Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just a Quick Reminder ...

Back in the bad old days, when the pea 'n' beans processor let their by-product flow straight into the channel, we'd string up a piece of bamboo with some nylon and a hook and go looking for herring.

We stood on wet black rocks with the conveyor belt ladies (the ones who picked out the rotten peas) and men whom we thought then were old - wrinkled knees and Stubbie shorts, fingers flattened and strong with manual work. No bait required, thanks to those rotten peas and bean shells. The herring were nuts. We'd get a bucketful in half an hour.

Around the corner from the creaking, rusting factory, there lies a pristine little cove, secreted away from roads or tracks. It's a funny little spot on the south shore of the channel into Princess Royal Harbour, damp, often hidden from the sun, clad in paper bark trees that grow right down to the briny. Things arrive here, flotsam from the Sound and beyond.

It's a good place to play, catch whiting, and watch the schools of salmon trout meander by.

To get the massive Cape iron ore ships into Princess Royal Harbour, the Albany Port Authority and Grange Resources will dredge a channel from the harbour, straight through the middle of King George Sound.

The seagrass beds in the channel and the Sound are able to look after themselves, apparently. They still haven't recovered from the best efforts of the fertiliser plant to destroy them on the western shores in the 1970s, but the EPA and the Port Authority are confidant that seagrass beds can adapt to any mining boom.

As for The Cove, the spoils from some of the dredging will be used to fill it in, to create a berth for the iron ore ships. The Cove, the last piece of natural coastline (apart from Pelican Point) on the north side of the harbour, will be gone. I was asked recently what will happen to The Cove after the Albany Port Authority and Grange Resources have taken residency. 
It's a no-brainer really. It just won't exist any more.

The Cove will be replaced with this:

These last three photographs were taken right next to The Cove. Already the old fishing goat tracks have been covered over to prevent public access. The dredging is due to start next year. Sorry to let such a bucolic tale turn so nasty ... but it is the tale for this little corner of the world.


  1. That is so crushingly sad, Sarah.

    A tale resounding around many other coves I don't doubt.

  2. Sad to say that a good friend of mine has just left here to live in Australia and probably help with the destruction of your cove - he works as a driller.

  3. It 's the same all over: Dublin wants a new port and so they pick an ancient bronze age site to build there f'k'n new port! Fortunately the country is broke & the plans have been delayed....

  4. Fab read and shots! :-)
    You would be in your element on my side of the ocean :-)

  5. It is very sad, Chris, on a few levels.

    I keep telling Old Salt that he will have to log all the flathead we pull out of the spot, so he can apply for compensation when they fill it in. "They never give us fishermen compo," was his reply ... and he is 75, with some experience in these matters.

    The mussel farmers have a lease agreement with the Port that disallows any compensation for heavy metal dredging plumes that compromise their (filter-feeding) stock. There is nowhere other than the Sound that these guys can operate. They will lose income and we can't eat the shellfish either, for at least a year. (Next year)

    The rest of the dredging spoils will be dumped inside King George Sound, after they have filled in The Cove.

    Tom, your friend is probably an unwitting part of the whole apparatus. Is he headed West? The industry here is huge, huge.

  6. Sad.....Unfortunately things move on to their inevitable end in the end. Some tides are just too vast and furious to fight against. But good onya for trying.

  7. Marvellous photos in a too depressing story.