Thursday, 7 June 2018

2017 South Australia Trip - Eyre Peninsula

We arrived in Port Augusta. Our last decent sized town was 5 weeks earlier back at the central Qld town of Longreach. Since then we had travelled a couple thousand kms of dirt / gravel roads & a bigger town was a reality check. More cars, people & traffic lights.

I visited the Arid Lands Botanical Gardens whilst hubby had a game of golf.
South Australia is known as a dry state & in 1996 a 250 hectare botanical gardens was opened to showcase Australia's diverse  arid zone plant life. The plant life & surrounding shores of the Spencer Gulf support a huge 126 different bird species. The award winning cafe is also a wonderful place to visit with a visitor centre attached to the cafe.

I spent nearly 5 hrs walking around the gardens. There were many Mallee Trees in flower around the gardens attracting many species of Honeyeaters.

The Red Cliffs on the shores of Spencer Gulf. To the north in the distance is the Central Flinders Ranges. The Southern Flinders Ranges are to the east of Port Augusta.

Sturt-desert Pea

I later was looking for more birding spots around Port Augusta. I was surprised to find a very popular birding lake to be now a salt brine soup devoid of birds. The apparent reason for this is because the nearby power station who's water fed the lake has now closed down.
That's the southern Flinders Ranges in the distance.

Dragon catching some warmth from the sun.

We packed up camp & headed a little west to Lake Gilles Conservation Park.
The Empheral lake system is fringed by Samphire. There are also extensive Mallee communities throughout the eastern plains of the park. I didn't find any birdlife on the lake, but the mallee sections within 4 kms of the camp ground was alive with birds.
Camping is free here beside the lake, but you need to be self contained as there are no amenities.

I found 1 random Grevillea tree near the lake.

Within the mallee habitat was prolific with smaller flowering shrubs.

The lake shore nearer to the camp ground were several Western Myall Trees.....these are ancient Acacia trees, & this tree were reported to be more than 250 yrs old.

Further west we drive through the little town of Kimba. We made a quick stop to photograph our presence of being 1/2 way across Australia. I didn't photograph them, but there were several grain silos that had murals painted on them. This region of South Australia supports a huge grain industry, and we saw dozens of grain silos in the Eyre Peninsula.

We arrived on the western Eyre Peninsula coast of Streaky Bay. We have been here before, but I wanted to visit this part of the Eyre Peninsula again as a part of this South Australian trip. The western coastline of the Eyre Peninsula has spectacular rocky coastline, some of it an extension of the Great Australian Bight high cliffs.
The town sits beside the quieter part of the much larger & more exposed Streaky Bay.
The shore here is protected from the elements of the Southern Ocean.

Hubby found me another bottle of wine.....the last time I tasted this particular wine was in 2011...a wine with almost the same label be it a little more jazzed up.
This picture is my Facebook profile pic & fits our lifestyle.

Although we had previously visited this region 6 yrs ago, we still visited all the "tourist hotspots"
We started with a near 30 km drive south to Point Labatt with their sea lion colony.
This time I had a better zoom on my camera, so the sea lions look closer despite them being on a rock shelf 100m below our lookout.

Please bear with me with so many photos of them. Believe me, there are more not posted here :-)

That's the shelf they roost on when they're not out fishing.

The cliffs to the right of our lookout.

To the left of the lookout at Point Labatt.

He doesn't look very aggressive here, but bull sea lions are a force to be recogned with.

Driving back towards Streaky Bay we stop at several sites, including to photograph 1 of the several sand dunes.

This is Cape Blanche standing on the shores across the bay.

An inland huge permanent sand dune.

Speed Point, the start of a loop road near Sceale Bay.

 A lucky find. Painted Dragons are endemic to drier areas of southern & central Australia.
They're blend in with their environment very well.

Continuing our drive along the coast - Smooth Pool

Point Westall. In the distance you can just see Cape Blanche across Sceale Bay.

More high cliffs around Sceale Bay

The pretty heath is quite short due to the effects of the winds of the Southern Ocean.

The following day we take another loop road, this time north of Streaky bay.
This loop takes us around Cape Bauer.

Steps down to the beautiful sandy beach to protect the fragile sandy cliffs. The endangered Hooded Plover (bird) nest along this beach.

Yet another set of steps to the shore line. It looks like this section will 1 day be consumed completely be the drifting sand dune.

We arrive to the section called Whistling Rock & Blow Holes. The tide was up a little, so the whistling effect wasn't as apparent as it could be. Down on the rocky shelf is the blow hole & whistling rock.

