Cactus Beach and Point Sinclair
are remote off the beaten track destinations. Both locations are
situated 21 kilometres south of Penong. These areas are accessed
by taking the turnoff on the western side of Penong. This road
is well signposted.
Solitary Sunset Surfer
Amongst Australian surfers
"Cactus", "Caves" and "Castles" are regarded as some of the best
left and right hand breaks in the country.
Wedged in between nearby Blue
Lake and the coast visitors will find vast sets of white windswept
sand dunes. This area has been designated as a Coastal Protection
Reserve, with all vegetation and wildlife considered protected
species - and this includes snakes!
Blue Lake near Cactus Beach
Situated to the southeast of
Cactus Beach is Point Sinclair. Protected from strong westerly
winds, Point Sinclair is where the locals go for a spot of recreation.
A Well camouflaged White Faced Heron at Point Sinclair
Within the area travelers will
find undercover picnic facilities, toilets and a jetty suitable
for fishing. For those of you towing boats it is also possible
to launch a boat from the beach. Adjacent to the jetty is a swimming
enclosure and Nullarbor Net urges that you use it. Both Cactus
Beach and Point Sinclair are known to be visited by Great White
Pointer Sharks. For those of you who enjoy exploring off the beaten
track, remote areas such as Cactus Beach and Point Sinclair might
well prove to be interesting diversions. Certainly the area is
a must see for Australian Surfers.
An Eerie Play of Light
Facilities at Point Sinclair
are fairly basic to say the least - and for Nullarbor Net this
is part of the appeal. Camping within the area is restricted to
designated camp sites and dogs are permitted on a leash when in
the camp ground. Limited supplies of bore water are available
for showers but visitors will need to bring their own drinking
water. Do not use bore water to top up your vehicle's radiator!
Within the camp ground are a number of on-site caravans however
visitors should be aware that there are no powered sites at Point
Sinclair. Nullarbor Travellers will find accommodation prices
to be at the budget end of the scale. During summer month temperatures
can and do rise to above 40 degrees celsius. For further information
on Point Sinclair Camping Ground please contact (08) 8625 1036.
An article by a friend
The Nullarbor Net crew
thank Ron Taylor for his kind permission to reprint this article
of his early experiences at Cactus Beach. Ron is a keen surfer,
and his Castaway surf site is an award winning web site and a
testament to his commitment to surfing. We hope you enjoy his
article and check out his web site which has some great photographs
and art work. You can link to his site via our links at the bottom
of the page or our cool links page
A Near Tragedy
Cactus is a fairly rugged spot in and
out of the water, it's the surf spot of plenty; plenty of good surf,
plenty of heat, plenty of flies and plenty of big whites, and the
last trip I did there in the sixties almost ended up a diaster.
Cactus is situated near a small town named Penong on the Nullarbor
Plain just at the start of the Great Australian Bight. If you are
not up with your Latin, Nullarbor means "no trees" and
it can be a very intimidating. It is in fact a desert and can get
really warm there, especially during the summer months.
Cactus itself was actually called Point Sinclair and was given its
current name by the first guys who drove up there, looking for surf.
Well, when they first saw it, the surf was pretty poor and someone
said, "this place is cactus!" meaning no good and boy,
how wrong they were, as Cactus is now regarded as one of the best
breaks in Oz!
Anyway getting back to my story… It was Christmas time, 1967 and
summer, the surf was pretty good all week and getting bigger every
day. One morning we woke up to find it closing out right across
the bay. Someone mentioned that a few kilometres back along the
coast there was a spot called Point Bell and it should be working
perfectly, so we decided to go and have a look. This meant doing
a lot of driving through some pretty rough terrain and most of it
We were driving through one piece of property along a track, which
had probably been made by the owner while working at clearing the
Mallee scrub. All of a sudden there was one loud bang closely followed
by another and upon inspection we found that we had 2 blowouts after
driving over a Mallee Root. Anybody travelling through this sort
of country always carries a couple of spare tyres.
