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Baird Bay sea lions

Thursday, April 6, 2006
Eyre Peninsula is South Australia's second largest region. Its whale, sea lion and dolphin watching, fishing, snorkelling, diving and surfing, native wildlife and wonderful seafood make it a great place to visit. Visitors also enjoy bird watching, bush walking or just beachcombing.

Small coastal towns ooze charm and tranquillity and Getaway visited the remote and isolated fishing village of Baird Bay for a seal lion experience. Captain Flinders was unable to see the shallow western arm of Anxious Bay, even from the topmast in 1802. He saw only the mouth with its small island, now known as Jones Island.

The area covers around 3800 hectares and the town's foreground is a sweeping beach. It is home to a colony of sea lions and, weather dependent, you can snorkel and dive with them.

There are great white sharks in the Bight too, but shallow pools protected by exposed reef keep them at bay.

Alan and Patricia Payne's family-owned and operated Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience began in 1992. A young Australian sea lion paid a visit to their boat while they were out fishing. Its curiosity and gaze prompted Alan to slip into the water, and a long-term friendship began.

After many years of constant encounters, the Paynes have learnt much from the wonderful creatures — their likes and dislikes, what upsets or pleases them and how much they love human contact. They also love to play games, but they have to be of their own choosing!

Each new generation brings unconditional trust. They have never been hand fed and all interaction is done totally on the sea lions' choosing, and will remain that way.

As endearing and gentle as they are, sea lions are endangered and every day is a fight for survival. Once you have swum and dived with them, you leave the water with a magical feeling and they know they have won another friend.

The 20 minute ride from Baird Bay to the sea lions is in a 12-metre aluminium boat. You then transfer to a four-metre, flat-bottom boat or a six-metre tri-hull, which takes you to the shallow pools where the sea lions live, to enjoy a most wonderful and incomparable experience.

The two architecturally-designed Baird Bay Ocean Eco Apartments were created from rammed earth and blend beautifully with the beachside environment.

The single storey unit has three bedrooms, one bathroom and separate toilet. It accommodates up to fifteen. The two storey apartment has two bedrooms on both floors, each with its own ensuite. A barbecue and entertainment area separates the two, giving privacy, though most visitors like to meet up for evening drinks as the sun sets across the Bay.

A Quintrex 2.4-metre, wide-bodied Dory dinghy with a 20hp Yamaha outboard is supplied for guests' use. Fuel charges are added to your account. There is a storage facility for tackle, bait, beer and eskies and an extra large refrigerator and freezer.


South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.


Baird Bay Ocean Eco Tours are $100 for adults and $50 for children. It includes a four-hour snorkelling trip and equipment and morning or afternoon tea. They operate year round, with September to May being the best time.

Baird Bay Eco Accommodation starts at $180 a night. Breakfast is included.

Outback Encounter has all inclusive packages including accommodation, meals, activities and transfers from Adelaide from $120 a person a night.

Virgin Blue has flights to Adelaide with limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the net. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at April 06, 2006 and are subject to change.

To Adelaide based on one way fare;
  • From Melbourne, $110
  • From Brisbane, $144
  • From Sydney, $144
  • From Perth, $205
  • From Darwin, $270

For further information

Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience
Post Office Box 98
Streaky Bay SA 5680
Ph/Fax: (08) 8626 5017

Outback Encounter
33 Queen Street
Thebarton SA 5031
Ph: (08) 8354 4405

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

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