A big cod skull has a 15cm lure jammed in its mouth like a cigar. Buoys and lifebelts festoon driftwood trees surrounded by shells and coral in a mesmerising display of treasures tossed on to beaches by King Neptune.
It might not win an ikebana championship but Trevor’s arresting garden outside his van home at Boat Harbour is testimony to his energetic daily sweepings of the sand to clear rubbish left by tides and untidy people.
He is particularly proud of a marine growth that has hardened into the shape of a boot: the boot has long rotted away.
Trevor, from south of Sydney, is a bit of a legend at the picturesque beach about 100km east of Albany. His wanderings around Australia came to a halt five years ago when he parked up at the junction of the road into Boat Harbour and became the unofficial caretaker of the camp ground.
He picks up rubbish, cheerily gives information to campers, cleans the beaches and collects donations for the Progress Association - which is trying to keep the area as a freedom camping zone.
Most mornings Trevor heads around the rocky headland to fish and keep an eye out for rogue waves. He warns new campers about the sudden big waves on the rocks: “When you see them coming stick your foot in your bucket and hang on.” He gives the fish to farmers who give him firewood to sell to campers.
Clad in singlet and clutching a can, he has no idea how long he will stay at Boat Harbour. “Why would you live anywhere else?” he beams, gesturing at a murky creek on his doorstep. We wonder if it might not get a bit cold in winter on the edge of the Great Southern Ocean but Trevor seems one of those characters impervious to the elements.
He wouldn’t mind exploring a bit more of Australia but it he leaves his patch of paradise someone else would surely move in. He might push on one day but he would have to sell his beloved Harley and he’s had that longer than he’s had any woman.
His mother Bettina is visiting when we pull in and get directed to the half-dozen beachside spots to the west. More sheltered spots are to the east along the stagnant creek where Trevor feeds the local ducks.
We score a brilliant site on a concrete slab looking out towards Antarctica. With sunny cobalt skies, translucent turquoise water, white sand and brown-red rocky outcrops we could be in a tropical retreat – except for the hint of iciness at times in the breeze. It’s the end of summer. Days can be surprisingly hot but when clouds or darkness clutch at the sun a chilliness snaps the languid mood.
Tony does the Queensland Shudder and zips up Isabel into a cosy nest, happily humming his theme song “When I Die It Will Be In Winter”.
We fish the rocks more tentatively than Trevor and happily pull in a medley of pan-sized rock fish and a few herring. We stay a night or two longer than we intended and talk about dawdling longer but more southern beaches of WA beckon.
And the weather is getting brisker. We farewell barefoot, singleted, beer-clutching Trevor and move on. We get lucky at Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grande national park. Despite the school holidays and early Easter rush we score a campsite overlooking Lucky Bay, surely one of the most stunning beaches in the world.
Small waves curl from the brilliant clear water and splash gently on to bay’s curving beach of icing sugar. A few people are swimming. A kite surfer daubs a splash of yellow-red-orange on to the scene.
If Australia is the arse-end of the world and this is the arse-end of the country facing Antarctica, it’s not too crappy at all. We hope Trevor has a nice flannel shirt though, just in case.