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Shipwrecks and Shorebirds – Afternoon at Marion Bay

Beach landscape in Winter
It’s been spring -like today, but apart from that it feels like it’s been raining for a month. Nevertheless,  there was one day, a bit grey, when the rain held off for a while and my walking buddy  hauled me off to a rather lovely beach for a couple of hours.  

The winter visitor's reward - an untrodden beach

I imagine that Marion Bay goes crazy over summer. It is a popular spot with surfers, but today its modest collection of beach houses seems subdued and almost abandoned.  There is merit in visiting a beach in winter, so long as you aren’t looking for a swim. 

Looking eastwards towards the Forestier Peninsula

From the new lookout there are views over long stretches of empty beach, the ragged coast of the Forestier Peninsula, a bit of Maria Island and a wide expanse of open sea.  Apparently this bay has long been popular with sailors - a welcome pause after crossing the wild Southern Ocean.
Abel Tasman (1642) is reputed to have been the first European to call in, then Marion Du Fresne (hence the name) 130 years later, and finally fellow Frenchman, Nicholas Baudin on his way up the East Coast in 1902.  Until 1905 when the Dennison Canal was built, sailors still had to brave the exposed southern tip of the Tasman Peninsula to reach safer waters.  Though the new shortcut helped, ships still had to negotiate the narrow channel at its entrance whereby some still came to grief. According to the signage the wreck of the Zephyr is sometimes visible when storms shift the sand.

Shorebirds at Long Spit where ships had to negotiate  "The Narrows" a difficult channel, where several ran aground.
There’s no sign of the shipwreck as we walk the length of Long Spit, but we do see lots of seabirds and shorebirds– molly hawks and pied oyster catchers, gulls and the odd heron. The surrounding marshes are a haven for many more, as well as wallabies and echidnas.  The information board at the Lookout mentions that the area was also popular with Aboriginal people and shell middens prove that  sailors were not the only ones to find it a pleasant place to put in for a while. Other visitors include fur seals, dolphins and whales.

Notes on the Aboriginal History, Explorers and Natural History are found at the top of the Lookout

The sea air invigorates, the sun briefly warms, but a light shower starts before we finish our walk. The map at the start of the reserve said we would meet up with a farm road at this stage, but we don’t find it. Instead, we find ourselves scrambling back along the beach with rogue waves lapping at our boots. As the clouds descend and the wind springs up,  we see the darker side of what seemed such a  pleasant looking beach. 
Who would be a sailor?
Wind Power - this tree shows how strongly the winds blow here


Beth said…
I just felt like I had to comment. I found your blog while googling the Vanuatu dish 'simboro' and there you were in Port Vila in 2008. So I clicked onward to see if you'd continued blogging between then and now and found this post on Marion Bay!! We were there in our boat a few years ago, and hope to head back this summer :)