28 October 2021
Guest Blog by @fortunehunter_ for Australia's Coral Coast.
Western Australia’s coast has so much uncharted history just waiting to be explored.
The Coral Coast known for several ancient wrecks might have a few more lying undiscovered, hidden away between our reefs. Over the last few months I’ve embarked on a few expeditions along the coast to find these lost treasures and through this have found there’s more treasure than just the shiny kind.
While looking for the lost treasure of the Gilt Dragon I came to North Head, a crescent shaped cove just north of Jurien Bay. The Gilt Dragon’s crew may have come here after their ship wrecked along the coast but to this day no one is entirely sure what happened to them. I hopped in the Jeep and took the off-road track to get to the cove. It’s an adventurous drive. The track alternates between rocky terrain and loose sand before opening to the cove. I had a few kangaroos join me on the drive, hopping along the Jeep.
On top the hills overlooking the cove are two WWII bunkers used as watch stations during the war. While exploring the cove I found a few bullets and casings but no treasure. I climbed up to the bunkers and explored the hill. Holding the bullets in my hand I wondered about the soldiers who left them behind as the sun set over the ocean.
On the same expedition, I ventured inland into the Drovers Cave National Park. After another adventurous off-road track filled with wildflowers all around I came to a cave deep in the bush. I hopped out of the Jeep and climbed down into the cave. It was pitch dark so I turned my torch on to find the cave was much larger and deeper than I thought. Exploring further in I found several relics left behind by past explorers like burlap sacks and old barrels.
A Dutch ship called the Fortuyn might have wrecked at the Abrolhos Islands just like the famous Batavia and Zeewijk wrecks. While the Zeewijk crew were stranded on Gun Island in 1727 they came across relics from past castaways which they believed were from the Fortuyn. I set off to find the Fortuyn and took our boat from Geraldton across to the islands. It’s about a two hour ride and along the way we came across some whales migrating south and a few dolphins who danced with our boat as we came up to the islands.
Underwater, not only is there breathtaking coral and scores of fish but we had a few friendly sharks and seals swim with us while we searched for wreckage around the islands. It’s not my first time to the islands and it won’t be my last. Not only do I still have a wreck to find it’s worth it for the history, the wildlife, and the views.
It’s not always about gold and silver, the adventure is its own reward. I took the Jeep into Francois Peron National Park to drive up to Cape Peron. It’s about 40km of rich red dirt to reach the Cape where you’re greeted with red cliffs, white beaches, and blue water.The track is an exciting adventure itself. On the way to the Cape, we had to help another vehicle out of a bog and later on help reattach someone’s roof rack which came loose from the bumpy track so if you’re up for the adventure it’s important to be prepared with a good 4WD and some recovery gear.
On the other side of Shark Bay is Edel Land National Park. It’s as adventurous as an off-road track can get, from corrugated roads, to dunes, to high cliffs. Taking the track to the coast here will lead you to Steep Point, the western most point of Australia sitting on top high cliffs towering over the ocean.
The cliffs here are named after the Zuytdorp wreck which crashed against the coast in 1712. The crew made it to the top of the cliffs and established a camp which was found two centuries later. Some of the relics from the wreck and the camp can be found at the museum in Shark Bay.