Something in the Eyre


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Oceania » Australia » South Australia » Port Lincoln
September 17th 2019
Published: September 17th 2019
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Driving the dunesDriving the dunesDriving the dunes

Sleaford-Wanna Track, Lincoln National Park
Nobody should visit Port Lincoln and the Lincoln National Park. Ever. If someone you know indicates they are planning to visit, stop them immediately. Please, do not ignore this warning.

Why? Because I had such a great time with very few other tourists about, and I’d like it to stay that way! I will be coming back for a longer visit without a doubt. I only had two days and I know there is much more to see and do. I’m genuinely surprised that the area is not as inundated with tourists as other parts of Australia. Sure, it’s a bit harder to get to but it is not remote at all.

I left my motel in Port Augusta at 9am on Sunday morning, which was apparently quite late because every other car, but one, had already left. I drove for an hour and stopped at Whyalla to top up my fuel tank, and pick up some bread and breakfast at the bakery. With everything topped up, I continued driving south/southwest down the Eyre Peninsula.

After my drive through outback NSW, the drive down the Eyre Peninsula was a complete contrast. For much of the drive there were rolling green fields on at least one side of the road, often both. The road itself was surrounded by native coastal vegetation which seemed out of place in the luscious pastures. Although, I don’t think they actually were pastures. I think most were wheat fields, or other grains.

I arrived in Port Lincoln at about 1pm and headed straight to the Visitor Information Centre. Not because I was looking for some tourist information – I already knew what I was here to do. I had to pick up a couple of keys to access my campsite and my destination for Monday. After leaving a deposit for the keys, I was ready to go.

The lady said my campsite took about an hour and a half to get to, which was a surprise as it doesn’t look that far on the map. However, even if it did take that long, I still had plenty of time, so I decided to have a look around the Port Lincoln foreshore. The centrepiece was the jetty, which had an enclosed swimming area that a few kids were making use of. It’s always a bit awkward when carrying a large camera around kids
The Beach at Memory CoveThe Beach at Memory CoveThe Beach at Memory Cove

Lincoln National Park
swimming, but thankfully nobody got the wrong idea and I was able to take photos of the foreshore in peace. I then had a bite to eat at the Pier Hotel before heading out to the Lincoln National Park.

The road into the park was a good, sealed road and I made good time on it. However, after a few kilometres, I turned off onto the Wanna Road. This was still a pretty good road, but no longer sealed. My next turn was onto the Memory Cove Road and I was now definitely off-road. While not difficult 4x4 territory, it was certainly rough. I stopped to lower my tyre pressures to 26 psi before continuing.

After a few kilometres I reached the locked gate for which I had picked up the key. From there, I had about 20km to drive to my campsite at Memory Cove. It took me over an hour to do the drive - the road was so rough, I could not drive very fast along most of it. It was also narrow, so when I passed a car coming out, and he said there were 4 more in his convoy, I stayed and waited for them all because I was in a good spot for passing.

I was hoping that with so many cars leaving, I would have the campsite to myself. Unfortunately, there were some others, but they were at the other end of the campsite, so I was pretty much by myself. The campsite that I had booked months ago had room to pitch my tent beside the car. It was only after I had bashed all the pegs into the very rocky ground that it occurred to me that perhaps the grass area between the numbered campsites was where tents were supposed to go. But the only break in the chain around my campsite only had a walking exit toward the beach, and on one side the grass was on a slope, the other it was underneath the trees. So, I’m not sure if I did it right, but it worked for me.

With camp set up, I settled back for a relaxing night of quiet reading and listening to the small waves crash on the nearby beach. The other campers were in bed before I ate dinner at about 9pm, so it was very peaceful. There was a
JettyJettyJetty

Port Lincoln
slight, gusting wind that made it quite cold, so I retired to my tent at about 10 and had a very peaceful night’s sleep. I woke a few times to hear the patter of some light rain, but other than the constant surf, the next sounds I heard were the bird calls in the morning.

I got up in the morning and took it easy, taking some photos at the beach and cooking breakfast. It then dawned on me that it was going to take an hour just to exit, so I didn’t actually have all the time in the world. I set off at about 10am, hoping it would be safe to leave my tent behind.

