Day 167: 13 November – Yet more stunning turquoise waters

Author: Mrs A

Location: Coffin Bay National Park

Distance walked: 5km

After a couple of humid and overcast days, Monday morning dawned with blue skies. Following breakfast and some exploration time for Miss Tassie, Mr A and I drove into Coffin Bay National Park.

We had heard many great things about the park, its stunning scenery and plentiful wildlife, and we were looking forward to seeing it for ourselves. It didn’t take long for the wildlife to emerge – a group of emus crossing the road in front of us, a fair reminder why there is a 40km/hr speed limit.

Our first stop was the Templetonia Lookout, providing views across the sand dunes, over Thorny Passage Marine Park and over to Mount Dutton in the distance. Wispy clouds raced across the sky, reminding us that a change in the weather is approaching, with storms and showers due tomorrow. The flies were out in their hundreds as well – attempting to get into every orifice!

From there, we headed over to Point Avoid, with lookouts over Golden Island and the Whidbey Isles Conservation Park. Lovely views across stunning turquoise waters and pristine sandy beaches. Looking out at the water I was reminded of the powerful dangers that lurk beneath, and wondered where our nearest great white shark might be…the warning signs on the cliffs advised us of everything but!

Thankfully in this direction there was a gentle breeze which saw off the swarms of flies and made life outside of the car a little more pleasant.

One thing we found intriguing (and somewhat sad) was the lack of recognition of the indigenous residents of this area. From our travels in Western Australia we learned that every bay, cove and island has already been named, often for thousands of years, and yet all we see here are the names provided by explorers in relatively recent times. There is barely a mention of the aboriginal population, other than to say they found food here. I am certain they had much more fitting names for the likes of ‘Misery Bay’, ‘Sudden Jerk Island’, ‘Seasick Bay’, ‘Phantom Cove’ and ‘Dead Man Corner’ – all locations within the park.

Still, the scenery did take our breath away, despite the fact we have been very much spoiled over the past few months with incredible locations. We walked down onto Almonta Beach for a walk along the water’s edge, recognising this is probably the last deserted beach we will be on for a long while.

We returned to camp for the afternoon and spent it in the shade, reading. We are really not used to these temperatures – it’s very warm 31 degrees – this time last week we had our heating on, and now we have the air conditioning!

I guess we ought to enjoy it while we can – it’s meant to cool right down after a day of thunder storms and showers tomorrow, and no doubt we will be complaining of the cold again.

We enjoyed a final serving of freshly harvested and shucked oysters, before whipping up a chicken Pad Thai for dinner.

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!