The Quobba Coast
is a spectacular bit of coastline just north of Carnarvon in Western Australia
. This stretch of coast, from Carnarvon to Red Bluff provides rugged steep cliffs to tranquil pristine white sandy bays. With fishing being one of the main reasons for venturing this way, some other activities include: humpback whale watching at Red Bluff, surfing at ‘Bluff Barrel’, checking out the blowholes near Quobba Point, staying or touring Quobba Station, and visiting the HMAS Sydney Memorial Cairn. Other attractions along the route include the Gascoyne River crossing and Dampier Salt, which operates from Lake McLeod and loads at Cape Cuvier. Beyond Quobba Station is Gnarloo Station, which also provides a camping area on the coast.
Red Bluff is widely renowned for its surf break, but it’s also appealing for many other reasons. Fishing in the area is popular and often fruitful, and fish feeding frenzies can be witnessed from the shore. Marine life including turtles, dolphins, manta rays and whale sharks can be spotted along the coast. The bay is protected by a headland and a shallow reef and on calm days, swimming and snorkelling can be enjoyed. Red Bluff is a private camping area located on Quobba Station approximately 45kms north of the homestead. The station operates under a pastoral lease running sheep and goats, in addition to providing tourist accommodation at the Homestead and Red Bluff. The road in to Red Bluff may be rocky and corrugated but generally a 4WD is not required. Once there, a couple of days are recommended to completely relax and enjoy the Red Bluff experience. It is noted that ‘through access’ to the north does not exist and the route out to the highway is only via the Blowholes Road (the way you came in).
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The section of the Gascoyne coastline extending between Carnarvon and Red Bluff is mostly rugged and rocky. As the sign at the Blowholes states “King Waves Kill” and extreme caution should be exercised when experiencing the coastal areas. People have been washed off and killed along this section of coast. The weathered limestone cliffs to the north of Point Quobba have been carved by wind and wave energy creating amazing formations up to 10 metres above the shoreline.
Very little rainfall is experienced in this area and as a result, the inland areas are particularly arid and barren with limited vegetation. When it does rain however, there can be an abundant and beautiful display of wildflowers
. 1200 hectares of the fragile coastal dune system has been fenced off from the Quobba grazing lease to exclude domestic and feral animals to assist with rehabilitation. As with all camping, every attempt should be made to reduce the impact of your vehicle and yourself on the natural environment.
Some of the land and marine wildlife that you may encounter in the Quobba coastal region include; turtles, dolphins, manta rays, kangaroos, bungarras, ospreys, emus, and native goats. At Point Quobba, there is a shallow limestone platform linking the point to a small offshore island and forms the northern edge of the Point Quobba Lagoon. This platform is connected to a shallow reef encrusted by coral communities, and helps with the limestone platform to form a natural barrier to ocean swell, protecting the lagoon from pounding waves and strong currents. The marine habitat at Point Quobba is diverse with over 100 finfish including: Spanish mackerel, golden trevally, spangled emperor, and pink snapper to name a few. The Department of Fisheries is working with the local community, the Blowholes Protection Association and the Shire of Carnarvon to protect this valuable marine ecosystem.
A memorial erected to recognise those who perished on the HMAS Sydney is located a couple of kilometres south of the Quobba homestead. A battle between the HMAS Sydney and the German raider HSK Kormoran in 1941 resulted in the loss of more than 700 lives. Controversy still surrounds the exact circumstances leading to the loss, given there were no survivors from the HMAS Sydney. On 17th March 2008, at a depth of 2,470 metres, the wreck of HMAS Sydney was reportedly found at 26 14 37 S and 111 13 03 E, approximately 100 nautical miles (190 km) west of Steep Point
and 12 nautical miles (22 km) from the Kormoran wreck.