My excuse for having been missing in action from Epicurean Epistles for a while is that we were away on holiday for a week which meant a holiday from everything (blogging and the dreaded fasting diet included ((more on that later)). When I reluctantly returned to my computer, there were literally hundreds of emails awaiting me. Mostly wastes of space. I haven’t exactly spent all this time attending to them, but certainly a fair amount of it. What possessed me to think I’d ever have time to read even a fraction of the miscellaneous bulletins I’d subscribed to, I have no idea. Anyway the deck has been cleared and now to the holiday.
Overstressed and under-recreated as we were, a week away in a secluded beach-front hideaway at Port Julia on the Yorke Peninsula was just the restorative we needed. We stayed at Julia Park, a holiday house set on a cliff-top overlooking 180 degree views of the sea. As locations go, this one equals anything the world’s more exotic and costly locales have to offer. As well as waking to a sweeping seascape each morning, the holiday maker has the bonus of complete seclusion, as the house is situated on nine acres of natural bush with direct access to a private and stunningly beautiful beach. There is nothing to interrupt the silence, other than the sound of birds and the occasional drone of a fisherman’s outboard motor.
Port Julia is located between Ardrossan and Port Vincent on the eastern side of the peninsula and like many such places in the region, caters mainly to fishermen and beach lovers. The seascapes along this stretch of the Gulf St Vincent are as spectacular as any I’ve seen, characterised by pristine stretches of white sand, deep blue seas, rocky outcrops and sparsely inhabited coastal inlets. Sheltered from the worst of the savage winds that buffet the Spencer Gulf side of the peninsula, the eastern beaches are tranquil havens. Showstopping sunrises come with the territory and make you wish you were a painter, or at least a better photographer.
While there we did what the environment lends itself to – walking, beach-combing, bike riding, meditating, reading, gazing in awe at the scenery, fishing (on the part of HWMBF) and of course eating and drinking. As well, we communed with nature and encountered at various ranges dolphins, lizards, rabbits, kangaroos, emus (most memorably on one occasion a mother with chicks), a snake (dead fortunately), birds of all kinds, including one morning on the beach a snoozing shag on a rock. When he woke up to see a human shag on a rock in close proximity, he didn’t seem anywhere near as excited about the photo op as I was.
Turning to things epicurean, as you would expect with a coastline that stretches forever, the Yorke Peninsula is a mecca for fishermen. Every horizontal surface close to the water seemed to boast at least one supremely patient angler. Not a sport for the quickly bored, fishing is an occupation that isn’t for everyone but for those who love it, dining on their freshly caught spoils is ample reward for the hours of watchful waiting. Failing such reward from HWMBF’s endeavours, we had to find ours in a local pub. Pub fare is the way to go in this region and with menus featuring local seafood, beachfront locations and friendly service, you don’t need to look any further for a great dining experience.
Port Vincent’s Ventnor Hotel is a prime example. The dining room looks out over the vista below and on a balmy spring evening with a chilled white wine in hand you begin to feel things just might be alright. As indeed they were, thanks also to some succulent oysters and perhaps the best lightly battered King George Whiting I’ve had in a long time. It was so delectable, I couldn’t pause from consuming it long enough to take a photo. Other seafood on offer in various places includes crayfish, snapper, garfish, prawns, snapper and more.
While there we visited quite a few of the other attractions, including the gorgeous and meticulously cared for Innes National Park, at the very foot of the peninsula. Stretching for 9,415 hectares, the park boasts rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, coastal bushland and many camp sites, walking trails and great fishing locations.
Whatever else we saw though, nothing could compete with our own private stretch of sand, lapping waves, brooding rocks and endless blue. Returning to that vista each day, or waking up to it in the morning was balm for the soul. It’s remarkable how bringing your focus back down to the small things like the sound of rippling water over rocks or the crunch of salt encrusted seaweed under your feet readjusts your perspective to a far calmer vantage point.
by Anne Green