Moonta Bay: above and below the water

21 Sep

Dear Reader:

It is a lovely afternoon and I am sitting on the balcony of a friend’s beach house gazing across the calm waters of Moonta Bay. The light is soft and despite an unseasonably hot spring day there is a gentle sea breeze ruffling the bushes and coastal grasses on the edge of the steep cliffs that drop down to the beach. I have been watching a pair of rabbits cautiously emerging from their burrows in the soft sand; endearing little creatures but unwelcome guests in this area where they eat the native plants and damage the delicate balance of the cliff top ecology.

Wild rabbits amongst succulent and grasses on the cliff top

Wild rabbits amongst succulent and grasses on the cliff top

As night approaches and the sun drops below the horizon the rabbits become more active. A flock of gulls flies in V formation across the skyline and I retreat into the study to avoid some early season mosquitoes and reflect on my day. The sunset is quite spectacular and provides some inspiration to set pen to paper.

Moonta Bay at sunset

The journey from Adelaide across the flat coastal plains and scrub hedged wheat fields  was an easy couple of hours. I stopped at a local pub and grabbed a bite to eat then pushed on to Moonta. With only one night at my disposal I spent the early part of the afternoon wandering amongst the old mine ruins. A little gecko clung miraculously to the smooth surface of an old mine bucket and a pair of swallows had made a neat little nest behind a wooden beam that protruded from a square stone tower. But strangely it was the colours in the rocks that caught my attention as they hinted at the wealth of copper that was extracted from this area in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

throughout the old quarry the rocks are stll tinged with the coper ore

Throughout the old quarry many of the rocks are tinged with the copper ore

From the mine it was a short drive down to the seashore and jetty with its art deco styled motel and restaurant nestled into the low cliffs. A stroll along the stained hardwood planks out to the end where it curves to run parallel to the shore brought back childhood memories of weekends fishing and playing cricket on the huge expanse of beach that is exposed when the tide recedes. But on this occasion the child’s rod and line were replaced by camera and notebook. Near the shoreline I stopped by a rocky outcrop to watch a pied cormorant hunting amongst the weed and rock-pools; its body seeming to take on the fluid persona of the water as it twisted and turned in search of small fish and crabs.

Pied cormorant hunting amongst the shallow rock pools

Pied cormorant hunting amongst the shallow rock pools

 A little further along the jetty, where the shallow water starts to turn darker hinting at the meadow of seagrass beneath, a flotilla of seabirds were patrolling; an indication  that there might be baitfish in the area. With this in mind I trotted back to the car and donned my snorkelling gear to take a closer look. I was not disappointed as several schools of small fish were congregating in the deeper water beyond the rocky outcrop. 

A school of baitfish congregate below the jetty

A school of juvenile mullet feeding below the jetty

The sunset is well over and the  forecast indicates fine weather with calm seas for the next few days.  I’ll probably do a little more snorkelling near the rocky outcrop before walking along the coastal trail to watch the seabirds and search for reptiles and insects.

 

Until next time

Cheers

Baz

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