Directions - Located at the idyllic holiday location of Hamelin Bay, just north of Augusta, head towards Caves Road and keep driving south until you see the signs for Hamelin Bay. There are two car parks for the main beach but these will fill up quickly in the peak summer holiday period. Mushroom Rock is a 500m swim offshore from the boat ramp, just look for the smaller rock formation to the right of Peak Island (fourth picture in the below gallery).
The Snorkel - With summer holidays usually meaning a break from hiking and a focus on cycling and snorkelling, I scheduled in a week down south to tackle some more snorkelling spots I had been eyeing off since my visit last year. One destination that I've always been fond of and knew was a good spot thanks to the sheltered nature of the area was Hamelin Bay. Armed with an old copy of CALM's Dive & Snorkel Sites in Western Australia (3rd Edition), I flicked through the pages and found that Hamelin Bay had an offshore reef formation that sounded pretty cool.
Hamelin Bay is most famously known for the stingrays that come up to the shallows and it's one of those things that I've always wanted to experience. My previous two visits here were both on the Cape to Cape Track, one in 2014 and the other in 2020 but both times I wasn't fortunate enough to see the rays. With the location selected, I just needed a dive buddy given the long swim out to the reef so asked my brother-in-law Haydn if he was keen. He accepted my invitation and plans were made for the Thursday to drive the 1.5 hours from Funbury to Hamelin Bay. I had been monitoring the tides, winds and swell over the week to make sure the conditions were acceptable and this morning seemed to be the best time before the swells quickened and the wind started blowing harder. My big worry was that we would drive all that way and get terrible visibility but that's the risk you take with snorkelling sometimes. Speaking of the drive, it was devastating to drive along Caves Road after the terrible bushfires that affected the area around Contos and Boranup Forest. Thankfully Contos Campsite was saved but the Peppermint thickets closer to the coast on the Cape to Cape will take many years to recover.
Arriving before tourist o'clock, there were plenty of car parks available so we gathered our gear and walked down to the beach to check out the conditions. I was relieved to see flat water and it was a bit different seeing lots of people setup along the beach. It was peak summer holidays so I shouldn't have been surprised but both times I've been here it was dead quiet and the last visit was finishing a day with 60-80kmph winds plus sideways rain. With flippers on, we eyed off Mushroom Rock in the distance and set about tackling the swim out there. Putting my mask underwater, I was happy to see good visibility so breathed a sigh of relief. Searching the shallow reefs close to shore, I found a small ray hiding under a ledge along with some smaller fish darting about. Heading out to deeper waters, the second cool find of the morning was a giant ray doing a good job of trying to hide in the sand but couldn't quite cover itself fully. Diving down, I kept a bit of distance so I didn't spook it and it was nice to see one of the famous rays of Hamelin Bay so close. Continuing to swim out, I could see that we were close to the exposed part of Mushroom Rock but it was still nothing but sand and sea grass ahead of us.