A Travellerspoint blog

Nullarbor

More than expected

overcast 30 °C

We had been looking forward to crossing the Nullarbor so with a forecast of tail winds for the next 2 days we decided to begin the long drive after leaving Cactus around 1:30pm. Our aim was to try to get to Eucla and find a camp but it was getting close to dusk so we stopped at a rest stop about 50km east of Border Village and drove down a track into the scrub and set up camp away from the road noise. The flies here were very friendly so it was a quick cook up of our remaining vegetables, which we wouldn’t be able to take over the border, and a retreat to the camper to eat dinner in peace.

The sunset here was great and after a peaceful sleep we awoke to a cloudy morning. A quick breakfast and we hit the road with first stop being the border quarantine station where they search your car and camper thoroughly looking for contraband. They took what little fruit and veg we had left which consisted of a lemon, garlic and some lettuce. They also took 2 cardboard boxes that we were using to store books and packaged food in, apparently the boxes were produce boxes so they could be contaminated.

We got fuel at Eucla at $1.61 a litre which was much better than the $1.74 they wanted at Border Village. We also got fuel at Penong after we left Cactus at $1.31 and finally at Balladonia for $1.71. The other roadhouses in between were more expensive at $1.74 or $1.76 except Mundrabilla which was $1.61.

At Eucla we visited the Old Telegraph Station and the old jetty before pushing on to Caiguna for lunch at the roadhouse. The food here was very average and expensive, the vegie burgers we ordered were just greasy hash browns shoved in a roll with some salad.
There were a lot more trees and vegetation on the way across the Nullarbor than we expected and some hilly sections with forests of trees. After Balladonia the scenery changes to forested ranges and hills which is quite scenic.

After driving for 11 hours we stopped for the night at another bush camp, this one had toilets and was situated next to a dry lake. It was a rest stop in the Fraser Range about 10km past the caravan park. The camp was amongst trees and away from the road with plenty of room and only one other camper there. This is a lovely spot with the sunset over the dry lake very beautiful and a lovely warm night with no wind. The only problem here was the flies, they were horrendous, the worst we have ever encountered and cooking dinner had to be done with the fly veils on. Thankfully once the sun had set the flies disappeared and it was so nice just watching the moon and stars in the night sky. Next morning the flies weren’t as bad and we managed to have breakfast and head to Esperance where we needed to restock our food, fuel etc.

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Posted by OzJourney 20:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cactus

Desert Magic

sunny 28 °C

Cactus is a coastal surf camp in the South Australian desert south of Penong. To get there you turn off the Eyre highway next to the Penong school, the sign says Point Sinclair, and follow the good gravel road out to the Cactus camp ground. The camp ground is nestled behind the sand dunes and is well spread out with large sites, flushing toilets, cold showers, sheltered common area and metal fire pits within shelters which are provided with firewood nightly. Rubbish and recycling bins are provided for each site and are emptied daily and the toilets are also cleaned daily. The cost is $15 per person per night which seems expensive but was worth every cent.

First impressions of Cactus as we drove into the camp ground and selected a raised camp site overlooking the place was that of peace, silence and a feeling that this really was a special place. After setting up camp it was off up a short track through the dunes to a lookout with a seat where you can sit and view four separate surf breaks. This is also a meeting place where fellow campers come to watch the sun set over the water every night. By now it was around 3pm and the only surf break working this afternoon was the furthest one called Caves.

To get to Caves the best way is to drive back out of camp and down the road and through a maze of tracks till you come to a car park. There were only four surfers in the water here and the wave is a right hand reef break which is fairly hollow and curves back into itself. By the time I had suited up and paddled out everyone else had come in and I was out there on my own which made me a little nervous knowing the history of Cactus. In 2000 just one day after the fatal attack in Elliston a surfer from New Zealand was attacked and killed by a great white at Cactus while having an early morning surf. Just down the road at Point Le Hunt an 11 year old boy was brutally attacked and killed by a great white in 1975 as he swam out from the jetty to meet a crayfish trawler to collect a crayfish for his mother. Anyway I survived and had a good surf despite looking continuously into the water to see what was coming.

The next three mornings all began with a surf at Cactus which is the break beside the headland directly in front of the camp ground. The waves were great and around 3ft with the occasional bigger set. The surf here was uncrowded with five surfers being the most in the water when I surfed and the vibe was very friendly, taking turns at catching waves and a whole lot of fun with long rides
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The fishing here was very good and every afternoon it was off down to the sandy beach to cast into the gutter which ran along the beach here. As soon as the bait hit the bottom the fish were biting and you had to be quick to tighten the line or your bait was gone. The catch consisted of some very nice sized flathead and as many salmon as you could catch. There were plenty of double header catches of good size salmon and one large 2kg specimen. Unfortunately we don’t like salmon to eat so they were released.

