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, bushwalking and beachcombing.
Getaway visited the remote and isolated fishing village of Baird Bay. 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 town's foreground is a sweeping beach, home to a colony of sea lions and, weather depending, 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 encounters, the Paynes have learnt much from these 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 these have to be of their own choosing!
The sea lions have never been handfed and all interaction is done totally on their 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.
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 take you to the shallow pools where the sea lions live.
The two architect-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 15 people. 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 guest 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.
Baird Bay Ocean Eco Tours are $100 for adults and $50 for children. They include 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 $120 a night. Breakfast is included and for an extra charge, Johnno the chef is available upon request.
Outback Encounter has 4 night / 5 day all-inclusive luxury adventure packages, including accommodation, meals, activities and return transfers from Pt Lincoln starting from $770 a person a night.
Prices quoted correct at 5.07.2007
South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.
For further information
Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience
PO Box 98 Streaky Bay 5680
Ph/Fax: (08) 8626 5017
33 Queen Street
Ph: (08) 8354 4405
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