Victoria's Discovery Coast - Gannets, Lighthouses and Wind Farms

portland discovery coast lawrence rocks gannet colony  

Victoria's Discovery Coast is “ tucked away” in the southwest corner of the state. It wasn't tucked away well enough obviously, because we found it, although I don't think many other people do. It was a gorgeous, summer's day with blue skies, puffy clouds and wind in the wrong direction for sailing west. We hired a car for the day and took off to see what we could see. We expected lots of tourist traffic and crowded beaches, but surprisingly, we had the whole area pretty much to ourselves. School's in session here and perhaps for many, summer holidays are over.


portland discovery coast gannets closeup


Our first stop was at Australia's only mainland breeding gannet colony on Point Danger. We sailed by Lawrence Rocks and Point Danger on our approach, but didn't realize the rocks were virtually covered with gannets … some 6000 pairs. We thought all that white was perhaps bird poop and much of it probably is. We reached the mainland colony via gravel roads near the Alcoa Aluminium smelting plant. Evidently, the gannets moved ashore in 1996 because of overcrowding and the colony has continued growing ever since. In order to protect them from predators, Maremma sheep dogs are used as guards with great success. These dogs are also used to protect penguins. We saw no sheep dogs and no other people, but we certainly saw lots and lots of gannets.


portland discovery coast view


We headed to Cape Nelson, a very scenic route along the high cliffed coast. The views were stupendous with miles of white sandy beach at the seaside. Several short walks, part of the 250km Great Southwest Walk, were marked and once again, we had them all to ourselves. Wind farms take advantage of the constant air movement here. Though we appreciate the fact that they're not using fossil fuels to generate energy and they're probably very efficient, they're certainly not very pretty.


portland discovery coast yellow rock beach windfarm


We headed to Cape Bridgewater. If Shelley Beach was on the east coast of the USA (or Australia), there would have been no place for a towel. Here we counted six cars, a few folks walking on the beach and three surfers.


discovery coast wind turbine


On the road before us, as we drove to the tops of the cliffs, a huge herd of wind generators seem to jump out in front of us. There are so many of them and they're so close to the road, it's kind of creepy. When you get out at the car park for a walk, you can hear the blades whizzing around. They always look like they're barely turning, but in actuality the outer tips of the blades travel at about 120 mph (193 km/h) and at maximum winds speeds spin at ~180 mph (290 km/h). We're told that the Portland Wind Energy Project is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere providing enough energy to supply electricity needs for 113,000 homes each year. We get the point, but still in our humble opinions … they're an eyesore in such a gorgeous area. We'd hate to be a bird in the vicinity.


discovery coast calcified forest NOT


We walked through the Petrified Forest which was not a “petrified forest” at all, but rather natural erosion of stone that looked more like a moonscape. We observed the blowholes nearby though they weren't blowing much because the sea had calmed significantly. For us, a calm sea is always preferable to super-duper blowholes.


portland discovery coast bridgewater lakes wind farms


We drove a loop back to Portland and stopped at the Tarragal Limestone Caves as we passed through the beautiful Bridgewater Lakes. The effort expended in the short, steep climb to the caves was somewhat wasted since the wind farm greatly obscured what would have been an outstanding view.


portland discovery coast emu1


The farmlands in the area reminded us of the flat Midwest prairies of the USA. Stone foundations, remnants of days past, were evident in many paddocks (fields). We saw our first emu in the wild which pleasantly surprised us and one field had innumerable ibis feeding on whatever it is they feed on … grubs, seeds?

We ended the day at the Whaler's Bluff Lighthouse. This 1859 classic lighthouse structure was originally built elsewhere and transported to this spot later stone by stone. Views of Portland Harbour and Nun's Beach below us were spectacular. Discovery Coast … discovered.


Days and Ways to Celebrate
A daily list of mostly obscure holidays and fun ways to celebrate them.
Chocolate Mint Day
Didn't we just have peppermint patty day? Well, never too much chocolate or mint, I guess. Try something different about chocolate ice cream with some mint candies crushed on top?