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Understanding Bay of Fires
contributed by iandsmith
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Itís an iconic place. The name came from Captain Tobias Furneaux when, in 1773, he noted many aboriginal fires on the land he was sailing past, having been separated from Captain Cook's second expedition. Another little known fact is that there are extensive karst (cave) systems here, including some of the finest in the southern hemisphere that are unavailable to the general public.
Every published picture indicates that there are kilometres of rocks coloured with orange lichen blazing in the early morning sun. Of course, reality is something else. At times it seems that for every special piece of multi-hued granite there is an Asian tourist, at other locations the European backpackers are there in numbers and then there are the veritable hordes of motorhomers, easing themselves out onto the sand, for there is much of that as well.
In fact, there is so much white sand contrasting with the gorgeous turquoise waters that you could be forgiven for thinking this is tropical Queensland. There are two main differences; this is prettier but the water is not the same temperature as that in Queensland.
We started out doing the full haul to The Gardens, a secluded settlement literally at the end of the road from Binalong Bay. There lies a small parking site and a conservation area with a short loop walk. The Japanese had already arrived and could be seen in assorted poses atop the highest points while we clicked elsewhere.
The Bay of Fires was living up to its image but we had glimpsed better on the way and set off in search of same. Just a short way on the return journey we edged slowly up a one way dirt road; weíd glimpsed some promising rocks coming in and were hoping for better luck. It wasnít rocks we found; well, there were some there but, what we stumbled on was one of the most profoundly beautiful little beaches in the world.
To be sure there was less than 100 metres of it but what it lacked it size it more than made up for in class. A stunning bay of limpid waters with rocks at either end encasing an area protected from all but the worst ravages of the sea. The word ďinvitingĒ immediately sprang to both our lips.
A little way offshore a small rock outcrop was crowned with kelp that flashed gold back and forth with the gentle side swell. Surprisingly the water temperature was about 5 degrees above other beaches due to a lack of turbulence and an active summer sun.
We couldnít get our swimmers on fast enough; just being here was sheer joy, a quick dip would raise the stakes even more. The bliss of moving through such a pristine environment was not lost on us and when I reached the kelp-encrusted rock I felt and urge to climb aboard. Upon doing so I gazed in wonderment at the surface beneath. Here all manner of aquatic life was clinging in fertile places as the sea washed to and fro; their purples and reds clearly visible in the noon day rays.
Though thankfully conservation has taken over much of the area there are a smattering of homes; one wondered what prices might prevail on the few overlooking this beach.
Further down we drove into Cosy Corner, a name that readily befits a location where you can park beneath the casuarinas and listen to the surf just a good stoneís throw away. Immediately to the north is one of the classic headlands depicted in photographs. Cracked granite lined with multi-hued growths that jut out into the Great Southern Ocean; the sky is laden with cirrus that draws abstract patterns across the pristine blue background, so much in contrast with the cotton white sand.
Itís all a bit surreal as the offshore wind stands up the glassy swell before it swishes up the beach, reaching until it can reach no more before withdrawing from whence it came in a lather of foam.
Itís a case of paradise found as we don our cameras and move northwards, excitement rising at every footfall as the sun seeks to burn off the remaining cloud. We clamber eagerly across the headland, ever watchful of where the water rushes between cracks, seeking to leave tidal pools before the moon moves away.
100 shots click off with ease in this wonderland of colour until we are content and return to manufacture our main meal for the day, itís local salmon and, with Lorraine at the helm, another gourmetís delight is soon on the plate and we compare notes over dinner.
Then Lorraine prepares for bed as Iím writing but lets out a warning cry. I glance out the side window and see a sky awash with soft orange cloud. Itís all hands to the pump as I scramble for my camera and lens then hobble as quickly as my dodgy knee and wounded ankle will allow to where I can find some foreground.
The promise is fulfilled, off white begets honeycomb yellow that turns burnt orange that ultimately becomes red. Young couples are on the beach, drawn simply to watch this spectacle and nothing more, arms crossed over their knees as they stare in wonderment at the spectacle. Bay of Fires indeed!
This story was uploaded into the Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia entry for the Bay 'Bay Of Fires'.
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