For David Doudle of Australian Coastal Safaris, that rush seconds before cresting the dune is deeply-ingrained. No surprise really, given his family has toiled alongside the Great Australian Bight for generations.
“This was where we learnt to swim, snorkel, dive, fish, camp, 4WD–all the fun stuff,” David explains.
But it was a worldly US friend who suggested he share it with others, describing the Eyre Peninsula as the best destination he’d ever seen, “and he’d travelled a lot!”
FROM FARMER TO HOST
For years, ferrying guests across sands was a vibrant feather in the grain farmer’s hat. But family life, a back injury and growing interest in his side venture prompted a change.
“Sitting in machinery all day wasn’t helping my back problem … we were juggling a lot!”
Thankfully, those off-road tours offered the family real options: “[It] gave us the confidence to have a crack at this industry full-time,” said David.
So in 2013, the family packed up the farm and moved into Port Lincoln and “basically restarted” the business.
“Now we looking after travellers from all around the world!”
AUSTRALIAN COASTAL SAFARI TOURS FOR ALL TRAVELLERS
Today, David delivers a broad repertoire with the help of local guides under the recently-rebranded Australian Coastal Safaris.
Guests can experience Port Lincoln’s sights, close up koala interaction, off-road thrills and endless foot-print free beaches—camera-in-hand—under the direction of a trained, local photographer.
Anglers can chase and plate their own catch, or just enjoy Eyre’s ocean bounty served up to them on a wine and food tour. The fully-catered South Point Beach House really rounds out the experiences for the mid- to high-end travellers.
“When you have the knowledge of local guides, the abundance and varied amount of native wildlife, marine life and birdlife … you really can’t go wrong,” says David.
As an inaugural supplier for the Tourism Australia’s Signature Collections: Australian Wildlife Journeys, Australian Coastal Safaris attracts attention abroad.
“Swimming with Australian sea lions and bottlenose dolphins is always a favourite among guests. There are only a couple of places in the world where you can do this.”
For a winter highlight, guests can watch Southern right whales at rest in the West Eyre where they calve, breed and socialise.
“Guests are really surprised by the diverse amount of things to do in the region and the quality of the experiences on offer,” David says.
Local knowledge helps when navigating remote area terrain, says David, who still leads the 4WD tours.
“You know the roads, tracks and sand dunes you’re going to encounter—and weather conditions that you’re dealing with, which obviously varies from summer to winter.”
But familiarity will only get you so far.
“We run appropriate air-pressures in our tyres when 4WDing, carry a compressor, MaxTrax, snap strap, UHF radio, first-aid kit and plenty of water,” says David.
Not just for his guests’ safety but for those he encounters out on the tracks.
“We have come across people who, somehow, have ended up in a place where they just should not have been.
“Bogged to the eyeballs with no equipment to get them out. No phone service, nothing!”
David says it’s vital to come prepared and respect you and your vehicles’ limitations.
“There are many days when we do not see anyone—so if you are stuck out there somewhere, very often there is no-one to help you,” says David.
DAY’S END WITH AUSTRALIAN COASTAL SAFARIS
David loves to mull over the day’s play.
“…just sitting around a fire [or beach … cliff-top] with a local wine or beer with a grazing platter and reflecting with guests the day that had just unfolded.
“There’s nothing better.”