Eyre do well on the peninsula
From Page 3 Trethewey’s Oysterbeds Restaurant. Closed for the winter (but reopening in early September), this charming bistro would no doubt have pleased Baudin and his crew, with menus built entirely around the catch of the day. The only ingredients not sourced locally are cheese and chicken, says Marion, who relies on friends to grows herbs and limes and collect cockles and crabs from the Coffin Bay channels.
Among Marion’s favourite seafood are baby oysters (six months old), almost unheard of outside Japan but available at Oysterbeds. They’re much sweeter than the larger variety and I often cook them as I would mussels, tossed with garlic, olive oil and a little parsley,’’ Marion tells me.
Our next meal of oysters lies almost 300km away at Streaky Bay. It is an easy drive, however, kaleidoscopic in its embrace, from soft dunes and stands of she-oak glinting with the exotic western ringneck parrot to Murphy’s Haystacks, granite pillars and boulders shaped like modernist sculptures. Nearer Elliston, rock-strewn hills give way to a dramatic cliffed coastline. At Locks Well, a precipitous wooden stairway winds down to a beach battered by surf. Either side of Elliston township, unfenced coastal drives provide incredible views and access to an intriguing sculpture park, each piece set at the cliff’s edge.
Streaky lies still farther west, at the apparent end of the earth, tucked away on a pretty bay that is home to oyster and abalone farmers and patient line fishermen.
Again oysters are available everywhere: at the seafront pub, Mocean Cafe Restaurant, and at Tom Evans’s Oyster Shed on the outskirts of town. Winter is the best time to enjoy oysters and August the optimum month,’’ says Evans as he expertly shucks a plump and sweet justharvested mollusc.
Visitors are able to observe the sorting process (and
Shell-shucked: Oysters fresh from the ocean enjoy a taste) before Evans pops the oysters on a truck bound for Adelaide. And shed prices are very tempting, at a mere $6 to $7 a dozen.
At that price I can use them for bait,’’ says opportunistic son No 2 as we backtrack past Port Kenny, with a quick cuppa at impossibly pretty Venus Bay, before checking into our cabin at Coodlie Park. Craig (Hassie) Haslam, former footballer and erstwhile eco tour leader — his small van makes regular forays across the Nullarbor — provides an alternative glimpse of the peninsula and a fabulous adventure for youngsters inured to action by a virtual life.
Before dinner we head out in Hassie’s battered fourwheel-drive, across the Sahara-like dune landscape, exploring plains of curious lightning sand (small tubes, like tree roots, are formed by lightning strikes) and a busy wombat colony. This wild coastline offers ample opportunities for a spot of FamousFive -style adventure. Hassie has us clambering down a tree trunk into a rather frightening sea cave dubbed the Tub to watch the furious surf shoot through a broad blowhole, and later to daub our faces with rose-coloured ochre from the cliff walls.
While we are out, a huge campfire has been built back at the homestead and Dan from Birmingham, resident WOOFer (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), has whipped up a delicious kangaroo rogan josh.
After dinner there’s time for a brief spotlighting safari (wombats are most active at night) before coffee around the campfire and a stirring rendition of How Much is that Doggy in the Window by Hassie and Molly the singing collie.
What a day. We sleep snug as wombats in a hole while a wild wind blows in from the Southern Ocean. My sons are dreaming of the one that got away while their mother calculates the very real possibility of a sea change. Christine McCabe was a guest of the South Australian Tourism Commission.
The car ferry operates daily between Wallaroo on the Yorke Peninsula and Lucky Bay on the Eyre. More: www.seasa.com.au. The Port Lincoln Hotel has 111 rooms, including 22 suites, restaurant, lounge, sports bar, gaming room and swimming pool. www.portlincolnhotel.com.au. The Oysterbeds Restaurant reopens in September. 61 Esplanade, Coffin Bay. (08) 8685 4000; email@example.com. Coodlie Park offers cabin and camping accommodation together with touring adventures between Adelaide and Perth. More: (08) 8687 0455; www.thetraveller.net.au. www.southaustralia.com www.eyrepeninsula.info www.coffinbayexplorer.com Review of Mocean Cafe Restaurant — Tables, Page 8