Goodbye Venus Bay. On to Ceduna and Fowlers Bay.

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September 22nd 2015
Published: September 22nd 2015
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It was blowing a gale again the morning I left Venus Bay. Too windy to stay; too windy to drive. However, drive I did. Heading north up the west coast of the Eyre Peninsular, straight into the wind. Lovely! But good old Sally was very happy to chug along at 80 kms per hour and we had the road to ourselves heading in our direction, so all was well. On top of the wind however there was the heat to cope with as the mercury soared into the 30s. I promised myself that if it was too terrible, I would stop in Streaky Bay. But it was just as windy there and there are few free camp sites anywhere there, so after filling with water and fuel and grabbing some juice and fly spray from the supermarket, off we went.

And so … not to bore you all with repetitive details … thus continued the drive all the way to Ceduna and a couple of days later, here to Fowler’s Bay where I am happily camped on the foreshore of the most georgeous bay set behind stunning white mountainous sand dunes.

Sadly the conservation parks where I had hoped to spend a couple of peaceful nights in the northwest of the Eyre Peninsular proved most unwelcoming. I did stop in at Haslem (a favourite spot from almost 20 years ago) for lunch, a walk on the jetty and some pics. But even there the wind made life very uncomfortable and there was little protection to be had.

Ceduna is an unremarkable place – and apart from a couple of shots which I have combined into a panorama of the foreshore to the bay, I found it quite uninspiring. (Blame the wind). So rather than spend another night there, I set out onto the Eyre Highway and the beginning of the Nullabor at about 4pm that afternoon and despite the wind, arrived in Penong less than an hour later.

While walking round town that morning, I met a elderly chap in a mobility scooter with an interesting face and was intrigued enough by his presence in this little town to engage him in conversation and ask if I could take his photograph. He was more than willing to chat and share his story. He lives in Penong, has for about 35 years. He is confined to and reliant on his mobility scooter because to use his words, “a mad woman in a brute of a vehicle couldn’t stay on her own side of the road” which I came to understand meant that he was hit by her car. Now he barely copes with everyday living because despite the best work of neurosurgeons over many years, his brain suffers “short circuits” and there is little more they can do. He used to be a surveyor, and named many illustrious and well known landmarks throughout SA on which he worked. When he needed to give up travelling to work because he had to raise two children on his own, he became a commercial fisherman, and so ended up in Penong (well, its only 21 kms from the ocean at Cactus Beach).

The show stopping remark of our conversation was when he revealed his age. “And I’m not even 70 yet”. That made me stop and think. Just one year older than me. And here I am tripping my way across this continent on my own with gay abandon and not a care in the world. There but for the grace of god ……

I have included a photo
Penong man Penong man Penong man

Not even 70 yet!
of this chap. But it’s a different sort of portrait – abstract, and hopefully insightful. To me it shows all the character and experience of his life reduced to a dizzy mystery due to the fact that “some mad woman couldn’t stay on her own side of the road”. As I left him, he was off searching the ground of the streets of Penong for his wallet, which he had lost! And damn if he didn’t think today was pension day, and he had just been told he had to wait till tomorrow!

There, but for the grace of god. And how I am counting my blessings and living every day to the max.

Fowlers Bay

The signs here say that this is the most spectacular coastline in Australia. I think they are right. One leaves the Eyre Highway and turns onto what promises to be a sealed road to Fowlers Bay. But after 7 kms it gives way to gravel, but I have never driven on such a smooth well maintained gravel road anywhere. After about 20kms you come out of the scrub land over the crest of a hill and there laid out before you is the most spectacular view which encompasses a huge royal blue bay open to the ocean at its extreme, and waters of every shade of blue and aqua rolling to shore of white beach. And to the south and west of the bay a continuous mountain of rolling stunning crystal white sand dunes as far as the eye can see.

I had a quick look around the town and decided to head on out to Scotts Beach and the Conservation Park where I had hoped to camp. The road crosses low lying swamp lands and dry salt basins which lie immediately behind the sand dunes. Scotts beach is supposedly only another 12 kms away – but after going probably 7 kms, I finally decided that to push my old wagon any further over the worst corrugations I have ever encountered (even north west of Renmark on the way to Chowilla Station last year), would simply be asking for something on the wagon to break and trouble with a capital T. Reluctantly I headed back to Fowlers Bay which is a thriving metropolis! Resident population is 18. There are more people staying in the caravan park each night.

I am waiting here to go on one of the Eco Friendly Whale Watching Cruises that they run from here. The boat was out yesterday (which was a stunning calm sunny day) but today the wind has howled in again from the South and the weather is not going to be good enough for another cruise until Saturday. So I am waiting. And enjoying this pristine part of the world as I rest, meditate, reflect, sleep, fish (yes I’ve been lent another fishing rod), photograph to my heart’s content and play with my photos.

Today I rose before the sun and greeted the morning on the jetty and foreshore. Then wandered behind the town up into the lowlands of the sand dunes. Camera in hand of course.

A little later in the morning, I went for a walk WITHOUT my camera. Sat contemplating the wild waves and wind at the end of the jetty for as long as I could take the buffeting of the wind, then wandered out of town towards the sand flats and discovered a quad bike trail up into the dunes themselves. I wandered in the dunes for about an hour – up hill and down dale – I thought I would not get lost because I could follow my footprints back. I didn’t allow for the fact that the wind was so ferocious that by the time I turned around to go back, all my footprints had been erased. It was as if I had never been there. It was so beautiful – rolling hill upon rolling hill of sand of all shades from white, through beige to yellow. Great drop off cliffs and valleys just appear in front of you. I thought if I could just make it to the top of the next crest, surely I would be able to see the ocean. Eventually I did catch a glimpse of the ocean but there were still many steep hills and precipitous drop offs between me and a decent view of the waves. So after emptying my lungs with a few scales and a couple of high Cs for the wind to carry away, I reluctantly admitted defeat and decided to take my weary body back to camp. No photos, sorry – it was just me and mother nature.

Fowlers Bay Days 3 and 4

Spectacular. That’s the only way I can describe my time here. Yesterday I walked back up into the dunes, camera in hand this time. I will let the photos speak for themselves. Although I did get a little poetic and for better or worse, here is what I came away from my couple of hours wandering the dunes with.



Steadfast, immovable, strong.

Beautiful colours reflecting the light

Many shades softened and slight.

Shaped by the wind

Rippled and moved

Shifting slowly each day

Silent mute sentinentals

Watching the clouds

Keeping the ocean at bay.

Sand dune.
Beautiful, resounding with silence

Giving the solitude I seek;

Touching my spirit

Snatching my words

No sentence your beauty can speak.

No words are required

You sing your own song

Carried daily away on the wind.
Reach into my soul,

Touch the clay of my birth
Bless me here as I sit on your peak.

May my days ring with echoes

Of the calmness you spread

And my feet feel the lift of your winds.

Additional photos below
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