My main destination for the day was the Whaler’s Way, a road on private property that visits numerous sights on the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula. I had picked up the key on Sunday so I would be able to get in. However, to get there, I was following the recommendation in a 4 wheel driving book and going to take the Sleaford-Wanna track which runs between the Wanna lookout inside the park, and the Lone Pine lookout at Sleaford,
JettyJettyJetty

Port Lincoln
near the beginning of the Whaler’s Way.

So once outside the locked gate to Memory Cove, I turned left and took the Curta Rocks track up to the Wanna lookout. Wow! Being a Monday morning, I was the only one at the lookout, but I don’t know why. It was every bit as spectacular as, say the Great Ocean Road. This place should be packed with tourists! I walked along the cliff to get a few photos and could have kept walking, but I knew I had a lot planned for the day, so I headed back to the car.

Just down the road from the lookout, I found the beginning of the Sleaford-Wanna track. The signs had lots of warnings about having a suitable 4-wheel drive and experience, and mentioned that there was no recovery service for cars that got stuck. This gave me pause, as I could see the track headed over sand dunes. But this was one of the reasons I had come and I had recovery gear, so I lowered my tyre pressures to 18 psi and headed on.

The track was a lot of fun to drive on. The sand was not
GullsGullsGulls

Port Lincoln
too soft, so even when I stopped on a slope at one point, I was able to get started again in first gear (low range). The Hilux handled all the dunes without a worry. I would have liked to spend more time playing on the dunes, but I didn’t want to spend all day there, and I wasn’t sure if the sand was as good to drive on off the track. The track is marked with poles, so it was easy to follow most of the time. Between the dunes there were some very narrow sand tracks (which was the reason I stopped on a slope at one point), and some rocky sections like the road to Memory Cove which shook and juddered the car a lot. However, on the lower tyre pressure it was definitely a bit more comfortable so I decided I would leave it low when I returned to camp that night.

I reached the end of the track at the Lone Pine lookout at about 1pm with no dramas. I stopped at the lookout for more photos and got distracted by the birds that teased me with some good photo opportunities every time I was
Kangaroos and EmusKangaroos and EmusKangaroos and Emus

Memory Cove Road, Lincoln National Park
about to put my camera away. The birds were flying a bit closer than they normally do, which reminded me of the great opportunities I had on my last trip in Antarctica and the Falkland Islands. However, I struggled to get a good one. Definitely something I need to practice more.

I then headed to the Whaler’s Way, named due to the area’s history of Whaling, which was once a huge industry here. I unlocked the gate and headed through. I had to wrestle a bit with the lock to re-lock it, which I could only do by reinserting the key. But with that done, I headed in to look around. There are a lot of sites to stop at along the Way, and I wasn’t going to have time to visit them all. So, I picked out my key ones and then figured if I had time I would check out others on the way back.

My first stop was at Cape Wiles, the very southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula. Apparently, fur seals are often spotted there so I had to have a look. There were none when I visited, but the scenery was still spectacular.
My HiluxMy HiluxMy Hilux

Memory Cove Road, Lincoln National Park


I then headed on to Black’s lookout. Although the road to the lookout is closed, you can still walk the 700m and it is certainly worth it! I had already seen some spectacular coastline, but this was definitely the best of the lot. I suspect a lot of people skip it because the road is closed, but they are missing out. The road is a bit rough to walk on, so you need good shoes. But wow! The photos barely do it justice.

My next stop was an Osprey’s nest that had been on a pinnacle in the sea for 40 years. I looked and while I think the pinnacle mentioned was obvious, I could see no sign of a nest or birds flying to and from a nest. Either I was looking at the wrong spot, or perhaps 40 years in the one location was enough of them. I suspect it was the former, but for my sensitivities let’s just say they had moved, okay?

As I was about to head further along the way, I realised that I had forgotten all about eating lunch. I wasn’t all that hungry, so I had some nuts and
CampCampCamp

Memory Cove, Lincoln National Park
continued on my way. I took a track that was marked on my map as a 4wd track up to the Red Banks campsite. It was a bit rough in parts, but nothing I would really describe as a 4wd track. But the view of the windmills along the coastline was worth the effort.

