It’s on again. Goolwa Cockle season has begun as of the 1st of November and goes through until the 30th of May. These little molluscs are highly sought after for some people as food or perhaps you’re like us, and use them for fishing bait.
Don’t get me wrong we have tried and loved cockles, (also known as pippis or kuti to the Ngarrindjeri people) and no one prepares them better than the Kuti Shack at Goolwa Beach. You can’t try them better than freshly harvested from the very beach you overlook when dining here.
My preference though, is still to use them as bait to catch some plump South Australian King George Whiting on Yorke Peninsula over summer.
There are some proposed changes earmarked by the local council for 4WD access to Goolwa Beach but at the moment you still drive onto the beach by the track behind the Goolwa Surf Lifesaving Club, at the end of Beach Road. And as signage advises, 4WD only people! To attempt it in anything else is foolish and you won’t get any sympathy for being irresponsible. Know the tide times too before you drive onto the beach.
If you don’t have a 4WD or aren’t confident driving onto the beach, there are plenty of carparks to use and walk onto the beach instead. As part of council’s improvement plans, a further 40 parking spaces are due to be created to the north of the current car park.
For the opening day of cockle season 2021/22 we were met at the entrance to the 4WD access track by Fisheries Department employees who were doing a great job ensuring that people knew the regulations and sizes for collecting cockles and handing out free measures so there could be no excuses. A fisheries car was also patrolling the beach – well done!
For full details visit the PIRSA website www.pir.sa.gov.au/fishing/fishing_limits/pipis but basically on Goolwa Beach the personal daily bag limit is 300, with a minimum length of 3.5cm when measured across the widest part of the shell. If there are 3 or more people in a vehicle the daily vehicle limit is 900.
The measuring tool is extremely handy and for our first attempt of the season we found the cockles were plentiful but most were way too small. We did manage to collect a good starting amount, although it took a long time and quite a few stops along the beach to find them, and nowhere near our limit, so a return trip is definitely on the cards.
The beach at the time was very soft and deeply rutted so a high clearance 4WD is best to have, and let your tyres down, especially if you want to visit the Murray Mouth at the moment. Sand dredging work is still happening (and probably always will) but on this day the sea water was noticeably brown from the river water rushing out.
And something I’d never seen before at the mouth was a huge amount of pelicans all getting a good feed en masse, as they bobbed about in the turbulent water.
Enjoy cockling on Goolwa Beach but remember to stick to the size and bag limits and be responsible when driving on the beach.