The Sculpted Shore

limestone cliffs and rainbow

A photo essay on the limestone at the mouth of the Margaret River. The Margaret River empties into a sandy bay sheltered from the north by a limestone Cape. It is a complex liminal space, where fresh and salt water, land and sea meet. The delicate sculptures along the shoreline are easy to overlook. Margaret River has a spectacular coastline, and it’s easy to miss the small-scale beauty in the landscape in favour of those famous grand ocean vistas. The present Rivermouth was not always the shore. The sea has been at… Read More

Sea Creatures

A visual exploration of wildlife in the Ngari Capes Marine Park

Jinni Wilson

a window in the sea

Earth Sea Star is my dreamscape of Western Australia. I think of myself as a writer reading country. I’m always out walking, looking for inspiration in the wild world. I’m lucky to live in a region with a remote and spectacular coastline, and some of the tallest forests on Earth. I love to immerse in the landscape; in the ocean, the forest, and rocks. All have a story to tell if we are open to listening. Feeling it out, learning its ways, and sharing its stories. I live in a little house… Read More

Wisdom Walking: the Augusta to Busselton Heritage Trail

In October 2020 I’m planning to walk the Augusta to Busselton Heritage Trail, as a gesture of respect for Wadandi-Pibelmun people and their connection with country. The far south-west of Western Australia is a remote and wild corner of the continent, well forested and bounded on two sides by the sea. Traditional owners have lived here for over 48 000 years, building up a sophisticated cultural relationship with the landscape. But then, just a few centuries ago, everything changed. Tall ships began to appear along the coast, and before long newcomers moved… Read More

Margaret River: a Portrait in Trees

gleaming pale karri trees

Trees hold a very special role in the genus loci, or spirit of place. Margaret River lies in the far south-west of Australia, in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste region.  A limestone ridge runs along the coast, and fades away inland to a sand plain cloaked with forests and swamp. There are a diverse range of habitats and unique ecosystems, which combine to create one of the worlds rare biodiversity hotspots. The Leeuwin-Naturaliste region is Wadandi Noongar country. Before European colonisation, it was heavily timbered. Noongar people rarely or never felt the need to fell… Read More

The Wild Campsites

jarrahdene, boranup

For a sense of the real Margaret River, you can’t beat sleeping out under the stars with the rest of the wildlife! Our campgrounds are all unique natural environments with a history and sense of place all their own. There are private camping options available, but here I focus on government campgrounds in the National Park and State Forests. There’s already plenty of information online about facilities: travelers these days are generous with sharing their experiences! This article aims to provide more of an insider view. Some have been campsites for many… Read More

Chasing the Winter Blues

Around mid-year in Margaret River we all start feeling the winter blues: cold short days, gusty winds, endless rain. But for those who brave the elements and head out to the coast the blues are edged with gold and silver. Walking the beach in winter is a different story to the lazy sun soakings available for most of the year. Indoor lethargy is blown away by the roaring sea and chill wind. Walking becomes an artform; leaning into the wave- carved sandy slopes, dodging showers, and waves that leap up the beach… Read More

Hamelin Bay: King Karri and the Tempest

king karri

Hamelin is a peaceful looking bay in the far south-west of Australia. For most of the year, its shores are sheltered from the swell by limestone reefs. Stingrays sweep the shallows feeding on scraps, people line-fish from the beach, and small children play in the wavelets. But the bay has a dramatic history. For a few short decades Hamelin was the harbour for the timber industry based at Karridale and Boranup. Many ships lie wrecked in the bay. The safety of the anchorage was deceptive, for the south-west coast lies in the… Read More

Tales From the Earth: the Palaeoclimates of Boranup

There’s no denying that climate change will have a massive impact on Margaret River. Over the past 50 000 years, locals have witnessed dramatic changes to landscape and ecology, and there are likely many more to come. Within the caves of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, Margaret River holds a record of climate change spanning over a million years. There is a fossil record that includes the arrival of the first Australians, the onset of the last ice-age, and the current warm period known as the Holocene. Scientists have studied the extinctions of megafauna;… Read More

The Darnell Oak, Margaret River

In the heart of a small town in Western Australia there grows an oak. Not a very big oak, just a young tree with a short history, but potentially a very long future. When Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England in 1953, Margaret River chose to plant a tree at Memorial Park in her honour. The task of planting the tree fell to Bill Darnell, then Chairman of the Road Board (the Shire). When the time came he realised that no-one had thought to supply the tree, so he raced home and… Read More

Wallcliffe – People and Place

A selection of profiles of historical characters born or resident at Wallcliffe House.  Wallcliffe Estate overlooks the Margaret River, at the final meander before it opens to the sea. Across the black waters lie a stand of brilliant white paperbarks, and the property is sheltered from the ocean winds by ancient dunes and a towering cliff of soft tamala limestone. The cliff is shrouded in vegetation and pitted with caves. The cliff faces north over a small, but high quality and undegraded esturine system. The natural landscape features of river and cliff,… Read More

Wallcliffe

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… Read More

Wooditch – or the Margaret River

margaret river

The Margaret River was first encountered by European immigrants not as a defined channel, but as a confusing network of streams and tributaries. In 1832 John Bussell published his account of an exploration from Augusta to Vasse. Four men and a few dogs spent a week walking through dense forest and scrubland, surveying as they went. Hunting, drinking from the streams, sleeping wet in shelters made from sticks. There and back again. Bussells’ account is deeply observant; rocks, soil, herbaceous plants and trees, tracks of animals and people, but most particularly the… Read More