One afternoon we went for a long walk around the cliffs which took about 1.5 hours and gave wonderful views of the rugged coastline around Point Sinclair, then looped back to the camp ground. A visit to the jetty at Point Le Hunt was very interesting with a sheltered area for picnics which had kids toys, a beautiful chess set, magazines, books etc all there for anyone to use and some history of the jetty with its netted off swimming area. The place is remote and no one was there when we visited.

One morning when I was out surfing with two other surfers at Cactus a fin and a flash of white appeared in the water close by which caught my attention and had me thinking shark, but shortly after a dolphin surfaced close by and relieved my fears. What followed was the most amazing dolphin experience of my life. A mother and baby dolphin and two other dolphins swam between us, rode the waves with us, swam directly underneath us and generally played all around us. They were so close you could have touched them and when they turned on to their side inches away from you and looked you in the eyes there was something very human and touching in the look they gave you. This experience just added to whole magic that this wild and wonderful place gave out.

We met some very nice people here at Cactus who were spending six weeks here, Bags, an older guy from Victoria who was here on his own and three weeks into his stay and a retired couple from our home town, Uwe and Susan, who come here for two periods of six weeks at a time twice a year. We can see why people keep coming back to Cactus year after year as the place weaves its magic on you and imprints itself into your being. Cactus has been the highlight of our journey so far and we will definitely be back to soak in some more of it’s magic.

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Posted by OzJourney 20:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Streaky Bay

Coastal Diversity

sunny 29 °C

Venus Bay was our first stop after leaving Walkers Rock. This would be a great place to stay if you had a boat, with a calm bay and easy access to the open ocean it seems like a fisherman’s paradise. The caravan park seemed pretty full and most cars had a tinny on the roof
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On our way to Streaky Bay we took a detour off the highway to visit Murphy’s Haystacks, which are a group of odd rock formations in a farmer’s paddock. They are situated on high ground overlooking the surrounding countryside and rise up out of the ground in groups. There is a walking track which takes you through the groupings of these odd formations.

After leaving Murphy’s Haystacks we followed the road out to the coast to Point Labbatt which has fantastic views of the rugged coastline from high above the water. Point Labbatt is also a breeding ground for a colony of sea lions which you can see when looking down from a viewing platform which overhangs the high cliff.

We stopped for lunch at Sceale Bay which is a small seaside town with a beautiful white sandy beach which continued on as far as the eye could see. By this time the wind had reached its usual intensity so we had to find a sheltered spot to make our lunch, which turned out to be a lookout overlooking the bay but with a large sand dune blocking the wind.

It was early afternoon when we arrived at the Streaky Bay Caravan Park which is situated on the beach and has an unpowered area right on the water where you just choose a position to suit. We set up camp under a big tree right on the water with a fantastic view of the bay. The park was very busy when we were there with all powered sites full but plenty of room in the unpowered area. Nearly all the caravans had a tinny alongside and there were lots of grey nomads who stay here for months at a time to enjoy the excellent fishing and crabbing. Unpowered sites are $27 a night and the park has everything you need including a kiosk.

There are two must do drives you can do which are close to Streaky Bay. The Westall Way loop and the Cape Bauer loop take you to rugged coastline, beautiful bays, blowholes, surfing beaches, sand dunes and the most stunning cliff top views you will see anywhere. On the Westall Way drive you come to a very small town called Yanerbie. Just near the Yanerbie sign there is a dirt track that goes to a small car park where you have a view of Yanerbie Beach which is an incredibly stunning white sand beach that is backed by large sand dunes and curves around disappearing into the distance as far as the eye can see.

The weather was warm and sunny with very little wind (yay) while we were here. We stayed for 2 nights but could have stayed for weeks as there is lots to do and see here and it is a lovely town with spectacular coastline nearby. We will definitely be back here to spend more time as we really loved the place.

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Posted by OzJourney 16:25 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Elliston

Cliffs, Surf and Sculptures

sunny 26 °C

While we were at Coffin Bay National Park we noticed a clunking noise in the front of the patrol which became worse so we decided to visit the local mechanic to get it checked out. He thought it sounded like the wheel bearings again and as it was late in the day he suggested we set up camp at the Coffin Bay Caravan Park and bring the car back in the morning to sort out the problem.

The caravan park is quite nice with clean modern amenities, camp kitchen, laundry etc and was good value at $24 a night for an unpowered site on a grassed area beneath trees. At the park we met two nice couples living the dream and travelling the country. There was a young couple from Victoria heading to Broome to take up a job offer working on a station mustering cattle to finance further travel. They had travelled to the Kimberley two years previous and had lots of good information on free camps in the area. The other couple were Marilyn and Greg from Perth who began their trip in October and were heading east. They have a fantastic blog with the most stunning photos and we are looking forward to following their travels as we continue ours.

