Coffin Bay might be most renowned for its oysters, but its national park is a boon for those seeking true closeness with nature.
Mention Coffin Bay and immediately you’ll hear about the amazing oysters that are available in the town. However, mention Coffin Bay to those that wander off the beaten path, and you’ll hear about the truly fabulous Coffin Bay National Park. The starting point of the national park is located around five-kilometres from the township and is home to stunning coastlines, picturesque camping spots, native animals and a plethora of flora and fauna.
The Traditional Owners of this area, the Barngarla and Nauo tribes, made use of a wide variety of fish, inland mammals, reptiles and plants in the region. Of particular interest is the nondo bean which grows prolifically on the sand hills, and was a highly prized food. Primitive fish traps made from stone arrangements, stone working sites and middens are still present in the park.
Sometimes you see something so remarkable that you just know that it’s going to be a great day walking. Before heading to the start of the walk, we stopped at Long Beach to take a photo of the entrance sign of the National Park. Marnie had just finished taking the photo when two baby emus walked out from behind the sign, closely followed by the mother. The emus were not afraid of us, and in fact walked alongside us as we returned to the car. That memory still makes me smile.
Within the national park there are several walks, spanning from one-kilometre (Yangie Lookout walk), all the way up to two separate 24-kilometre walks (Boarding House Bay walk and Whidbey walk). The one I had chosen was the Yangie Bay to Long Beach walk which is 20-kilometres return (10-kilometres up and 10 kilometres back).
The walk starts at Yangie Bay Campground (the southern end of the walk) and makes its way along the inner coastline all the way up to Long Beach, which is around four-kilometres from the town of Coffin Bay. If you have two cars you could make this walk a one-way option, but once you arrive onto Long Beach you would have to continue walking two-kilometres north before arriving at a car park (unless you have a 4WD as you can drive along the beach south towards the trail).
This walk isn’t your typical coastal hike as it’s slightly inland and winds itself between the vegetated dunes with small rises and falls that allow glimpses of the islands just off the coast. You’ll be treated with ever-changing flora – as is often the case with inner coastal systems, you’ll turn a corner and be greeted by what appears a different landscape. This walk in particular offered some drastic landscape changes while walking, quickly going from rocky outcrops, to wattle wonderlands, samphire flats and then into deep sand.
At close to the midway point of the walk, I heard a noise in the bush ahead of me and a large emu walked very casually out in front and stayed on the track just ahead of me.
For several minutes we walked along the track together, and then he vanished around a corner. Still smiling, I heard another noise and a kangaroo jumped along the track ahead of me, but unlike the emu, quickly disappeared back into the bush. I laughed out loud – how often do you get to see Australian currency in real life and in such quick succession? If you’re lucky, you might see a heath goanna or the eastern bearded dragon sunning themselves along the way.
The halfway point (turnaround point) is Long Beach, where you can have a paddle in the still, shallow waters. I had packed my towel and bathers for a swim, and it was a great relief from the heat of the late-afternoon.
I followed my footsteps all the way back to camp on the return. Knowing the route already, I decided to run back to camp (being a keen trail runner). Finally, I’d like to strongly suggest that you carry two snake bite bandages for this walk, as at the time of my adventure it was heavily overgrown and long stretches of the actual trail were hidden amongst dense vegetation. Warning signs of death adders in the area also had me on high alert – thankfully, however, I didn’t see any evidence of snakes along the route this time.