WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

Be­tween the pretty sea­side towns of the Eyre Penin­sula are un­tamed re­gions ripe for ad­ven­ture.

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - ESCAPE - WORDS CAROLYN COLLINS

PEER­ING OVER THE edge of a gi­ant cliff of sheer sand, it oc­curs to me that four­wheel driv­ing through 80m high dunes is not for the novice driver – or the faint hearted. Luck­ily, I’m with an ex­pert so I’m per­fectly re­laxed about plum­met­ing nose-first down the other side. Well, al­most. It’s a bit like rid­ing a roller­coaster; you know you’re safe but when you reach that point of no re­turn it’s dif­fi­cult to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween thrilling and ter­ri­fy­ing. Ei­ther way, it’s a lot of fun.

“Now this is real four-wheel driv­ing,” says my guide, Phil Porter, as he races his Nis­san Pa­trol up an­other im­pos­si­ble in­cline. Ex­treme four-wheel driv­ing, more like it. It takes four at­tempts but we even­tu­ally make it to the top be­fore fly­ing down the other side.

Oth­ers aren’t al­ways so lucky. Phil, who with wife Amanda runs the 4WD tour busi­ness Wilder­ness Wan­ders out of Port Lin­coln, is reg­u­larly called upon to pull other ve­hi­cles, driven by am­a­teurs and sea­soned driv­ers alike, out of the soft sand. As we pass a heav­ily-laden ute strug­gling up an­other dune, it looks for a mo­ment like Phil might be pressed into ser­vice again. But the ute’s driver is lucky, and so are we. It’s a gor­geous spring day, with hardly a breath of wind and the turquoise wa­ters of Sleaford Bay are, I’m told, un­usu­ally calm.

“I brought a cou­ple to be mar­ried here on the beach a few weeks back,” says Phil as we stop to en­joy a spec­tac­u­lar view over the pris­tine sandy shore. On the way back we pass the guys from the ute, now on foot, loaded up with rods and eskies. It might be a per­fect spot for ro­man­tic nup­tials but ap­par­ently the fish­ing’s not bad ei­ther.

The Wanna Dunes drive, which fol­lows the south­west coast at the tip of Eyre Penin­sula, is the last fea­ture on our tour to­day, which we’ve done in re­verse due to the late ar­rival in Port Lin­coln of my 40-minute flight from Ade­laide. Un­fazed, Phil had been wait­ing out­side the air­port, along with Wan­der, the nine-month old or­phaned joey, who ac­com­pa­nies the tours, hap­pily

Lin­coln Na­tional Park. Be­low: the mas­sive Wanna Dunes

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