The Australian salute. Only ever required on the odd occasion and almost always in the height of summer. A flick of the wrist – left, right, left – elbow held steady, ninety degrees to your face. Living in Australia, its instinctive, you don’t even realise you’re hand is raised and flapping. Sometimes its effective, but often it’s almost better to fly the white flag and head inside in defeat. Heading out on the seal walk in Cape Bridgewater I was in desperate need of one such flag. Perhaps one giant white flag would actually do the trick; take ‘em all on and wipe them out in one fell swoop just when they thought I had accepted defeat. My husband’s back had already lost the battle, his green jacket was now a hive of black. Our baby daughter strapped to his chest had been mummified; swaddled from head to foot lest their army would strike into her oft open mouth. Barely unable to keep pace with the two of them as they pushed through enemy lines, my arm was in overdrive, windscreen wipers for my face, but still they persisted. Cooped inside for days, I was desperate to get outside and do some sightseeing, but I hadn’t accounted for this; I’d never seen so many flies!
The seal walk is a 2.5 km trail that starts just a short drive from Cape Bridgewater’s only kiosk. Winding its way along the headland, the trail is well-marked and takes about 2 hours return. With the bay to the left, a row of wind turbines to the right, and the rough seas of Bass Strait ahead, the scenery is certainly picturesque, even if the lookout at its end is so high up it makes it difficult to catch a good look at the Australian fur seals baking on the rocks below.
The seal walk is one of a handful of activities that you can undertake at Cape Bridgewater, which is located five hours west of Melbourne, and only a short drive from the South Australian border. In addition to visiting the nearby petrified forest, or kayaking on Bridgewater Lakes, you can take a peak at the blowholes, walk up to the limestone caves, or if you are feeling really keen, embark on the 250 km Great South West Walk.
We had rented a small cottage over by Bridgewater Lakes, a beautifully renovated stone home that was fitted out with everything we could possibly need to make our stay comfortable, including two wood fire heaters which surprisingly came into good use, despite it being summer. Ever since we had arrived, the weather had been windy, wet and cold; although according to a local shop assistant, this was considered good weather, which explained the presence of the many wind turbines littering the coastline.
Completing the seal walk in a hasty 1 1/2 hours to get away from the relentless flies, we drove around the other side of the headland to view the Petrified forest before the rain returned forcing us to take shelter again in the small kiosk by the beach. As the weather set in, our plans of visiting the nearby lighthouse were derailed and once again we ended the evening curled up by the fire in our cosy cottage.
Cape Bridgewater may not have given us the summer holiday that we had been expecting, but the homeliness of our accommodation and the beautiful surrounding scenery made us all keen to return. Although perhaps next time we will come in winter, and maybe then with a little luck, we can enjoy the seals on our own.
Location: Cape Bridgewater, Victoria (383km from Melbourne)
Accommodation: The Lakes House, Bridgewater Lakes