Driving East certainly feels like we are on the way home. We have been trying to make the most of each experience each day, rather than giving in to those thoughts of “running out of time”. With a couple of days allocated to the Eyre Peninsula, we drove from Fowler’s Bay to Streaky Bay. On the way, we dived into our guide books. What was here to do? So many people had told us that this part of Australia was wonderful. Having done so much research on so many other areas of Australia, how could we have neglected to find out anything about South Australia?
We got a good campsite, picked up a few brochures at the campground reception, had a haircut and things began to look brighter.
We tackled “The Westall Loop” a poorly signposted but interesting 4WD track past a couple of attractions of Streaky Bay. At High Cliffs, we were just taking in the view when axo1000 was heard to say. “Why is that man waving at us?”
Sure enough from down on the beach, a guy was waving wildly and shouting “Tow! I need a tow!”. Spike gesticulated back, asking for directions to get onto the beach. He said we’d let our tyres down & come to help. Ungrateful Wayne, whose dodgy Range Rover had sunk into the sand at the waterline while trying to tow his boat out, told us we didn’t need to let our tyres down… (after all he’d lived here for 13 years and had never had to do it and could we just hurry up?! hmmm…)
With a nod to our 4WD guru (J Bohemian of the Northern Territory River Crossing School) we dutifully let our tyres down and lined up on the sand. Ungrateful Wayne tied the snatch rope to a sway bar at the front of his car and insisted that if a “tourist” was going to tow him out, Spike should “Gun it when I give the signal”. As the children and I stood clear, we watched Spike assess this advice and try to mitigate this highly dubious tactic.
Tug took the strain, wheels spinning, and we looked on in horror as the sway bar, from Ungrateful Wayne’s dodgy Range Rover, was ripped from its mounting and flung in a 180 degree arc through the sky towards our car. We imagined the horror of Spike (which would only have been surpassed by Bix) at this incredible breach of safety, and only breathed again as it fell to the sand a metre away from Tug. Axo1000 was duly outraged on Spike’s behalf.
In the long run, Spike & Tug used the “Strong and Steady” method in defiance of all further instruction by Ungrateful Wayne and Tug’s first rescue was a success. Following a few comments about how that was “finally a better piece of towing from a tourist”, Ungrateful Wayne found it in his heart to say those words… “Thanks Mate”.
It was a very powerful lesson to all of us about the grace and beauty of humility.
Back at the camp site on the bay, we were joined again by the lovely Bradys, our friends from Cape Le Grand, and some cockle shell hunting on the tidal flats began.
Way back at the beginning of our trip, we discovered that a family from Perth were embarking on the same adventure as ours. Only clockwise. Our mutual Perth friends dared us to bump into them… and we nearly did. Unbeknownst to us, back in August, the day we canoed on Katherine Gorge, they had taken the cruise. We had made contact a day or two earlier and that night it became apparent that we had crossed over and missed each other.
On the way home, chances of meeting up dwindled as trips changed, and families backtracked. We wondered if we’d just be waving madly through the windscreen on the Nullarbor at a passing caravan.
At Streaky Bay, we were thrilled that Lisa & Graeme and their kids drove all day to finally meet us. We felt like we were greeting long lost friends as they pulled into the caravan park.
Over the next few days our three families found plenty of opportunity for conversations about all things road trip (including disbelief about the headwind on the Nullarbor!) and the sharing of lives that happens as you live outdoors together.
No time was lost by the tribe of children either. They headed out onto the tidal flats to explore. They rode bikes, played cops & robbers & let off steam in the playground together.
We checked out Murphy’s haystacks…
…set on Murphy’s farm against a backdrop of wheat. And we visited beautiful Sceale Bay.
As well as Ungrateful Wayne, there was some other interesting wildlife at Streaky Bay.
axo1000 got up close and personal with a Praying Mantis.
And BloggiE got up close and personal with a shark “Alison Lester Style”. This shark was at the Shell servo and was a life size replica of the largest shark ever caught (at the time) on a fishing rod by a 16 year old kid! Caught at Streaky Bay!
But by far the most wonderful creatures that we encountered were from Baird Bay, just south of Streaky. On a small reef at the mouth of the bay live a colony of Australian Sea Lions. For 20 years, Allan & his wife have been swimming with them and helping others to do the same. They have been involved with scientists in the area, tracking their progress and helping to rescue a few when their mothers are trapped in shark nets or taken in the sea.
It took a little while for the family to wake up!
When finally they began to swim, we were invited in too!
They loved to play. With double wetsuits on, we hopped into the small pool area and with the help of Jake the Guide, we swam right next to them. They loved to roll and dive and the more playfully you could swim, the more they swam alongside you. The water was freezing, but the experience was so exhilarating that even after BloggiE had given up, she dived back in, on the promise of a hot milo later from Allan. axo1000’s expert snorkelling skills allowed him to be within inches of a sea lion for most of the time. It was undoubtedly one of the highlights of his entire trip.
Without our zoom lens, it was hard to get good swimming pictures, but you get the idea.
Finally, when it was time to say goodbye to the sea lions, there was an opportunity to swim with a school of dolphins who lived across the bay. This was an open water swim, and Jake the Guide used a high frequency shark shield to protect us from the local predators. This was an electronic device strapped to his leg and we had to stay within a 10 metre radius of him in the water. I assure you, I held BloggiE’s hand tight, and my eyes, whilst on the dolphins, were never far from Jake!
Watching the dophins pass beneath us, almost within reach, was like seeing a movie up close. They swam in formation and whilst not as playful as the sea lions, some of them also wanted to interact. We saw lots of scratches on their backs, apparently from coexisting with sharks, and one which had a cut in his dorsal fin. They were graceful, elegant creatures. We couldn’t quite believe we were there.
For anyone still reading… we spent an afternoon fishing off the Streaky Bay Jetty.
There was so much action on the jetty, but none of it involved catching anything.
Where are they?
At last! Hooray!! Got one! Actually… do we know you?? The kids had waited for so long that they would cheer and encourage anyone catching something!
Spike eventually pulled in a flathead. It was a legal size YAY!!!!! and we cooked it up to feed the 5000.
We will remember Streaky Bay with great fondness – unexpected encounters with beautiful creatures, sun filled days, natural wonders and friendships forged sharing our journey on the road.