Blowing in the Wind

From the lookout at Mt Clarence there is nothing but 4000 km of Southern Ocean between the city of Albany and the Antarctic, but it wasn’t always that way. This part of the Australian coast was once joined to Antarctica as part of the supercontinent Gondwana. When the continent finally broke up 45 million years ago the rugged coastline of the south of Western Australia was formed.

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Not all of the coast is rocky though. The waters of King George Sound and Princess Royal Harbour are deep and calm, and form the only natural harbour between Shark Bay in the north of Western Australia and Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. Ships have been sheltering here since the 17th century.

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Along the coast past Frenchman’s Bay the land becomes rocky and barren. The granite cliffs have been eroded by wind and water since the breakup of Gondwana. Waves pound against the Natural Arch and the tide surges into the Gap with relentless force.

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Look down if you dare but hold on tightly. It’s always windy and people have been blown over the edge by unexpected wind gusts in the past.

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The energy of the wind has been harnessed further along the coast at the Albany Wind Farm. Located on the cliffs 80 metres above the sea are 18 wind turbines. The wind is strong enough to turn the turbines for almost all of the year, generating enough clean electricity to provide 80% of Albany’s power. 

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The graceful turbines stand like watchful giants, looking out over the land and the ocean. What would Don Quixote have thought if he could see them?

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29 thoughts on “Blowing in the Wind

  1. Two comments Carol. “When the continent broke up 45 million years ago”. What a breathtaking thought. Being in such an awesome place like this really brings it home how the continents were connected. (Mind you, I met someone recently who is still convinced we live in a young earth, only 6000 years old. I must ask him if he thinks the world is flat too.) Secondly, I have to admit that I find wind farms quite beautiful! I know many people regard them as eyesores and disruptions on the landscape, but I find them inspiring, symbols of hope, blending in with the environment and providing clean green energy. What do the locals think, do you know?

    • I know what you mean about Gondwana. It must have been vast. We read that the rocks on this area of the coast are a perfect match for the rocks on a particular part of the coastline of Antarctica.

      Any of the locals we spoke to love their wind farm. The electricity is cheaper. I agree with you. I think the windmills look amazing lined up along the cliff. Some people complain that they are noisy but we were standing right underneath the first one and there was just a gentle hum. I’m all for clean energy and Albany is the perfect place for a wind farm, where it is windy all the time.

  2. We recently visited Punakaiki.in Greymouth, New Zealand. The rocky seashore landscape was as stunning and the ‘blow holes’ made by the gushing sea waters was breathtaking. The mighty force of Nature! Just like the one shown in your photos.

  3. This is a great post and I enjoyed your geological descriptions immensely. Love the wind farm! People complain of the noise of them, but power lines and stations make every bit as much of a noise and it appears they are toxic to boot . The words carved in stone are such a lovely tribute to the elements that provide the power too. Good work people of Albany!

    • We stood right underneath the first one and it really didn’t make very much noise at all. There were plans to build a wind farm here where I live but the farmers complained that the cows would be upset and that was the end of that. What narrow mindedness.

  4. Those photos are simply gorgeous! Not sure if it was “chilly” but the sense from the photos is that it was a cool kinda day. Think it is just looking at the waves, coastline and the shades of blue 🙂

  5. Pingback: Small Pieces, Big Picture | The Eternal Traveller

  6. Interesting that your post didn’t attract negative views of a wind farm 🙂
    We were actually in Albany in 2003 – and at that blow-hole! No wind farm then though.

    • The blow hole is pretty amazing. It was literally blowing a gale and the wind was freezing. Albany is such a gorgeous little place but I don’t think I could live there. Too cold for too much of the year.

      • We were there in August and it wasn’t too bad, considering it was mid winter 😉 but the whole of south-western WA was a bit grey and damp. Reminded me of home 🙂

        • We went in July and it rained some days but only one day was really wet. Otherwise it was beautifully sunny. We were amazed at how green and lush it was because we had this image of WA being dry, red and desert-like. We were told that it is much drier in summer, even in that south-west corner.

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