Monday, November 19, 2007

DAY 44: bush camp 25km S of Mount Hope to Coffin Bay

Sun 18th Nov 07
45 km @ 16.4 km/hr
no wind!

Awake 0530 and away before 7; sun already up and casting huge shadows over the tree-lined road. I had a very peaceful night and a good sound sleep in the bush - no traffic at night and all I could hear was the distant rumbling of the breakers crashing on the shore some 3km away. It was over 20 and probably going to be a hot day again, and not a cloud in the sky. Compared to yesterdays dull and featureless sheep terrain this was much more interesting. The ’usual’ eucalyptus bush ended within a few km and more varied trees and plants resulted from the increased human settlement in evidence. Houses were spaced much as in the north of Scotland i.e. every 200 km or so. The smell of pine was added to the usual ‘bush’ smell, and the birds were active at this early hour in their thousands - many galahs and currawong and plenty of others I didn’t identify. Hills were more ion evidence, some steep, but short, and in the absence of headwind not a problem. The scenery was much more interesting too with creeks, dry salt lakes, sea views and plenty of twists and turns in the road.
After 30km/ or so I came to a choice of road - take the gravel road to Coffin Bay (12km) or the tarmac one (24km) so I chose the former, and it was in pretty good shape apart from the odd pothole. I was in CB before 1000 which is the earliest arrival yet, and I relaxed with capuccino and pie and read the Sunday paper for a while. The caravan park next door was excellent, as all the others on the Eyre Peninsular have, and this one was only $9 (£3.75). It was easy to find a shady pitch away from the daytime glare of the sun and after setting up I headed out on the lightened bike to explore. Nice place - strange-shaped coastline with many little bays and lagoons contained within a large lagoon some 2km diameter - white sand, blue sea, dolphins playing etc. - the usual (for this area) idyllic scenery. Quite a few oyster farms out in the bay; this is a big industry here. Oysters are only $7.50 (£3) a dozen and I must try some soon while in the area. There’s a cycle / footpath which stretches for several km around the coast. CB seems to be becoming a rather upmarket place with lots of houses being built although I’d say it is still unspoilt.
I bumped into Bob and Joyce from Newcastle (the NSW one!) for the third or fourth time and we spent the afternoon shooting the breeze over a few beers. We had both discovered that the local yacht club put meals on on Friday and Sunday nights so decided to give it a try. I decided on fish - the locally caught and sought-after King George Whiting, with chips and as much salad as you can eat (and I can eat a lot lol). They were also doing puddings and I went for apricot crumble - so delicious I had to go back for a second helping! The whole thing only cost $21 (£8).
When I returned to the tent there were a few kangaroos hopping around - they love to fed on grass in the early morning and late evening; I guess the stuff they eat in the bush is much more course. they tend to stay at least 50 or 100m away from humans so not quite so tame. As I was cycling the short distance back the galahs put on a terrific squabble - I’m sure me passing on the bike seems to excite them even more, if that’s possible. Like many other creatures here they are beautifully coloured with their perfectly coordinated pale pink and light grey plumage and more dusky pink underparts. They are as common as pigeons are in Britain I would say. It also seems to me that the bird population is greater where there are human- testimony to a begging / scavenging strategy. I saw what I reckon was a white-faced heron this morning, feeding at the edge of the shore; the first I’ve seen if indeed that’s what it was.
Bob offered to take me out fishing in their boat (which they tow along behind them) if I hang around here for another couple of days, but there are so many new places to see it’s tempting to keep moving on, but I’ll make a decision tomorrow. It’s only 40-odd kms to Port Lincoln so I would be there very early as today, which gives me a full day almost to explore on arrival. Difficult decisions; it’s a hard life!

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