This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2010 Travels May 5


Today a longer drive was on the agenda, to wrap up our sight seeing from the Streaky Bay base.

Again, headed south on the Sceale Bay Road. The roughly 30 kms provided some variety – farmland, low scrubby bush, then the Yanerbie Sand Hills off to the west, and finally, views out to sea.

The settlement at Sceale Bay was similar to Yanerbie.

We didn’t linger, but doubled back a little way then took the Point Labatt road. This route, in part, followed the western side of Baird Bay, a long, narrow inlet. In a few parts, the road was almost in the water of Baird Bay!

Sceale Bay and Cape Blanche

The attraction at Point Labatt was, of course, the sea lion colony there – the only such colony on mainland Australia.

Sea lions sunbaking – and their ponderous flipper prints.

A platform has been built at the top of the cliffs, so one can watch the creatures going about their normal lives – which are lived at a pretty slow pace. There are little coves below, where they sleep and sunbake, on the sand and rocks. Some of them were really big, and so ungainly out of the water. The big old males could be pretty bad-tempered too. It occurred to me to wonder if that’s a mammalian characteristic that is common across different species? Decided it might be politic to keep that thought to myself, though.

When we’d watched our fill of sea lions, drove back to Sceale Bay road, then east to Calca, then took a minor road back down the eastern side of Baird Bay, to the township of that name. It resembled Yanerbie, too, only somewhat larger.

We sat in our vehicles, looking across Baird Bay to the far side, where we’d driven earlier, and ate lunch.

Retraced our way, stopping briefly to have a browse around in the Old Calca Cemetery, a small collection of old graves sitting in the middle of a harvested paddock. Bleak, lonely, sad.

Thence to Murphys Haystacks. This stop was more interesting than I’d expected. Like Pildappa Rock, these are inselbergs, but not as big.

Murphys Haystacks

There’s a number of them, in clusters, quite close together, with a path that wanders around and through them.

They are a strange and unexpected occurrence in the flat farming land.

Eroded into strange shapes…

Apparently, the original Murphy, who had the farm around these formations, was buried in the Old Calca cemetery.

The head of a sea lion?

Arrived back in town mid-afternoon. Checked out a hardware shop and an electrical store – in order to buy M a heater! Suddenly, she’d gone from scoffing at the creature comforts we carry, to being a convert…

I had a quick browse in a craft store. Didn’t see anything I couldn’t resist.

The mousey resident was still keeping M awake at nights, and she had been finding the odd chewed-through items in her stores. But there was a mouse plague in these parts, and not a mouse trap to be had in town!

From camp, we went walking along the track that follows the western shoreline of Blanche Port, out and back. We probably walked about 3kms in all. The flies were really sticky and annoying, and we had a couple of short spells of light rain drizzle, so it wasn’t the best of conditions. Watched a couple of nankeen kestrels hunting and hovering, looking for their dinner, admiring how they could hover in one spot for some time, despite the breeze.

Streaky Bay beach

Tea was ham steaks and pineapple, mash, and John had a couple of eggs with that.

This was another chilly night. M christened her new heater.

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2004 Travels April 4


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.

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Sea lions on rocks below the lookout point

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.

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Big bull male, and others

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.

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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.

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Sea lion tracks above the tide line

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.

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Smooth Pool

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High Cliffs

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.