OFF ROAD PARADISE

WORDS BY AMY SMITH, PHOTOGRAPHY BY NIK SMITH

The Eyre Peninsula in South Australia is a must visit destination for every 4WDer and one of the gems of the region is Coffin Bay National Park. Coffin Bay National Park is located a short drive out of the township of Coffin Bay. The name actually originated from when Mathew Flinders explored the area back in 1802, naming the bay after his mate, Sir Isaac Coffin. The name is sure to spark the kid’s imagination!

Make sure you stop at one of the many oyster sheds before you head out of town to the National Park. If you’re lucky enough, you might witness the owner shuck your oysters there and then. They’ll make an excellent bit of tucker for later on at camp. 4WDing will soon be beckoning in the Coffin Bay National Park, so make the most of it!

In the National Park there are four campsites to choose from, but there’s more cracking campsites to find if you’re willing to look hard enough. Yangie Bay campground is the closest to town, and this is where the black top ends and the fun begins. Be sure to lower your tyre pressure before heading off. This first part of the track is sandy but pretty straight forward with the right tyre pressures. A few areas of this track can be flooded at times by high tides, but there are bypass tracks if so.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”From the famous freshly shucked oysters to the remote wilderness and loads of off-road adventures, Coffin Bay National Park truly is a 4WDers paradise”[/blockquote]

Another cracking site is Black Springs campground. It only has six sites available and a drop toilet – you might find you’re the only ones there! Black Springs is located on the stunning Port Douglas Bay, perfect for swimming and fishing which will keep the family happy. Also nearby is the Black Springs Well hike, a trail that follows the breathtaking bay. Heading from Black Springs across the headland to Seven Mile Beach you’ll find a sensational drive with picturesque beach views, large dunes and an abundance of wildlife. Make sure you check the tides before doing this drive; although it’s still accessible at high tide, it will be much safer to time your trip for low tide.

Offering activities for everyone, you have the opportunity to explore the many fishing and surfing spots, as well as some of the many sensational lookouts on offer. The drive along the south side of the park to Gunyah beach leads you through sand dunes where there’s some awesome fishing, not to mention the drive to get there! Make sure you stop at Almonta beach for a surf; you might even see some friendly dolphins enjoying the waves. After some lunch on the beach, head to the lookouts for some brilliant views of Golden Island and Whidbey Isles Conservation Park.

[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”There’s so many tracks, you could drive for a week and not see everything”[/blockquote]

The next campsite along the track is Morgan’s Landing, followed by The Pool campground which is located just past Point Burgess. Both campsites have basic amenities. From here the track takes you on to Point Sir Isaac, then around down to the big surf of Mullalong Beach and further on to the lookout at Reef Point. Sensation Beach is also a cracking spot for fishing and has some superb views of the coastline. The entry and exit to this beach can be a bit of a challenge with a large sand blow at the peak.

Whidbey Wilderness Area covers the western part of the National Park, and is only accessible by foot. The hikes through this part of the park are amazing and well worth the effort, with plenty of wildlife, cliffs and beaches to explore along the way.

Coffin Bay National Park also has many other hikes varying in distances and times. While passing through Yangie Bay campground be sure to explore the Yangie Island Hike. It’s an easy five kilometre return hike with cracking views of Yangie Island and an abundance of wildlife. For those hikers that want a more moderate level of walking, Black Rocks Hike, which is situated just after the turn off at Black Springs campground, offers a longer 12km return hike that takes you along Lake Damascus and onto Avoid Bay.

Coffin Bay National Park has something for everyone. The kids will thoroughly enjoy surfing the waves, swimming in the protected bays, playing on the beaches and exploring the surrounding bushland. There’s also so many tracks, you could drive for a week and not see everything. Also on offer is sensational camping, soft sand driving and cracking scenery all in one spot, you can pull into camp at the end of the day and find yourselves at spectacular campsites with a million-star accommodation – it doesn’t get much better than that.

FACT FILE

WHERE: Coffin Bay National Park is located approximately 50km west of Port Lincoln. The park is on the tip of the Eyre Peninsula, a 680km drive from Adelaide.

INFORMATION: Attractions include Gunyah Beach 4WDing and fishing, Almonta Beach surfing, Golden Island lookout, Point Avoid, Back Springs beach, Seven Mile Beach and Whidbey Wilderness Area. The abundance of wildlife and the legendary Coffin Bay oysters are also top experiences. The climate in Coffin Bay in September is cool, with average temperatures of 20C during the day. During the summer months, the average temperatures tend to be around the mid 20’s.

CAMPING: There are four campsites to choose from within the park. The Pool, Black Springs and Morgan’s Landing campgrounds are all only accessible by 4WD and offer sensational camping. Camping fees apply and all payable at drop box at park entrance. $10.00 Vehicle park entrance fee and an $11.00 per night camping vehicle fee, or annual passes are available.

FACILITIES & AMENITIES: All campgrounds within the National Park are unpowered and offer basic facilities such as drop toilets.

WHAT TO TAKE: Sufficient supply of food and water, limited supplies are available in town at the general store, however most supplies are available at Port Lincoln.

BEST TIME TO TRAVEL: Recommended travel times are anytime during the year, however the winter and early spring months are quite cold. If you want to experience the best bits of this National Park, travel in the summer months.

FUEL & SUPPLIES: Food supplies, water, fuel and mechanical repairs are available at nearby Coffin Bay or at Port Lincoln.

TRIP STANDARD: Trips are rated A though E, with A meaning only suitable to vehicles with an extreme level of off-road modifications and E meaning perfectly suited to all types of 4WD vehicles.  Depending on the conditions this trip is rated a C to a D. Due to the amount of soft sand driving, correct tyre pressure is essential. Running tyres between 15-20psi you should have no problems at all.

TRIP TIME OF YEAR: September

RESTRICTIONS AND PERMITS: Entry and camping permits required. These are payable at the self-registration boxes at the park entry.

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