Next stop was the Flinders Crevasse Walk, at Trig Point on Cape Carnot. This was a nice little walk on a barely discernible track through low coastal plants and wildflowers. It terminates at a sign that warns 4 people have drowned past this point, so that was where I stopped. I didn’t really see the crevasse itself, but the sea crashing into the rocks was impressive so I took some photos before heading back to the car.

I drove around to a couple more places, but to be honest, they were not that special when compared to the amazing sights I had already seen that day. It was now after 4pm, so it was time for me to head back to camp. I had possibly left it a bit late already, but as my camp was already set up I figured it would not
The path to the beach from my campThe path to the beach from my campThe path to the beach from my camp

Memory Cove, Lincoln National Park
be a major issue if I arrived back after dark. As it turned out, I had timed it nearly perfectly and arrived back just as dusk was turning into night. I cooked, ate and turned in early as I’d packed a lot into the day and was pretty tired.

Tuesday morning, I packed up camp after cooking breakfast. Again, I was on my way at about 10am. During the drive out, I encountered an emu on the track. Not unusual, as I had see kangaroos and emus every time I drove on the track. But this one was too stupid to head off into the bush and kept running down the road for ages. Eventually, it lost me on a section of road that I had to slow down for, but it didn’t. The track into Memory Cove was definitely more comfortable with the tyre pressures down at 18 psi, but once I was back at the bitumen road, I got out my compressor and pumped them back up so I could drive at full speed.

I had to get to Ceduna that night, but that left me with a few hours. Originally, I had thought to call
EmusEmusEmus

Memory Cove Road, Lincoln National Park
into Coffin Bay National Park, but I decided that would be best left for another trip. Instead, I spent the morning checking out the other sights in the Lincoln National Park that don’t require 4-wheel drive access. And, they were nice enough. But after seeing Memory Cove and the sights on the Sleaford-Wanna track, they were a bit unimpressive.

So, I headed into town to return my keys before heading north-west up to Ceduna. The drive was just over 400km and took about four and a half hours, including a stop at Cummins Point. The sign for the rest area therebhad the camera icon, indicating a sight-seeing opportunity, so I stopped as I was due for a break. The coastline was spectacular, but I was very impressed that it was a local surfing spot too. The guys walked (climbed?) down the cliffs to get into the sea, which produced some nice barrelling waves. I didn’t join them, but instead headed back to my car and continued the uneventful drive to Ceduna. From there, I begin my two-day crossing of the Nullarbor!


Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 31


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KangaroosKangaroos
Kangaroos

Memory Cove Road, Lincoln National Park
From Wanna lookoutFrom Wanna lookout
From Wanna lookout

Lincoln National Park
On the dunesOn the dunes
On the dunes

Sleaford-Wanna Track, Lincoln National Park
More dunesMore dunes
More dunes

Sleaford-Wanna Track, Lincoln National Park
Narrow sand trackNarrow sand track
Narrow sand track

Sleaford-Wanna Track, Lincoln National Park
The coast, looking eastThe coast, looking east
The coast, looking east

Sleaford-Wanna Track, Lincoln National Park
Looking westLooking west
Looking west

Sleaford-Wanna Track, Lincoln National Park
GullGull
Gull

Lone Pine lookout, Sleaford


18th September 2019

Envy
My comment title says it all - I totally agree with your comments on the Eyre Peninsula. I know it is stunning although I didn't have the 'off-road' experiences you have, I just loved the whole area across the bottom of Oz and this brings back such great memories. Looking forward to the next instalment and I'm sure when you leave Mundrabilla, your head will feel much better than mine did - that was the spot at which a tanker driver literally took a stainless steel bucket of white wine from the trailer and gave it to the girls behind the bar and, along with some other patrons, we spent the night drinking for free. Was good at the time but we paid for it next morning.
19th September 2019

I bet!
I camped instead, and have no alcohol with me. I did stay up late taking photos of the milky-way though!
18th September 2019

Great pics beautiful place!
Maybe one day Dave ... when Claudia decides to get a 4wd ... we’ll retrace your steps / tire tracks and head down to this place.
19th September 2019

There's still plenty to see and do without a 4wd!
29th September 2019
Looking west

Love the view
Stunning.
29th September 2019

Of road exploration
Shhh... we won't tell anyone about Lincoln National Park. Sounds like heaven. Your timing on this trip seems to be perfect. Thanks for taking us along.

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