Something in the Eyre… Part 2


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Oceania » Australia » South Australia » Coffin Bay
September 3rd 2020
Published: September 3rd 2020
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At the top of a duneAt the top of a duneAt the top of a dune

Sensation Beach, Coffin Bay National Park
I’m far from the only person to have travel plans wrecked in 2020. This year I finally got long service leave after 10 years in my job and I had plans for 4 different trips away. The first 2 were scuttled almost immediately once the pandemic hit and #4 is still in doubt. But the third trip was 5 weeks in the South Australian outback, and I was determined to make it happen. In July, South Australia almost opened the border with NSW but as they had no cases and Sydney had a small but persistent number of daily cases, that didn’t happen.

I was left with two choices – cancel another holiday or cross the border and do 14 days of quarantine. As I’ve been working remotely for months, I figured I could do two weeks working remotely in South Australia, so I booked an apartment in Port Pirie on AirBnB and packed up the car. Crossing the border went smoothly and thankfully, so did the quarantine. Two negative Covid tests and a lot of tv streaming later, I was free to go.

My holiday began on Tuesday morning and I headed north to Port Augusta. There I
Golden IslandGolden IslandGolden Island

Coffin Bay National Park
filled up on fuel, grabbed a fly net and headed down to Port Lincoln. I had lunch at the Pier Hotel where I ate nearly 12 months earlier on my way to Western Australia. After ducking into the local supermarket to buy some supplies, I was off to Coffin Bay National Park.

I had originally planned to visit Coffin Bay last time but decided to skip it so I could return later and do it justice. And I’m glad I did.

I reached the park at about 4 in the afternoon and it was a quick drive on a good sealed road to Yangie Bay. I stopped to let air out of my tyres because from that point on it was 4-wheel-drive only and I knew some of it was sand. I also attached my new sand flag. Although not needed in Coffin Bay, I thought it might be useful as the track is single lane. I can’t say it was because on my way in I did not encounter another car coming the other way, but I did encounter a number of trees overhanging the track. The flag did survive so it was a good test for
Seven Mile BeachSeven Mile BeachSeven Mile Beach

Coffin Bay National Park
later in my trip.

I arrived at the Black Springs campsite and drove to the spot I had booked. On the way I passed a bunch of young people with their tents pitched not too far away and I was dreading a long night of drinking and music blaring instead of the peaceful camping I was after. Not to worry though, they may have been too young because I didn’t hear a peep out of them after 9:30!

I set up my camp and had a look around. A short walk took me to a nice beach, but the wind was cold so no swimming. There was also a short walking track (about 1.5km) to Black Springs so I grabbed my camera and headed out, even though darkness was already falling. After 14 days stuck in an apartment and unable to even go outside for a walk, I needed to stretch my legs. I was smart enough to bring my headlamp, so I arrived safely back at camp in the dark. The marker posts were highly reflective, so in a way it was actually easier to follow the track in the dark.

On Wednesday morning the rain
Tyres down, ready to hit the tracksTyres down, ready to hit the tracksTyres down, ready to hit the tracks

Yangie Bay, Coffin Bay National Park
arrived. It was light as I was cooking breakfast, but as I sat down to eat it began to pour. Thankfully it didn’t stay around long but there was more on its way. As I would have to take my awning with me (it’s attached to the car), I decided to pack up the whole camp so that everything else didn’t get any wetter while I was gone. I have a pretty quick setup now, so it was no drama.

I hit the track at 10, which was a bit later than I intended. I wanted an early start because high tide was at 5pm and part of the track became impassable. I wasn’t sure how close to high tide that would happen, so I wanted to be on my way back by 3.

The drive from Black Springs to Point Sir Isaac on the northern tip of the Coffin Bay peninsula was about 25km but it was also more fun than the way in. There was a lot of sand and it looked like there were some sand dunes you could drive on. They looked steep and the sand soft, so I gave them a miss and
My neighbour at the campsite next doorMy neighbour at the campsite next doorMy neighbour at the campsite next door

Black Springs campsite, Coffin Bay National Park
stuck with track.

The best part was the drive along Seven Mile Beach. This is the part of the track that is submerged at high tide and I could see where the tide got to. It would definitely be impassable if I left it too late to return.

After leaving the beach, the sand driving was mostly finished. More rain was coming in as I reached Point Sir Isaac and a howling wind was blowing in from the Great Australian Bight. But that just added to the atmosphere. The view was epic, and I spent a lot of time there taking photos. There was also a track heading south that wasn’t on my map, so I went exploring. It didn’t go far but there was a bit more sand driving (including a butt-clenching side angle at one point!) so that was fun.

From there I went back on a different track that took me to Reef Point, but there were a couple of side tracks along the way to beaches and viewing spots. The wind was vicious, especially when it was blowing sand in my face but it’s all part of the fun and I imagine the
On the beachOn the beachOn the beach

Black Springs campsite, Coffin Bay National Park
wind is fairly consistent in this part of the world.

Just as I reached Reef Point my sand flag proved its worth. Coming towards me round a blind corner was the only other car in the 4wd section of the park as far as I could tell. But they had stopped short of the corner, presumably because they had seen my flag, so no dramas there.

