Wainilyinup, the final bend of the Margaret River before it snakes around to the sea. The cliffs are made from fragile sand dune limestone, and are far younger than the river itself. Blown here by wind in a process that began around one million years ago, the carbonate sand has been cemented and weathered into fantastic shapes by the action of the rain.

In Noongar, the name means “the dying place.” There are many dreaming stories here, for those prepared to listen. Stories of death, crying, and burial, but also of the creation of the river.

In the 1860s, newcomers were drawn to build here by the grandeur of the sculptured stone walls, the beauty of light reflected on black water, the startling white trunks of the paperbark trees. Since then, the cliffs have been weathered by climbing, the burial caves explored by curious visitors, the base of the cliff worn smooth by the passing of countless feet and defaced by graffiti.

It’s about time we asked local custodians how they feel about our stewardship of Wainilyinup. Let’s listen to what they have to say, with all respect due to the elders of this beautiful land.

First published for Margaret River Spirit of Place 11 Oct 2017

Since this article was published, Wadandi Elders have been consulted about the management of Wainilyinup, and they have asked that people avoid entering the cliff area.