we all know australia is a big place. one look at any map will tell you that. europe could easily fit into australia and even wriggle around in its sleep without falling off the edges. and that is even though australia has shrunk quite a bit 18.000 years ago, when ocean levels rose and cut the mainland off tasmania and papua new guinea.
however, most australians live in a few major cities and they are (almost) as crowded as any other big city in the world. the sense of how amazingly huge this place really is does not sink in when most people can hear their neighbour’s tv almost as well as their own.
or when sight-seeing is a leisurely walk through a couple of streets. this all changes when you get out in the country. take our little tour today as an example. we are currently in streaky bay on the west side of the eyre peninsula. if that all means nothing to you don’t fret, most people would not know where this place is. to give you an idea how far out this is: there are three cafes but on a sunday only one is open and that closes at two; the bakery was not even open and the iga and the foodland were closing up as well.
setting out from streaky bay you drive a mere 20 km to a place called ‘granites’.
next to a line of sheer cliffs is this wonderful bay full of round granite boulders with bright red lichen all over them.
thankfully this place is marked on the local tourist map. in addition there is a well-built and maintained wooden walkway down to the beach (a bit like the one in the photo below). it would not surprise me to learn that sand, wind and water cause more wear than tourist shoes.
on the way we quickly stopped at high cliff and saw dolphins in the waves.
much to natalie’s delight we also bumped into this wild fellow.
he was about to cross the road and nat gently used the stick to persuade him to re-consider that whole idea of checking whether the grass was really greener on the other side. he was not amused but in the end he saw reason. or the stick. good deed of the day: saved a shingleback lizard.
this one must have just gotten off the phone and heard from his mate that there was a blond girl with a stick determined to ensure no shinglebacks were going to be killed today. he turned around as nat got out fo the car. another life saved.
so we’ve seen the high cliff plus dolphins at kilometer 18, the round red lichen covered rock at km 20 and we were only just getting into the swing of things.
we had a quick look at smooth pool around kilometer 25 before passing yanerbie beach (a handful of amazingly big houses in the middle of nowhere) and the white sand dunes there at kilometer 30 before passing sceale bay, heading towards point labatt, 66 km into our quick afternoon lap.
these guys live there: new zealand fur seals and the endangered australian sea lion.
most of them were having a nap and seemed to enjoy the warm sun.
we just about managed to hang on to our hats on top of the cliff. natalie counted 59 seals and managed to establish that 14 of them were males. the rest, she claimed, were females and bubs. i wanted to get out of the wind and back in the car so i didn’t double check. sorry.
next and last on the list was a visit to the famous murphy’s haystacks, at kilometer 100. never heard of them? to be totally honest, the only reason we did was because of a childrens’ book by alison lester we bought years ago which coincidentally describes a family’s trip around australia.
the haystacks are more granite rocks covered in red lichen. these are scientifically called ‘inselbergs’ which in some heathen lingo means something like stranded rocks.
these rocks were formed about 1500 million years ago 10 kilometers below the surface and exposed through erosion of the surrounding softer plain during the last 100.000 years.
this one looks a bit like jabba the hutt.
we were hoping for a nice sunset to drench the haystacks in a bright orange light but instead dark clouds threatened to drench them in rainwater instead so we decided to head back: another 45 km along the flinders highway back to camp.
the last sight of today: two wedgetail eagles feasting on a roo that had not been so lucky to have a natalie with a stick making a point about staying safe when crossing roads. just like australia, everyone knows these birds are massive but when they take off right next to you it sinks in just how enormous they are.
btw the little guy in the photo above is a baby painted dragon who volunteered to participate in nat’s ‘catch, document & release’ program.
so we drove 145 kilometers to see a few admittedly great spots. and this is what we really enjoy about our trip: we can find places most people have never heard of / will never hear of and explore sights so far out of the way few would take the time to go and see them. would it surprise you to hear that we had most places to ourselves? we still would not want to miss any of them.