As much as Australians love sandy beaches, we also love the rocks. From the 12 (now 7) Apostles in Victoria, to Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island, to The Gap in Sydney, and Shipsterns Bluff in Tasmania, there are many examples of dramatic formations that are constantly changing due to erosion by the wind and waves.
There are also rocky reefs which extend from the coastline under water. Because of these rocks are so stable, they reefs can create very predictable, consistent waves. A spectacular example of this can be seen in this video of Shipsterns Bluff in Tasmania thanks to Surfline:
We do far more than admire these rocks though, we gaze into their rock pools, surf off their headlands and fish from their platforms. Whatever activity you are doing, it is vitally important to stay safe around the rocks.
Exploring the Rock Pools
Children especially love gazing into rock pools and watching the marine life that exists in the inter-tidal zone. Rock pools are made when the high tide allows water to flow into the holes between rocks, then retreats back to low tide leaving a pool of water.
The rock pools are a home to many creatures such as crabs, seaweed, fish, oysters, starfish and sea snails. They are also home to some dangerous marine creatures such as the blue ringed octopus and the sea urchin. It’s very important that you don’t disturb these creatures so look but don’t touch.
Fishing from the rocks is a good way of catching some great fish but it can also be very dangerous. By taking some simple precautions you can fish safely.
Top tips for rock fishing safety:
- Check the weather before leaving home.
- Always wear a lifejacket.
- Wear light clothing and appropriate footwear.
- Always fish with a group of people.
- If you need help, call Triple Zero (000) Emergency.
The term ‘freak wave’ gets mentioned a lot when people get swept from a rock platform, but it is often misused. Swells arrive on the coast in regular sets of larger and smaller waves. Some of these waves are bigger than others and are simply the peak wave in the swell. These may arrive long distances apart depending on the swell, sometime 20-30 minutes! These are commonly described as the ‘freak wave’ but are simple part of the regular pattern of the swell.
It’s a long way down from here!
Many of the spectacular rock formations across Australia are so special because of their height. 100ft plus cliffs are common which also means that the risk of falling from these great heights is also quite common!
Fortunately, many of the most frequented locations now have excellent pathways, fencing and viewing platforms to give you a great view. Sometimes though, people just can’t help themselves and go closer to the edge, or worse still attempt to scale the cliffs to get to that ‘ special spot’ halfway down!
The message is simple, stay away from cliff edges and always stick to the pathways provided.
Not all reefs around the world are as spectacular as the Great Barrier Reef. Most are simple rocky outcrops, home to a variety of marine creatures but not nearly as much coral!
These rocky reefs sometimes reach up towards the surface from the ocean floor, which provides a relatively shallow area in the middle of the ocean. If the waves are big enough, or the water is shallow enough, this can allow the waves to break.
There are many examples of offshore reefs which regularly break allowing surfers to ride them around the world. In Australia, these reefs that occur just offshore are commonly called bomboras or bombies for short.