SUNDAY 4 APRIL STREAKY BAY
Had a lazy morning and early lunch, then went for a drive – south to Point Labatt, to see the Australian sea lion colony that lives there. This was unique as the only permanent mainland sea lion colony in Australia.
Sea lions have similarities to seals, but also key differences, one of which is sheer size.
We went out of town and south on the Flinders Highway, then took the turn off to Calca, then the Point Labatt road, before we reached Sceale Bay. Once off the highway, the roads were unsealed, but firm and fine to drive on.
Baird Bay is a strange shaped inlet that extends north from Venus Bay in a long, narrow, shallow finger of water. West of Calca, we travelled along its northern edge for a way, with it seeming to be almost level with the road. Then the Point Labatt road ran south on also a narrow finger of land, between Baird Bay on one side and the Southern Ocean on the other. In places we passed sand dunes, other parts were scrubby or semi bare. Again, in places, we ran very close to the shore of Baird Bay.
We were surprised, and rather horrified, to come across a land subdivision on the way to Point Labatt, stretching from the shore of Baird Bay, to the ocean, across scrub and sand dune terrain. They were large acreage lots, but I would have thought the environment there was pretty fragile, and with problems to do with water sourcing and waste disposal. I guessed they did things differently in SA!
Point Labatt faces west, onto the Southern Ocean. Here, the high cliffs of that part of the coast, have been eroded back to form rock shelves and platforms, and small bays with little sandy crescents of beach.
One views the sea lions from a lookout point on the cliffs, high above the small beach and rocky areas where they live. There is no access down to their level, which was probably a good thing for both the sea lions and people. Binoculars were a distinct advantage, as was the zoom lens on my new digital camera – a feature of it I’d not used before.
There was a mix of a few big bull males, several females -smaller – and younger, part-grown ones. There was not a great deal of activity from them! They definitely gave the impression that their life was all about just lying about, sunbaking.
There was the occasional ungainly waddle, from one point to another – clearly, their thick layers of fat were heavy to haul around on land. There was some movement from the water onto the rocks.
Despite the lack of action, watching them for a while was strangely interesting.
The males were distinguishable, apart from size, by the cream colour on the back of their necks.
We tore ourselves away from the sea lion show, retraced our way back to the Sceale Bay road, and turned west again, to visit that hamlet. There was a small, basic caravan park there; the majority of the houses seemed to be holiday ones rather than full time dwellings. Apart from wonderful views to sea, there was little to recommend the place.
We followed a roundabout route that took us to Smooth Pool, The Granites and High Cliffs – all scenic landmarks on what was a rugged and spectacular stretch of coastline.
Unfortunately, we really did not have enough time to walk about and properly explore those features.
It was almost dark when we got back to camp.