I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet.
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Published March 18th 2016
Walk and swim with the Bluff's wildlife
The Encounter Bikeway and walking trail crosses the Inman River just behind the caravan park. There is a constant twittering of small birds coming from the thick bushes that line the watercourse. I suspect they are wrens, honeyeaters and perhaps some finch species. Resting the camera on the railing of the bridge, I wait for something to appear. Eventually a male superb blue wren lands on a slender branch giving me time enough to fire off a single frame.
The five kilometre track that runs past the park goes along Victor Harbor's foreshore ending at the prominent granite headland of Rosetta Heads, commonly known as The Bluff. Once a whaling station, it is now a popular angling and diving destination though during the winter months southern right whales are still commonly sighted in the area. There is also a first class restaurant (the Whalers Inn), boat launching facilities and upmarket accommodation, all within easy walking distance. With Victor Harbor a mere ninety minute drive from the city it is a popular destinations for most South Australians but few would have taken the time to discover the amazing wildlife diversity that occurs within this precinct.
On the other side of the bridge, I take a slight detour down to the river mouth where the view across Encounter Bay to Granite Island is spectacular. Back on the track and the tide is out exposing the shallow stretch of foreshore which is a rich habitat of weed flats, sandy patches and shallow rock-pools. There is a fringe of dried seaweed in many places, leftover from high tides and winter storms. Terns, gulls, plovers and oystercatchers are common along this stretch of the bay.
Closer to the boat ramp the landscape changes, rising to a significant headland that dominates the surrounding ocean. Dark granite boulders protrude from azure water where both pelicans and terns use the domed surfaces to rest on and preen their feathers. Tucked into the side of the hill, Whalers Inn and nearby resort styled apartments both provide wonderful views over the adjoining coastline.
Before heading to the jetty at the end of the trail for some snorkelling I take another detour climbing up a steep walking trail to get a better view of the area. I find a sheltered spot amongst the scrub on the hillside and watch New Holland honeyeaters, wattle birds and scrub wrens all feeding in a grove of late blooming eucalypts.
It has been a strenuous but rewarding walk from the park to The Bluff where my partner has transported my snorkelling gear by car and a refreshing swim amongst the granite boulders is a great way to finish the day. I am hoping to photograph a rare leafy seadragon sheltering amongst the algae that clings to the rocks. Not today! But, there there is a wide variety of marine life to enjoy including one elegant southern butterfly fish that poses nicely for a shot. Perhaps I'll find the seadragon next time?