it. I enjoyed the rock hopping, nostalgically reminding me of all those car camping trips exploring rocky headlands. When we reached the final beach, we saw our first land person, a lone fisherman. We had seen a few others in dingies fishing, and a couple of kayakers.

Back at Sellicks Beach, after a welcome swim and cool drink and icecream purchase, we awaited the arrival of the others. Being in the lead of the party, we had seen few of the main group since the ledge and picturesque beach. It seems they were becoming increasingly spread out as they battled their way over the rocks. This wasn't an official Friends of the Heysen walk, just a collection of friends, but we still had radios with us to keep up communication. John Potter, who has been organising these walks, very wisely called the Aldinga Surf Life Saving Club and asked if they could bring some water down to the end of the beach. It seems some were caught out by the very hot weather, and were running very low on water. The SLSC must have got a little confused, because they sent two vehicles, a boat and a helicopter. It later transpired that they thought there were 40 of us, and nine unaccounted for. Really, there were only 21 of us, and only four or five unaccounted for, and of those we knew they were walking along the coast somewhere. Talking with some of the life guards, through binoculars we watched the heli circle walkers, eventually landing on a small rocky beach. This surprised a life guard, who said it must be serious for the heli to land in such a restricted place. I think the two walkers concerned were a little more surprised, to see the heli circle and then land before them. One was suffering a little from the heat, but was otherwise ok, but since it had landed, accepted the offer of a ride back to Sellicks Beach. The remaining three walkers watched as the heli overtook them, leaving them to bring up the end of the walkers.

I waited around for the last three to return, I didn't want them to return to an empty beach. Ralene had taken to the water for a while, swimming some two to three kilometres. She only got back out of the water, somewhat concerned that she had left her pack to be carried by another walker. She described what she had seen underwater. I had been snorkelling at Sellicks Beach back on Australia Day, we hadn't seen much in the shallow water, but what she saw sounded like an snorkelling adventure was called for. So in a couple of weeks time I will be returning to the small sheltered beach just after the rock ledge, having walked from Myponga Beach, this time with a couple of friends and some snorkelling and fishing gear.

I think we all learnt a bit today. I didn't need a lesson in water on hot days, our hike in hot weather in the Flinders Ranges up Mt Aleck had seen us run very low on water some three or four hours before reaching our cars. I would never underestimate the hot weather situation again, so I had 3.75L of water with me today, and had checked out that I could refill in in Myponga Beach. Perhaps others should have done likewise. I still learnt stuff today, talking to the surf life saving club I realised I did not know how many people there were, 17, or 21? Or somewhere in between? This was crucial for determining where people were now and if they needed assistance, and John was out of phone and radio contact.

Download kml file to view in Google Earth or adapt to use as a navigational aid in a GPS unit


Adelaide to Cape Jervis
Sellicks Beach to Myponga Beach and return
Distance 19.2km
Start Time 8.10am
End Time 3.30pm
Moving Duration 5h3m
Stationary Duration 2h4m
Moving Average 3.8km/h
Overall Average 2.7km/h

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