It was early January, 2002. Christmas and New Years had been and gone, so one's attention turned towards a family holiday, away from the pressures of work and the bussle of normal day living.
We had been scheduled to go on a driving holiday to Tasmania for two weeks, but the Ferry booking fell through (plus it cost an arm and a leg !), and most flights were booked up or outside our time frame. Plus Christmas is not always a good time to fly, as union strikes always seem to crop up around this time within airline carriers, creating some degree of uncertainty in one's travel arrangements.
A change in plans was in order, and to this end, one of the hardest things to accomplish when planning a family holiday, is to convince one's spouse to allow you to take some fishing rods with you. The next hardest thing to achieve is to ensure that your excursions take you near the coast line.
To both of these somewhat unsurmountable obstacles, I was able to convince my wife to do a tour of Eyre Peninsula, naturally hugging the coast for fishing, with the proviso of visiting antique stores along the way - which meant I had to take the damn trailer to ferry my wife's newly acquired possessions.
I suppose it was simply a matter of micro-managing ones' spouse !! Either way, I was assured that both my son and I could fish every day !!
Having been to Elliston previously, some 12 years ago with Chinook and Chuck (Santo my Brother-in-law), I was determined to enjoy if not remember this trip with my family. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the trip 12 years ago. I'm sure I did. I just wish I could remember it - Boys will be Boys !!
Given the fact that Elliston seemed to be central to most tourist and fishing attractions to the area we were heading, as well as the fact I had been in previous contact with the proprietors of Elliston Caravan Park, Troy and Andrea Taylor, it seemed a logical choice to make Elliston our home base for the trip.
To this end, and on extremely short notice I might add, they were able to accommodate our plans by securing for us a cabin at their caravan park.
As can be seen from the map of Eyre Peninsula, the central area is mostly covered with secondary arterial roads - non bitumised. As we didn't have a 4 wheel drive, and god forbid we didn't want to scratch the paint work on the Comode (Commodore), we hugged the coast on highway "Alt 1", with our first overnight stop being Cowell.
Cowell is famed as Australia's only commercial jade mining site, the town being home to the rare black jade as well as green jades and fine marble.
Anglers, beach-lovers and boaties find other reasons for a visit, with Entrance Island and Franklin Harbour providing a host of water and beach-based activities. Point Price Sand hills offers white dunes and surfing, while Lucky Bay has a safe swimming beach for children, plus other amenities.
Today Cowell, and particularly Franklin Harbour, is a popular place for fishing holidays. The waters of the harbour and the Spencer Gulf abound with Whiting, Snapper, Salmon, Tommy Ruff, Mullet, Flathead, Garfish, and Squid and in season it is possible to go night crabbing in the shallows of the harbour.
Cowell Foreshore Caravan Park offers excellent services in onsite cabins and amenities, of which we took upon ourselves to hire.
The cabins they offer are extremely spacious, with provisions of all the mod cons and ensuite facilities.
The day's temperature was a mild and pleasant 24°C, and a walk through this picturesque town was definitely in order, given the fact it was a directive from the little woman. The town itself personifies an atmosphere of relaxation and serenity, a mood I embraced with vigor, given my normal busy schedule at work. Naturally the first place my wife went to was the antique stores, where as both my son and I proceeded to hardware/tackle store.
It had been years since I had owned or for that matter used a crab net, and this was a great opportunity to unveil to my son the finer arts of netting Blue Crabs. After purchasing a net and some bait for the night's fishing, we took a casual walk towards the beach to relax.
If one has aspirations in walking onto a sandy beach at Cowell, then one will be sadly disappointed. The shoreline at Cowell is essentially a mangrove swamp, the only items of interest being the boat ramps and the jetty. Even so, the survey of the shoreline and jetty was worthwhile, as we now knew where to fish and crab.
The nights takings off the jetty produced 17 reasonable sized Blueys, of which, a tasty meal ensued. There is nothing like eating crab meat at 11.30pm with your family !! The outdoor cooking facilities at the Caravan Park are definitely second to none, providing gas barbecues and burners for huge pots to cook your catch.
It was simply amazing if not heartening to see how much my son (David) enjoyed the crabbing session. I was very conscious and concerned about him tipping over off the jetty as he leaned over to reel in the crab net, and on numerous occasions was actively prepared to follow through if need be in rescuing him.
Admittedly, I did state to my wife, Kerry, that given the occurrence of David swimming, she would have to jump in after him should the need arise, considering the fact that her 2 huge natural BCD's (Buoyancy Control Devices) are more efficient than my single but standard one (Personal Keg) !.
David was an absolute trooper while fishing .... it's not too say that he isn't a normally good lad (he is !!), but I recon fishing definitely brought out the best in him. Our favourite saying, especially after a hook up and landing of a catch was "Who's Da Man ........ You Da Man" and we would bump our guts together !!
He even got up early the next morning to cook us breakfast, a process he achieved with extreme dedication, distinction and finesse, and on a more important note, it was edible as well !! (As if I had any doubt !!).
The next day saw us travelling through the towns of Arno Bay & Tumby Bay, simply enjoying the weather, scenery, and the leisurely pace of each of these towns. I hadn't dipped my rod since Cowell, as I knew that Elliston and the surrounding beaches would offer us the opportunities for fishing. The focus at present was simply on sight seeing, and nurturing my wife's passion for antiques.
Our next stop for the night was to be Pt. Lincoln. Given the fact that we were all hoping for a relaxing break and lethargic pace if not an ad hoc agenda, Pt. Lincoln dented our expectations, in it being an extremely busy town.
