An hour east of Albany , with hardly a signpost to point the way, is Waychinicup National Park. Its main feature is a wide, flat estuary surrounded by grey and orange granite boulders. A quiet river bending into the Southern Ocean. Seagrass meadows below the water, blue sky and a grey mountain above.
My first visit there was a couple of years ago with my sister Anna. We stumbled across it after a long drive, and were struck down. There was nobody around. We scrambled through the spiky undergrowth to swim in the cool water, lured in by the untainted purity of the scene, then warmed up like scaled beings on the sunny rocks. There was an ancient feel there, and I half expected to sight a sea creature emerging, something from another epoch rising to greet us. We felt on that still, clear afternoon that this could have been amongst the most beautiful places we’d ever seen. A goanna ambled up the path before us.
This time I stayed a few days. There are only a handful of campsites, and they’re nestled into the bushes so you can’t tell that anyone else is around. Like an exclusive resort for campers. Some days there were kids splashing around in the water having raucous fun, sometimes it was perfectly quiet and still.
I snorkelled, watching the fish flit in and out of rocky crevices. And I walked around the shore, listening to the water gently lap around my feet. There were birds circling around, cormorants and some bird of prey I couldn’t identify. Mostly I just sat and watched the scene around me. Simply sitting in a place like that seems to be a worthwhile way to pass time.
I drove out one morning to look for some waves at a beach round the corner and when I came back I was told of the spectacle I’d missed. A large school of herring had been chased into the inlet by a school of salmon. The salmon had herded the herring up into the shallows by the rocks right near the campsites. Once they had the herring trapped the salmon began a feeding frenzy, turning the water into a seething pool of froth. Fish were leaping out of the water onto the rocks, and flapping round on the shore. You could see them all right there at your feet. One man reached down and picked up a salmon in his hands and hugged it to his chest before throwing it back in the water. An offering.