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Eyre Peninsula - From Ocean to Outback

01 May 2012


From Ocean to Outback

By Stephanie Williams

I don’t think it had ever occurred to me that you can swim with sea lions. Dolphins yes, but sea lions? Being something of a water baby, I was pretty excited to find out that in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula you could indeed swim with these playful animals. Better yet, you can do it in the wild.

Eyre Peninsula is a true coastal playground offering not only spectacular beaches but also bountiful seafood and an array of unique marine activities. Before venturing further up the coast for my sea lion encounter, I decided to take a dip with another creature of the ocean – southern bluefin tuna.

Tuna are a major money-maker for the Eyre Peninsula with the region supplying over 25 per cent of the market supply in Japan and 95 percent of Australia’s quota. As Matt Waller from Adventure Bay Charters, which operates the tuna swim experience, explained, “There are three things we like to do in this town; catch tuna, eat tuna and talk about tuna.”

These whopping-big fish grow up to two metres long and can swim at up to 70 kilometres an hour, so to jump in the water with dozens of them flashing by was quite the adrenalin-rush.

The Eyre Peninsula is a region of vast and spectacular landscapes and to best experience it I enlisted the help of Geoff Scholz of Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris. Geoff offers a range of safaris ranging from day tours to four day adventures that showcase the outback and the coast.

Our tour kicked off in Baird Bay where I was able to fulfil the dream I never knew I had – swimming with sea lions.

We approached the sea lion colony in a small boat and watched as they basked in sunshine and wallowed in the rock pools. When we leapt into the water the sea lions inquisitively swam over, coming within arm’s reach and copying our movements. The interaction with these ‘puppies of the sea’ was extraordinary and the time spent playing with them is something I will never forget.

Our base for the weekend was Kangaluna Camp, an eco-friendly sanctuary in the middle of nowhere with luxurious safari tents as accommodation. Each tent is 7x5 metres with two rooms, three plush beds, and an ensuite all encapsulated within canvas walls and a raised wooden floor. It was everything I love about camping; simplicity and remoteness but with the luxury of a hotel room.

Eyre Peninsula, Lake GairdnerEach day, we ventured out into the Gawler Ranges outback discovering the creatures and sights of this ancient, untouched landscape. It soon became apparent that Geoff is a true outback maverick, a man of the land with a wealth of knowledge to share. We enjoyed wildlife spotting, sunset drinks, and Lake Gairdner – a vast and glistening salt lake that stretches spectacularly across the ochre coloured desert. Every moment was magical.

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