Wednesday 20 April 2016

Eyre Peninsula 03: West Side

The west coast of the Eyre Peninsula is filled with absolutely stunning scenery. We got our first view of overwhelming beauty when we decided to stop for a quick break by the main road about 65ks south of Elliston. A little camera sign was beside a dirt track up a hill, so we decided head on up. Looking back we had quite a nice view of the salt lakes just East of the highway, but as we rolled over the crest we received a grand view of the cliffs that line the southern side of our beautiful country. Fantastic place to take a break, however it can be quite a bit gusty!

Elliston itself is quite a nice little bay town with plenty of awesome locations to explore not too far away. There is a nice jetty for a bit of shore fishing or fish watching and in the distance you can see a rock formation that looks a bit like a giant turtle. There's also some nice little caves around the beach which are home to a lot of the local birds. Just north of town you will find a scenic loop which has some unusual sculptures sitting along the cliffs. If you are feeling adventurous there are some steep cliffs down to some pristine looking little inlet beaches as well as some renown surfing locations. 

As you head north out of Elliston and towards Streaky Bay you will find many amazing, beautiful and bizarre locations, but don't go too fast! Not far north you'll find Talia National Park. After a few kilometres of dirt road you will come across a little site known as The Woolshed. Climb on down, enjoy the view of the beautiful ocean and come hide in the cave. The water surges all the way up into the cave and it is a little bit of an uneven surface but it is really cool! Once you emerge from the cave and readjust your eyes to the sun, head out over the rocks and you'll notice they are riddled with little caves twisting and turning within. If the tide is low you can look down into these little caverns and check out the critters living down inside, just be sure to keep an eye on the waves!

Further down that same dirt road you'll find another pretty site known as The Tub. This would have been created by a thin top layer of limestone collapsing and creating a sinkhole. At the base is a small cave that allows water to travel in and out of The Tub. As if Talia still hasn't given you enough, drive a little bit further down the dirt track and just beside a monument you will be given a massive stretch of pristine white beach you can pretty much have all to yourself. Enjoy!

Continuing up toward Streaky Bay you will come across a few options on how you actually want to get there. Many people will use Streaky Bay as a base to check out all these different places but you can enjoy a lot of these locations if you plan your passing through well. We continued up the main drag and headed for a place known as Murphey's Haystacks. Allegedly named by an Irish fella on a coach who informed his fellow travellers that the farmer "must have harrowed his land to produce such a great abundance of hay!" The farmer at the time being a Mr Murphey and bam, legend made.

As we continued west we traversed down another dirt tack on the way to Point Labbatt, this point is surrounded by ocean on the west and an incredibly salty inlet to the East. As you get down the end of the road and make your way to the headland you will find yourself looking down over one of the largest Australian mainland breeding sites for Australian sea lions. A month beforehand we wouldn't have thought too much about it, but after learning about and swimming with these amazing creatures we couldn't resist scoping out this place. It is quite easy to lose track of time here as you gaze down over the colony, watching the mother's lead their pups into the water and following them with your eyes as they forage and play. If you have some binoculars this would be an A1 location to bring them!

Streaky Bay itself was not quite as exciting as we had thought, a lot of people had really talked it up to us, but what was around it was spectacular. It is a nice little fishing town with all the things you need to stock up before hitting the road again. The population is known to boom over summer and even more so over Easter and public holidays with families, travellers, grey nomads and keen fishermen flocking to the area. For us personally we would rather camp out of town, in the bush or find our own little beach, which is quite readily available not far from Streaky Bay. Plenty of little bush camp spots right near the beach asking for a mere $5 a day donation, you beauty! Streaky Bay is also great if you need to top up on any camping or fishing gear. Our most significant purchase here was a golf club and 4 golf balls from a second hand store, but more about that in the next blog!

The Yanerbie Sandhills was the next place that took our breath away. Surrounded by vegetation and ocean is a mini desert! I couldn't find too many facts on this place, but I assume the powerful southerly winds have blasted the sand from the beaches and brought them over old dried salt beds for many years to create these amazing collection of sandhills. We really enjoyed just wondering around enjoying the views, making sand angels and heading for the highest sandhill we could find. There was literally no one else here the entire morning we spent here, it was amazing. If exploring these sandhills be sure and bring plenty of water and keep a bearing on which way you are going and where you came in, don't want to go getting lost!

One last thing that I really loved about the Eyre Peninsula, particularly the west, was the Shinglebacks! I remember having the reptile guy show us these fellas in primary school, seen them in zoo's etcetera, but this was the first place I got to get up close and personal with the little bright tongued buggers in the wild! Although not under the best of circumstances, they seem to really like sunning themselves on the dirt roads! They are pretty easy to spot, you don't see many short stumpy sticks in this dry country. If you see a stick that doesn't quite look thin enough to be from the local shrub back off the speed a bit and get ready to pull over. I moved a few off the road and gave them a stern talking to about sitting in the middle of the road. They all responded by giving me a lovely view of their brilliant blue tongue, followed by a hiss, I assume this is Shinglebackian for "Cheers mate, I'll be more vigilant from now on." or something along the lines.

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