Packing List for NSC

For those new to offshore or just new to our comp, I’ve put together a quick run-though of some of the gear you might want to pack for the trip. It is one of those ‘What is the best soft plastic?’ type of questions, as everyone will have their own ideas on equipment and gear, but here’s a quick run through on what’s legally required and some of the gear I tend to use as well as links to where to find them. It might help you narrow your search a bit. At first glance it may seem like a lot, but not all of the gear will be relevant to each kayaker and the margin of safety needs to be higher offshore as the distances covered are usually much longer and you have the added variable of ocean swells to contend with.

Safety Equipment

First off let’s cover the mandatory safety equipment to meet legal requirements, even if you plan on fishing coastal inshore it is best to be geared up for full offshore as the equipment is smart to have on board anyway and you may find yourself beyond the 2nm  line if you are following the fish!

The following items are not required legally but are highly recommended. Note that a safety flag is a requirement of the comp though, due to feedback we received from boaties in the area last year.

Fishing Gear

Everyone will have their preferred brands when it comes to gear,  again I’ll outline what I use and then you can chase up gear in the weights and capacities outlined in your own brand of choice. With offshore kayak fishing, we can generally run much lighter gear than the boaties use because of the style of fishing. On a boat when fighting a fish a lot of pressure is put on the system – line, knots, rod, drag etc, whereas on a kayak there is a limit to how much pressure we can actually put on a fish before we start getting towed. For this reason, we can run much lighter line classes and there is no need for big-drag reels as you will never be able to use that drag on a kayak in practice. The gear I use is intended for the school fish that I am chasing, you’ll be under-gunned on a barrel tuna, bu then you wouldn’t fit one in the fish hatch anyway!

Trolling

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I also tend to look at my offshore trolling gear as being somewhat disposable, I don’t have to cast with it and if it gets pulled from a rod holder or dunked I don’t want to lose hundreds of dollars’ worth of reels. For this job I tend to favour ‘clunker’ reels that don’t have the refinement of your top end Shimanos and Daiwas but are robust and can take some abuse. I usually carry two Penn stiff tipped glass rods in the 10-15kg weight range paired with Slammers in the 560 class spooled with 30lb braid. They have plenty of usable drag and enough line capacity for school fish at Portland. I’m not casting with them all day so the weight isn’t an issue, they are very easy to maintain and if a combo should happen to go swimming I’m not out of pocket for very much. A mate of mine that uses the same gear once said “Tell me a reel from Shimano or Daiwa that you can buy for $70 (on Dinga) that you would confidently take offshore to land a tuna on?” In terms of rod length, for trolling I still like a bit of length as it helps to avoid tangled lines out the back. I wouldn’t run two short trolling rods, either two longs (6’6″ – 7′) or a long and a short. If I’m running a long and a short the long rod will be weighted or have a deep diving lure while the short will go straight out the back. Again this helps avoid tangles by letting the lines pass over each other when turning.

Casting

Reels

My casting set-up generally will have a nicer reel and it is probably the only setup I leash on the yak; (I prefer less things to potentially get tangled in). Again, I like a rod with decent length to get better casting distance, personally I don’t see the point of the range of really short ‘kayak rods’ that manufacturers seem to be churning out – they don’t cast very far and you can’t pass your line around the nose of the yak to follow a fish. I like a rod around 7ft usually in the 8-15kg class. This can be matched with a ~5000 size reel with nice smooth drag and decent line capacity for 30lb braid. Stradics/Saragosas in Shimanos or Saltist in Daiwa should do the job for you. At a lower price point the Penn Conflict is also worth a look. As much as I love stradics, the Saragosa and Saltist both have their respective company’s version of waterproofing in their favour and the Saltist is 150g lighter than a 5000 Saragosa for the similar line capacity, so it probably comes down to your drag preference.

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At the moment I’m running a Gen Black Nugget, I’ll most likely pair it with a high gear Saltist 4000X to replace a dunked stradic. 8kgs of drag is plenty for me and with over a meter gained per wind thanks to the high gearing, it should help get line back on the stronger fighters. It will be my first Saltist X, I had a play with a mate’s one, I found it really light and comes with a nice power knob. To sweeten the deal, they can currently be picked up for $199 so I reckon its a bargain and may edge out my original plan of a Conflict. I plan on dabbling in some jigging too, so when a Gomuku Kaiten comes my way, I figure it could be paired with the same reel as a nice jigging combo.