Cape Mentelle: a Profile

A limestone headland, looking down the prevailing wind from across the Indian Ocean. When the light is right, you can see the profile of a face jutting out from the stone: a vision of the spirit of place, the personification of a wild and rocky coastline. Cape Mentelle is a rugged series of steep, cliff-lined bays. The soft tamala limestone was formed by rain seeping into sand dunes blown onshore by the south-westerly wind. The fragile stone is protected from the waves by a submerged portion of reef, but wind and rain… Read More

The power in a name: the new Wooditjup National Park

The old man is on a mission to reach the sea. He runs down from the rocky ranges and onto the flatlands, where the way is obscured by forest and scrub. He emerges onto farmland, his path winding through fields covered with grapevines or dotted with cows, then into the forest surrounding the town of Margaret River. Here he might pause to rest a little by a shady rockpool. With renewed energy he races on through rocky valleys, and on towards the sea. Wadandi-Noongar custodians call him Wooditch: to most people, he… Read More

Wooditjup Jarrah Gallery

Documenting old and significant jarrah trees in the forests of Margaret River. Jarrah forest is one of the major ecological niches in the wet south-west corner of Australia. It is endemic to the area, growing nowhere else in the world.  Since the arrival of Europeans in 1829, vast areas of forest have been cleared for timber, agriculture or urban development. What is left is suffering from the effects of disease, changing groundwater systems, fragmentation by roads and infrastructure, and climate change. Jarrah is a hardwood timber, beautiful and durable. By the 1870s… Read More

Calgardup Cave: the Fall of the Meteroric Shower

Caves were forming in the soft limestone of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge long before people appeared on the continent. Growing softly, the rainfall of a million winters cementing beach sand into stone. Or mixing with plants on the surface and dissolving it, before crystallising it again, drip by drip. Wadandi ancestors took shelter in the caves 50 000 years ago, during the extreme cold of the last ice age. More recently, they were avoided and treated with respect, as places of spiritual significance. And then, not so long ago, newcomers arrived. People with… Read More

Calgardup Brook

Redgate Beach is famous for a dramatic 19th century shipwreck, swimming, waves, fishing, and granite framed sunsets. But it is also has a deeper history. The stream that flows out onto the beach is millions of years old. It begins on farmland to the east. One tributary has its catchment on Nindup Plain, close behind Mammoth Cave. There, the bones of marsupial lions, giant kangaroos, wombats, and koalas were found, along with evidence of human occupation dating far back into the ice ages. The tributary flows north, before joining the rest of… Read More

Caves Road: a Short History of a Winding Way.

Caves Road deserves special protection as a heritage and tourism icon. Caves Road traverses the limestone ridge between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. It runs south from Yallingup, through tree lined hills and valleys, past vineyards and breweries. Across the Margaret River and down into the Karri country, past Hamelin Bay and onwards to Augusta. It is heralded as one of the iconic experiences to have in Western Australia. It began as a network of sand and gravel tracks taking visitors to the spectacular caves so numerous along the Ridge. Now the… Read More

Ten Mile Brook: the Lost Valley

The Margaret River has only a few large named tributaries: the Mowen River, Bramley, Yalgardup, and Ten Mile Brook. The upper river valleys of the Margaret were formed after sediments filled the sunklands left by the breakup of Gondwana. They flow westward and onto the granite of the Leeuwin Block, a remnant of the super-continent left behind by India as it pulled away to the north. The Ten Mile Brook valley was lush and deeply forested, the result of ongoing weathering processes over millions of years. It supported one of the most… Read More

Makuru: on Mermaids and the Winter Solstice.

Mermaids are the river-dreamings of northern Europe. Here in the south-west of Australia, the winter solstice falls with the first rains. The streams and rivers begin to flow, breaking the drought and releasing the dry and dusty old year back into the sea. The cultures of the European colonisers, still dominant in Australia, look back to the German and Celtic lands, where the sun played a major part in the ebb and flow cycles of the year. At Midwinter the sun is at its weakest and all the land is cold and… Read More

Margaret River 2018: Year of the Great White Pro

Surfing Margaret River just got a lot more legendary. The cancellation of the 2018 Pro event may seem like a disaster for the surfing industry, but the strength and resilience of local culture means we can turn it to our advantage. Although the risk of shark attack is minimal it takes courage to face the waves. Some, including pro surfers, are just not up to it. Surfing has its roots in alternative culture. The soul of the wave warrior is attuned to risk and adrenaline, which feeds straight back into respect and… Read More

Sculpture by Tree

SCULPTURE BY TREE Bleached and weathered; scored, lined and hollowed. A large marri, centuries old, collapsed across the swamp like the shin bone of a giant. Nourishment for myriads of small creatures and a feast for the mind that has the time to pause and wonder. The life history of a tree can be read in the skeleton it leaves behind. Wood shaped slow. Built of soil particles, transported by water and fuelled by the sun. The silhouette of the tree is shaped by light; by the shade of neighbours, and the… Read More

Boranup: a forest in profile

Boranup is a small outreach of Karri forest in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. In Wardandi Noongar, the name means “place of the male dingo.” The dingos are long gone, but the Karri trees delight thousands of tourists a year. They stop on the roadside to snap images of nature, unaware that the forest clothes a cultural landscape shaped by people for millennia. During the last Ice Age, Boranup nestled behind the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, overlooking a sandplain which stretched 40km out to the edge of the continental shelf. The first Australians, who walked… Read More