Welcome to the Seafood Capital of Australia, Port Lincoln!
Your personal guide will greet you at the airport on your arrival and we then take a
short drive through spectacular Sugar Gums and agricultural land to Big Swamp. Big Swamp Wetland is 3, seasonal fresh water lakes, that form a water dependent eco system, with a large and ancient Red Gum forest, creating a unique habitat for many documented rare wildlife, bird species of passerines and non-passerines, threatened plant species, fresh water tortoise, native fish and invertebrates. These wetlands are nationally important wetlands, and are the last true “fresh water wetlands” on Eyre Peninsula and contain “Many Rare and Endangered Wildlife”, especially rare waterfowl, raptors, endangered emu wren & whip bird, and 5 types of migratory waders. A bird hide is available for viewing these species as well as Black Swans, Grey Teal Ducks, Chestnut Teal Ducks, Pink Eared Ducks, Musk Ducks, Black Winged Stilts, Banded Plovers, Common Greenshank, Cape Baron Geese.
We then enter beautiful Coffin Bay. Coffin Bay is an area is of outstanding beauty, world famous Oysters and is home to a variety of important species of flora and fauna. There are no other comparable systems of bays and inlets in such compact form anywhere on the coast, which is why this area is classified as a maritime wilderness area. We start with a one hour tour where you will learn about the Pacific and the Native Angasi Oyster direct from the Oyster farmer. An Oyster farm (lease), contributes towards the 60 tonnes of oysters that are sent out of Coffin Bay every week. This tour is a typical Oyster practice, where you get to see the and learn about the growing and harvesting process. Fresh out of the rack, you get to sample these oysters as well as seeing all the equipment used to get these oysters into domestic & international markets and to the top restaurants in the world.
Lunch will be a selection of gourmet seafood platters in the heart of picturesque Coffin Bay.
After lunch, the tour then moves to the Coffin Bay National Park where there are about 150 species of birds, 11 species of terrestrial mammals (of which seven are introduced), 12 species of marine mammals, 20 species of lizards, six species of snakes and several (mostly unidentified) species of amphibians have been recorded in the parks. Several wildlife species occurring in the parks are classed as vulnerable, endangered or rare.
About 10% of the bird species recorded are pelagic, that is, they frequent off-shore and/or ocean water, while a further 15% are wading species. White-bellied Sea-eagle and Osprey are both moderately common in the parks but are generally uncommon in South Australia, and are vulnerable to human interference. The availability of undisturbed coastal cliff habitats and rocky offshore islands makes the Coffin Bay area a significant breeding refuge for these species. Other bird species of particular interest, because they are rare locally, regionally or within the state, include the Eastern Reef Egret, Australasian Shoveler, Cape Barren Goose, Eastern Curlew, Wood Sandpiper, Latham's Snipe, Buff-banded Rail, Swamp Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Scarlet Robin, Diamond Firetail, White-winged Chough, Blue-breasted Fairy-wren Weebill, Southern Emu-wren and Western Whipbird. The Pied Oystercatcher, Hooded Plover, and Red- capped Plover, all breed on the beaches of the peninsula in summer. Vehicle movement along beaches used by sea birds for feeding and nesting can result in disturbance, destruction of nests, and mortality in young. Swamps, which are important habitat for many bird species, have been damaged in the past by indiscriminate vehicle use. Hooded Plovers and several other species of wading birds nest on beaches. Where vehicle access is permitted (eg Seven Mile Beach), potential impact on these species should be determined and managed where required.
