Should you visit the Eyre Peninsula?

Many people that we met along the Nullarbor were planning on driving right past the Eyre peninsula and making a bee line for Adelaide. One couple that we met informed us that there was less to do on the peninsula than there was on the Nullarbor. We decided we would go experience it and make that judgement for ourselves.

We had an awesome time there and here’s why….

Crazy coastline

Í don’t know if we’ve ever been somewhere that has a sculpture park along the Cliffside, but it was a pretty cool experience! It’s just one example of the diverse coastline you’ll find here on the Eyre peninsula.

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Cliffside sculptures in Elliston

 

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Wild waves in Coffin bay

National parks

There are two beautiful national parks on the Eyre peninsula- Coffin Bay, and Lincoln national park. They both contain beachside camping, awesome fishing, hiking, wildlife, and picturesque vistas. Coffin bay also has plenty of tracks for four wheel drive enthusiasts!

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Skipping rocks in Lincoln national park

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Sunset at Yangie bay lookout, Coffin bay

 

food

Coffin bay is known for its oyster so its certainly worth visiting if you’re a seafood lover. Port Lincoln is home to our favourite bakery of the trip (and we have tried a fair few)- Hage’s bakery. Try their donut of the week.

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First breakfast out of the trip at The Rogue and Rascal cafe,Port Lincoln. Did not disappoint!

wildlife

We saw so many emus and kangaroos in the national parks in the Eyre peninsula. We woke up one night to a kangaroo digging through our bin. Emus roamed freely throughout the campsite. If you’re feeling particularly eager  for a unique wildlife encounter you can go shark cage diving in Port Lincoln.

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Emus in Coffin bay

history

We were surprised to find that there is a wealth of history throughout the Eyre peninsula. There are many memorials for the “founder of south Australia”, Matthew Flinders. The tale of his explorations are woven through the peninsula, in the names of features (such as Point Avoid) and in the landscape itself (such as the areas of land he cleared to try to farm).

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A memorial to Matthew Flinders atop Stamford Hill

 

hiking

There are great hiking networks throughout the  peninsula, including the investigator trail which is an 89 kilometre trail following Matthew Flinders’ original exploration. Lincoln national park contains one of Australia’s top 40 great walks- the Stamford Hill hike. It’s a relatively easy walk with stunning views at the summit.

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The view from the top

community

One of the most awesome things in the Eyre peninsula was the amount of volunteers who gave up their time for their community. From the volunteer run book store in Port Lincoln to the blacksmith museum in Tumby Bay whose volunteers couldn’t have been more accommodating. It’s amazing that there are so many people willing to invest their time to preserve the history of their communities. It certainly made the Eyre peninsula somewhere that we will always remember.

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Fitzgerald Bay campsite

 

 

 

Meelup Reserve Trail 

Recently we walked part of the Meelup reserve trail from Meelup beach in Dunsborough to Eagle bay. This is a beautiful coastal trail leading through bush and beach. The full trail goes from Dunsborough beach to Eagle bay and is 7.4 km one way, but we chose to bite off a 3 km portion. The trail is rugged in parts and occasionally we lost the trail signs, but as long as you follow the coastline you’re bound to end up in Eagle bay eventually! This walk would be wonderful in Summer as there are lots of secluded beaches along the way where you could stop for a swim and a picnic! There are toilets at Meelup and just before you reach eagle bay. Here are some photos from our hike!

Here the trail started to ascend into the bushy cliffs overlooking the ocean. The path was rocky at times but the views were beautiful!


We had this little beach all to ourselves! I never get tired of secluded south west beaches. We definitely recommend hiking the Meelup Reserve Trail!

Exploring Yosemite

The last national park on our California itinerary was perhaps our most anticipated. Yosemite is one of those magically beautiful places that adorns travel websites. It’s been immortalised in famed photographs by the late Ansell Adams and hiking bloggers always sing the praises of its many nature trails. Right before we arrived the rare phenomenon of the fire falls occurred, further exciting us for the beautiful sights we would soon be experiencing.  

Tunnel View-a serious site to behold

As soon as we emerged on the other side of the tunnel we knew exactly what all the hype was about. You can look at as many pictures of tunnel view as you want, but there’s nothing quite like exiting the darkness of the tunnel and seeing all the wonders of Yosemite laid out before you. The snowy peaks of El Capitain and the Half Dome, the tumbling water of Yosemite falls, and the forest covered plains of the valley floor; all stretched out as far as the eye can see. It is a genuinely grand entrance. We stopped for a while and watched the sun melt behind the granite structures. There were lots of disappointed visitors who had been hoping to catch another fire falls, and I was amazed that anyone could feel disappointed when surrounded by such beauty. 
In comparison to some of the other parks we’d visited it was clear that Yosemite is quite well funded and a bit more commercialised. The park has a shuttle system that allows you to easily get around the valley. It’s especially useful for one way hikes-you can get dropped off at one end and picked up at the other. The visitor centre here is very large and has lots of impressive displays. And there are many accommodation options-the usual campsites, curry villiage,and a hotel-as well as several restaurants. 

