A short drive from Port Lincoln brought us to Lincoln National Park, and we drove down the 4WD track to Memory Cove. During Matthew Flinder’s trip to the area in 1802, eight of his crew took a boat to shore, foundered on the reef near Cape Catastrophe, and lost their lives. The surrounding offshore islands were individually named after them and Memory Cove as a reminder of the incident.
Access is via a padlocked gate and a very rough road takes you to the beach. Unfortunately as soon as you arrive a swarm of bees descends looking for water, so the full awning went up to protect us, but not before I accidentally trod on one and got stung. Once set up things got better and the next few days were spent exploring the beach, shoreline, surrounding area and a bit of fishing. Wildlife abounds in the National Park and when Xavier wasn’t finding sea hares, peninsula brown snake jawbones and more besides we were watching Australian sea lions frolicking around the bay, and sea eagles flying overhead. We even got to watch a newly born baby dolphin being taught the ropes by its parents in the shallows of a nearby beach. It was tiny, barely a metre long and looked very clumsy when it surfaced to breathe, pushing its whole head and torso out, rather than just exposing the blowhole. Fish were everywhere and when the wrasse had stopped eating all the bait the big stuff came out (around dusk). Having watched swimmers in the sandy shallows it was a bit unnerving to see a 2+m bronze whaler cruising in knee-deep water two nights on the trot. Memory Cove is famous for the presence of Great White Sharks in the murky depths but this was 10m from the shore. That said I couldn’t resist slipping into the water at a spot where the sea lions were hanging out to try and get a photo. Unfortunately they were very wary and not as inquisitive as I was hoping they would be in the water. When I didn’t have a camera at hand they were more than happy to mock and put on fantastic jumping performances as we approached. I landed a large eagle ray on the last night after a 30 minute battle, and released it back.