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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.