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With rugged cliffs that tower over the pounding Southern Ocean, secluded white sandy beaches bordered by mountainous sand dunes and native scrubland, this coast is unique and as untamed as the ‘Wild West’. There are cliff top drives with views that will take your breath away and calm watered bays of picturesque little coastal towns where you can sit back and relax and maybe dangle a line. The West Eyre Peninsula is a travel experience you won’t want to miss.
It begins at the south western tip of the Eyre Peninsula at Coffin Bay and finishes at the business hub and service centre of the district, Streaky Bay to the north. For a change of scenery, the Gawler Ranges, approximately 120 km’s east of Streaky Bay is renowned for spectacular volcanic rock hills, valleys, rocky gorges, seasonal wildflowers and colourful wildflowers.
Situated on the western tip of southern Eyre Peninsula on the pristine waters of Port Douglas, is the idyllic township of Coffin Bay. There is an extensive bay system which is home to numerous pods of dolphins whilst some of the islands are home to seals and many breeding sea birds.
Coffin Bay has great facilities for the water-lover with fabulous fishing, boating, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, water skiing, paddle boarding, swimming, snorkeling, diving, and windsurfing. There are walking trails with pretty scenery, picnic areas, tennis courts, lawn bowls and a golf course where you share the greens with kangaroos and emus.
Coffin Bay is renowned for its world famous oysters and you can learn about the lives of the oyster farmers, the history of the industry and visit an oyster farm. They are one of the most delicious oysters I have ever tasted.
Visit nearby Coffin Bay National Park, which includes Whidbey Wilderness Area, where there are many beaches and headlands offering excellent fishing. The park is also home to an abundance of birds, wildflowers and wildlife. Take your four wheel drive along the smooth white sands of Long Beach with the most interesting windswept white sand dunes and clear turquoise waters.
Following the coastline along in a northerly direction through vast farmlands and salt lakes, there are many beaches off the beaten track, including Farm Beach, Greenly Beach, Convention Beach and Picnic Beach. We arrived at the little known beach called Point Drummond which was absolutely captivating with it’s steep cliff faces, rocky shorelines and long stretch of the most striking white sanded beach. Sunset pictures were glorious!
Driving further north you meander through rolling hills of pastoral properties with the remnants of old stone fences still in place, old stonework farmhouses and to Lake Hamilton. On the roadside you come across Lake Hamilton Eating House which was built in 1857 as a resting place for coaches and travelers on their way to the Far West Coast.
There is an interesting monument and lookout to honour Leo Cummings (a pioneer of Sheringa district), near where he drowned when his crayfish boat was wrecked on the rocks at the base of the cliffs near Kiana in 1959. The sight has incredible views back to Point Drummond to the south and the jagged cliffs of Sheringa to the north.
Sheringa is a popular beach for camping, fishing and surfing with its magnificent white sand dunes. The Sheringa General Store is worth a visit (and is where you purchase your camping permit). It has lots of fascinating memorabilia and décor.
From its jagged coastline to pristine beaches, the popular town of Elliston is an ideal base for exploring the west coast of Eyre Peninsula. It is set on the shores of Waterloo Bay which is safe for fishing, swimming and snorkelling.
Nearby Locks Well Beach is salmon fishing heaven and a good vantage point for frequent sightings of sea lions, dolphins and whales in Winter. Also make sure you check out the 500 square metre mural adorning Elliston Town Hall. It depicts the town’s early history through to today and holds regular art exhibitions in the hall.
Stretching 20 km’s to Walkers Rocks, near Elliston, Talia Beach offers good beach and rock fishing. There are two interesting sites to visit near Talia Beach: The Woolshed and The Tub. The Woolshed is a large cavern carved into the granite cliff by wave action and is spectacular. The Tub is a large crater in the cliff with a tunnel connection to the sea. There are dramatic cliff faces that offer long views to the south along Talia Beach from this point as well.
A very pretty and appealing little village set on a calmwater bay with plenty of fishing action from either the boat ramp or the jetty. The Venus Bay Conservation Park comprises Weyland Peninsula and the seven islands within Venus Bay, where you can discover over 100 bird varieties, 12 native mammals and 25 reptile species in the park.
The nearby Needle Eye lookout provides amazing views of towering rugged cliffs and booming surf rolling in from the Great Australian Bight. You can access this on the South Head Walking Trail from Venus Bay and is a great viewing spot for dolphins, sea lions and whales.
En route to the large town of Streaky Bay, in fact 40Km south, it is worth a stop to see the wondrous outcrop of unique pink granite boulders, named Murphys Haystacks. They are located out in the middle of a crop farm but there are marked walkways between the two groups of rocks with interpretive signage.