Reptiles recorded from the park include the Peninsula Dragon, Rosenberg's Goanna, Masters Snake, Black Tiger Snake, Common Death Adder and Peninsula Brown Snake. Native terrestrial mammals are few, reflecting the severity of extinctions that have occurred on Eyre Peninsula since colonial settlement. Within the first 50 years of settlement, Eyre Peninsula lost up to 40% of its terrestrial mammals and some have become extinct more recently (Watts & Ling, 1985). The remaining native mammal species include the Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus), Bush Rat (Rattus fuscipes) and Western Pygmy-possum (Cercartetus concinnus). Islands of Whidbey, Avoid Bay and Mount Dutton Bay Conservation Parks support breeding populations of seabirds and marine mammals. Colonies of the Australian Sea-lion (Neophoca cinerea) and New Zealand Fur-seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) occur on many of these islands. Southern Right Whales (Balaena glacialis australis) are often seen along the southern coastline of Coffin Bay National Park during early winter, as they migrate towards their breeding grounds at the Head of the Great Australian Bight.
Fauna species of conservation significance within the parks of the Coffin Bay area include the Australian Sea-lion, New Zealand Fur-seal, Hooded Plover, Osprey and White-bellied Sea-eagle. The two seal species have been the subject of a cooperative survey and monitoring program by the CSIRO. Australian Sea-lion colonies are relatively stable, while the population of New Zealand Fur-seals appears to be increasing moderately following the cessation of extensive hunting during the 19th century.
Swim with Australian Sealions & Bottlenose Dolphins at Baird Bay.
8.00am: Pickup before embarking on the 300km road trip to Baird Bay.
It will be worth it though with an unforgettable ocean experience with Alan & Trish Payne’s Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experiences. We will also stop on many occasions to get out of the vehicle and see some of our secrets places with amazing coastal views at the town ship of Elliston including the Great Ocean Drive and with time permitting, Venus Bay.
Today’s headline act is only a very short steam off shore aboard the 14-seater ‘Neo-phocus’, where you will be swimming with the Australian Sea Lions off Jones Island. The island is home to just over 120 Australian Sea Lions, as well as a variety of native birds (see list below). Here you have the opportunity to experience sea lions in their natural environment; fast, agile & playful- they thrive on the interaction of humans. There are only 2 places on Earth where you can swim with wild sea lions; the Galapagos Islands & the Eyre Peninsula. The sea lion experience is full of wonder & charm, and swimming with them is rated in the Top 10 things to do in Australia. Alan & Trish have never fed the mammals, it is the natural curiosity of the sea lions, and mutual respect between both sea lion and human, that has led to such a close relationship with the animals. Following the sea lion encounter, ‘Neo’ pulls out into deeper waters where you now have the chance to swim with the resident Bottlenose dolphins. Powerful & lightning fast- these animals often come so close to you that you can hear the high pitch chatter.
On return to the beach of Baird Bay we have lunch before we depart on our journey down to Port Lincoln. On the way back however, we still have a few pit stops to make! If time permits, the Talia caves are another attraction en-route. Nature’s elements of the sea & wind have etched patterns through time on its limestone roof, whilst the surf washes the rocks, edging the caves offering another spectacular scene of color & the wonderful force of the Southern Ocean. Last on the agenda is one of the very best vantage spots on the 2000 long stretch of the Great
Australian Bight. The Cummings Monument provides this and more as the view gives you spectacular and uninterrupted views of the rugged cliff tops that make up the Bight. Adjacent to the Monument is a craggy pinnacle set amongst deep blue waters which makes a home to a family of sea eagles as they nest on top. From here you will be taken back to your accommodation.
Our day starts with morning viewing is at the small coastal hamlet of Tulka where waders, Swans and Sea Birds can be seen from the Bird Hide. This is another known location for Southern Emu-Wrens near a well first dug by Captain Matthew Flinders when he explored the area in 1802.
We take you to the diversity of the Port Lincoln National Park. From the naturally rugged and wild Sleaford Bay and the Southern Ocean to the tranquility of the Spalding Cove area and other beautiful beaches. Of the 29,000ha National Park, the tour follows Captain Matthew Flinders journey through the Wilderness areas. Rugged cliffs provide an opportunity to view Osprey and White Bellied Sea-Eagles and to keep a look out for Kites and Harriers. We head towards Taylors landing and encounter birds such as the Mallee Fowl, Purple-Gaped Honeyeaters, Striated Pardalotes, Spiney-Cheeked Honeyeaters, Dusky Woodswallows, Australian Pipits, Western Yellow Robins, Blue Breasted Wrens and White-Browed Scrubwren. Whilst at Taylors Landing we will be providing lunch and more opportunities to stop and watch the birdlife.