We had a couple of spares but had used them earlier in the week,
so we were in quite a bit of trouble and it looked like being a
very warm day. Three of the guys decided to walk down to Point Bell
to see if anyone was down there. One of them was silly enough to
walk down there in just a pair of board shorts and no shoes, it
took him 8 hours to crawl back, and when he got back he was a pretty
I guess if there is any blame to be laid I have to be honest and
say my good friend Johnny Matson would have to wear it, as he should
have known better than to drive at the speed he was doing seeing
we had no spare tyres.
Two of the guys who walked down to the point came back after a few
hours and told us the bad news; no one was there. By this time it
was starting to get pretty warm and we didn't have much water left,
only an esky one quarter full of dirty ice water with a couple of
cans of canned fruit.
Now, I'm no hero, but I didn't feel like hanging around there waiting
for the heat to decide our future, so I decided to walk back the
way we had come, remembering we had passed a building of some sort
a number of kilometres back. John, who must have been feeling that
he was to blame for our predicament (nothing was said about this)
decided to come with me.
Well, I grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around myself and John
used a large beach towel, plus the esky with the remaining water,
which by this time was almost empty. The heat was really oppressive
and getting hotter all the time. It seemed like we had only walked
a few hundred metres or so when we were looking for some shade,
but, as I mentioned before there were no trees, only small Mallee
Now this delightful little walk we were taking was during the warmest
part of the day, and the stops we were making were getting more
frequent and the starts were getting harder to make. A number of
times I really had to rip into John to get him moving again, as
a person can perish in this sort of country in just a few hours.
If the heat didn't get you, the flies would, and they were like
Wedge Tailed Eagles.
The soil around here is a dark red and very dusty, and that, combined
with the heat, takes its toll as the soles of the boots I was wearing
were starting to peel, while John was only wearing Japanese joggers
(thongs) and he was really starting to look crook.
The biggest worry for me was that all the country was starting to
look the same, I mean we could have been walking in circles and
wouldn't know it as there seemed to be tracks all over the place.
Eventually we came to a small rise and away in the distance through
the heat haze I thought I could see the reflection of the sun on
what might be a roof.
We staggered on for another two hours. Over every slight hill or
bend in the track we looked for any sign of a building, and there
was none, only more tracks going in all directions and more flies.
By this time we were both getting pretty stuffed and all the water
was gone. It was then that we turned a corner to see a water tank
sitting on the side of a small hill. We both rushed up there only
to find that it was pretty old and pretty empty, and that did nothing
to boost our morale.
Anyway to make a short story long, we rounded the next corner to
find a house, and that really did boost our morale. As we walked
up to the front door, we could hear this loud buzzing noise only,
to discover that if we thought the flies were bad out in the open,
ALL their mates were here under the Veranda in the shade.
I knocked on the door (rather stupid when you think of it) as there
seemed to be no one at home, so we decided to go around the back
to see if we could find some sort of a tap or anything to do with
water. To our surprise we discovered there was someone at home,
a young woman and her mother were sitting in the back part of the
It was no surprise to them to see two people who were in a lot of
trouble, and before we knew it, they were pouring lovely cold water
down our throats. After we had just about drank their fridge dry
we told them that we had left another three guys somewhere back
down the track.
The mother then very quickly got on the two-way radio to her son,
who was, believe it or not, out harvesting a crop of wheat, explaining
to him about our situation , asking him to come home. This young
bloke was quite a character himself, there he was out harvesting
his crop in this heat and now, the next minute he was driving his
Jeep (which ran on four cylinders and diesel) to help out five guys
in strife, in the scrub. We went with him of course, and as we got
closer to where our vehicle was, we came across the car and the
other three guys moving very slowly in our direction.
