Coffin Bay
Coffin was a mate of Flinders, that is...
2 October 2006

As the brochures hasten to explain, this isn't a death thing, it's that Matthew Flinders, who spent a lot of time exploring here while circumnavigating Australia 200 years ago, named this extraordinary bay after a friend called Coffin.

In the course of such a long trip, it must be difficult for anyone, let alone an ancient explorer, especially one with a ship, who gets to name everything, even if people with other cultures and languages have already named them, to come up with new names.

But hereabouts on the western side of the Eyre Peninsula, Flinders seems to have become particularly visceral and moment-to-moment with place names — Picnic Bay, Avoid Bay, Anxious Bay, Venus Bay (named after a ship, not an appearance from the spuming waves), Streaky Bay, Rocky Point... and so on, you come over and read about it.

Or at least, for now, dig out an atlas and see the amazing shape and complexity of this enormous bay, vastly bigger than Port Lincoln, which is three times the size of Sydney Harbour, and far more wrinkly than Sydney Harbour.

These days Coffin Bay is most famous for its huge and delicious oysters and we can tell you right off that eating them the day harvested is an unrivalled experience.

The Coffin Bay jetty provides a tranquil scene...

...though turned out to be a scene of great industry and a titanic struggle.

Here were serious fishermen joining two serious nets.

Boys determined to catch crabs in a trap.

Though this giant crab was almost the size of the trap!

and even putting the trap in the water brought competition — the Little Cormorant succeeded in taking the bait from the trap

But then the cormorant got into trouble.
He had the bait (a fish head)
but with it came the wire to which it was attached.
He (or she) spent a lot of time getting that wire off the fish head,
persisting in the face of attacks he now faced.

This called for action by the Little Cormorant
who sought out his next feed from a location the seagulls could not reach.
Here again, in eight or more feet of crystal clear water, he took the bait.

It would seem that the cormorant enjoyed the game,
or had a particular taste for fish heads.
There was no shortage of other fish to eat!

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