The tides increase in magnitude and speed the farther north you travel in coastal Australia.
Last weekend I was ‘glamping’ on the Coral Coast near the rural town of Bowen which sits on a square peninsula, twenty degrees south of the equator, with the Coral Sea to the north, east, and south. On the western side, where the peninsula connects with the mainland, the Don River’s alluvial plain provides fertile soil that supports a prosperous farming industry, growing mangoes, tomatoes, capsicums and melons.
The camp where I stayed is situated at the mouth of the Don river; said to be the fastest flowing river in Australia. Well, after standing in the shallows on the outgoing tide I could believe it, although have not been able to verify the claim.
Knee deep in the gushing torrent, we watched fascinated as schools of stingrays ‘flew’ past us. When we remained still, they flapped their wing-like fins and came closer to investigate, zipping away as soon as they realised we were ‘other’ and a possible threat. Some were as large as a metre (three feet) across from wing tip to wing tip. Some travelled in pairs with much smaller ones – were they babies?
The danger with stingrays is the barb on their tails. Their habit of lying flat on the sea bottom often concealed by the sand, makes them difficult to spot and easy to step on. We shuffled our feet in the sand to avoid any accidents. The site is remote and accessible only by helicopter, small boat or quad bikes. We couldn’t afford any accidents but these fascinating creatures were easily scared off.
The stingrays were intent on avoiding being stranded in the rapidly emptying river. We stood and watched in wonder, grateful for the experience, wishing them safe passage to the ocean.
A safe passage is my wish for every one of you gentle readers out there in blogging land this festive season. Enjoy your time with loved ones.
I will still be reading your posts over the holidays but I’ll take a break from writing and will be back again to post in the new year.