After pulling up and spending the night at the roadhouse at Cocklebiddy, we packed up the boot of the Prado with our overnight stuff and headed off for our next detour off the bitumen.
The Eyre Bird Observatory is located around 50km from Cocklebiddy and has been set up by Bird Life Australia to collect data on the birdlife and other fauna of the area. The original old telegraph repeater station, built in 1877, has been converted into accomodation for the volunteer caretakers and visitors.
The EBO is located in the Nuytsland Nature Reserve, not far from Twilight Cove. About 35km of the trip in is on a gravel, rocky track that turns to sand and is 4wd only – definitely not the most difficult driving we’ve done, but lots of fun all the same! There were fires that ripped through the area some years ago and the black of the trees and fresh green regrowth contrast against the white sand making for stunning scenery.
On arrival, the warm, friendly caretakers, Danie & Delene, greeted us and showed us around. I have to say it felt a lot like going on school camp as we settled ourselves into our room & enjoyed the lunch put on for us and the other guests staying. You can really feel the isolation here. The EBO is completely off grid, being totally reliant on solar power & tank water.
Quite dense bush grows around the old Observatory building, with the white sand dunes rising above the beach in the distance. There is, of course, abundant bird life in this beautiful, tranquil setting. That is, until the Jazzy Devil arrives in all his thundering glory… really sorry to those two twitchers who arrived just after us!! We did get to spot a few different bird species though, my favourite were definitely the Major Mitchell cockies.
We spent a fantastic afternoon driving over one of the dunes to the beach then following one of the marked walking trails. We also climbed our way up to the top of a pure white, rippled, sand dune. The sun started to dip, casting a golden glow over the gently rolling dunes and the boys had a ball rolling back down, making for a definite highlight of our trip.
I had brought food along but I definitely hadn’t needed to as Delene did a stellar job catering for us, gluten & dairy free and all – with very limited supplies too.
The next morning, after waiting for low tide, we got our adventure boots on and headed off along the beach for Twilight Cove. The track follows the beach for about the first 13km then heads slightly inland along a tight, winding, rocky, sandy track. Definitely a LOT of fun! Although the Prado now has a few bush pin-stripes to show for it. The track pops back out at the beach again and we pulled up at Twilight Cove which could only be described as a little piece of heaven. We had the whole pure white beach to ourselves, in fact, I think this beach sees very few visitors. It was a scorching hot day, but we found a little shade in the overhanging rocks and splashed in the crystal clear, turquoise water.
We also got to spot quite a lot of wildlife on our way. We were quite excited to see a dolphin playing in the waves, a sea eagle and a dugite – thankfully we were in the car when we saw this one! Matt also came face to face with a rather large roo when he was checking out a track and I’m not sure who got the bigger fright!
On our way home we had planned to head back via an inland track but we just could not find which dune to cross to get to the start of it. We ended up following along the beach as the tide was quite low, however things got a bit hairy as we hit some very sharp limestone outcrops. Stuck between the thick piles of seaweed (seriously, this stuff would swallow your car), the salt water and the rocks we crawled along, trying not to get bogged or destroy the car on a ‘diff-buster’ (a rock just high enough to smash your diff if you go over it the wrong way!). We were actually going quite well until a very large boulder right on the edge of the water blocked our path entirely and we had to backtrack. Time was ticking on and we had to be mindful of the tide so we ended up coming back the way we came via the EBO but it certainly made for an adventurous day! I don’t have any good photos of the track for you, partly because they just don’t do it justice but mostly because we were concentrating too hard on making our way along the track!
Looking forward to filling you in on more of our adventures