Tuesday, January 5, 2010

West Coast Eyre Peninsula

Week 10, 5th January 2010

I was originally born and grew up in South Australia and when I was young I can remember reading and hearing about the west coast of Eyre Peninsula, but, despite travelling several times across the Eyre Highway, I never had the opportunity to visit the west coast. What a mistake! this would have to be one of the most beautiful areas of Australia, at least as far as coastlines go. Smoky Bay, Streaky Bay, Venus Bay, Elliston, Port Lincoln etc. What a knockout.

The countryside itself isn't much to write home about, being pretty flat, wheat and sheep country, but the sand hills, cliffs, rocks, surf and sea-scapes are wonderful.

Thursday, 24th December. Booked out of the Ceduna caravan park and drove down to Streaky Bay on the Flinders Highway. First stop was Smoky Bay and unfortunately because of the weather, it didn't appear at it's best. The weather was overcast, windy and chilly because of the rain depression as an aftermath of cyclone Laurance. Didn't seem to stop the locals catching a few fish, though. Talk about organised - have a look at the fishing trolleys they have.A lot of places I've been have been quite proud of their jetties, and in most cases have restored them so that the original structure is unrecognisable, but Smoky Bay has retained part of the old original jetty and it's interesting to see the original construction.
One good thing about it being a miserable day - it gives me the opportunity to go back again someday when the weather is fine. Looks like a great place to spend a few days soaking up the rays and having the occasional dip.
Continued on down to Streaky Bay and drove two of the scenic drives. [excellent tourist information from the shire office - great maps]. The first was the north loop, Cape Bauer, which gives a great view of the cliffs on the ocean side and the calm waters of the bay.
The southern loop takes in High Cliff which isn't a designated camping area, but I noticed a couple of tents in the sand hills, probably those strange people who take pleasure in catching fish.The Granites is an example of the typical landform in the area which appears to be 30 or 40 metres of limestone on top of a granite bedrock and this perfectly illustrates this structure.
Further on is an area called "Fishermans Paradise" which is quite a settled area with 10 or 12 houses but dozens of 4WD vehicles around, obviously more visitors for the fishing. Just past this is an area called "The White Sands of Yanerbie". The photo doesn't do it justice because of poor light, but the sand hills are blindingly white, just like snow and cover a pretty large area. I saw a couple of really nice spots where I could have camped, but it was still pretty early in the day so I kept going, but definitely stored it in the memory banks.I headed for a campsite called "Eyre's Waterhole" which, surprisingly, is only 5 kms south of Streaky Bay. Usually the powers that be don't allow camping so close to a town, but it is in Camps 5. So I plead ignorance. The site is fairly small and I grabbed the only shade there was. No facilities at all except a shade roof covering a picnic table. With due respect to Camps 5, I really don't think it is intended to be an overnight site. The water hole is one which was used by the explorer of the same name and is amazing in that it only holds about 5 or 6 inches of water, but seemingly will refill as fast as one empties it, apparently inexhaustible. Anyway, I'm set up now, so I"ll stay for a couple of days.Friday, 25th December. Merry Christmas to any who may read this. My second Xmas on the road and in both cases, I've spent them in little out-of-the-way places. This could get to be a habit. An elderly gentleman, meaning he was about the same age as me, camped here on Xmas day in a troopie. He called himself "Wild Bill" and he had a large supply of home-made rum, of which he gave me a bottle. There were also a couple in a van and a merry Xmas was had by all - quite a late night as it happens. That home-made rum was good stuff.

