Winds known as the roaring forties scream across the longest uninterrupted stretch of ocean in the world – leaving from Argentina – blasting into Tasmania’s Ocean Beach. One of the world’s wildest beaches, Ocean Beach is also Tasmania’s longest, reaching the notorious Hell’s Gates at the bottom of its 36 kilometre stretch. It’s also a place where monsters such as whales and giant octopus come to die and where quicksand is very real.
To me Ocean Beach fits perfectly amongst the landscape of western Tasmania – a place riddled with ghost towns and some of the most impenetrable wilderness on Earth. Before arriving I’d heard that 48 sperm whales once beached themselves on Ocean Beach at the same time and only two survived. So it was no surprise that after parking our 4WD and strolling south along the beach, my friends and I encountered a large whale bone.
Ocean Beach is a whale cemetery, which makes for a haunting wander along this often misty stretch of coastline flanked by lofty sand dunes, wild seas and shrieking winds. Climbing a steep dune, I stood and stared across the coastline and out to sea, which appears to have no end. A short way off, my friend ran into a huge tiger snake (a deadly reptile common to Tasmania) slicing silently through the dunes.
It wasn’t until later that I realised I was exploring the tip of Henty Dunes, which at 30-40 metres high is the largest moving dune system in Tasmania. The dunes, which were created by the roaring forties, are a popular sandboarding spot. However, visitors should be vigilant, as they can get severed by wild rivers during nasty weather and pockets of these hills contain quicksand.
I explored the edge of Henty Dunes, enjoying the vantage point they offered over this beguiling stretch of coastline. Adding to the atmosphere were unusual, phallic-like plants that stuck their heads out of the sandy hills like Star Wars worms. I sat and stared across this wonderfully untamed part of the world for quite a while. It’s a superb place to ponder as it feels like you’re at the end of the world, perhaps even the end of time.
Back on Ocean Beach, it’s not uncommon to spot sea lions and seals lazing about, although I had no such luck. The beach is also home to a variety of birdlife, such as sooty oyster catchers, short-tailed shearwaters, red-capped plovers and sea eagles. I did spy a sea eagle far above, hovering effortlessly in the wind. There’s also an estuary that cuts through the beach that’s home to platypus.
Besides being a veritable boneyard for whales, Ocean Beach has had the giant squid known as Architeuthis dux wash up on its shores for the past 21 years. In 2007, one measuring eight metres long and one metre across washed up dead here. On April 9 this year, roughly 2,000 kilometres south off the coast of Antarctica, Google Earth allegedly spotted an enormous creature estimated to be 30 metres across its mid-section and 120 metres long.
Experts believe, quite boldly, this is the Kraken, a mythical monster squid that’s allegedly capsized ships and killed sailors for hundreds of years. The news got me thinking: what if our ocean-covered world – of which we know very little – soon reveals one of its mysteries. And if it does, what better place for a Kraken to wash up than a long, lonely beach near the end of the world. A beach with violent winds, dangerous rips, quicksand and a history of whopping tentacles.
What do you think? Have you ever been to Ocean Beach? Do you believe in the existence of the Kraken? Could it be slicing eerily through the depths somewhere off Ocean Beach, Tasmania?