There have been a lot of benefits about moving back down to Adelaide. I have a steady home, a gorgeous fiancee and two beautiful bunnies to come home to every day. However, until recently, because of Covid, South Australia (SA) has remained mostly closed off to the rest of the country, and the world.
It’s been quite the adjustment for me. I was used to going overseas every two months, maybe three months at a push! Now, I haven’t used my passport in almost two years and my opportunities for adventure have seemed further and few between.
However, now that summer has finally rolled around, my excitement to explore more of my home state has been reignited, and finally, adventure opportunities (although much closer to home) seem to be more and more accessible.
So, when I managed to score four days off of work, I told Ella to book those days off too and promptly booked us flights to Port Lincoln – a coastal town on the Eyre Peninsula.
Port Lincoln is located on the shore of Boston Bay and interestingly, is thought to have the most millionaires per capita compared to all other cities in Australia! This is likely due to the amount of delicious seafood that call these waters home. Tuna, oysters and lobster equal big bucks, so those working in the field can earn quite the pretty penny for themselves.
It is a good seven hour drive to Port Lincoln from Adelaide, and I gotta be honest, I didn’t have the patience for that! So instead, we jumped on a 50 minute REX flight and arrived in time for breakfast.
We picked up a rental car, ate brekkie at a little French cafe and set off to our first stop – Fishery Bay.
The weather was cold, wild and windy, but the sand was pristine, the water blue and I absolutely loved getting Droney Boi 2.0 up in the air! For those of you who aren’t aware, my beloved first drone took an unceremonious swim late last year and it took me about a year to replace it. I had felt so comfortable using my trusty DJI Mavic Pro, but when it came time to buy a new one, the DJI Air 2S seemed like the best option. Despite both being DJI drones, getting used to my successor took a little while, and this was the first flight we had together where I started to get a little bit of that confidence back.
After we had worked up an appetite clambering around on the beach and surrounding sand dunes we had worked up quite the appetite. We made a beeline for The Fresh Fish Place, which has a reputation for being the best seafood eatery in Port Lincoln. Ella ordered fish and chips, whereas I went for the garlic mussel pot – a choice I ended up being very pleased with!
We had both had quite big weeks at work, so after lunch we checked into our AirBnB and had a lovely nap. That evening we indulged in a fancy dinner at Peter Teakle Wines and treated ourselves to an early night.
The next morning involved quite the early rise.
Port Lincoln is most well known by tourists for being the place in Australia where you can cage dive with Great White Sharks – something which I have done before in both Port Lincoln and South Africa. However, Ella is (bless) a bit less willing to risk life and limb than I am and I now believe that the chumming practices associated with Great White Shark dives are unethical, and so instead we settled on a different wildlife encounter at sea.
Swimming with sea lions!
After consuming many (many) anti seasickness tablets, we set out on what ended up being about a 90 minute boat ride. We arrived at our first location and hopped in the water, but all of the sea lions were too busy basking in the sun to be bothered joining us in the water, so after about 20 minutes of no success, we set off to a secondary location, where once again, the sea lions were playing hard to get.
However, one little pup eventually got curious enough to enter the water!
This stunning pup was full of beans and ready to play – which made for a wonderfully memorable interaction.
I feel like I should mention that I am sure other people in our group had a different experience than I did, but honestly, this all boils down to how much confidence you have as a swimmer in open water and how much energy you put into engaging with the wildlife.
There were about 20 people in the water with this sea lion, but it paid the most attention to the guide (who had a gopro in the large domed housing) and myself – because unlike anyone else in our group – we were playing with the little pup! I would duck dive down to the floor to be closer, blow bubbles at her and do spins – much of which she would reciprocate and then come right up close to me.
It was epic.
My GoPro pictures aren’t the best, but I did manage to get some decent video! Excuse the shots of my weird face, I haven’t used a GoPro in years and it took a bit of button pushing to get the videos recording (wow, I am getting old).
We were absolutely knackered once we got back to Port Lincoln (anti sea-sickness tablets have a drowsy side effect) so we spent the rest of that afternoon napping!
