9-12 April: Four dozen oysters and some magical scenery

Author: Mrs A

Location: Coffin Bay, Mount Dutton Bay and Sheringa Beach

Our final morning in Port Lincoln gave us a pretty special sunrise

With a new set of steps installed on the caravan, we pulled away from Port Lincoln and drove about an hour to an olive grove in Mount Dutton, just north of Coffin Bay.

We are now securely in oyster territory, the clear waters around these parts contributing to succulent creamy molluscs which are famous throughout Australia and restaurants in China and Singapore. Coffin Bay oysters are actually Pacific Oysters, native to Japan, which were first farmed here in the late 1980s. They feed on plankton, which due to the nature of the bay is plentiful here and the oysters grow faster than they would elsewhere. We managed to work our way through two dozen each over our two day visit here!

Our campsite for the following two nights was nestled on the edge of Mount Dutton Bay, twenty minutes drive from Coffin Bay in the grounds of an olive farm. As we pulled in the owners were busy trimming the trees, and there was freshly bottled olive oil for sale. We paid our $10 a night to stay there and of course purchased a bottle of oil.

The olive grove was home to many birds, most notably Port Lincoln Ring Necked Parrots – lovely green and blue parrots with bright yellow tummies and a yellow ring around the back of their necks. With very little natural fresh water in the peninsula, they got much of their moisture from dew, rainwater where possible, and their food if able – and woke us up one morning drinking the moisture from our skylight.

Port Lincoln Ring Neck Parrot
One legged perching
Emus are also a regular visitor to the grove and its neighbouring fields

We were also delighted to see Singing Honeyeaters here, their trilling voices often turning to something more sinister when they saw Tassie exploring. She loved this camp and, for her, walked a long way accompanied by her bodyguards, and even disappeared into a cat-sized underground limestone cave for a few minutes which gave us a fright!

Singing Honeyeater on top of an olive tree
Singing Honeyeater

We explored the bay from the camp, following a path which looked like it had been walked for hundreds of years, way beyond the handful of campers at the grove. It reminded us to thank and acknowledge the Nauo and Barngarla people, who were custodians of this region for many thousands of years before white settlement. They made use of a wide variety of fish, inland mammals, reptiles and plants and cared for this land.

The limestone is tough for most plants to grow on, so salt tolerant and air plants grow along the waterline. We thought this looked like a colourful garden
Salt tolerant plants
Hundreds of tiny shells make up a beach we walked over and a salt-tolerant spider in limestone colours
Stripes of seaweed on the shore – colours reminiscent of the Scottish highlands
A farewell double rainbow to see us on our way

After two nights here we made our way up the coast towards the small village of Elliston where we had booked in to a campsite for a few nights. We had a spare night up our sleeve en route and picked out a random campsite on the coast called Sheringa Beach, again costing a princely sum of $10 a night to stay there.

It was a real surprise to arrive to the spectacular location. Elliston District Council has invested in the area, creating high quality level fenced camping areas amongst the dunes, providing bins and even a new flushing toilet to service visitors. We wish more councils would do something like this.

Can you spot Tassie? Another site gets the paw of approval

Tucked in behind the dunes, we could hear the sound of the surf on the other side, and followed a sandy path to explore. Wow! A spectacular 4km long white sand beach stretched along the coast to the next headland. We decided to head off for an explore (map).

Walking along the beach

As usual, once we had left the immediate entrance to the beach we didn’t see anyone. Apparently there is four-wheel-drive access to this beach, but it doesnt look like anyone has used it for a long while. The beach is pristine, not a single scrap of rubbish anywhere, and it is clear from all the shore birds present that they appreciate it.

Red Capped Plovers, Sooty Oystercatchers and Hooded Plovers race along the the shoreline hunting for morsels
Turbulent seas – at 18 degrees we weren’t up for a dip
Looking down the beach you can see the sea spray, misting the view
A pacific gull soars over the waves

Sitting up behind the beach are huge sand dunes, looking like towering snow capped hills stretching along the coast.

Hiking up into the dunes
Beautiful patterns in the sand drifts
Sand as far as the eye can see
Looking out over the bay

Apparently it is not unusual to see dolphins swimming off the coast here, but they were not playing on our visit. Before we moved on the following morning we hiked up to the headland to see along the coast. The waves were wild and wind blown, the rocks sculpted by the constant force.

A single sediment creates a bridge between these two rocks
Off shore wind blowing the wave – see the dunes out the back

It was a beautiful night’s stay and we’re certain to return. We packed up camp, Tassie had a final explore through the dunes, and we went on out way up the coast to Elliston.