Wednesday, 21 November 2012

21-25 November 2012 - Sandy Cape Recreation Reserve/Processing lobsters/The Pinnacles

We took up residence at the Sandy Cape Recreation Reserve 16km north of the small fishing village of Jurien Bay.
Watching the sunset at Sandy Cape Recreation Reserve
Our campspot

We decided to visit Cervantes and The Pinnacles as a day trip rather than drag the van down there.  Cervantes is another small fishing village with crayfish as the main industry and also tourism as it’s the town closest to The Pinnacles. 

While in Geraldton I’d wanted us to visit the fish co-op to see live lobsters being processed, but we were literally there just as the lobster season began so tours hadn’t yet commenced.  However by the time we reached this part of the coast, the season had been going a week or so, so we did a trip to The Lobster Shack, part of the Indian Ocean Lobster Company located in Cervantes.  Here, from a ramp constructed above the processing area, we were able to see the entire process from the lobsters arriving, being graded according to size, then packed according to the orders received and then packed live in poly Styrofoam boxes with sawdust.  Apparently the lobsters can survive up to 30 hours in a stunned state, brought on by putting them in cold water for 2 minutes.  The packed boxes were finally loaded into a refrigerated van to travel to Perth airport. 

These tubs are straight from the lobster boats and have
been placed in stun tanks for 2 minutes prior to being sorted
by size (known as 'grading').
Lobsters being graded (sorted by size)
Once graded, the lobsters are placed in trays back in salt water in lanes
according to their grade.

Over 95% of West Australian lobsters are exported live, with the remaining 5% making their way to the Australian fish markets.  The main international customers are Japan and China (who like small crays) and Saudi Arabia (who prefer the bigger size). 
A lobster order appear on the computer and the lobsters are
hand picked according to the size requested on the order.
Once the lobsters have been stunned again in cold water, they are packed
in sawdust ready for travel.  They remain asleep for up to 30 hours.
Final part of the process - being packed in a refrigerated van for the
journey to Perth international airport.
All bar two of the staff working in the processing shed were Taiwanese backpackers. When we asked why, it was explained that the company has difficulties getting Australian workers as the work is seasonal and physically demanding.  Hence the international workers.  During the peak of the season, the processing shed might work 14 hours a day.  Just watching made us feel worn out!  
After the tour we splurged $30 to try a grilled lobster tail.  Can’t say any of us can see what the fuss is all about.  We were sitting near a tour group having lunch as part of their tour and the tour guide came up to us and asked if we’d like to help ourselves to the chicken and salads.  Absolutely! I thought my chicken leg and salami was more impressive than the lobster.  Still, we tried it and I was happy both girls had a taste.  Maybe we need to sample it cooked a few different ways before making a definitive judgement.   Overall, we found the self-guided tour really interesting, even Kate thought it was one of the best ‘tourist things’ we’d seen!  High praise coming from Kate!
There's lots of these corny cutouts in WA!
 We then drove 16km to The Pinnacles.  I got the usual grumbles when I mentioned it was a national park, but added that it was different to other national parks as it was a desert environment without any gorges or bushwalks.  That seemed to calm the troops. Once inside the park, we drove a 4km circuit to see all The Pinnacles with a few short walks to raised platforms to get a better idea of the number of them.  I thought they were really funky!  Bit like a crazy graveyard with erratically shaped headstones.  Kate dubbed them the ‘6000 sisters’, referring to the 3 Sisters at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. 

We got out of the car and did some silly stuff around some of them.  I’m sure we could have been a lot more imaginative if we’d tried!  The sand is the colour of mustard and most of the pinnacles are a few metres high and narrow, while others just look like lumps of rock. 


A visit to the excellent Information Centre told us that the geologist’s jury is still out regarding how they were formed.  Some believe erosion; others believe they were always there and have only recently been exposed.  Whatever the explanation, they certainly were ‘different’ and it’s easy to see why they are such a major drawcard to the area.

A Western Australian Christmas Tree in full bloom.  These trees lined the drive to
The Pinnacles and are spectacular.
 Travellers Tips: Sandy Cape Recreation Reserve, 6km gravel road, smelly drop toilets. $15 per night 2A+2C, honesty box system, 4 nights maximum stay. Jurien Bay, 10km once back on the main road, has a large IGA, hardware, servos etc.  The Lobster Shack, Cervantes $35 family.  The Pinnacles entry is included in a NP pass, or $11 per vehicles.  Caravan parking is available and there are lookouts near the information centre for those that are unable to drive the 4km circuit.  If you do take a caravan in, I’d recommended unhitching and doing the drive as you get a better sense of the scope of the park.  The Pinnacles are an easy half day trip from Jurien Bay.





1 comment:

  1. Hello there,
    Would I be able to use one of your photos about lobsters in my school assignment please?
    Thank you. zandre