From where we left you last time we continued around the spectacular coastline of the Eyre Peninsula checking out Cummins Monument 60kms from Elliston. The Lookout provides an uninterrupted view from Point Drummond in the south to the rugged cliffs of Sheringa in the north. It is also home of a family of ospreys which nests on a craggy pinnacle adjacent to the lookout. These birds fascinated us – how they survive in storms and tempest on their precarious perches! We were still enjoying the memorable vistas of the Great Australian Bight.
Then on to Coffin Bay… The population of Coffin Bay is about 500 but apparently swells to 3000 in summer. The area boasts over 50 accommodation sites from Holiday shacks, hostels, hotels, spacious holiday homes to a 5,5000acre lodge overlooking the National Park. Needless to say we headed for the Coffin Bay Caravan Park (another seniors discount). Fortunately we were just a bit early for the season so the park had room with nice grassy sites.
We enjoyed lunch at the town wharf area and from the jetty we got up close and personal with lots of nudibranchs and some rays. Love watching these fluttering and waving creatures. Then we headed off to the lookout and to learn about this delightful seaside town.
Coffin Bay is famous for its oyster industry where they began harvesting the native Angasi oyster in the 1840s shortly after the colony of SA was first established. Of course demand meant overfishing and the decline in the native oyster population meant that the industry all but ceased. Later they turned to the Japanese Pacific oyster and after 1969 this has thrived.
We could possibly eat these yummy oysters in Sydney as Coffin Bay oysters are popular here and Melbourne and are sought after overseas.
There is a fifteen km Oyster Walk on the foreshores, between shacks and homes, up to the lookout, Kellidie Bay Conservation area and through to Old Oystertown, with interpretive signs, all of which you can enjoy as a whole or in sections. We really didn’t have time to do any walks or trails as the weather still wasn’t great and you can’t take bikes on any of these trails to shorten the time.
However we did drive the 27km to Mount Dutton Bay with a modern boat ramp, heritage listed jetty, now gallery/café and a mix of fishermen’s huts and new holiday homes. Onto the fishermen’s settlement of Little Douglas, located opposite Port Douglas – no, not the Queensland resort town. This sleepy little town with established land based oyster facilities features a protected little bay with views across the oyster leases to the main shipping channel, to Point Longnose on the peninsular of the Coffin Bay National Park.
We took the MUX for a drive along the spectacular Farm Beach with some fabulous shots of splashing pelicans.
Then it was a drive back through Coffin Bay, the perfect base to explore the Coffin Bay National park. Apparently the area is a stronghold for the newly (2011) discovered Burrana Dolphin, a species only found in a few places around the world. The park is one of the best conservation areas in SA abounding in native wildlife- dolphins, sea lions, fur seals, kangaroos and native birds. We only saw emus in the late afternoon as I think we need to do a waterways cruise to spot others. We only went as far as Vangi Bay camping area with nice little alcoves but the caravan area is a bit of a disappointment – just a gravel pit really. Further than that was high clearance 4WD recommended so, late in the day we turned our wheels towards Coffin Bay again. On the way back we climbed the boardwalk to another lookout to read the directional signs about the island, peaks and landmarks.
To top off our day at Coffin Bay we enjoyed a lovely seafood dinner at the pub.