Our journey around the edge of the Eyre Peninsula was kicked off by a very special day for our little girl… six years old! Lots of dolls and pink things were the order of the day. Happy Birthday to our smiley speed-girl!
Tobey thought he might feed his sister to a model of the largest White Pointer Shark caught in the world as a lovely birthday present. The shark was caught in 1990 off-shore from Streaky Bay, it was 5 metres long and weighed in at a massive 1520kgs.
Streaky Bay looked like a great spot to spend some time, but as has been the case so often lately, the wind meant that we couldn’t get out in the boat so we had a quick overnighter in the caravan park and moved onto Sceale Bay for a couple of nights. Ben and Mark took the boat out a couple of times (first ours and then Marks) and caught a few fishies for dinner. While the boys were out fishing Indianna and I went on the hunt for the (tame) brumby horses in the neighbouring paddock from camp and after a hike through some very prickly spinifex we managed to find them. They were just as friendly as Peter (the camp owner) had promised, coming up and getting their treat of a slice of bread. The bush camp at Sceale Bay is certainly worth a stop, just down the road from the bay with flushing toilets and shower facilities – the showers are basic, pump showers, but certainly do the job if you need one.
Sceale Bay can also lay claim to the fanciest public toilet that we have seen on our travels. For tall people you get a marvellous view of Sceale Bay as you sit on the loo, for those of us a little too short you have to wait until you stand! Camelot is certainly an appropriate name for this throne!
Not far from Sceale Bay is Point Labatt, home to a colony of Australian Sea-lions. The view over the ocean from the lookout is spectacular enough and to see the sea-lions sunning and swimming below you is a real treat. The sea-lions breed at Point Labatt and we saw bulls, cows and pups on the shore, mostly lazing about in the sun, but also several of them heading off or coming back from a swim.
On the road out from Sceale Bay, near Flinders Highway are yet another unusual rock formation. We’ve seen many strangely shaped rocks jutting out of the earth in this vast country and these are called “Murphy’s Haystacks”, named by an Irish horticultural expert when he saw them far off in the distance and mistook them for stacks of hay. The ‘stacks’ are formed from Hiltaba Granite and worn away by wind and water over thousands of years. Tobey was more impressed by the fields of wild rocket that the haystacks were in, all in flower at the moment the rocket was unmistakable and he had a bit of a munch along the way.
We left Mark and Sue at Venus Bay after they limped in with wheel bearing problems and had to wait for parts to be delivered from Port Lincoln. We headed to the bottom of the peninsula to Coffin Bay, but on the way called into the very cute roadside bread stall at Colton. You can buy wood-fired bread from the stall via an honesty system, all loaves are $3.50, just pop your money in the box! We must have been beaten by the rush as there were only two loaves to choose from when we stopped in – really delicious though, polished off the whole thing dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar for afternoon tea – not just me you realise, I did share it with the rest of the family!
The town of Coffin Bay is situated on a very sheltered part of the harbour with brilliant public facilities such as the playground, public showers, boat ramp and boat and fish cleaning areas. We decided to head out to the National Park though, to Yangie Bay campground. Although there is a boat launching area here it’s a little muddy getting down to the water, so decided just to fish from the beach at Avoid Bay. Another beautiful blue water bay, but Ben had no luck catching anything… that could have something to do with the seal which was playing in the shallows near where they were fishing!
With our time on the road very quickly coming to an end we headed off from Coffin Bay to stop in somewhere else further up the eastern coast of the Eyre Peninsula. In an effort to find a mini-putt as promised to the children we found ourselves at Glen-Forest wildlife park… don’t ask! The kids had a great time though, patting rabbits, guinea pigs, kangaroos, a koala, pigs, cows, sheep, a goat and plenty of parrots. The highlight for Tobey had to be seeing the new born guinea pigs, so new they had no hair yet – very ugly if you ask me. Indianna came away with an ostrich feather, so she was happy and Jake managed to make his hair into a nest for the birds, so all good there. No mini-putt played today though.
As we made our way up the eastern coast of the Eyre Peninsula we pulled into Tumby Bay and Cowell thinking that we’d stop and camp, but everywhere was still so windy that we ended up moving on. I’m sure with different weather conditions both of these little towns would have been great to stay at, but we just needed something a little out of the wind after battling it for so long. Before we knew it we were in Whyalla, almost at the top of the peninsula, but found a site at the Foreshore Caravan Park away from the wind – woo-hoo! By now Mark and Sue had caught us again with boat trailer all intact, so there was more fishing on the cards.
The caravan park was nice and close to the marina and the town so we were able to ride our bikes around for much of the time. Ben and Mark had a couple of days fishing and the kids raced around on the pedal cars at the camp, then we checked out the leisure centre and had a visit to Santa.
On the foreshore in front of the caravan park, into the Spencer Gulf, the sand-flats go for miles at low tide, so we headed out one afternoon ‘raking’ for blue swimmer crabs. Indianna was extremely reluctant to tag along and let the whole world hear about her problems. We were just lucky that the wide open area of the sand-flats ate up her noise! That as well as Mark coming to the rescue with a shoulder ride! She quickly changed her tune once we started catching the crabs though – very much a smiley face then! To catch the crabs you use a long-pronged rake to rake around and through the indentations left by the crabs and if you’re lucky enough one will grab hold of your rake and you flip him into a bucket – voila! After a slow start we managed to catch a bucket full, but after setting the undersized ones free we had just enough to cook up for dinner. I’m not usually that fond of crab, I find it’s a lot of hard work for nothing spectacular, but these were not like that at all – sure there’s not a whole lot of meat on the crab, but they were really nice – certainly worth all the effort.
We also met “Sunny” the puppet at Whyalla Caravan Park – Sunny and his “Dad” tour around pre and primary schools promoting sun safety. The kids had a sing-a-long with Sunny, his “Dad” and our neighbours Bob and Cheryl. I have to say that I think perhaps Sunny’s Dad may have had a little too much sun on the head prior to now… strange man!
There’s really no way of avoiding Santa either is there, the Lions Santa rolled up in his Holden-drawn sleigh one evening handing out lollies, although it looks like we’re the poor family in a detention centre here with a wire fence between us and the outside world.
By the way, I haven’t mentioned the oysters that we’ve been eating over the last week or so! Grown all along the coast of the Eyre Peninsula they are really delicious and priced from $5/dozen you really can’t go wrong! The seeds for the oysters grown here come from Tassie and I’d have to say that from what I remember of the Tasmanian oysters in St Helens they were the pick of the two, but it’s a very close contest indeed and I’m happy to be judge at any time!
We leave Whyalla to head into the Flinders Ranges National Park and at this point say farewell to our fishing buddies Mark and Sue as they make a mad dash to get to a special birthday celebration in Queensland. So we’re all on our own again and heading away from the fishing grounds… what will we do with our time?