The next day however, was to be a big one. There were quite a few spots that I was determined to visit, so when I became sick that morning (vommitty kind of sick, not Covid kinda sick) I refused to let that interfere. We bought a bucket from the supermarket in case I needed to vomit in the car and we set off to do a little exploring.
Our first stop was The Swimming Hole. It looked absolutely glorious but I was in no shape to do the scrambling required to get down there safely, so after a little looksie we decided that we would come back the following day to go for a dip.
We ended up deciding to drive to some beaches near Coffin Bay – a decision I was extremely happy with.
By the time we arrived at Farm Beach my illness had disappeared, the sun was shining, the weather was warm and the water looked inviting – I couldn’t wait to go in for a dip!
Farm Beach is one of the many beaches in Australia that permits 4wd vehicles to drive along it, but as we didn’t have one, we parked in the car park and walked down to a secluded section of the bay. After thoroughly dousing myself in sunscreen, it was time to fly the drone and cool off in some truly beautiful water.
Seriously, how gorgeous is this water?!
Farm Beach is the kind of beach that I want to return to armed with a beach umbrella and an esky full of booze and snacks. It is the perfect place to spend an entire day relaxing, although due to our lack of planning and the unrelenting sunshine, we did end up departing after a few hours – these pale ladies needed to get out of the sun!
After we left Farm Beach, we drove a little bit further onwards to nearby Greenly Beach. We had heard that Greenly had beautiful rock pools, but none of them were looking super gorgeous with the tide as it was. However, we did find this incredible flat rock formation separating the beach, which made for some absolutely epic photographs.
Before too long, the sky darkened, the waves got extra rough and a storm started to roll in, so we decided to call it a day and start the drive back to Port Lincoln.
The next day, I was feeling much better and ready to spend our last day out exploring. We had a flight back to Adelaide that evening at around 1900, so we had all day to enjoy!
We started the day by driving back to Coffin Bay for a little oyster farm tour. We had done one in Tasmania that Ella and I really enjoyed, so it seemed like an absolute no brainer to do it again in Coffin Bay.
Once we arrived, we got kitted out in some waders and wasted no time in getting out into the water!
We waded out to this gorgeous floating restaurant, where we would get to shuck and eat oysters, drink wine and get a little history lesson about the industry and the area. I had pre booked us beers, wines and a bloody mary oyster shot (kinda delish, ngl) and by the time the tour was over I was a little more than just lightly toasted. How I didn’t end up slipping and flooding my waders is a mystery and a miracle!
After chowing down on a big seafood meal (including some absolutely delicious prawns and lobster) it was time to head back to The Swimming Hole.
Now, getting down is far from impossible but it also isn’t exactly a walk in the park. There is a ladder hanging off the sheer cliff face (attached by a chain) that you must climb down, it isn’t hard but I can understand that it might be nerve-wracking for some! After the initial descent there is quite a bit of rock scrambling required to get to the water, it wasn’t easy but I have also done much more difficult scrambling. If I can do it, you probably can too.
It was a bit of an effort to get there, but oh boy, it was worth the aching quads!
The water was perfectly refreshing, the sounds of the waves crashing into the rocks were mesmerising and the views were absolutely glorious. We had a stunning (practically private) swimming hole – I couldn’t think of a better way to relax before our flight home.
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Calypso Tours: Calypso are the best tour option for anyone wanting to swim with sea lions! I am fairly sure they still practice chumming, so from an ethical travel point of view, I wouldn’t recommend them for Great White Shark swims – but please keep in mind that there are a lot of people who believe this to be a perfectly fine practice – it is all about your personal values. There used to be a company in the area who lured Great Whites by playing music underwater, but they have since been bought out by Calypso, which is disheartening. A sea lion swim costs $215, click here to learn more
Coffin Bay Oyster Farm Tour: This fantastic tour is a must-do for any oyster lovers! A standard tour (including 6 oysters) costs $50 and you can add on extras such as drinks and souvenirs as you please, click here to learn more
Whalers Way: The Swimming Hole is located within the Whalers Way tourist area. You will need a permit to enter the area, which costs $40 per day and is absolutely worth the moolah!
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 lenses as well as with the DJI Air 2S drone
Remember: Bring sunscreen, motion sickness tablets and an appetite for seafood!