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Walking on the salt lake, Lake Gairdner.
Walking on the salt lake, Lake Gairdner.
Swimming with dolphins.
Swimming with sea lions.

Baird's Bay Sea Lions

Thursday, July 27, 2000
If you've ever wanted to swim with sea lions and dolphins, here's your chance!

The journey begins in Whyalla, with a drive to Lake Gairdner and then to Wudinna for an overnight stay. Lake Gairdner is 160km long and 38km wide and looks like snow because it is a salt lake. Because it is so flat and has no mud it is very popular for car racing. If the wind is right, you can experience the thrill of travelling at 110km/h on a kite buggy. Beware — it is very, very glary.

The Gawler Ranges are reckoned to be 1.5 billion years old, with landscape of mallee and oak trees, low rocky hills and wide open plains. You will see plenty of emus and kangaroos and in the evening enjoy a delicious bush barbecue dinner.

Just before reaching Wudinna the tour stops at a narrow gorge made up of beautiful coloured pigments — pink, red, mustard, white and yellow. You spend the night at the Gawler Ranges Motel, where they claim to serve the best kangaroo meals for miles.

The following day you travel to Tyringa Beach and follow the superb coastline to Baird's Bay. Alan and Patricia Payne, who run Baird's Bay Charters and Ocean Eco Tours, then welcome you aboard their boat, the MV Investigator, named after early explorer Matthew Flinders' boat.

Over the eight years they have been taking people to see sea lions and dolphins in their natural environment, the Paynes have gained the trust of the animals, who are particularly playful when the Investigator arrives — it's as though they wait for visitors to come.

Jones Island is about 5km offshore and is home to around 70 sea lions. It is a conservation park and no-one can set foot on the island. But you can take a smaller boat to about 100m from the shore in waist-deep water, where you can snorkel, swim, hug, somersault and rub the backs of the sea lions.

About a kilometre away is the bottlenose dolphin area. They usually swim to the boat to welcome it and love to ride the bow wave.

The day ends with a barbecue of seafood on board the boat — usually delicious South Australian whiting.

Location

South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.

Cost

Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris
Tours cost $528 per person, including GST. Price includes lunch, accommodation and all meals. The seafood barbecue is an extra $20 per person. Tours operate year round.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris
Ph/Fax: (08) 8680 2045
Baird's Bay Charters and Ocean Eco Tours
Ph/Fax: (08) 8626 5017
Email: sealions@bigpond.com
Best Western: Ph:13 1779
Website: www.bestwestern.com.au

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