Tuesday 29th December. Packed up and took off again, heading for a place which Wild Bill recommended called Walker's Rocks. When I was in Ceduna, I met a young girl named Sophie, who was having a holiday in a Hi-Ace van before heading to the Alice as a teacher. She me at Eyre's Waterhole as she was passing and dropped in and recommended the Sea-Lion colony at Point Labatt so I made that an intermediate destination. On the way, I called in to Baird Bay which has a nice little campsite for $5 a night, but the place itself is like Karumba in the Gulf or Kalbarri in WA. If you don't fish, there is absolutely nothing of interest.
Around the other side of the bay is Point Labatt, where the sea-lion colony is. The dept. of the Environment have built a viewing platform so that people can see the sea-lions. Warning. Take a pair of binoculars. The cliff where the platform is, is about 30 metres high and about 100 metres back from the rocks, so you will need bloody good eyesight to even see the animals. The photo was taken with telephoto, so the resolution may not be all that flash.
The location is worth it however, just for the scenery of the cliffs.
Back on the road and headed for Murphy's Haystacks. The rock formation is on private property and there is an honesty box requesting $2 entry fee, but it would seem that honesty isn't all that common, of the 5 vehicles that I saw pull up, I was the only person who paid. The formation doesn't really compare with some of the Granite outcrops in WA, but in the context of the area is is quite distinctive.
On to Venus Bay which was delightful. The bay is almost totally enclosed and as a consequence the bay is wonderfully protected and great for swimming and boating. Only 400 metres away are the cliffs which front on to the ocean swells.
South of Venus Bay is a turn-off to the Talia Caves which is worth seeing. The road in was gravel, but pretty good and only about 3 kms. Again, the typical land formation was the limestone over granite. The limestone, being soft is easily eroded by the wind -
- while the harder granite is eroded more slowly by the sea -
- and through what would appear to be a natural fault in the granite, the sea has formed what could more properly be described as a tunnel, rather than a cave.
This was called Woolshed Cave and there are more caves further on, but I always think that you can have too much of a good thing, so I left the others for another time.

On to Walker's Rock which had been recommended by Wild Bill. Hmm!, not my ideal campsite. First, because it is on the beach in the sand dunes, there is no shade. Second, there is not all that much room, especially when some sites looked like the people had been there for weeks. But most importantly, the morons who insisted on riding their noisy quad bikes up and down until 3am (I kid you not) made the place very unpleasant. Cold shower and toilets and bin, but that's it. $8 per day for a single person I thought was a bit rich, so I only stayed two nights. Wonderful location though and the sunsets were magnificent.
Thursday, 31st December. On to Elliston where I refuelled ($1.54/litre). There is a tourist drive called the Great Ocean Drive (Hmm, sound familiar). It's only about 8-10 kms, but worth the time to take it. Dirt road, but in pretty good condition.I have some business to do in Port Lincoln and nothing will be open until next Monday, so I need to find a place to camp until then. Had a look at a couple of the rest areas between Elliston and Port Lincoln, but they are only pull-offs for drivers to take a quick nap. I could go on to Port Lincoln and stay in the Caravan Park, but why spend the money unless I absolutely have to. Finally pulled in to the rest area at Wangary, 29 kms north of Port Lincoln. Absolutely no facilities, not even a bin, but I found an old track which appeared to be an old powerline access track and well shaded by big casuarinas, so this'll do for the New Year weekend.

Tuesday 5th January. Well, here we are in a new year, but somehow it's all rather meaningless when you have no point of reference. One of the big advantages of being on the road is that no day is any different to another, no matter whether it is a week day or week end, public holiday or whatever. I'm in the Top Tourist Caravan Park which is right on the shores of Boston Bay and has a beaut view, but the park itself is pretty tatty and the sites are not even approximately level, I had to use my levelling wedges to set up and that's the first time I've ever had to do that in a proper caravan park. No pads and the site also slopes from front to rear so much that I had to jack up the drawbar with the car jack before I could fit the jockey wheel and then crank that up. I tell you what, if I didn't have to fill up with fresh water and do the washing, I'd give van parks a miss altogether.

I'm off again on Thursday morning up the East Coast of the Eyre Peninsula, so hopefully I may be in range most of the time. I was recommended the campsite at Lipson Cove, so I'll have a squizz at that for the next stop.

See you soon.


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Anonymous said...

On with the adventure i say..where the bloody hell are you?
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