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Exploring Hamelin's stunning coastline

Published 17 May 2019 by Michelle Judd (Field Officer)

Inspired by stories from the Mulgana Traditional Owners of trips their Elders had done as children, Ken (Manager of Hamelin Station Reserve) and I decided to walk the coast of Hamelin Reserve over the Easter break.

A whole 27km of magnificent coastline to explore, experience and appreciate over three days!

We started at the south-west corner of the property. Vast stretches of coquina (Shark Bay cockle) beach with a Stromatolite mat edging the crystal clear, aquamarine water. Whale bones bleached white provided a contrast in the expansive flat landscape.

Gradually the width of the beach decreased, Stromatolites and vegetation provided structure and colour. The temperature was around the mid 30s with not a breath of wind as we walked along stopping frequently to admire patterns in the sand, Red-capped Plovers busying themselves on the shoreline and Nankeen Kestrels flying above.

After a very hot, dry summer the landscape is extremely dry. Rather than load ourselves with three days supply of water we decided to leave a car at our camp site. It felt quite luxurious to only carry day packs and enjoy cold water and creature comforts in our secluded campsite each evening. As we cooked over our camp stove we contemplated the First People, the skills and knowledge they would have required to survive in this landscape.

Day two of our adventure began with us following kangaroo tracks across the top of the Flint Cliffs. The variety of colours in the flint chips kept our heads down and eyes peeled. We found red, green, grey, white, black and brown flakes in all shades and combinations.

A fence from early pastoral days crosses the cliff, drops down to the water and out 100m amidst the scattered Stromatolites. We admired the labour that went into the construction of many of the fences in this landscape pre-power tools.

Notice the browse line apparent on the picture of the tree. With the destocking of the property it's anticipated the browse line will disappear and recruitment of new plants increase.

We're already noticing this in areas of the property that have had reduced grazing pressure for a few years.

We followed the coast past the Old Homestead site and found the quarry where some of the original coquina shell blocks were dug for the homestead construction and wells where the original pastoralists tried to locate reliable water (they ended up shifting the homestead to its current site).

We came across several land-locked creek systems that contained small salty water bodies. There appears to be fresh ground water seepage along these creeks as there were numerous holes dug by kangaroos.

The day finished with another spectacular sunset, clear night sky, stars and even a dark emu!

On day three we hiked the remaining 5km to our northern boundary and back to our camp. A beautiful and everchanging section of coastline. We were amazed at the variety of Stromatolites. Their colour, texture and form vary immensely along the Hamelin coastline.

Our little adventure has given us a greater understanding and appreciation of the magnificent property we're fortunate to be managing for Bush Heritage. It is a truly unique region and we're dedicating our time here to enabling the property to recover.

Patterns in the sand. Photo by Michelle Judd

Ken Judd contemplates bleached whale skeletons during the three day trek. Photo by Michelle Judd

A good looking campsite. Photo by Michelle Judd

Ken with a tree exhibiting a significant browse line. Photo by Michelle Judd

Stromatolites. Photo by Michelle Judd
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