It was coming up to 2pm and I was thinking about heading back, just to make sure I could drive down Seven Mile Beach before high tide made it impassable. However, the sign to Sensation Beach said it was just 5km and, as that was the only track I hadn’t yet driven, I decided to risk it.

I drove quicker than I normally would have but thankfully there were no sudden surprises (except for the other car once again!). As I reached the end of the track, I saw that it headed up a dune and my enthusiasm almost became my undoing. I hadn’t noticed that the other car’s tyre prints didn’t extend up the dune – I just went for it. It was probably the most difficult bit of driving
All set upAll set upAll set up

Black Springs campsite, Coffin Bay National Park
I’d encountered because it was soft and there were two turns that reduced your speed.

But my Hilux ate it up without too much effort and as I reached the top I had to stop. On the other side all I could see at the end of the track was ocean. I assume at low tide there was more beach to drive on and maybe there was room to turn around, but I wasn’t going to risk it. The problem was there wasn’t a lot of room to turn around on top of the dune. A 15-point turn later, I was heading back to camp.

Fortunately, the tide hadn’t blocked the track on Seven Mile Beach, but it was getting very close in a couple of places. I got through and even stopped to take a quick photo of a rotting sperm whale carcass that was washed up on the beach. If I’d been smarter, I would have stopped upwind. The smell was indescribable.

I was soon back at camp where I had a late lunch and then set up camp for the night. I decided to change campsites though because my ground sheet had been covered in wet sand and I wanted a grass camp where I could block the wind with my car. To avoid any dramas, I made use of the very limited mobile phone coverage and booked the second campsite. Once I’d set up, I relaxed until dinner time and went to sleep around 10.

On Thursday morning I woke up and although it had rained overnight, the forecasted morning rain was nowhere in sight. I took the opportunity to pack up my swag before I cooked breakfast, but still the sun shone in a near cloudless blue sky. I packed up my now-dry camp and headed back to Yangie Bay with no problem. I was surprised to find that high tide blocks two sections of this track, but there was some fun sand driving on alternative routes.

Back on the sealed road, I reinflated my tyres and headed out to Point Avoid and the Golden Island Lookout. There were some nice views, and a few more cars but the wind was strong, so I just took some photos before I hit the road and headed to Ceduna.

I timed the drive well and reached Streaky Bay (and mobile phone
Coffin Track, near Point Sir IsaacCoffin Track, near Point Sir IsaacCoffin Track, near Point Sir Isaac

Coffin Bay National Park
coverage) within plenty of time to join a virtual farewell for a work colleague whose last day it was. She didn’t know that I was dialing in, and I think she was pleasantly surprised.

By half-past five I was at my motel in Ceduna for a night of sleeping in a real bed. Tomorrow I continue north and head into the desert. Should things go well, the next instalment will be from Coober Pedy early next week.


Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


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Point Sir IsaacPoint Sir Isaac
Point Sir Isaac

Coffin Bay National Park
Point Sir IsaacPoint Sir Isaac
Point Sir Isaac

Coffin Bay National Park
Point Sir IsaacPoint Sir Isaac
Point Sir Isaac

Coffin Bay National Park
Point Sir IsaacPoint Sir Isaac
Point Sir Isaac

Coffin Bay National Park
Point Sir IsaacPoint Sir Isaac
Point Sir Isaac

Coffin Bay National Park
Reef PointReef Point
Reef Point

Coffin Bay National Park
Reef PointReef Point
Reef Point

Coffin Bay National Park
Reef PointReef Point
Reef Point

Coffin Bay National Park
Reef PointReef Point
Reef Point

Coffin Bay National Park
Climbing the sand duneClimbing the sand dune
Climbing the sand dune

Senastion Beach, Coffin Bay National Park
Rotting Sperm Whale CarcassRotting Sperm Whale Carcass
Rotting Sperm Whale Carcass

Seven Mile Beach, Coffin Bay National Park
Coffin TrackCoffin Track
Coffin Track

Coffin Bay National Park
Point AvoidPoint Avoid
Point Avoid

Coffin Bay National Park


4th September 2020

Breaking Covid
Good on you David for taking on the 14 day quarantine so you were not thwarted in your remote South Australian 4WD odyssey. We have done two inner New South Wales forays as someone's gotta do it. Keep well and keep driving!
7th September 2020

Thanks Dave
Glad to hear you've still been able to get some travelling done too. I have another 3 weeks in November and if the Victorian High Country stays off the cards, I'll be staying in NSW. Not sure where yet, but it's a big state so I'll be able to find something!
5th September 2020

Same thing happened to me. Booked 2020 off to travel, and boom pandemic. Like you, I’ve found salvation in my own backyard. Awesome!
7th September 2020

Good to hear you're still able to do some travelling!
13th September 2020
Golden Island

Beautiful colors
Lovely
13th September 2020

14 days
14 days isolating while working is a small price to pay for another adventure. Sorry some of the plans were hit by the world wide pandemic but you've done a great job getting on the road in your backyard. Barvo.
16th September 2020

Thanks
14 days in a place of my choosing is definitely a small price to pay. I try not to complain too much because many people have been affected in worse ways than just not being able to travel. I hope all is well with you guys.

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