The Islands of OZ - raw, moody, beautiful, dramatic and totally unique to Australia. Summersite is embarking on a lifestyle film and photo odyssey exploring our rare and magnificent islands of OZ. This is Dirk Hartog Island in Western Australia with Sebby Hartog and Annie Lila.
Film producer Sebastian Hartog is a first generation Australian with Dutch parentage living in Coolangatta, Queensland. Sebastian is a direct ancestor of Dirk Hartog and has been thinking about tracing his family heritage for quite some time. This is his recount of travelling to Dirk Hartog Island for the 400th Anniversary of Dirk Hartog's Western Australian landing..
My father was born in Curacao in the Dutch Antilles and my mother in The Hague, the Netherlands. I have one brother currently residing in Austria and it was with him that we hatched the plan in 2008 to re-trace Dirk Hartog’s voyage that landed him on the west coast of Australia (then named Terra Australus Incognito) in 1616.
October 25, 2016 commemorates the 400th anniversary of Dirk Hartog landing in WA. This anniversary inspired me to embark on this journey to pay homage to my heritage, seek out my ancestor’s steps and explore one of the more mysterious and spectacular regions of the Australian coastline.
STEEP POINT - DIRK HARTOG ISLAND
I awake to a beautiful day at our campsite at Australia’s most westerly point 'Steep Point', with the ocean passage across to Dirk Hartog Island in the distance. I can't believe how close I am to this historical island and returning 400 years later to experience it.
We reach the island after a short barge ride across south passage. I am so excited touching down on the island at Cape Ransonnet that I have goose bumps.
We arrive at the Dirk Hartog Homestead to a tour about the history of the homestead by Robby the lodge manager. We meet the owner Kieran Wardle and settle into our super comfy accommodation for the night. The view from the homestead is amazing crystal clear water and sandy beaches right on our doorstep.
We head over to check out Surf Point and come across the hugest Osprey nest, which to our delight has live chicks in it so we keep our distance. No surf but we soak up the raw beauty of this section of the island. Then we head up to the blowholes which we observe atop 100m cliffs and still score a good spraying from the crashing surf.
Kieran takes us on a guided 4WD tour via massive sand dunes to watch the sunset and enjoy a drink at Herald Heights cliffs. This is the first of many epic sunsets on the Island.
DIRK HARTOG TO CAPE INSCRIPTION
The next morning we drive the scenic 64kms to Cape Inscription on the north end of the island. This is the location Dirk Hartog and crew first set foot on almost 400 years ago to the day. The 4wd tracks are easy to navigate and the trip is filled with some of the rawest scenic landscapes I have ever seen. It is literally bay after bay of postcard quality at every corner.
We drive through more dramatic sand dunes while hugging the coast and stop by the stunning locations of Stowk’s Cove, Isolation Lake, Withnell Point and the pink salts of Rose de Freycinet Lakes before having our minds absolutely blown by the vista of Turtle Bay.
We end our day at Cape Inscription visiting the lighthouse and the Dirk Hartog memorial plaque. My feelings are excitement and emotional awe at the scene of this dramatic location. I have a real sense of pride that my Dutch bloodline were the first to set foot on Western Australia at Cape Inscription all those centuries ago.
The outlook is amazing with 270 degree vistas - Turtle Bay to the south east with huge red bluffs rolling down to more stunning white sandy beaches and deep blue water. To the west is the lighthouse and quarters with craggy rugged cliffs that have been shaped by the fury that the Indian Ocean has unleashed over it. The ocean is teeming with wildlife as we see whales breach in the distance and mother and calves leisurely cruising by closer to shore.
I tap into the ancestry vibe as I finally see what Dirk and his crew would have seen Four Centuries ago when they landed.
There are replica plates of Hartog and Vlamingh’s that have been erected for the commemorations along with a makeshift one placed in the original crock cleft by island caretaker Kieran Wardle.
Before dark our drone photographer Jake jumps in the ocean and catches our dinner of Bald Chin Groper. We then drive 6kms around the corner to camp at Urchin Point so that we can get a surf in the morning and explore more of the amazing Dirk Hartog Island.
We make our way to the camp shack in the dark and meet our island friends Andre and Angie to share stories of the day. They greet us with a glass of wine and a delicious fish curry they have prepared with both of our catches - thank you legends!
I fall asleep to the sound of the roaring ocean and dream of surfing here tomorrow.
I awake at sunrise to a clean 1.5m swell wrapping into Urchin Point with whales breaching in the background and I am over the moon. So stoked to have a chance to surf on Dirk Hartog Island. The campsite and landscape is unbelievable. I love arriving somewhere in the dark and waking up to a natural wonderland.
The camp shack was super comfortable, dry and a great protection from the wind as well as holding so much character from the countless number of travellers that have stayed here and left their mark one way or another. I was so pumped for the surf that I skipped breakfast, suited up, grabbed my board and hit the waves. As whales and pods of dolphins cruised by, I stayed out for hours with a couple of mates to soak it all up and share waves with.
Andre and Jake go for a dive and bring back another haul of baldies (Bald Chin Gropers) and some amazing underwater video footage of what was living on the reef below the surface. Crayfish, bronze whalers, whales in the distance passing, huge schools of trevally and plenty of live coral and marine life.
It’s after lunch and we need to travel the 60 odd kms back to the lodge plus we still want to stop to get some photos of the places we didn’t have enough time to see on the way up. We also need to get another glimpse of Cape Inscription and Dirk’s legacy.
This area in the north has been amazing and I can’t describe the feeling, emotions and connection I have here around Cape Inscription. We arrive in the dark at the lodge and feast on fresh reef fish and relax with a few beers - I never want this trip to end. I’m so grateful I get to return on the commemoration day to experience this island again.
We leave the island after our goodbyes with Kieran and the staff and make our way back to the barge to Steep Point and mainland WA. It’s hard to leave this beautiful place and I vow to return again with my brother and family one day so they can experience the connection I had here.
To learn more about or to visit Dirk Hartog Island book here dirkhartogisland.com
Words, muse and film // Sebastian Hartog @sebbyhartog
Talent // Annie Lila Smith @annielila
Photography // Elise Hassey @elisehassey
Aerial drone film and photography // Jake Travers @drone_pilots_australia
Water film // Andre Rerekura @oceanhanuman
Film and edit // Tommy Iffla of Apertunity @apertunity_
Music // The Jim Mitchells @jim.mitchell Planet Absorbed
Production // Jon Laurenson @summersite
Location // Dirk Hartog Island in Western Australia @dirkhartogisland @westernaustralia
Clothing // Rusty Australia @rusty_australia