Sea Kayaking around Snake Island – April 2014

Snake Island is the largest of a number of barrier islands situated within the Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park, South Gippsland, Victoria.  It protects a large sea grass embayment from the pounding waves of Bass Strait.  To the west of Snake Island lies the rugged Wilsons Promontory National Park.

One of the main reasons I took up sea kayaking in early 2013 was to experience our amazing coast with minimal impact and in close contact with nature whilst adding a sense of adventure at the same time.  An opportunity came in April 2014 to do an overnight paddle to Snake Island with Steve who is also a keen kayaker.   I first met Steve the year before when camping at Tidal River and we have had many enjoyable paddles together since.

The forecast was for 15 knots of south westerly on our paddle out with improving conditions the following day.  The tide and wind were favourable so it looked good for circumnavigating the Island.   This would be my first overnight expedition. I could be generous with food and other items as my kayak held about three times more than I could carry when back packing.

Snake Island copy
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Map showing Snake Island.  Note it’s proximity to Wilsons Promotory National Park.  We paddled in a clockwise direction. (click to enlarge).

DAY 1

Snake Island Apr 2014-2
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After a comfortable 16 kilometre paddle from Port Welshpool we arrived at the far end of Snake Island near Port Albert entrance (opposite Clonmel Island). Steve above and me on the right.

Snake Island Apr 2014-3

Our campsite. Steve likes to travel in comfort -note the chair.

Snake Island Apr 2014-1
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Looking out to the Bass Strait on our first evening.  We were hoping that the wind would drop so we could paddle out the entrance the next day.

DAY 2

Snake Island Apr 2014-5
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Fortunately the wind dropped so we paddled out the entrance. Getting out between Snake Island and Clonmel Island was easy.  Getting across the numerous sand bars was more tricky. As we turned west it became a bit unnerving for me as there was the odd white crest from breaking waves directly in front of us and stretching a few kilometres out to sea.  We could have stayed in the channel until we got well clear of the sand bars at the entrance but this would have taken us further out to sea and added distance to our trip.  We thought it would be safe enough to weave in between the rough sections.  However the moving tide and currents were constantly changing the surface conditions making things a bit unpredictable.  We were on full alert for fast forming waves.   On one occasion a wave was nearing vertical as it approached me.  I had to take fast action.   I picked up my cadence and and managed to climb over its face just in time.  Steve was paddling 20 metres abreast in the way of the wave after it left me and I thought he would get hammered. I then heard it crash expecting Steve to be swallowed in its mass but a few moments later he shot out from the spume at its end with a big sigh of relief.  Fortunately the  wave was relatively short.

Snake Island Apr 2014-4
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Past the tricky section. Steve in front making out way along the coast with the Prom in the background.

Snake Island Apr 2014-6
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Time for a stop on the beach at Corner Inlet Entrance.

Snake Island Apr 2014-7
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After a rest we were back in the water to resume our paddle to Port Welshpool arriving mid afternoon.  It wasn’t as difficult negotiating the Corner Inlet entrance.

Overall we paddled 46 kilometres (30 klm the second day).   It was a great experience which has given me an appetite for further trips along this beautiful coast of ours.  What better way to spend a couple of days?

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