We'd walked around Bunbury, but we hadn't dinghied around inside the Leschenault Inlet and decided this might be a fine foray on a sunny afternoon. A low bridge and a narrow gate, as well as shallow depths preclude Nine of Cups from entering the inner lagoon, but the dinghy was perfect for this exercise.
An estuarine lagoon, i.e. rivers flow into it, French explorer/navigator Nicolas Baudin named the inlet in 1801 after his naturalist aboard, Jean-Claude Leschenault de la Tour. Rocks line the outer walls of the channel which cuts from Koombana Bay to the calm waters of the inlet. Cormorants lined the rocks and seemed non-plussed as we puttered by.
The inlet is separated from the Indian Ocean by a thin peninsula of sand dunes. The channel was cut through in 1950. The water was reasonably calm in Koombana Bay, but the change in the tides was very noticeable when passing through the cut. The water roils and eddies as water rushes in or escapes.
Once inside and away from the channel, the water was peaceful as silver gulls floated by in flotillas, undisturbed by our approach. We'd seen a couple of bottlenose dolphins here yesterday, but they were playing in someone else's yard today.
A grove of white mangroves take up a good part of the northeastern portion of the lagoon which experts claim to be 2500 years old. It's part of a nature reserve with boardwalks meandering through it. The local waterbirds obviously enjoy the area. Up to 62 species inhabit the area, especially the tidal salt-marshes. We saw ibis and herons feeding, their long legs perfect for the shallow, marshy water.
The inlet isn't much more than a mile long, so it doesn't take long to get from one end to the other. There are various boat ramps and marinas along the way and we moseyed along at a snail's pace just enjoying the day and the sunshine. We went around the mangroves, aware that the depths were probably not much more than knee-deep, but sufficient to keep the dinghy moving. The view is always different on the return where the cityscape became the prevalent view. We picked out the spire of the new (2011) St. Patrick's Cathedral, but of course, the Bunbury Tower prevailed as the tallest structure, along with the Marlston Lookout and the lighthouse.
As we headed back through the channel, we noticed a sign we hadn't seen on the way in regarding the closing of the floodgates. We're glad they were open as portage of the dinghy from here to the outer harbor might have been quite a hassle.
Tomorrow, we haul anchor early and head to Mandurah. We're looking forward to marina life for a couple of weeks before heading further north.