A Dutch Plaque, Cliffs and Smoked Oysters

0 Posted by - October 11, 2016 - adventure, cruising, Salty Times

We have visited our second Turtle Bay along this coastline… I think there are a few further North too. I know people love Turtles, but come on… a little imagination to come up with name besides Turtle Bay isn’t that hard.

At the Top of Dirk Hartog we find ourselves anchored in Turtle Bay surrounded by steep cliffs.

Cape Inscription

We arrived just as the sunset and had a beautiful sail up the inside of the island. We saw many dugongs along the way, and with the wind behind us it was one of those sails that ticked all the boxes for a fantastic day on the water. We even caught a Spanish Mackerel in the last hour of the sail and it was a big one too… It will provide us a weeks worth of meals!

As we approached the anchorage the cliffs were dominating our view, and as we sailed closer and closer I kept thinking we are going to hit bottom, but the anchorage stays very deep. So we edged even closer to the cliff walls.


With our anchor set and Base filleting the fish, we reached the end of an amazing day. Not all days of the trip will be like this, so we are grateful when things are this good. Panko crumbed mackerel and a cold beer top the evening off.

Sleeping on a boat has more variables that you can count. One night you have the best sleep of your life and the next you have the worst. Our anchorage at Turtle Bay was a rolly one and we slept very little.  Getting rolled out of bed at first light has its benefits, we got to see the sunrise glowing off the steep cliffs.

We got our tender “little D” ready and packed a bag to go exploring. This spot has been on Base’s radar for quite a while.  It is a 4km walk to Cape Inscription where Dirk Hartog the Dutch explorer placed a pewter plaque on October 25th 1616, 400 years ago.  I have Dutch heritage and it was amazing to imagine my ancestors arriving back then.

We brought our tender up on the steep white sandy beach, it was a bit of action with the waves crashing on the shore, but we made it.  We both looked up at the towering sand dune cliffs that we needed to climb… and up we went.


The view from the top was well worth it. The beautiful crystal clear water and our vessel smack in the middle of the anchorage all by herself. She looked so small from up there, we could see all the reef in detail and even saw a small shark swim past.

dirk hartog anchorageThere is a sandy 4wd track that we walked along. There are no houses, no trees, no signs of people, just scrub in shades of green and grey.

As we walked the 4km we talked about the first explorers of this coast. Imagine the outfits they were wearing, it felt hard enough climbing and walking the track in shorts and a t-shirt.

As we approach the cape, the lighthouse and caretakers house come into view, but no signs of any people. We go and read the plate replica and read about the French Explorer De Vlamingh who came 100 years after Hartog. He replaced Hartog’s plaque and added his own inscription to it.

We took in the amazing view from Cape Inscription overlooking the Indian Ocean. We notice a tide pool at the bottom of the cliffs and we decided to climb down for a swim. We had some snacks packed and ate them beside our private tide pool. We had to share it with a couple of parrot fish that would come in with the waves.

All along the sides of the pool were mouth-watering oysters. We had nothing with us to open them,

But Base had seen a Malcom Douglas Documentary where we used spinifex to heat up the oysters and get their shells to crack. We picked a spot close to the water and gave it a go. We didn’t have much luck and as the tide was rising it kept putting out our flame. No oysters for us.

tide pool oysters

After exploring the South of Dirk Hartog Island and then the North, it felt remote wild and vast – a wild island.

We didn’t get any reception here so we had to use the forecast from two days earlier to guess that the wind would be good to take us across the top of Shark Bay to Canarvon (about 50 nautical miles).

It will be the first time we visit a town in about a month.

Food, Water, Fuel, Laundry, Showers and Internet… Here we come!

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