The other guys had not been just sitting around either, they had
managed to somehow stuff the two tyres with grass, enough so that
they could get the vehicle mobile. Now this young bloke, sizing
up the situation, jumped out of the Jeep, ripped off the two punctured
tyres, patched and pumped them up by hand within what seemed like
minutes. You know, he and his folks would not accept any reward
for helping us out, so we decided to leave some cash in his back
shed where he'd find it after we were gone.
A few years later I was travelling through Ceduna, a large town
over that way and we ran into him at a service station, you know
, he was pretty upset that we left the cash.
The breed of people that live in this part of the country are pretty
tough and almost reflect their environment, but once you get to
know them, they are the friendliest and most eager to help people
I've ever met.
The first time I surfed Cactus I took
the ring off my finger and had it in my mouth for the whole time
I surfed that first session. The reason for doing this was I thought
the glint of gold flashing under the water might attract a big fish.
The fear of the Big White is very common at Cactus and I don't think
I've ever heard from anyone who's surfed there who hasn't had some
respect for what lurks beneath those waters. About the only time
one forgets that fear is when one is out there and locked into a
Cactus Tube. It's not just the sharks you've got to worry about
at cactus it's mainly the flies and some of the locals. One in particular
"Moose" who happens to be a mate of mine. Believe me you
wouldn't want him for an enemy. Even Mark Warren in his atlas of
Australia surfing gave some friendly advice no to get in his way.
Another dangerous creature to be aware of in this area is the March
Fly which lands on any part of your body, completely undetected
and then takes huge hunks out of your flesh. The March Fly is not
a LITTLE fly; in fact he's quite big (some people believe he's crossbred
with the Wedge-Tailed Eagle). The thing is he lands on you without
you knowing it and starts a feeding frenzy and there is no buzzing
like a normal fly. So you have a choice you can escape his feeding
frenzy by going in the water and taking your chances with Whitey!
And apart from what you heard or read, Cactus was first discovered
and ridden by a guy by the name of Dennis (Snake) Ferret who was
working in the area as a Wool Classer at the time.
And now the famous Mouse Plague...
The area around Cactus is almost a
desert, nothing grows over a few feet high and looking at the
place you wouldn't expect it to be over abundant with wildlife,
wrong! On one of our trips turn promoted a lot of vegetation growth
and as a result of this growth a few of the local creatures decided
to increase their population. And as we were driving past some
of the wheat growing properties we noticed some of the large wheat
storage bins and silos seemed to be moving with a rippling effect.
On closer inspection we discovered that the cause of this unusual
effect was millions of mice. At night while we were sleeping these
little cuties would be crawling everywhere and all over us there
where also these cute little Geckos that were enjoying their own
little plague. Now you’re probably thinking "oh yeah! Is
that all! Only mice and geckos, surely a few little critters like
that would be no problem" Wrong again! Other animals feed
on mice and geckos, some of those include snakes and in this area
we have one of the world’s deadliest snakes going around, the
King Brown The whole bloody area was alive with the damn things
and we had to be careful where we walked and sleeping became a
bit of a nightmare (excuse the pun). I’d like to point out that
anything like civilisation is miles and miles away from here.
There’s no Motels, electricity, Phones, fresh water or help if
one gets into any serious strife. One morning I went hunting with
a mate of mine Ian "Bongo" Bradley for some rabbits
with our Rifles. We climbed to the top of a sand dune and as we
looked across a small valley we could see two of our acquaintances
that were doing the same thing. They were walking with a few metres
between each other and Bongo spotted a snake in the middle of
them and raised his rifle and fired a shot at it. These two mates
of ours thought that we were shooting at them and to my horror
returned fire and for the next two hours we were dodging bullets.
I guess we were lucky that they were bad shots, even so it took
our minds off the snake population for a couple of hours.
Cactus was also known
as Rosella Point (A brand name for canned food here), because
of all the empty cans left lying around the joint before the guys
that frequented the place heard about the word "ecology".
We acknowledge and thank
Ron Taylor for the use of the articles on this page
For more Surf stories
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