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Electronics

VHF Radios

I’ve owned a couple of radios and found some more robust than others. When you go shopping you can pay a little more for a DSC enabled unit, but as an added safety feature it will communicate your GPS coordinates to all DSC vessels in the area in the event of an emergency.

marine_ic-m23The Icom M series radios are generally considered to be one of the best units around, they are very popular with the offshore yakkers up north. Personally I love my Uniden MH, it hasn’t missed a beat. You can also buy a waterproof sleeve for your radio too which will help protect it in the surf.

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Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacons (Epirbs)

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EPIRBS are one of those items that are expensive as an initial purchase for something that you hopefully never have to use, but when the cost is broken down over their usable life it becomes a more attractive proposition. The average beacon has a 10 year battery life and if they cost $250-$350 to buy really you are looking at $25 a year. I got my first EPIRB a few years back it was a GME MT600 unit, from memory it set me back around $250. I’ve never had to use it in anger so I can’t comment on its reliability, but I will say that newer units can be purchased with GPS in-built which dramatically improves location accuracy and therefore the search radius should you need to deploy it.

This unit is now available as a MT600G GPs version for $330, but when the battery goes on the current model, I will most likely opt for the more compact offering from Kti, the SA1G. It is a little cheaper at $290 and locally made so it will make life easier if there are any warranty issues.

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Speaking of Kti, they also make compact Personal Locator Beacons (PLB’s). These are easy to fit in the pocket of most lifejackets and while they  don’t meet the legal requirements for full offshore fishing,  they are a good piece of kit to have on any type of water. The main advantage of a PLB is that if you are separated from your kayak, your PLB will still be with you, in the pocket of your PFD whereas your EPIRB will be floating away from you on your kayak. The trade off is that unlike an EPRIB, which floats and transmits once activated without further input from the user, a PLB must have its antenna facing upwards and be held afloat by the user.

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The Lure Box

Depending on what is on the chew in January you’ll need to decide on a means of targeting the comp species. With the bread and butter species, like in the bay you can opt for soft plastics or baits. If you want advice on plastics and jig heads you can go straight to the source and have a chat with a couple of our comp sponsors. Allan over at Munroe’s Soft Plastics is always happy to provide advice on plastic choices and John over at Jigman can sort you out with terminal tackle that should see you right to get some points on the board on the day. Both are top blokes, happy to talk fishing and it is always good to give back to the local companies that support us.

If you decide to go all-out for glory and tackle the pelagics, you have a few options to consider. For the kings, you can opt to go with livebait, dead bait, lures or soft plastics. In terms of bait, squid is the go, preferably as a livie but as a fresh deadbait it is also a good option. If the kings are really on they can even take californian squid too. In terms of lures and plastics you are looking at sinking stickbaits and big 10 inch soft plastics with white being the colour of choice for most anglers.

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For the tuna, if you are in a quick boat a small skirt might be an option, Kieran managed to nab a tuna the day before the comp last year using this method. Hard bodies seem to be a better option in the winter tuna season out behind Lawrence Rocks rather than summer on North Shore. From last year’s reports plastics are a better bet here, look for 7″ jerk shads with pilchard/blue flecks. There is always the livebait option too if you can find some slimies!   As the comp draws closer I’m sure the boys at Portland Bait & Tackle will be able to give you the low-down on what is working out on the reefs.

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Clothing

During warmer weather, the more you can cover up, the less sunscreen you have to apply! You should also consider moisture-wicking and drying-times when kayak fishing and as a result do not use any cotton clothing or rash vests as they dry slowly and are cold when wet. Wet suits are great in the water, but out of it they act like a Coolgardie fridge with the wind carrying away your body heat in much the same way as an evaporative cooler does in your home.

Head wear:

There are a couple of options for head wear during summer. You can either go with a hat & buff combo or an all in one flap hat. Buff offer a wide range of face scarves that fit the bill, and an official Buff® buff  can be purchased from Technical Headwear. If you go down the road of an all in one unit, you can get the Adapta-cap from Sun Protection Clothing Australia.

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Upper Body:

Up top long sleeves help cover the skin to protect from the elements. This can be in the form of a light thermal such as the 2P Thermo from Adrenalin or a lightweight UPF50 polo. Again it is a case of avoiding the cotton t-shirts and lycra materials!  If a nice lightweight polo is what you are after, for this year’s comp we’ve teamed up with Sun Protection Clothing Australia to produce a UPF 50 branded fishing shirt with all of the sponsor logos from #NSC18 with a sleek Southern Bluefin Tuna on the back. Profits go to Portland Surf Lifesaving, so you’ll be helping to save your skin as well as beach goers down the coast! You can add one to your entry at checkout when you register for the comp or click here if you want to add one later. On colder days you can layer up with a spray top or cag jacket from Lovig’s or Kokotat.

