Water body: inlet of Waychinicup River Location: 65km east of Albany, Western Australia Time of year: Mid-January Conditions: early morning cloud, approx. 18 degrees and drizzling, moderate SW winds which were mostly blocked by the headland Style of SUP session: explore and nature observation SUP squad: Mike, Shell SUP support crew: Tom (thanks for the wicked pics, Tom!) Boards used: Starboard Whopper Junior 9’5 x 32, Starboard Avanti ASAP 11’2 x 36
Skill level required: beginner. Intermediate if you get closer to the ocean, where the swell and wind can play a large factor in your ability to balance. Pros: stunning scenery in the inlet, which is surrounded by granite outcrops and green shrubbery. Can be a protected spot for a SUP. A great chance to explore a part of the coast inaccessible without water craft. Considerations: Parking and camping is limited in the inlet and access to the river is really only by foot, down a gravel hill, so take care when lugging a SUP up and down the track. If the wind is blowing SW, it will generally come straight into the inlet, which can make for challenging paddling.
Comments: We have been to Waychinicup National Park several times in the past, sometimes with kayaks to fish, sometimes to tackle some 4WD tracks, but we were keen to get out there on the SUPs. When we went out that morning, the weather wasn’t the greatest. The wind was starting to pick up, the sun was intermittent, and it also began drizzling. But we didn’t come all this way to not paddle, so we went out. Then we spotted a fin. And another fin. And then two more. We paddled out towards the opening of the inlet, keeping a safe distance, but getting close enough to be able to have a good squiz at the pod of 15 dolphins!
We were absolutely frothing! We’ve seen dolphins before, but not this many and not this close! It didn’t matter that it was raining, and that our toes were beginning to freeze, we were totally in the moment watching them swim around. With regular easterly winds being the norm in summer on the south coast, Waychinicup provides a protected bay to fish, swim, SUP, kayak and enjoy with the family. The scenery (like many spots on the south coast) is truly breathtaking. We will be back.