The Dangers of Esperance Black Wet Rocks and Rouge Waves

Posted by ANDREW HALTER on

As an Esperance tourist business that prides itself on service for information to visitors and our love of its scenery showcased through our art and photos in our gallery and online, we can't rave enough how amazing our local beaches are - let alone the accolades and recognition of  Esperances lucky bay as being the worlds best beach, However, hidden within this seascape of amazing beach scenery lies a potential risk of dangers for visitors be that from international tourists , interstate or Western Australia tourists need to be aware of -  Black Wet Rocks and our unpredictable rouge swells and waves. 

Nature's oceans power can pose serious risks to those who are unaware or unprepared, be that fishing from them , photography off them or just exploring them, many lives have been changed from someone being swept off or injuries sustained from not understanding the dangerous situation they had put themselves in.

The Esperance  Recherche Archipelago  or known locally as the Bay of Isles ,  consists of granite rocks islands , and beach headlands which also feature these granite outcrops  are a unique feature of the area, these rocks came from volcanic activity  and have  a black/grey and pink granite that sparkle with mica , the rocks that have a growth of black algae become extremely slippery when wet which may have seemed safe when dry.  Combined with the powerful swell  that frequently occurs in this coastal area, the headlands become treacherous. 

One of the primary dangers of these wet rocks is the increased likelihood of slips, trips, and falls. The combination of the slippery surface and the force of the crashing waves can easily catch unsuspecting beachgoers off guard. Even the most agile individuals can find themselves losing their footing and suffering injuries such as sprains, fractures, or even head trauma.

Another risk associated with the Esperance  Rocks is the potential for being washed into the sea. The powerful swells sometimes referenced as a king wave can be random on even calm days which make them unpredictable and due to their nature of being rouge seems like a false sense of safety up to the point they hit. If someone finds themselves standing on even dry rocks when a large wave hits, they may be swept away by the immense force, leading to a  life-threatening situation.

Salmon beach is an example of this type of  danger, these rocks have a low angled elevation so the  rouge swells sweeps far up it and sweeping a persons footing and  "washes" them into the ocean (visualize this and include the sharp barnacles that they will wash through as they enter the ocean of a whirlpool of moving water).  there has been several incidents of someone that has swept off this beaches headland , some ended very badly and hospitalized while others where never to be retrieved and remain lost to love ones.

It is crucial for visitors to the area to be aware of the dangers posed by the Esperance Rocks  and take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Here are some key tips to consider:

  1. Stay informed: Before heading to the beach, check local weather conditions and swell forecasts. If there are warnings or advisories in place, it is best to postpone your exploration and sightseeing until the conditions improve. Instead park up at the numerous lookouts around the tourist loop road and enjoy nature's power and spectacle of crashing waves during  summer lightning storms or the winter cold front storms. After rainfall the water seeps out of the sand /rocks and runs into the ocean  ,these wet runs also propagate the slippery black algae that grows on the granite and become slippery like ice once wet again..

  2. Wear appropriate footwear: When exploring the area near the wet rocks, it is essential to wear sturdy and slip-resistant footwear. Avoid going barefoot, as this increases the risk of slips and injuries. Footwear such as Crocs and other styles are very slippery on wet rocks, even when dry but loose .On one photoshoot we assisted someone at hellfire bay whom suffered a fractured hip from slipping on the rocks  near a rockpool during low tide, they were wearing Crocs and  their injuries required an ambulance, Not only did they put themselves at risk but also us and others that came to their assistance - you can't move with a severely damaged leg or hip and this was at the water's edge so we had to lift and carry the person to safer grounds and wait for the volunteer ambulance officers to arrive.

  3. Keep a safe distance: Maintain a safe distance from the wet rocks, regardless of tide , or even when the waves are particularly not strong as its a false sense of security to think small waves are safer. Standing too close to the edge can increase the chances of being swept away by a rogue wave. Never turn your back on the water when on the rocks and when close to the water marks which can be indicated by the coloration patterns on the rocks from previous wash cycles.

  4. Be cautious and observant: Pay attention to your surroundings and be cautious of any changes in the sea conditions. If you notice the waves becoming larger or more forceful, it is wise to move to higher ground or a safer area.

  5. Follow local advice and signage: Respect any warning signs or advice provided by local authorities. These signs are put in place to protect visitors and should not be ignored.signage  by Esperance shire regarding coastal safety

  6. If  you are going to be fishing off the rocks:  look for tie downs embedded in the rocks ,  Some local tackle shops offer rock safety equipment for hire or loan  and remember not to turn your back to the ocean. It's also advisable to have a lookout person or at least a fishing buddy. Even wearing a life jacket should be encouraged.

I mentioned Salmon beach and Hellfire bay as examples, The other headlands where lives have been lost from being swept off the rocks are:

  1. Twilight Cove 
  2. Quagi beach
  3. Alexander Bay
  4. West Beach (loaf rock) 
  5. Chapmans Point , with Chapmans point known to being the most dangerous of the lives lost, and many never to be found.

I realize it's a been a bit of a word salad my writing this  in its  description and emphasis of  safety , but even the warning signs  on those beaches seems to not emphasize enough the dangers or seem  to be overlooked , so hopefully this article might change someones behaviour and save a life by understanding and respecting the dangers of the Esperance Black Wet Rocks and Swell.

I hope beachgoers can enjoy the beauty of the area while also prioritizing their safety. It is crucial to remember that nature can be unpredictable, and even the most experienced individuals can find themselves at risk if they are not vigilant.

 Here is a link to shire flyer for coastal safety


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