Chris the mechanic checked the wheel bearings and found they weren’t the problem but couldn’t find the cause of the noise so rang and made a booking at Mortlock Motors in Port Lincoln for us for the following morning. After spending another night in Coffin Bay and sampling the local oysters we travelled back to Port Lincoln to have the car fixed. John the owner of the workshop found the problem, which was thankfully just a loose bolt in the suspension and we were on our way west again. Thanks to John and the friendly staff at Mortlock Motors for fitting us in to their busy schedule and for their expert knowledge of 4wd vehicles. We recommend them highly if you need any mechanical work done in Port Lincoln.

Our next stop was going to be Sheringa Beach however when we arrived the wind was strong again as seems to be a constant theme so far in South Australia. There was little protection from the wind here and the toilets were disgusting so we decided to continue on to the Walkers Rock campground which is about 10km past Elliston. The place was popular but we found a space with wind protection and set up camp for 2 nights. The camp ground has a toilet, cold shower and rubbish bins and costs $10 a night.

The next day we visited Elliston and did the cliff top drive which features various sculptures along the way. The drive gives views of the rugged coastline and includes the Black Fellows surf break which is a challenging left hand break that pitches out over a shallow reef. This spot was the scene of the tragic death of young surfer Jevan Wright in 2000 when he was taken by a great white shark. As we watched the handful of surfers in action a sea lion appeared amongst them which would have made them nervous as great whites like to feed on them.

Unfortunately the jetty at Elliston was closed, not sure why, so we had a drive around the town and had lunch down at the foreshore which had a new picnic area with barbeques and amenities. It seems like the town has had a major upgrade as the jetty area and other places around town all had brand new facilities.

In the afternoon we tried fishing back at Walkers Rock but the wind was horrendous and made fishing impossible. We ended up having dinner and going to bed early due to the relentless wind. Tomorrow we head to Streaky Bay for a few days.
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Posted by OzJourney 03:06 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Coffin Bay National Park

Untamed

overcast 23 °C

Before we left home we had the front wheel bearings replaced as a preventative maintenance measure due to the fact that they hadn’t been replaced for a long time. As it turns out the job wasn’t done properly and both front wheel bearings had a lot of free play with the left side particularly bad. After having the bearings adjusted and regreased we headed out to the Black Springs camp area in Coffin Bay National Park. You can’t pre book camp sites in the park (however from 27-02-17 it is changing to online booking) and when we arrived all sites were taken. However there is an overflow area a little further away from the toilets which has much more room, is flat and overlooks the bay, so we set up camp here with no other campers nearby.

The track into the park is bitumen up to Yangie Bay and is then a mixture of sandy and rocky single lane track into Black Springs. The first part of the track after Yangie Bay has some soft sandy sections where you need to keep up momentum or risk getting bogged but we had no trouble towing the camper in there. Low range and low tyre pressures are required though.

We met three groups of very friendly fellow campers at Memory Cove which were also staying at Black Springs so it was good to catch up again. Windy weather has been a constant in South Australia and here was no exception, with one of our three days here being jumper weather and the nights being cold, which had us in bed before dark. The fishing here was unproductive with only very small salmon being caught and released.

On our second day here we went exploring the 4wd tracks and other beaches and camping areas in the park. To access these other areas you have to drive along Seven Mile Beach which is a nice drive with the bay on one side and large sand dunes on the other. You need to time the drive to avoid high tide as the beach would be very hard to negotiate if you timed it wrong.

Sensation Beach is on the open ocean side of the park and requires a steep climb up a sand dune and down the other side to access the beach. This is a long white sand beach which you can drive on and is quite picturesque. Mullalong Beach (another open ocean beach) was our favourite. It has high rocky headlands at each end, with a very high sand dune in between, and a white sand crescent shaped beach. The view of the beach from the first car park high above the beach was absolutely stunning.

Point Sir Isaac has a great clifftop drive with elevated views of the rugged coastline here. The camp ground near Point Sir Isaac called The Pool is well protected with trees and has large sites. Next time we visit we would stay here as other than the nice wind protected sites you have access to the far end of the park without having to worry about the tides on Seven Mile Beach except on entering and leaving.

The other stunning beach to see in the park is Almonta Beach which is accessed via the bitumen before you get to Yangie Bay. This is a long white sandy beach with high sand dunes disappearing off into the distance. Near Almonta Beach there are lookouts at Point Avoid with views to Golden Island.

We stayed at Black Springs for 3 nights at $12 a night plus $10 park entry. Coffin Bay National Park is a remote wilderness with very few visitors during our stay, it was a pity we were plagued by the wind and cool conditions but we enjoyed it despite the weather.

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Posted by OzJourney 03:57 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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