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Waychinicup: an almost-secret place

Australia’s most widely-read author of literary fiction honeymooned here.

Not many years later – in 1984, I think – my beloved and I also “discovered” this glorious, singular place.

Few people know of its existence, but thousands of years ago Waychinicup had already been named.

The name derives from waitch  – the Nyoongar word for emu.

Many place names in Western Australia’s southwest end in up; many people believe, wrongly, that up signifies water.

It actually means “place of…”; so, Waychinicup means “place of emus”.

In umpteen visits to Waychinicup I have never seen an emu…even though I have umpteen times seen emus in places nearby.

Our first visit was quasi-accidental.

Around an hour east of Albany, we had turned right off the highway, heading for Cheynes Beach.

A few kilometres before we reached our intended destination, on the right hand side there was just the one dirt road, unsignposted, apparently heading closer to the eastern flank of  Mount Manypeaks 

The bush was scraggily splendid and our hire car could manage the bit of track within view, so we drove in.

After a few minutes we reached what we later realised was the Waychinicup River – a modest creek, gently overflowing a ford.

I walked across it in bare feet; yes, the car could manage it…and the hire car company would never know.

A couple of minutes later, suddenly, we were looking at Waychinicup Inlet.

Waychinicup Inlet, looking toward the ocean, Spring 2016.
Waychinicup Inlet, looking toward the ocean, Spring 2016.

 

However jaw-dropping, one’s first encounter with Waychinicup barely begins to reveal just how very special is this place, how many facets it has.

Waychinicup River, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer
Waychinicup River, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer

 

Waychinicup, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.
Waychinicup, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.

 

Eventually, after quite a few years and a number of return visits, a modest signpost appeared at the track’s start, but Waychinicup has remained an almost-secret place.

For everyone I know who does know it, Waychinicup is one of their favourite places, anywhere.

In the best sense, there’s “nothing there”.

Recently, Tim Winton “spilled the beans” in Island Home: a Landscape Memoir.

That is such a superb book (and Tim has awakened so many people to just how wonderful – and how vulnerable – are Australia’s natural places, most especially Western Australian coastal places) that I can very nearly forgive Tim’s indiscretion.

That said, I was amused and pleased to see that someone has taken the necessary action; at least on September 11, 2016, the signpost was no more!

All photos in this post were taken on that day, when we did not do any vigorous walking; no vantage point in this post is more than a short walk away from the inlet, or from the track to it.

Be aware that you should NOT even think of towing anything caravan-like into Waychinicup

That said, any normal car will get you there.

On the rare occasions when the river would prevent 2WD crossing, at that point you are only a very easy 30 minutes’ track-walk away from the inlet.

Waychinicup Inlet, meeting Southern Ocean. Calm day, Spring 2016
Waychinicup Inlet, meeting Southern Ocean. Calm day, Spring 2016

 

Closer view, same calm day. All photos copyright Doug Spencer
Closer view, same calm day. All photos copyright Doug Spencer

 

Same vantage point as previous 2 photos, but looking inland, toward where the river enters the inlet.
Same vantage point as previous 2 photos, but looking inland, toward where the river enters the inlet.

 

Waychinicup River, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.
Waychinicup River, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.

 

Waychinicup River, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.
Waychinicup River, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.

 

Hakea, Waychinicup, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.
Hakea, Waychinicup, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.

 

Flag lily. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.
Flag lily. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.

 

Banksia, Waychinicup, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.
Banksia, Waychinicup, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.

 

Albany daisy, Waychinicup, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.
Albany daisy, Waychinicup, Spring 2016. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.

 

Waychinicup, Spring 2016, looking across to eastern flanks of Mount Manypeaks.
Waychinicup, Spring 2016, looking across to eastern flanks of Mount Manypeaks.

 

Closer view, same vantage point as previous pic. All photos copyright Doug Spencer.
Closer view, same vantage point as previous pic. Here, fire is not simply a “threat”; it is integral to many local species’ existence, including the grass trees on these rocky slopes.  All photos copyright Doug Spencer.

Published in nature and travel photographs Western Australia

One Comment

  1. Amaris Delon Amaris Delon

    Absolutely glorious photos Doug!

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