 

Lower Body:

On sit-on-top kayaks and skis we don’t have the luxury of leg protection from the deck of our boats so again coverage is key. A pair of lightweight UPF paddling pants or cargo pants can do the trick on warmer days such as those available from SPCA or if there is a breeze about a pair of  light thermal pants can do the job nicely again the Adrenalin 2P thermos fit the bill.

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Due to sharps on the beach as well as landing on slippery rocks and reefs, some protection for your feet is very important and often overlooked. So pop a pair of old runners on or pick up a pair of dive boots and you are ready to go!

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If you are having trouble finding some of the gear or need to borrow a spare, feel free to add a post on the NSC Facebook page. You can also hit up some of the other guys for advice on the page or try to glean some more useful info after the briefing.

Tight lines!

Sea Sherpa

NSC’17 BerleyPro Photo/Video Competition Winner

A massive thank you to Marto over at BerelyPro for hopping on board as a sponsor for this year’s competition. He was left with the difficult task of picking a winner from the 19 entries we received for the photo/video comp. Picking a winner proved harder than catching a tuna for Marto, so he enlisted the help of his gran to try to separate a winner. Even with her help he had two finalists he liked, but it was gran’s vote that got our winner over the line. Because it was so close, we’ve decided to kick in a runner up prize of a 12 month AFN digital TV subscription and Marto being the top bloke he is has also offered all of the other photo comp entrants a 20% discount on all BerleyPro products purchased in the next two weeks. (I’ll email you the coupon code.)

So without further ado, the runner up in this year’s BerleyPro comp is Jordan Rouw with this great snap of his cracking tuna:

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Well done Jordo, there’s a 12 month AFN TV subscription on its way to you.

And the winner is Jayme Morris with this beach shot during comp set-up:

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I’m guessing Marto’s gran prefers Stealths to tuna! Jayme you can contact Marto here to organise your fantastic BerleyPro Orb. Looks like you are sorted for snapper season mate!

Thank you again to all of the entrants, roll on NSC’18

Tight Lines,

Sea Sherpa

NSC’17 The Wrap Up

I returned to work today in a semi-zombified state after what I have to say was one of the most full-on weekends away I’ve had since I can remember. What started as a pie-in-the-sky idea discussed with Maz over coffee on holiday last year quickly snowballed into NSC17, the best fun I’ve had in years, thankfully a sentiment shared by those I got around to catching up with on Sunday morning.

If you build it they will come…   

Being newcomers to comp planning, we brainstormed a list of all of the companies we would have liked to have on board and Maz busied herself emailing and presenting sponsorship packages that echoed the dogged determination of Andy Dufresne trying to get that library in Shawshank Redemption. She did well and managed to entice some key sponsors on board to get the ball rolling.

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Meanwhile I was left the task of finalising a location, insurance, permits, contingency plans, safety assessment and all the other fun bits. I settled on North Shore as the venue due to the relative shelter from big swells making the comp more accessible to new entrants with less offshore experience, having easily accessible reef areas in close to the launch. We were lucky to have Henty Bay jump on board as a location for base camp and a boat ramp located within the caravan park allowing entrants to roll out of their cabins/tents straight to the water.

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Having a swell time…

The week leading up to the comp gave me a few more grey hairs, checking the long range forecasts waiting for them to come into range. They tended to reverse predictions daily with winds going with and against swell and ranging from 5knts to 25knts. As the long range forecasts became medium and short range, it became apparent that there was a very good chance that we might get not one but 4 days of fish-able weather over the long weekend. My back-up plan of running away to Ningaloo Reef with all of the prizes would have to be put on hold, this thing was going to go ahead!  A mad scramble ensued to get the last few January skis fitted out and delivered. I also had to go and find a jet ski of all things and on arriving home with the ‘rescue vessel’ was duly informed by Maz that her mum had a tracksuit in those same colours back in the eighties! It looks fine in the far off shot she took…

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Another entrant was kind enough to pass on this shot:

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With all of the necessary gear packed in three cars and two trailers, we headed for Portland on Thursday, arriving in the early afternoon. The excitement built as we drove around town, where yaks could be spotted on top of cars in most of the main streets. We had a meet and greet with the Henty staff, checked in and set up camp. A quick walk around showed that many of the entrants were down and pre-fishing with Kieran nabbing a cracking tuna to get the ball rolling and a few of the Pie Floaters team reporting dropped fish out at Julia Reef. The fish were around and it boded well for a cracking weekend to come!

