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Freycinet Trail - Eyre Peninsula

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by Barry Silkstone (subscribe)
I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet. Visit my blog naturallysouthaustralia.com
Published April 7th 2016
Cuttlefish and Kangaroos
I can see the male emu tending his brood of half grown chicks way out on the saltbush plains; in emu world the male takes on all the parenting duties. Foraging for seeds, bulbs and insects in the harsh terrain they are wary and ready to run for cover in the distant tree line if disturbed.

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Male emus with chicks feeding in saltbush



I have just turned off the Lincoln Highway about 10 kms before the steel city of Whyalla on the upper Eyre Peninsula, a good four hour drive from Adelaide. We had lunched at the wonderful Arid Lands Botanic Gardens just outside Port Augusta before venturing on to explore the Freycinet Trail and Fitzgerald Bay.

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Point Lowly lighthouse


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Giant cuttlefish adjust their camouflage to blend in with a particular marine environment


It takes another twenty minutes to drive to the Point Lowly lighthouse which is visited by divers from all over the world because of the annual cuttlefish breeding phenomenon during the early winter months. As I stop to read some interpretive signs that point out the Aboriginal and early explorer heritage of the area I spot a little group of wood swallows clinging to a dead wattle branch. The area has a diverse bird population including; honeyeaters, terns, cormorants, oystercatchers, babblers and even the odd sea eagle.

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Masked woodswallows


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Pied cormorants gathering on the rocky foreshore


The route around Fitzgerald Bay is a well graded dirt track with plenty of access to beach campsites, densely vegetated bushland and some interesting stretches of mangroves. Close to one pebble strewn outcrop that stretches into the water, I notice a bearded dragon sunning itself amongst the rocks.

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Bearded dragon warming up, credit Geoff Simmonds



As I am driving I keep a sharp lookout for wildlife both large and small. There are a few grey kangaroos in the saltbush and plenty of magpies and gulls in the coastal scrub close to the water. I park near a particularly dense patch of scrub to take a closer look at the plant life and notice some blue bees (a native species) feeding on patches of flax lilies.

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Native bee feeding on coastal vegetation




With stops for wildlife watching and a spot of lunch I have been driving along the trail for about an hour and a half. It is getting warm and the wildlife is less active in the early afternoon so I decide to take a shortcut back to the main bitumen road that leads back to the Lincoln Highway. I'll spend the night in Whyalla, in the hope of catching sight of the friendly dolphins in the marina, before returning the next day for another look at this fascinating area.
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Why? A beautiful, remote but easily accessed walk, ride or drive
When: Any time of year
Where: Near Whyalla on the Eyre Peninula
Cost: None
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