In the National Park, you can walk or beachcomb along Surfleet Cove, take a 45-minute hike to see spectacular views of Boston Bay, Port Lincoln and the Port Lincoln National Park at the Stamford Hill Lookout or even walk along the rocks underneath the Cape Donnington Lighthouse. The park is ideal for trekking, birdwatching, photography, fishing, swimming and 4Wdriving.
Rare Wildlife include:
- Rosenberg’s Goanna
- Western Whipbird
- brush tailed bettong
- Hooded plover
We can also see Australian Sealions and New Zealand fur seals off the rocks of Donnington Point and the common Bottlenose Dolphin. There are 130 species of birds listed in the National Park as well as many Western Grey kangaroos, Emus, lizards and in summer, snakes. Migrant Southern Right Whales can be seen from May, June, July and August and also through the lookouts at Whalers Way where we will also see much bird life, kangaroo’s and emus.
In the afternoon, we take you out to beautiful Mikkira Station. This is one of the few habitats where Koalas can be found in the wild. Sit back around the fire (only out of fire season) in the restored original homestead and go for a stroll under the beautiful old Eucalypt trees and come face to face with the cuddly icon of Australia as they laze in the Manna gums. Wild but placid kangaroos casually hop around in this beautiful historical setting, where in 1842 Scotsman Adam Borthwick and his family made their home as one of the very first settlers of the region. Emus roam around amongst mobs of sheep and there is astounding birdlife here, many of which are rare and native to this area. As the sun settles for the evening, we will relax with a platter of local produce, wine and listen to the sounds of nature. It’s beautiful!
Birding: White Bellied Sea Eagle, Osprey, Pelican, Tern, Pacific Gull, Albatross, Seagull
Marine Mammals: Long Nosed Furl Seal, Common Bottle Nose Dolphin, Australian Sea Lion
Fishes: Yellow Tail Kingfish, Silver Trevalley, Leatherjacket and other species
Full Viewing Opportunities - Bird species list:
• Emu • Australian Owlet Nightjar
• Grey Heron • Tawny Frogmouth
• Wood duck • Fairy Martin
• Collared Sparrowhawk • Welcome Swallow
• Brown Goshawk • Richards Pipit
• Square tailed Kite • Rufous Singlark
• Little Eagle • Brown Songlark
• Wedge Tailed eagle • Blackbird
• Brown Falcon • Black Faced Cuckoo Shrike
• Painted Button Quail • Scarlet Robin
• Crested Pigeon • Western Yellow Robin
• Brush Bronzewing • Southern Scrub Robin
• Common Bronzewing • Gliden Whistler
• Galah • Southern Whitefaced
• Port Lincoln Ring Parrot • Yellow Rumped Thornbill
• Elegant Parrot • Inland Thornbill
• Fantail Cuckoo • Red Wattle Bird
• Laughing Kookaburra • Brown Headed Honeyeater
• Sacred Kingfisher • New Holland Honeyeater
• Barn Owl • Tawny Crowned Honeyeater
• Boobook Owl • Silvereye
• Grey Shrike Thrush • White Fronted Chat
• Grey Fantail • Striated Pardalote
• Willy Wagtail • Spotted Pardalote
• Western Whipbird • Diamond Firetail
• White- browed Babbler • Grey butcherbird
• Superb Blue Wren • Brown Currawong
• Blue Breasted Fairy Wren • Australian Whitebacked Magpie
• White Browed Scrubwren • Little Raven
• Western Warbler • Cape Barren Goose