51 Km south of Streaky Bay, on some very rough stretches of gravel road, there is Point Labatt Conservation Park, which has a purpose built platform 50 metres above a large colony of sea lions. Upward of 50 sea lions and seals can be seen under the cliff face as they frolic, swim, sunbake and fish on the shoreline. They were fascinating!
The Cape Bauer Loop Coastal Scenic Drive is just outside Streaky Bay and has the most striking and rugged scenery of the Great Australian Bight. There are many photo opportunities along the route, including Hallys Beach, Whistling Rocks and the Blowholes and the Cape Bauer itself, with thundering huge waves crashing against the tall cliffs.
The 31Km Westall Way Loop Coastal Scenic Drive is another one for the book and only 10 Kms from Streaky Bay. Stop at the many gorgeous beaches along the route, including Tractor Beach, Granites, Speed Point and Yanerbie Beach. Check out the Highcliffs where sea stacks loom out of the Southern Ocean and explore the extensive rock pools at Smooth Pools and enjoy a nice refreshing swim or snorkel around the reefs.
Very popular with tourists, is the Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience, which is 50 Km south of Streaky Bay, but only 20 minutes by boat. The day cruise offers a swim and frolic with both dolphins and sea lions in their natural habitats.
Streaky Bay is a charming seaside town which has good shopping, sports facilities and an array of accommodation options. Seafood is the lifeblood of the town and offers delicious fresh Oysters, Abalone and Scallops. Anglers are also spoilt for choice with King George Whiting, Salmon, Snapper, Garfish, Snook, Tommy Ruffs, Flounder, Trevally, Squid and Blue Swimmer Crabs all in abundance in the waters surrounding Streaky Bay.
20 Km’s north of Streaky Bay there are a couple of lovely beaches which are great for fishing and swimming, Haslam and Perlubie Beach. We camped on the shores of Perlubie Beach for a few nights and enjoyed the long stretch of calm watered beach and white sand dunes. There are grass-roofed open sided huts built on the beach which are great for shade and shelter. I can vouch for the brilliance of the sunset over the tranquil beach – ravishing!
For a change or scenery we ventured inland in an eastwards direction about 120 Kms from Streaky Bay towards the Gawler Ranges and the small rural community of Minnipa. It lays within the Gawler Craton and is surrounded by magnificent granite outcrops and is the western gateway to the Gawler Ranges.
We visited the intriguing Pildappa Rock which is a huge granite monolith with a spectacular wave formation just 15 Kms north of Minnipa. You can climb to the top of the rock for splendid views of the Gawler Ranges and the surrounding farming areas.
Also very intriguing, was the Tcharkuldu Rock which is 6 Kms north-east of Minnipa, covered with interesting rock formations and enormous boulders. There is an excellent example of a ‘Shepherd’s Hut’ within the reserve, which has been restored to its original state.
There are few experiences in life parallel to the surreal opportunity of interacting with wildlife in their natural environments. I think that this is what I loved most about the wild west Eyre Peninsula, plus her abundance of natural wonders and contrasting landscapes. It was so easy to find a sweeping beach, a sheltered cove or a towering limestone cliff and know that you didn’t have to share it with one other person.
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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Pinky PoinkerApril 25, 2014
Strange rock formations and blowholes always hold a fascination for me. Something about the crashing waves.The haystacks look great. I loved that old town hall as well.
kathymarrisApril 26, 2014
Weren’t the haystacks amazing? Yes loving every bit of this great country. There is so much to do and see.
jennyandstephenmilanApril 25, 2014
Twenty years ago I did a road trip with friends along this coast. Thank you for the memories. Great photos.
kathymarrisApril 26, 2014
So glad you enjoyed a trip down memory lane. Such a wonderful part of Australia. Thank you for dropping by
Marian@The Living Well in Retirement ChallengeApril 25, 2014
A great post! You have certainly beautifully captured many of my favourite places! And there are so many others where you can enjoy spectacular scenery – Gunyah Beach in the Coffin Bay National Park, Dutton Bay, Farm Beach, Gallipoli Beach, Coles Point and Mt Greenly Beach and Lock’s Well to name a few!
I loved your comment about not having to share a beach with anyone else. If we arrive at a beach that is being enjoyed by someone else we just move onto the next!
Eyre Peninsula is certainly a well kept secret tourist destination!
kathymarrisApril 26, 2014
Thank you Marian, I’m glad I didn’t disappoint. It is so true, that there are many more spectacular places to see on the Eyre Peninsula. I would love to return there some day and see more! As for the remoteness of some of those beaches – we savoured every minute!
Marian@The Living Well in Retirement ChallengeApril 26, 2014
I’m so glad you enjoyed Eyre Peninsula, Kathy! I know I appreciated it’s rugged beauty so much more when I had to move away. We do have a beach house at Coffin Bay, and now that we are retired, we are able to enjoy these special places so much more often!
PS: I am really enjoying your blog!