16/06/16 The wet weather was dead-set determined to stick with us. Di did a tally the other day and at that stage, of the 44 days so far this trip, only 10 have been without rain. It’s like we’ve been towing the rain clouds along with us.
And they descended on us yet again for a wet welcome to Port Lincoln at the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula. Our intended bush camp at Mikkira Station, south of Port Lincoln, was reconsidered as the recent rain would have made it too sloppy getting in there and we’d be generating next to no solar power once we did. Instead, we set up at the Port Lincoln Caravan Park at North Shields, just five minutes out of town to the north. Probably better anyway, as we’d be unhitching for a few days and doing day trips around the area, and the Kruiser would be more secure there than the isolated property. The van sat only a few metres off the top of the beach cliff, with sweeping views across Boston Bay to Point Boston, Boston Island and Port Lincoln.
Port Lincoln is the largest city in the West Coast region of SA, and is a major centre for government services and commerce. It also has the most millionaires per capita in Australia. Who’d have guessed?!
We especially liked the foreshore area at Port Lincoln when we went for a look around town the following morning, particularly its sweeping panorama across Boston Bay. The local sailing club were out and struggling to make headway in a rather sluggish race. With such calm conditions, the large bay was as still as a millpond and very picturesque, and we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the foreshore park on our first day of fine weather in what felt like ages.
Port Lincoln, we decided, would be a nice place to live, if not for the cold weather and Great White Sharks that the locals seem very wary of. Not many people venture into the water down here which says something about the sharks. One local told us that a couple of weeks earlier a 14 foot shark had been seen by a fisherman just off a nearby beach. We thought back to the big one that we’d spotted last year from the clifftop at Cape Spencer Lighthouse on Yorke Peninsula, lazily cruising the shallow waters of a small beach cove below. We’re kind of glad it’s winter and too cold for swimming. With big crocs in the far north and big sharks in the far south, where we live in the middle was looking pretty good.
We took a drive to the nearby communities of Tumby Bay, Louth Bay and Point Boston, each offering different beachscapes and cliffscapes and their own picturesque views across to the nearby islands. Regardless how inviting the water looked, though, it was way too cold for a swim. Drinks at the Wheatsheaf Hotel before a big log fire rounded off the day very nicely.
Coffin Bay is a small community on the west coast of the peninsula, about 40 minutes drive from Port Lincoln. We spent an afternoon cruising around and checking the area out. It’s a sleepy little coastal town with a well-stocked general store that makes truly excellent chips, a pub and lots of protected shoreline. It’s easy to see that as well as being a tourist destination in its own right, from the new housing that’s springing up it’s also taking off as a satellite town to nearby Port Lincoln.
The weather the following morning was glorious, made more so when a dolphin cruised slowly past our camp in the flat blue waters of the bay while we were enjoying a morning cuppa. It just doesn’t get any better. That afternoon, we had a look around Lincoln National Park, a short drive south, and found it did get better – we came across a group of sea lions sunning on rocks just off the tip of Cape Donington. Another tick (Thirteenth) for Di’s “Animals in the Wild” List.
The next day was spent at Whalers Way, a privately-owned wilderness reserve 32kms south-west of Port Lincoln at the very foot of the Eyre Peninsula. We used a key obtained earlier from the Visitor Information Centre in town to get through the locked entrance gate and followed the 14kms of tracks along what has to be South Australia’s most spectacular and dramatic stretch of coastline. We spent six hours in the reserve, seeing numerous blowholes, deep coastal crevasses, rocky capes, and fur seals lazing on rocky outcrops, but most of all, the spectacular cliffs and pounding seas.
We’d have stayed longer but the gathering clouds looked threatening and the tracks would have turned very ordinary with the forecast rain. Whalers Way is not widely publicised. There’s none of the usual hype or touristy trappings to be found anywhere in the reserve, but it should be on everyone’s List of Must See Places simply because of the unadulterated natural beauty of the coastline. It certainly has a spot on our Favourite Places List.
The rain came that night, and a clap of thunder at 5:00am had me springing out of bed thinking the small awning was wrapping over the roof of the van. All was well, though, and we had early cuppas.
“The first bug to hit a clean windshield lands directly in front of your eyes.” – Drew’s Law of Highway Biology