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Friday rolled around and while I was running a few errands around  Portland, the boys were on the water with Tas and Shane showing people how to get onto the fish. The marquee went up on the bluff (Thanks to Hatters for the loan) and people started to file in for the comp briefing. With everybody registered, welcome packs were divvied out and the competition procedure explained. The weather forecast was reviewed and we were on for the morning barring a major shift in the weather between then and 6am. A few of the entrants remained for the demonstration of the safety equipment, while the seasoned pros ventured off to get rigged up and discuss tactics with team-mates.

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Comp Day

A picture paints a thousand words and we were lucky enough to have Amber from Sweep images on hand to capture the action on comp day. As teams set up in the pale morning light, keyrings were handed out and the start drew closer…

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6.30 came and 35 keen fishos hit the water in a range of pedal and paddle kayaks. Some opted for a trip out to Julia Reef while others raced to the Anchorage. By the way, hats off to some entrants who paddled between 200km and 300km over the course of the weekend – a solid effort!  A couple of yakkers decided to play the numbers game on the reef with the Dirty Faced Westies and All Show No Go trying their luck on the snapper. A squall rose up over the harbour suggesting some rain might move in over the comp area and a weather update over the VHF informed the field that it might get a little bumpy for 10 minutes but the rain radar showed the showers were due to push inland. Soon after, word came over the radio that GAB was on, as well as requests for someone to deliver him a gaff (with a few expletives thrown in for good measure). Cheater hit the beach looking for aspirin leaving Mal to do the hard yards on the reef for the Mud Brothers. I launched the jet ski to check in on the field, bloody hell those two strokes are loud – four stroke for next year! A hungover ‘McLovin’ in the Dirty Faced Westies was busy untangling three birds nests, none of which were the result of any fish. Scattered catches of snapper and salmon from those on the reef with Iron Horse having already sorted through over 60 pinkies for team All Show No Go, in search of some larger models. Others reported a struggle to find the fish but better conditions on the water after the squall passing with the drift slowing down somewhat. The Pie Floaters had disappeared over the horizon, as had most of the glass crew including the guest member Marto from the Up Sh1T Creek team, who opted to troll with one rod, from the Stealth Toura I had brought down on demo despite it not having any rod holders! The Hobie Get Along Gang were having mixed fortunes with Cruiser reporting a quiet one when I visited, Nello had only caught his rudder and the others were out wide. The Yakeroos were the relative unknowns, hard to locate on the water and the radio silence suggested they hadn’t found the fish but you can never write off Phil…

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The time ticked by and the announcements over VHF revealed that there wasn’t long to go. Some of the guys began to hit the beach with reports relayed that Jordo had hooked up and was on his way to Tassie! As the entrants rolled in it was clear that it had been a tough day’s fishing – for some the numbers game on the reef had been the wise decision, while the gamble to go out wide for pelagics and glory made for a bittersweet tale.

As entrants filed up the ramp to sign in and measure their catch a call came in from Shane to report that he probably wouldn’t make it back in time as progress was being hampered by a large tuna. Jordo and Shane were the last two on the water with Jordo’s radio having failed to hold charge. Shane at that point reported that he didn’t have a visual on Jordo leaving me wondering if he had passed the ships at the Anchorage on the way back or was passing customs at Auckland. Tas luckily had a set of binoculars and from the bluff I could see the yellow deck of Jordo’s Kaskazi pushing for the shore. Unfortunately the distance was too great to cover in the time remaining for both of the boys with  Jordo hitting the beach at 1.50pm and Shane a further 20 mins back the road.

The Results

The Individual Challenge Award and Best Catch Award went to Gabriele Meoni who caught a 98cm tuna from his Stealth fibreglass kayak.

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Second prize went to Peter Ritchie who caught two snapper and a salmon, showing that a large pelagic fish wasn’t a prerequisite to success. Pete had gone out fishing again after measuring in his fish, but we crossed live to him out on the water to give him the news that he hadn’t come first and his Hobie had in fact been beaten by a Stealth…

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Third prize went to Mr Nelson Rouw who caught two snapper and four Adventure Island rudders. Unfortunately the rudders were not on the accepted species list, but the snapper earned him a set of Lockracks, a Fish Chilla bag from Dry Store and a Visor Buff.

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Portland man David Webb used his local knowledge of the reefs to nab fourth place.

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…and Luke Easton took fifth place much to his own surprise, earning himself a Beachwheelz kayak cart for his efforts.

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Special mentions to both Jordan Rouw and Shane Esmore for their cracking catches on the day.  Jordan landed a 19.4kg tuna having paddled 40km on the day and Shane landed a 23kg model as well as a kingfish. Unfortunately both Jordan and Shane did not return to shore within the competition window.