That's it there.

It was a blue sky, but the ocean was boiling a little onto the rocky coastal cliffs.

This is the scenery from Cape Bauer.

Driving around Streaky Bay township,  the many coloured flowering Gazania plants seem more like a weed.

Thankfully this swarm of bees didn't find our aerial too attractive. Our neighbours had  to call in a pest control person to remove the bees.

On our drive down to Venus Bay, we call into Murphy's Haystacks. These unusual rock formations are in the middle of someone's sheep grazing property. The weather wan't very nice this visit with a small shower of rain shortening my walk.

We book into Venus Bay caravan park & after lunch we visit some caves a little further down the hwy. Despite some letters missing, I think you can read what the info board intended to say.

It was a greyish sky, it was very windy & the ocean waves were rougher than usual. You can even see droplets of ocean spray on the photo.

More of the coast near Venus Bay.

Our next port of call was further south at Elliston. There is a 5 km scenic cliff top drive. Along the way, the local community has provided pieces of art at many of the look out stops.

We arrived much further south at Coffin Bay township. We wanted to visit the Coffin Bay National Park again the next day.
The Oysters at Coffin Bay are world famous & hubby bought 2 dozen freshly shucked oysters to feast on. I had some 6 yrs earlier, but I'm not a big fan of them.

This is the wildflower Cockies Tongue I found in a small reserve near town.

The next day we drove into Coffin Bay NP. The area is quite beautiful with flowering heathlands.
The 311 square km National Park occupies the entire peninsula, but there is only a smaller access area. The rest is accessed via the beach & 4WD vehicle.
Camping is allowed in the NP with prior online booking.

This is part of the protected bay area where oysters are farmed. I was on a 1.5 km walk.

A Grey Kangaroo resting in the middle of the day. At least they keep the grasses mowed to reduce the risk of wild fires.

On the way back to the township, we took a detour to Point Avoid, on the other side of the peninsula. This area is exposed to the elements of the Southern Ocean.

I walked down to that beach & found some shore birds not previously seen by me.

The following day we moved camp again, this time to Lincoln NP. The last time we visited here was in 2011 & it was just for a day. I wanted to stay for 2 nights in 1 of the several camp grounds within the NP.  Lincoln NP is south of Port Lincoln on the Jussieu Peninsula & is the southern most point of the Eyre Peninsula. The NP occupies an area of 216 square Kms. Most of the the length & breadth of this NP can be accessed by tracks, some 4WD only.
Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area also occupies part of the peninsula, accessed by 4WD.

This is 1 of the beautiful bays along the drive in Lincoln NP.

The drive to the further most point of Lincoln NP is approximately 40 kms. This is where you will find a lighthouse & a small sea lion colony on that small offshore island.

We were in the middle of the wattle flowering season & the roadside was full of these & other flowering bushes.

Stumpy tailed Lizards were common throughout our visit to the southern areas of South Australia.

This is the views from our camp ground. We were in our caravan & the sites were very spacious here. The next site over would have missed the loos in the photo. At least we didn't have far to walk if we needed to use these loos.

After leaving Lincoln NP & 2 nights in Port Lincoln, we spend a day driving NE along the eastern coast line of the Eyre Peninsula, stopping for the night at Cowell Bay. There were more oyster farms there. There are no photos from that part of the journey.

Our next main stay was at Whyalla. Whyalla region is known as the steel city due to it's steel works & ship building. Though the car making industry has been closed there is a resurgence for ship building. Steel / Iron Ore is mined in nearby Iron Knob & it's surrounds.

Whilst hubby had a game of golf, I walked around the towns birding lake. The birding was interesting, but so too was 1 of the locals choice of mobile vehicle. It's a motorised gopher & on the trailer is his motorised model craft boat. Several men had gathered for the mornings activity with their own boats to use on the lake.

The next day we drove back to Lake Gilles CP. I was still searching for the newly split Copperbacked Quail-thrush. I spent much time on the previous occasion there & this new area of the CP still didn't produce the bird for me despite several hours of walking.
There was plenty of other birdlife & I did find this dragon though.

Hubby was interested in visiting the de-commissioned Navy Ship the Whyalla.
HMAS Whyalla was a mine sweeper during WW2.

Haha, that cloud couldn't have been better positioned.

I also visited nearby Wild Dog Hill CP in search of a much needed Grasswren that lives in the spinifex at the foothills of this hill. Alas, it wasn't seen despite 2 visits there.

Sunset over the caravan park at Whyalla finishes off our visit to the Eyre Peninsula.

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