Close to the edge: Dangerous times at Whalers Way

The sea is a slab of churning grey at Whalers Way. Sine curve swells smash onto boulders big as houses, detonating white water high into the wind.

There’s nothing inviting about it. Turn your back for a moment and a wave could pluck you screaming away.

Whalers Way Double-Barrelled Travel

At the Baleen Blowhole

Crevasse at Whalers Way Double-barrelled Travel

Crevasse at Whalers Way

Taking risks for pics at Whalers Way

FOUR PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DROWNED IN THIS AREA. BE WARNED.

That’s the text of a sign at the Baleen Blowhole, one of the most spectacular and scary natural formations I’ve ever seen. It’s about halfway along the Whalers Way, a privately owned stretch of coast just outside Port Lincoln in South Australia.

Danger sign Whalers Way Double-barrelled Travel

BE WARNED.

For $30, we got a permit and a key from the Visitor’s Centre in town, and then drove out there for a day of dirt road adventure. But the windswept danger of the rugged coast there stopped us in our tracks.

Whalers Way Double-Barrelled Travel

The swimming hole looked a bit too rough

Dangerously close to the edge

At the Baleen Blowhole, the gently sloping cliff is lined with flowers to honour those killed in the churning water below. Signs warning of rogue waves even on calm days only hint at what might have happened.

Rest assured, we kept a very close eye on Ruby and the sea and kept her well back from the edge.

Cliffs Whalers Way Double-barrelled Travel

Scary cliffs at Whalers Way

But when we went to look at the blowhole from another vantage point, we were shocked to see a group of tourists who had climbed down to a pool just beside where the waves were smashing into the rocks. In the foreground was a memorial to a man swept away “by the sea he loved.”

Whalers Way rock pool Double-barrelled Travel

The pretty rock pool where people were taking selfies

They were taking selfies.

Though the coastline was spectacularly beautiful, every cliff and jutting island of rocks we saw along the way was a stark reminder of the sea’s incredible power. To ignore the instinct we all must surely have to be wary of it is foolish.

One of the many breathtaking views at Whalers Way

One of the many breathtaking views at Whalers Way

Along the Whalers Way

Whalers Way was named after the whaling industry that once thrived along the coast there, and each point of interest on the map told a part of this history.

An area called Redbanks had towering cliffs of reddish stone. It was where Southern Wright Wales were slaughtered so their flesh could be flensed and boiled down for oil and their bones plucked for umbrellas and ladies corsets.

Cauldron Double-Barrelled Travel

The old cauldron used to boil whale blubber

Windy Whaler's Way Double-Barrelled Travel

Feeling windswept

Walking Whalers Way Double-barrelled Travel

On the shoulders when her little legs got sore

A scenic spot for lunch

We stopped for lunch at Redbanks, taking our table and chairs from the ute tray and making sandwiches amongst the dunes. The map promised a safe swimming beach, but though we walked through the drifting sand for a long while, we didn’t find it.

Redbanks Beach Double-barrelled Travel

Searching for Redbanks Beach

Double-Barrelled Travel Ruby

One speed – run

Though we weren’t very lucky in our search, the English explorer Captain Matthew Flinders first clapped his eyes on the area in 1802 in his ship Investigator. He named many of the islands, including Liguanea Island, a brooding slab of rock that dominates the waters.

On the way out, the sun came and changed the personality of the sea from dark and brooding to playful and fun.

Sunshine Whalers Way DOuble-barrelled Travel

The sun came out over Whalers Way

Stopping at a scenic spot, we looked down at a beach roiling with perfectly formed waves. Surfers from Port Lincoln were driving up, slipping on their wetsuits and heading down to ride the rollers.

Road Whalers Way Double-barrelled Travel

The road heading out of the park

What you need to know for your visit to Whalers Way:

Cost: The $30 entrance fee needs to be paid at the Port Lincoln visitors centre. You must also pay a $20 cash deposit for the key to the entrance gate.

Amenities: There aren’t any toilets in the area and you must bring in your water. However, there are bins!

Accessibility: The tracks are 2WD accessible although you’ll be more comfortable in a 4WD.

Camping: You can camp in some spots in the area, and your $30 entrance fee includes one night of camping.

Death at Whaler's Way Double-Barrelled Travel

Carmen telling Ruby she needed to leave the flowers for the fairies

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About the author

Dave is the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel and has been nomadic since May 2013. When he's not busily working on a novel, he can be found exploring a war museum, sailing a yacht (unfortunately not his own), or hiking up a mountain.

4 comments on “Close to the edge: Dangerous times at Whalers Way”

  1. Bill Reply

    Beautiful scenery and good photography always require risk. It is like, the higher the risk, the higher the return hence the higher the satisfaction.

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