Johanna Beach: a place of two voices

Johanna Beach is one of the most spectacular places on the Great Ocean Road. We met local wildlife artist Brett Jarrett to talk about the inspiration he draws from nature and his love of the amazing, diverse and unique wildlife of this region.

It was an exhilarating morning of ferocious seas, a reminder that to the south there's nothing but the vast Antarctic ocean. A couple held hands and meandered toward the edge of the waves. Like lightening, the sea suddenly reached out far beyond them along the sand, salt water clenching their shins and pouring back into the rip … like it was trying to drag them down. This only happened once in the the two hours we were there. No-one ventured that close again.  

This coast is a beautiful but eery place with a long history of ship-wrecks. Brett spent a childhood here, combing the beach after storms, picking up the carcasses of birds that perished at sea. The bodies of Short-tailed Shearwaters, Little Penguins and even Shy Albatrosses can be quite commonly found. It's part of the reason why he went on to study marine wildlife, spending many years on ships, painting and illustrating books like The Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife.

 "TWO Voices are there; one is of the sea,
          One of the mountains; each a mighty Voice" William Wordsworth, 1888

Johanna Beach is a stark reminder of why this ocean is so 'great' and how the force of nature, where ocean and land collide, have shaped this coastline for millenia.


By Simon Mustoe

Johanna Beach includes part of the celebrated 'Great Ocean Walk' and is adorned with huge sea cliffs. During a strong southwesterly gale, the waves here are amazing. Even wildlife seems to avoid it ... apart from a pair of Pied Oystercatchers that flew along the beach.