We are headed for the Nullarbor Plains and the Eyre Highway which is the route to Western Australia. We were looking forward to enjoying this iconic stretch of highway. But you meet a lot of different people in campgrounds (time on our hands?) and they all said go around the Eyre Peninsula. So we did. First stop Whyalla on the east coast of the peninsula and just south of Port Augusta which is really the entry point to the Eyre – motto “A breathe of fresh Eyre”. Whyalla is a pleasant town whose recent saviour has been an English billionaire. Steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta announced plans in 2018 to purchase and expand the town’s defunct steelworks. Maybe there is some karma in the world or at least in Whyalla. As in a lot of provincial towns there is an Old Whyalla and a New Whyalla town. The old one is pretty much closed up bar the pub. The new one is shopping malls and supermarkets. I prefer the old one and its history and timeless century old buildings. Sad really.
We were camped at Port Lincoln and got chatting to a man from Brisbane. He was accompanied by Rosie girl. Rosie, a lurcher, had been brought to Australia from Ireland. For those of you who have met the dogs at Chateau Unang you will understand why we had a quiet weep. Loop’s sister?
Whyalla was also the start of the Eyre Peninsula’s seafood trail aka the Seafood Frontier. Our next stop was to be Port Lincoln at the heart of Australia’s multi-million dollar tuna industry. Making our way lazily south along the peninsula’s east coast we passed through the seaside township of Cowell (oysters), and arrived in Tumby Bay. A nonchalant seaside town spread along a glistening parabolic bay, Tumby Bay seems to have it all including a lovely beachside campground. We had to stop. This was our first introduction to Razorfish sometimes called the Razorclam. These are large shellfish with very sharp edges and which have the annoying habit of poking the sharp part upwards out of the sand and underwater. We were told a very nasty cut can ensue. A little known fact is that razorfish are well dressed as attested to by the beachside sign “RAZORFISH WEAR SHOES”. Tumby Bay also had a weather worn jetty around the footings of which live leafy sea dragons. Seahorse like and covered with seaweed like structures they are very difficult to spot. Interestingly Mum throws the hundreds of potential babies to Dad who fertilizes then incubates them over the 6-8 week gestation period before “giving birth”. Scary thought.
We had a night in Port Lincoln which has a thriving Southern Bluefin Tuna industry. Port Lincoln is the centre of the Eyre Peninsula and its biggest town. The campground on the foreshore had a unique terraced setup meaning every site had a view over the bay. Explorer Matthew Flinders and his cat Trim visited in 1802 and named the town after his home county in England. It is a bit of a success story growing from old fashioned tuna pole fishing to the $300 million industry it is today. The industry boomed in the 1960s driven by Croation immigrants, went bust with overfishing in the 1970s and then was managed into the sustainable industry it is today. SBT fishing is unique in its concept of ranching. The fish are herded in large seine nets to fenced ranches in the ocean and harvested under quota as they improve in size and condition allowing better sustainability of the species. There is evidence in the town of the spoils of SBT with some spectacular homes built on the ocean cliffs. Sadly a news item when we were there suggested the SBT feeding grounds are moving east giving debate as to how Port Lincoln can maintain its fishing industry from afar.
Coffin Bay Oyster Farming
A short hop to the west coast of the peninsula is Coffin Bay home to the Coffin Bay oyster and acres of oyster farms. There is also a thriving crayfish industry here apparently. We came across an old sea dog shucking oysters by his cray boat. “How’s the crayfishing going” we asked. “Not good”. “Why is that” we said. ” ‘Cause the bloody worlds ass over tit” he replied. We moved on but had a great night in a cafe on the foreshore eating oysters, fish and chips, drinking wine and chatting to the locals. In the morning we woke to emus on the camp ground edges.
Alaska and me enjoying a walk at Mt Dutton Bay. There is not a lot at Mt Dutton Woolshed campground except quiet and beautiful sunsets..
A fellow camper suggested we stop a night at Mt Dutton Woolshed campground on Mt Dutton Bay. We are so pleased we did.
This is a simple camp site with basic toilet facilities and water provided but so quiet and set along the bay. We thought we might be alone but a second couple in camper trailer from Brisbane turned up. The sunset was gorgeous and the sunrise equally spectacular. The campground manager has turned an abandoned woolshed into a cafe so it is not all isolation. And I made great friends with Alaska the local kelpie. We have been invited back next year for three months to dog sit when Jacqui takes some time off.
Our final few days on the Eyre Peninsula were spent at Streaky Bay on the west coast. Campers flock here for the fishing. King George Whiting and squid abound along with flathead, mullet and blue swimmer crabs. We were lucky to be camped beside Phil and Bev who supplied us with fish each day.
Streaky Bay is a lovely northfacing very tidal bay. Tons of seafood and plenty of those interested in the catch. Campers here come for three months with their boats and pots.
One thought on “The Seafood Frontier”
Beach looks stunning. Not so sure about the pelicans and emus hanging around….they almost look tame.