Day 165: 11 November – Emus and Oysters

Author: Mrs A

From: Port Lincoln

To: Coffin Bay

Distance driven: 44km Cycled: 13km

We farewelled our camping-cat neighbours and Port Lincoln this morning, and after a brief bottle-shop (off-licence) run we headed for Coffin Bay. We were actually backtracking a short way, having bypassed the oyster Mecca in favour of sharks, but it was not to be missed.

We arrived around lunchtime, and after a bite to eat jumped on our bikes for an explore. Our first stop was the oyster sheds, an industrial area consisting purely of various oyster farm factories – where they clean and prepare the freshly farmed oysters to send predominantly to Sydney and Melbourne for sale at fish markets and in premium restaurants. We have often dined on these succulent molluscs back in Sydney and really enjoy their flavour.

Being Saturday, most of the sheds were all locked up, but as we reached the final one, a tall man popped out and told us he was open for business. We headed down to his Shellar Door (ha ha) and after our long oyster drought in Western Australia we decided to treat ourselves to two dozen. Given Mr A had cut his finger on a pair of scissors this morning (don’t even ask!), we opted not to learn how to shuck our own and had them opened for us instead.

After popping them in the fridge, we continued our exploration. Coffin Bay is a small settlement with around 600 permanent residents and lots of currently unoccupied holiday houses. It’s a very sleepy coastal village with a pub, a couple of small cafés/takeaways (which don’t serve food beyond 6pm!), a yacht club and pharmacy. It has been farming and selling oysters since the late 1800s, and probably has changed very little in that time.

Other than oysters, this area is famous for its national park which we plan to visit over the next couple of days. We rode around the Oyster Trail, a pathway which followed the coast, leading right up to the entrance to the park. It gave us lots of information about the native flora and fauna, as well as a taste of the history of the area.

After about an hour of riding we came across an unusual sight – a male emu with his four young charges walking along the street! Emus are interesting birds – the female lays an egg, but immediately abandons it, leaving the male to incubate and hatch it. The male does all the parenting from that point onwards, usually adopting other young emu chicks and keeping an eye on them, teaching them how to find food and stay safe.
It was great to see the chicks being so well looked after as we watched the male calling for the strays, ensuring he knew where they were at all times.

We returned to camp for cold drinks and showers – despite being overcast it is extremely humid today and in the late 20s temperature wise – quite steamy. Oysters accompanied by an Eden Valley Riesling came next. 

We attempted to get local fish and chips for dinner, but at 6.30pm were MUCH too late for that (by an hour!) so will be cooking instead. Welcome to country Australia!

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