I suppose that the advantage in fishing around Pt. Lincoln in the first instance is having a heads up as to where to go, who to see and where to fish. Being a novice to the area and not having any contacts what so ever created a perception of the town being specifically orientated towards the locals, which is only natural. Admittedly, the towns folk, as with most if not all country folk, were extremely friendly and cordial when confronted by outsiders such as ourselves.
Our next major stop the next day was to be Elliston, but I was enthusiastic if not determined to at least make a minor detour towards Coffin Bay, to check out the scenery and reminisce on my previous excursion towards this area some 17 years ago on a trip towards Pt. Sir Isaac. I unfortunately didn't have the time to catch up with Glenn Boucher from Coffin Bay Fishing Charters, an endeavour I sorely regret not achieving, given the fact it was 7.30am at the time.
The drive towards Elliston brought us closer to such famous fishing spots as Sheringa Beach and Locks Well.
Locks Well beach is only a 15kms hop south of Elliston, and offers one of the most consistent catches of Australian Salmon in the state. This beach time after time produces large Australian Salmon that surf fishermen base their stories on.
The popularity of Locks Well encouraged the community of Elliston to construct a 120 metre wooden staircase (282 steps !) to provide a safe and leisurely access to the beach.
The road to Locks Well from the Flinders Highway has also been recently bitumised, relieving the driver of those famed corrugated secondary roads.
Sheringa Beach is also famed as one of the many beaches that produce good quantities of Australian Salmon. Sheringa Beach, just 8km off the Flinders Highway turn off, does not offer the same comforts in road travel, though it does offer the same calibre in abundance of fish.
Upon reaching Elliston, its beaches and the waters off Waterloo Bay offer many opportunities for beach fisherman to catch whiting, Trevally and sweep from the rocks. The town jetty, which is lit at night, gives anglers the chance to get good catches of Tommy Ruff, Garfish, Whiting, Snook and whilst you are there, it is worth your while to try for Squid.
The jetty was originally built to service the coastal steamers bringing in supplies to the early settlers, and transporting their produce to market. For boat fishermen and yacht sailors, there is a concrete launching ramp at the main swimming beach in the town.
After several days on the road, we finally reached our primary target of Elliston Caravan Park. During the preparation for this trip, I had on numerous occasions spoken with Troy and Andrea, and you tend develop a feel for people, and as where they stand.
It was great to finally meet both of them, and after some customary introductions and discussions, we settled into our cabin which was to be our home for the next 10 days.
We developed a schedule where we would get up in the morning at 5.45am and fish Locks Well for salmon till about 11.30am. After heading back to Elliston for lunch, a siesta ensued for about 3 hours.
Late afternoon was then spent preparing for the night's fishing stint off Elliston Jetty, after which, we would return back to the cabin at around 11.30pm with a bumper catch of whiting, tommies and squid. After filleting and clean our catch, it wouldn't be till 1.00am before we all hit the sack.
The next day would be spent sightseeing and visiting towns such as Venus & Streaky Bay and Talia Caves. This alternating regime of fishing and sight seeing continued for the duration of our stay at Elliston.
Not having a boat, our fishing was land based, and this still did not deter us from catching a variety of fish from the surrounding beaches or jetties.
Locks Well is definitely worth a visit, given the ease of ingress and egress nowadays to the beach, and the surrounding shorelines of Elliston and the jetty will definitely produce a good haul of fish.
One of the joys of being a father is seeing a smile on your son's face irrespective of the type or size of fish caught. The photo above of David is just one of many salmon trout we caught during our stay at Elliston Caravan Park, a trip we intend on making again later this year.
To the north of the town lies Anxious Bay (it can be reached by taking the road approximately 2 km north of the town) which offers spectacular cliff top views as well as access to the area known as Blackfellows.
For the surfer, there are few better waves than at Blackfellows, which is reputed to be one of the best surfing places on the Australian coast. Take the cliff top scenic drive to Anxious Bay where you will discover this surfing wonder. It's not uncommon to share the waves with a school of dolphins which also enjoy the surf.
One of the things you can't help noticing while relaxing and on holidays is other people who are still working. As business owners and managers of a caravan park, both Troy and Andrea demonstrated how dedicated they are to their business, and towards catering and servicing their clients.
One day, I happen to observe Troy driving around the park with a trailer full of water hooked up to his ute, spraying water over the gravel paths, so as to keep the dust down and minimize any inconvenience to his clients.
On the whole, such duties are normally deemed as above and beyond, and usually dismissed by other park owners, yet both Troy and Andrea do not hesitate to take that extra step or make that extra effort towards making your stay an enjoyable and memorable one.
I would definitely encourage you, if you intend on venturing out Elliston way, to definitely get in touch with Troy and Andrea, and to visit their web site for an overview of their facilities and accommodation.
You might also wish to peruse a review I wrote about Elliston Caravan Park ......... read more.
The trip itself and the touring along the coast of Eyre peninsula was great, as was the fishing and stay at Elliston. Something must be said in the advantages of having a boat, however, land based fishing around Elliston, Locks Well and Arno or Venus Bay definitely makes up for those perceived benefits in boating.
Admittedly, during this trip, I was more focused in ensuring that both my wife, son and I relaxed and enjoyed ourselves, and to that end, I believe I succeeded.
Elliston is currently hosting the Australian Salmon Fishing Championships, of which, a repectable amount of prize money is being offered, as well as weekly mystery weight prizes.
To view more information simply click on the banner below for the rules and conditions governing this competition.
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