The view of Half Dome from Upper Pines Campground

One of the bad things about travelling in the Winter month is that the shorter days mean that you really have to prioritise your time in the park. This is made easier by the other bad thing about travelling in Winter-lots of the hikes are closed. With this in mind we decided to pick three hikes to do. We chose

-The bridal veil falls hike

-The hike to the base of lower Yosemite falls 

-The Vernal falls hike/mist trail
The Bridal Veil falls hike is a short half mile (0.8 km) return walk. The trail is paved and takes you to the base of the falls. I found the walk to be disappointing as it ended quite far away from the waterfall. It is a good walk if you want to take some photos or if you have a low fitness level. It isn’t the most spectacular trail Yosemite has to offer but it did get us warmed up for the rest of the day.

Two happy hikers!

Next we hiked to the base of Yosemite falls. There is a shuttle bus to the trail head and from there it’s a one mike (1.6km) loop. We found this walk much more enjoyable. It took us through the forest and we got so close to the waterfall that we were being sprayed by it. There were lots of pretty views of the waterfalls and Yosemite creek, and exhibits along the way explaining the history of the area. I’d definitely recommend this hike!

The breathtaking Yosemite falls

The final hike was to the Vernal falls footbridge. This is part of the longer mist trail which brings you to the Nevada falls. While fairly short (1.6 miles/2.6 km round trip from the happy isles shuttle stop) this hike can be really steep! 

The Mist trail is steep! nps.gov

However the views are beautiful. There’s a bit of everything along this trail-you can see walls of granite towering above you, forest surrounding you and-of course-gushing waterfalls! It’s my favourite of the hikes we did in Yosemite. California was our first experience with hiking so we did find this trail to be a bit challenging, but it was so worth it! Reaching the footbridge was wonderful- vernal falls is so beautiful and majestic-and we found that we weren’t ready for this hike to end just yet! So we decided to continue to the top of Vernal falls and the Emerald Pool. We felt excited and reenergised and couldn’t wait to reach the top…but then within 0.3 miles of Vernal falls we were met with a sign saying the trail was closed in Winter due to risk of ice and rock falling. So I guess it was a little silly of us to not be more prepared. But we still really enjoyed the hike despite this disappointment! And hopefully you can learn from our mistakes. 

Vernal Falls from the footbridge

In conclusion, Yosemite in Winter is beautiful. It’s less busy, it’s easy to get a campsite in the valley, and there are pretty blankets of snow everywhere. It does have it downsides (Tioga pass is closed, you can’t climb the half dome, lots of trails are closed and you must carry snow chains), but you can always visit again in Spring! And then maybe Summer and Autumn Too 😉

 

One day we’ll hike the Half Dome!

Exploring Death Valley 

Artist’s Pallette

Arriving in Death Valley as an uncharacteristic super bloom was just beginning was a strange shattering of our expectations. This place that in my mind was a barren land where nothing thrived was instead teeming with life. Rare flowers whose seeds had lain dormant for years were sprouting everywhere, their vibrant colours peppering the otherwise drab landscape. In all honesty my knowledge about Death Valley before we arrived was limited. I’d seen pictures of Artist’s pallet and the infamous race track, but mostly all that came to mind was a bull skull laying in sand (you know the photo I’m talking about). In reality Death Valley was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. This crazy land of extremes- the hottest, driest place on earth, the lowest place in North America-was also a place of many contradictions. The landscape is difficult to live off-that is undeniable- but so many organisms call this place home. Life can blossom here. Far from the unattractive karst park I had expected, Death Valley is full of mountains, multi coloured rock formations, rolling sand dunes, salt flats, historical dwellings, and-of course- thousands of flowers. The night skies here are worthy of an entire blog post of their own. I could have spent weeks exploring- and I hope some day I will.  
 

Zabriskie Point

  
We entered Death Valley through the Death Valley junction entrance. Armed with the free map and newspaper that you should always get at each national park, we headed down the wide open road into this beautiful wilderness. At this point we foolishly thought we could drive though Death Valley and onto the next spot in a day, but as soon as we reached the Zabriskie point look out I instantly knew we’d be spending the night here. The rolling mountains laid out before us were so inviting. I felt we could happily explore them for days. But that was just the first spot we stopped at in this diverse valley. Every other hike was so different, and everything was strikingly beautiful and awe inspiring in its own way. I’ll be making another post about each hike we did soon, but this is just a quick reflection on the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. If you decide to go there, give yourself time. Trust me when I say you’ll need plenty of it. 

Rear View Mirror Views