Tag Archives: South Australia

7 – Coffin Bay to Ceduna

From Port Lincoln we headed on down to Coffin Bay. They grow oysters there. Originally they harvested the local oysters, but as humans so often tend to do, they over-fished them almost to extinction. But then in 1969, somebody brought in Pacific oysters – which thrived. Coffin Bay oysters are exported all over Australia.

img_5105Coffin Bay itself is a tiny little town, comprising holiday homes, retirees and fisher people. As well as some other locals, pictured left. We were lucky to arrive before the town shut down at lunchtime, and Pete availed himself of the opportunity to indulge in half a dozen freshly shucked oysters. (Not my thing.) He said they were absolutely delicious.

img_5111While we sipped a coffee our attention was drawn to a Pacific gull almost hovering in front of what looked like abandoned oyster racks. It dipped toward the water a few times, hesitated, dipped again. (It was very, very windy, which allowed such a heavy bird to give a good impression of hovering.) We guessed it was after an oyster, but no. When it finally plunged, it reappeared with a sea anemone in its beak.

5v3a6627As I said, the wind was a gale blowing off the ice, so outdoors wasn’t comfy, although the sun shone. We’d planned to stay at Streaky Bay for the evening. It’s a short drive, so we made a few detours to admire the wild coastline.

Wind-blown beach

Wind-blown beach

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Wildflowers and sand dunes from Coffin Bay

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Canola and sheep were the main types of farming.

Streaky Bay itself was even less urban than Coffin Bay, and on Saturday afternoon, all was quiet. It’s probably a lovely spot if you have a caravan, but since we didn’t, we opted to aim for the relative Big Smoke of Ceduna.

We stayed at a community owned motel by the jetty, and were impressed by the sturdy gates protecting the units and car parks. Chatting with friends later, we discovered this was yet another town where walking around at night wasn’t a great idea. There’s a large indigenous population, and not enough work, isolation, boredom and alcohol have taken their usual toll.

The jetty at Ceduna

The jetty at Ceduna

We ventured out the next morning for a brisk walk before breakfast and then we hit the road for the long haul across the Nullarbor.

 

5 – Pasties at Ardrossan

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Dark red cliffs, wheeling seagulls and a very long jetty at Ardrossan

We set out after breakfast at Glenelg to explore the Yorke Peninsula. Our Adelaide friends had suggested we might find the experience… how shall I put it?… less than spectacular. And that was about right. It’s a mix of copper mines and  agriculture, little fishing villages and beaches. It reminded me of places like Mandurah and Rockingham, south of Perth, back when they were places you went to for summer holidays. It looked like a great place for a family holiday, and I think that’s really how it’s sold to the Adelaide market. You’d need to spend at least a few relaxed days in one of the seaside towns, slowing down, sucking up the culture and the history. Because there’s always history. For a start, a heap of shipwrecks.

img_5005-2It’s also a place where people go to retire – slow-paced and easy going, with maybe even a sense of humour.

The day started off fine (see yesterday’s Glenelg beach pictures) but the clouds once again started to gather. We spied a crop duster spraying crops, which (of course) took my mind back to St George. I couldn’t get a shot of the plane zooming over the paddock, but it wasn’t far off the ground. The slightest error…

Crop duster and a cumulonimbus tower

Crop duster and a cumulonimbus tower

Anyway, we carried on past fields and beaches, stopping now and then to take pictures of grain silos and beaches. We had a nice pasty for lunch in the local bakery at Ardrossan, one of the larger towns – for a given sense of large – and then drove on. We went as far as Stansbury and decided that was enough of the side of the peninsula. We took a road over to the other side, driving towards Moonta.

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Th Ardossan bakey has a nice little tea rooms attached. They do a nice flat white, too.

Not long after that the rain set in. Sight-seeing in the rain sucks, so we headed towards Port Augusta, at the head of Spencer’s Gulf. Tomorrow we would venture down the the Eyre Peninsula, where spectacular sea food awaited.

The rain set in

The rain set in

Low tide

Low tide

Dark red cliffs and the grain silo at the port

Dark red cliffs and the grain silo at the port

Marree to Wilpena Pound

MapIt’s day 5 of our Lake Eyre adventure. If you’ve missed the previous episodes, here’s day 1, day 2, day 3, and day 4.

We landed back at Marree after our final flight over Lake Eyre and boarded the truck for the next part of our journey. But first we saw a couple of Marree landmarks. One of them is the MCG. It’s a little bit different to the one in Melbourne, but it has the same initials. (I mentioned the outback sense of humour, didn’t I?) Another is the start of the Birdsville track, but I showed you the other end last time.

Marree from the air

Marree from the air

The MCG (not the Melbourne Cricket Ground)

The MCG (not the Melbourne Cricket Ground)

We were off to Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheater in the Flinders Ranges and another of my bucket list items. Most of the ‘mountain’ ranges we saw on our travels were part of the Flinders Ranges, although some have local names. The formation of the ranges is fascinating. Unlike many other ranges like the Himalayas, the Flinders wasn’t formed by tectonic plates bumping into each other. Rather, a geosyncline was formed when two parts of a continent split apart. The resulting chasm was filled with debris, which was later thrust up, twisted and buckled. This article does a pretty good job of explaining the geology. It’s one of the planet’s oldest mountain ranges, and home to some of the oldest animal fossils ever discovered. Although the ranges aren’t very high, when they were formed 540 million years ago the mountains were the height of the Himalayas. Erosion is a powerful force.

On our way south we came across some amazing cloud formations. We could have been forgiven for mistaking them for space ships. Cue X Files music.

Alien invasion

Alien invasion. The flat-topped pile on the right is material from the Leigh Creek coal mine which is on the point of closure.

A close up of the space ships

A close up of the space ships

I loved the Flinders Range. Apart from the spectacular scenery, it’s full of river red gums and cypress pines, and home to lots of wildlife. Here you’ll find eastern grey kangaroos, the big red kangaroos, euros, and the lovely little yellow footed rock wallaby which has been rescued from near-extinction. If you’re not familiar with the many different species of ‘roos, this article will help. The big roos are in no danger of extinction. They have benefited from humans through pasture lands and water supplies such as dams. The smaller marsupials are in very great danger from loss of habitat, and predators such as feral cats. I like cats – but not in the bush.

Red kangaroo. They can be grey, as it happens. But reds have a different head to the eastern (or western) greys

Red kangaroo. They can be grey, as it happens. But reds have a different head to the eastern (or western) greys

This is a grey kangaroo sitting outside our room at the Wilpena resort.

This is a grey kangaroo sitting outside our room at the Wilpena resort.

That formation that looks a bit like a uterus is Wilpena Pound

That formation that looks a bit like a uterus is Wilpena Pound

We would spend two nights at Wilpena. But on this, our first evening, we drove to a lookout to see the walls of Wilpena Pound. The name ‘pound’ in this context means an area where animals are kept, as in ‘dog pound’. There’s only one way into the formation, so it’s a natural stock barrier. In fact, there was a station in there. But although it’s pretty, it’s harsh country, subject to the cycle of drought and flood so common in Australia, and after one flood too many, the property owners gave up. Read more here. There are grazing properties still in the Flinders Ranges, but they work in with the national parks people to try to preserve this natural wonderland.

The walls of Wilpena Pound

The walls of Wilpena Pound with grass trees in the foreground. (We used to call them blackboys, but that’s no longer politically correct)