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In the Teams Challenge, Iron Horse’s plan to play the numbers game on the reef paid off, even if he had to land over 100 snapper for the day to pull it off. The Team challenge was decided by calculating the team average, giving All Show No Go the first spot on the perpetual Team Challenge trophy with a team average of 11.8. Steady catches from Luke and another Portland local Derrick, helped Team Berley Pro into second place. In the absence of Shane’s tuna on the scorecard, the Get Along Gang had to settle for third spot despite the efforts of Spider for the Dirty Faced Westies. The wooden spoon goes to the Pie Floaters, of whom no-one really expected much, in a cruel turn of events it turned out that unfortunately for them the only South Australian that can catch a fish these days had entered as an independent. They have vowed to return  next year in an attempt to relive their days of former glory, such as the time they lost the State of Origin to the Vics in Port Augusta.

All Show No Go (Team Mirage) 11.8
Up Sh!t Creek With A Paddle (Team Berleypro) 7
Hobie Get Along Gang (Team A.I.) 6.7
Dirty Faced Westies (Team Pink) 4.1
Yakeroos (Team VKA) 4
Mud Brothers (Team Western Port) 2.6
Pie Floaters (Team SA) 0

That about wraps up the North Shore Challenge for this year with only the winner of the photo/video comp yet to be decided. With some cracking photos already in, it will be a hard task to choose a winner. If you want to check out entrant’s photos, search #NSC17 on social media.

Here’s a collection of some of the event photos taken by Amber over at Sweep Images as well as some shots sent my way by the entrants:

I’ll finish with a massive thank you to all involved in the weekend, the entrants, support crew, the sponsors, spectators and those that gave help and advice along the way.

Roll on #NSC18 !

Tight lines,

Sea Sherpa

5 Things to do in Portland over North Shore Challenge Weekend

The Sea Sherpa North Shore Challenge is Victoria’s premier offshore kayak fishing competition, taking place on Saturday, 28 January 2017 (the Australia Day weekend).  South Aussies and Vic’s will be making the trip to Portland to battle it out on the water and hook some kingies. There is over $3,000 worth of prizes up for grabs, as well as bragging rights of course.

Since you’re coming down to the North Shore Challenge, why not take the Friday off and make the most of a 4 day weekend by checking out the sights around Portland. Whether you’re coming alone, with your mates or the family, there’s loads to do.  Here are 5 things to do in Portland over the North Shore Challenge weekend.

Have a meal at Café Bahloo

All North Shore Challenge entrants will receive a free coffee voucher for Café Bahloo in their welcome packs. Café Bahloo has 4.5 stars on Zomato and is a must stop place for breakfast and brunch. The “Big Bahloo Brekkie” will hit the spot after the comp, with twice baked bacon, poached eggs, wilted spinach, sautéed mushy’s, baked beans, chorizo & roasted tomato on organic sourdough toast. It’s also open every Friday and Saturday night from September through to March and is a licensed venue. More info

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Visit the Cape Nelson Lighthouse

Visit one of the oldest operational lighthouses in Australia. Tours of the precinct are conducted every day at 11:00am and 2:00pm. Cape Nelson Lighthouse’s tour guides have extensive knowledge of both the history of the precinct itself and the maritime history of the region.  There’s also a café on premises serving coffee and cake. More info

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Take a scenic tour on the Portland cable trams

Hop on and off at the various attractions along the way or complete the whole trip at once in about an hour. The Portland cable tram is operated by passionate volunteers full of local knowledge.  The trams depart the Portland depot at 10am, 11:15am, 12:30pm, 1:45pm and 3pm. More info

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Tired of fish? How about strawberries?

If you caught too much fish at the North Shore Challenge and want to mix things up, Portland Strawberries is a family run business and have some of the best strawberries you will find in Australia. Grown with love these berries are always juicy and lush with so much flavour.  You can buy them from the store, along with other goodies, or pick your own. Strawberry picking is always a winner with the family. More info

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Give those arms a rest and stretch your legs

The Great South West Walk is a bush-walking trail suitable for most ages and abilities comprising short 2 hour loop walks, full day walks, or for the intrepid, the whole 250km loop that begins and ends at the Maritime Discovery and Visitor Information Centre in Portland. Whether you take on a shorter walk or the entire journey, you will see stunning views of ocean, cliffs and if you’re lucky, the odd whale. More info

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As you can see, there’s no excuse not to have an awesome weekend down in Portland over the Aussie Day weekend. To sign up for the North Shore Challenge, follow this link.  Don’t forget to book your accommodation as spots will fill quickly.

Tight Lines!

Sea Sherpa