The Best of Coffin Bay with Australian Coastal Safaris
Just a measly 700km from Adelaide, (or save yourself the 7.5hr drive and take a short 45min flight to PLO)...and you’ll find yourself in quaint Coffin Bay. A small town on the fringe of Mount Dutton and Kellidie Bay - Coffin Bay (and its surrounding waters) is home to the famous Coffin Bay Pacific Oysters! This area is abound with history, adventure AND deliciousness, straight from the ocean. Australian Coastal Safaris offers full-day Coffin Bay tours which allow you to see and do the best of the best, and still be home in time for dinner!
Freshwater-to-Saltwater Bays of the Lower Eyre Peninsula
All tours depart from Port Lincoln and head out along the Flinders Highway (aptly named after Captain Matthew Flinders himself - the proclaimed creator of the first map of this coast in 1802). Before leaving Port Lincoln, you'll summit Winters Hill for sweeping views of Boston Bay and an overview of the local seafood industry. Then on your way across the peninsula, you’ll get to see our famed Big Swamp (trust me, it’s more than just a ‘swamp’...and it’s definitely big…) - an extensive wetland in the center of the Lower Eyre Peninsula, nestled between Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay. This network of swamps (yes, there’s more than 1!) is a major catchment area for rainwater on the Lower Eyre Peninsula (EP). A birders’ paradise, this freshwater catchment is abundant with bird species of conservation significance - from rare waterfowl, raptors, endangered emu wren, whip bird, and 5 types of migratory waders. (Fancy the birds more than Coffin Bay?! You could opt for a birdwatching tour instead!). After seeing the ‘freshwater bays’ of Lower Eyre Peninsula, it’s then time to move into the ‘salt water bays’ for some ocean side adventure...
The oyster of our EP eye...
Of course, no visit to Coffin Bay is EVER complete without oysters, oysters, and more...oysters. And no, any trip to the Eyre Peninsula in general is not complete without a local seafood feast. But - this is really the best of the best (proclaimed world best!), right here in Coffin Bay, with local Coffin Bay Pacific Oysters, straight from the ocean. Need I say more?
Before lunch gets served, you’ll find yourself on board a purpose built oyster boat, heading out through the main town bay to a real oyster farm. Once you arrive, your captain will get in the water (yep, you get to stay dry) and harvest a bunch of oysters straight from the ocean for you to try*. This is literally farm to plate, in a matter of minutes. While you’re enjoying some fresh oyster, you’ll get the full low-down on the history of Coffin Bay area, the history of the oyster farming industry AND the ins and outs of how oysters make it from ocean, to plate, and all the nitty gritty details in-between. No stone is left unturned, and you’ll walk out of there with no question left unanswered. Here’s a few fun facts to get you in the mood;
- Did you know that Coffin Bay used to be home to the native Angasi Oyster. Early settlers unfortunately over-fished the native oysters and depleted stocks, before bringing in Pacific Oysters - which are now booming and helping to also restore the oyster reefs for the native Angasi to one day return in healthy numbers…
- Coffin Bay was originally named ‘Oyster Town’. For obvious reasons, which I don’t need to explain.
- The unique ecosystems of oceanic currents and nutrients in the deep oceans off the coast of the Lower Eyre Peninsula are what make the bays of Coffin Bay so rich in nutrients and life - and hence, so loved by the Pacific Oysters.
Still peckish? A delicious lunch at the local 1802 restaurant, or a gourmet seafood picnic lunch, will introduce you to a nice selection of locally caught seafood (anything from King George Whiting, Abalone, Crab, Spencer Gulf King Prawn...) - all a staple in the local Eyre Peninsula diet.
*The structure of the oyster tours changes depending on the day and weather conditions - you might even find yourself in a pair of waders, wading not far from the shoreline into a nearby oyster farm.
Native flora and fauna, to wet the nature palette
It's locally considered as a social faux pas if you left Coffin Bay without exploring the National Park...
The national park (about 31,000ha of land) is home to classic native Australian wildlife - emus and kangaroos are bound to be seen, and the Rosenberg's goanna is making a slow but steady comeback in the park (after almost being wiped out by the feral Fox!), and depending on whether you come in summer or winter...you’ll see snakes or whales - I’m sure you can guess which animal for which season. Abundant with bird species, you may also see White Bellied Sea Eagles, Eastern Osprey, and threatened species of Hooded Plovers, just to name a few. The park is also home to a diverse range of vegetative communities such as samphire shrublands, mallee woodlands, tall cutting grasslands, coastal shrubland and heaths, and the drooping she-oak woodlands. After being extensively modified by pastoral land use in the 1800s and 1900s, the she-oak woodlands are the focus of habitat restoration activity by volunteers and Rangers on the western end of the peninsula near Point Sir Isaac. As well as diversity of vegetative habitat, there is huge diversity in the coastal landscapes too - sand dunes, rugged cliffs, reefy shores, sheltered bays, surf beaches, island lookouts - you can see it all in under a few hours!
Local boutique wineries
And finally - us South Aussies love a good wine, which you've probably gathered, seeing as though our state is plentiful with vineyards. So, you can’t come all the way to rural South Australia without a wine tasting from an award winning winery! Sampling a local drop and learning about the varieties that are grown on the lower Eyre Peninsula is a perfect way to end the day.