Hamelin Bay kayak trail
published: February 14th, 2017
THE CANOE AND KAYAK GUIDE TO WA www.martinchambers.id.au
Hamelin Bay kayak trail : this guide and pictures also at the Facebook page kayaking in Western Australia - you can download and print as 3 jpg - look in photos.
All types of sit-on-top, surf skis, decked kayaks.
Not suitable for canoes or open cockpit kayaks
Hamelin Bay is approximately 40km south of Margaret River. It is reasonably sheltered from the prevailing southerly winds and therefore the best place between the Capes for general kayaking. It is suitable for anything from small sit-on-tops to expedition sea kayaks. There is a relaxed caravan park and camping area, and a small shop.
You can paddle close to the shore, but a far more interesting trip is a circuit out to the island. Launch from the beach near the boat ramp, first pausing to pat the stingrays that often swim close to shore here.
Hamelin Bay is named after French explorer Jacques Félix Emmanuel Hamelin who sailed through the area in 1801. From 1876 it was used as a summer port for the export of timber. A long timber jetty was built and this was intact at least until 1900, but sometime after that it was damaged during a severe storm. There is deep water between Mushroom Rock and Peak Island and a navigation beacon on top of Hamelin Island guided ships into the jetty. A railway ran from the jetty inland via Karridale.
For this trail, paddle along the shore, south to the limestone cliffs of the point. A line of shallow reef extends to seaward from here. In calm condition you can cross the reef and continue into Foul Bay – probably called Foul Bay because in the old days whaling was carried out and the carcasses where left to rot on the sand. Beyond the two small isolated coves of the point a long sandy beach extends all the way to Knobby Head and Cosy Corner beyond. If you want to paddle here a 5km trip along the beach would be best begun at Cosy Corner and finish at Hamelin Bay, although there is nothing exciting to see from a kayak along here.
For our trip we turn right at the limestone point and follow the shallows towards Hamelin Island. At the island, if the swell is low, continue left to circumnavigate, but only attempt this if it is very calm or you are skilled enough to find your way between shallow reef and surf. The rest of us will veer right and land on the island, a landing possible in all weather conditions you are likely to be kayaking in. Most days you will be alone on this beach.
On the beach you can follow a path up towards the platform and beacon on top, as far as a sign that says ‘no public access’. From here there is a good view back towards the Hamelin Bay townsite. The beach is sheltered from summer sea breezes and a good spot to relax or picnic. Swim or snorkel around to the left of the beach where the reef is shallow with deep clear water between.
In Sept 2016 a yacht called ‘Shambles’ ran onto the outer reef of the island. You can now paddle and look at the wreck which is high and dry. There are plans to remove the wreck but it is difficult to see how they will do that.
From the island beach paddle toward Peak Island, the rock to the north. Landing is not possible on here as it is all steep rocky sides, but if you have an anchor there is good-drop off snorkeling on the north side. However, the more interesting location to snorkel is Mushroom Rock, an awash patch of reef you will see if you look towards the shore from here.
From Mushroom Rock paddle towards the white limestone point where you first departed the shoreline.
This will bring you to the end of the old jetty, still about a kilometre out to sea. It may be difficult to see the old pylons until you are close. The old timber is home to soft sponges, seaweeds and fishes and worth having a look at. You don’t need an anchor for this one, simply tie to one of the pylons, slide off and snorkel.
From the old pylons it is a simple paddle back to the start point. Total distance paddled is less than 5km.