I couldn’t have ever imagined we would find a place like this, let alone be able to spend 12 nights camping here for free. But there we were, Steph and I, stood atop a cliff watching the waves break over the reef, Willow by our feet sniffing the salty air.
The sun’s going down now and soon the air will be getting chilly. We’ll go into the van and start cooking dinner, and as we are, we’ll glance out the window at the sunset and pinch ourselves.
For all the years we dreamt of returning to the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, we never imagined we would stumble upon this paradise. The coastal panoramas to be enjoyed with a cup of tea. Swimming with dolphins in the lagoon. And watching a certain little black cat rolling around in the sand.
It’s winter now and the crowds have gone. The backpackers and the caravan nomads, they’ve all headed North, so there’s only a few of us here.
Willow spends the afternoons switching between looking out the window and taking short strolls around the van. As the sun sets, from way across the bay we can see a glowing dot of a campfire next to a caravan. Campers would come and go but we mostly have the place to ourselves.
We made camp above the beach. We’re next to a beautiful lagoon that’s sheltered by a reef so as the tide lowers it’s protected from the crashing waves. There we can paddle around in the clear water.
Never more have I wanted to tell everyone and no one where a place is. I want everyone to have the opportunity to find themselves here, to watch the tides come and go and to see the dolphins cruising the lagoon.
So here is the compromise. If you truly want to find this place, you will – it’s on the West Coast of the Eyre Peninsula. If you need help, reach out and I’ll give you some hints, but let’s not tell the whole internet! It can be our secret.
On Willow’s strolls she does the ol’ stop, drop, and roll, shaking the sand through her coat as she flops around on her back. This is Willow’s way of giving a campsite her tick of approval. When she’s finished, she’ll sit up with a serious expression on her face, sand still sticking to the side of her head.
When I see her like this it warms my heart. I know she is having a good time, and I know she is comfortable and feels safe. This is when I know we have found a great campsite.
But why is this the best in Australia? Well, I’m getting to that.
We pump up our stand up paddle boards as Willow looks on. Once inflated, she jumps on for a ride – as long as it’s not actually going anywhere. Willow isn’t much of a water cat, content to keep her little paws on solid ground. So as we walk down the steep dune to the beach, Willow has a nap in the van.
The tide is low now and the surface is dead flat as I push out onto the water on my board.
The water is clear and I can see the reef and patches of sea grass below. Fish dart around underneath me as I paddle around the lagoon hoping to spot some stingrays. Instead, from across the bay I hear the sigh of a dolphin as it rises to the surface to breathe, then another. I watch the pair circle around the lagoon, effortless and elegant.
I’m in awe, and I wish I could jump in and swim like they do, but I’m afraid of what else lies beneath, afraid of being so far from the beach. They swim under my board, glancing up at me before continuing their journey along the bay.
The evenings are a perfect time to sit and watch the bay. Willow sits close by, mainly because it’s nearly her dinner time. With the air cooling and Willow pestering us for her meal, we go back inside where it’s warm and cosy.
As Steph and I climb into bed, Willow is quick to jump up and settle in between us.
That night, all I can think about is the lagoon and the visit from my Cetacean friends. I dream of swimming out into the clear water, diving down and exploring that underwater world without fear.
About half way through our stay we do a supply run to the town of Cummins where we spend a night. There’s a great bakery there so we stock up on treats and go to the supermarket. When we return to the bay the next day it feels like we are coming home.
The days pass and Willow doesn’t tire of her strolls. I think she enjoys the salt and sand in her coat. After her baths she looks impeccably groomed and well conditioned, unlike myself.
Towards the end of our stay I see the dolphins return to the bay. I think it’s that same pair, so I push the paddle board out and keep clear to the side of the lagoon.
They watch me as they circle around the shallows, then pass back out into the lagoon. I look into the water and feel the fear, but I push it down. I bury it.
I jump into the water and the seagrass beds appear below me as the bubbles clear around my goggles. I swim under the water not too far from my board and it’s everything I dreamed of. It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful. It’s freezing.
From the distance, shadows approach and I stand still in the water. For a moment I don’t breath, I just watch as the graceful forms swim effortlessly towards me. The sunlight dances across their faces as they swim under me.
I hear their chatter and they look at me as they pass me by. Then, for a moment, one of them turns and gives me one last look before swimming into the blue.
We’ve moved on now from the coast but the memories we made by that lagoon will be with us forever.
I hope you too will find this campsite if you come looking for it. Know that I’ll give you some help if you can’t find it. This is the best campsite in Australia but for me there’s something more than just the location that makes it the best. It’s a place where I conquered a fear, even if for just a moment and a place I got to share with my two most favourite people in the world.
Willow has since cleaned all the sand from between her toebeans, and Steph and I have washed the salt from our skin. But we’ll never forget our time on the Eyre Peninsula.
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Wow! I’m still pinching myself that we got to stay at this place. Did you see the video at the top of this story? I have to say I get a little teary looking back at those moments. The good news is there will always be more adventures to come. Can’t wait to share them with you! I hope that if you can, you can help us out with our website costs etc. It means a lot to me that I can continue to share these stories with you!