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Known as ‘Australia’s fishing frontier’, South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula is appreciated by fishing fanatics and seafood foodies from all over Australia. The vast promontory surrounded by the Spencer Gulf on the east coast and the Southern Ocean on the west coast, is a tantalizing seafood smorgasbord, from shellfish to fin fish, all gathered from the local waters.
But more than this, our sojourn around the cape unleashed some of the most striking jagged coastlines and wilderness that I have ever seen. Words cannot describe the abundance of natural wonders and the untamed and unspoilt coastlines that there are to explore. I was simply awestruck by the Eyre Peninsula’s magnificence.
The triangular shaped Eyre Peninsula spanning a vast 170,500 km², is broken up into four regions: Eastern Eyre Peninsula, Lower Eyre Peninsula, West Coast and Gawler Ranges & Central Eyre Peninsula. It’s just one the must see places on your Australian Itinerary.
Commencing at Whyalla at the top of the Eastern Eyre Peninsula on the protected waters of the Spencer Gulf, you travel south on the Lincoln Highway where you will discover the small coastal communities including:
A 48 square kilometre natural harbour with calm, fish-filled waters and an impressive jetty where you can catch blue swimmer crabs as well as purchase plenty of oysters cheaply from the local oyster farms.
A little off the beaten track and just south of Cowell you will find Port Gibbon, where there are high towering cliffs, white as snow sand hills and rocky reefs. Here you may catch sight of a small sea lion colony.
Once a major port servicing the local farming area, Arno Bay is renowned as SA’s kingfish and aquaculture capital. The Supershed located nearby the jetty and parklands is a testament to Arno Bay’s history with interpretive signage revealing its history.
An attractive little town with good shopping, sports, dining and accommodation facilities, as well as excellent bushwalking, birdwatching, trails, lookouts, museums and galleries. With all this it still retains a peaceful laid-back lifestyle with crystal blue waters, a 10 kilometre stretch of sandy beach, pine tree-lined foreshore and historic buildings.
If you have a boat, a visit to nearby Joseph Banks Group of Islands is a must see as it is one of the marine wonders of the world and is famous for its fishing grounds and birdlife, including the Cape Barren geese.
Continuing in a southerly direction you will reach the city of Port Lincoln where it is well worth stopping for a week or two to take in all that there is to do and see in this region, which also takes in Whaler’s Way, Coffin Bay and the stunning National Parks of Port Lincoln National Park and Coffin Bay National Park.
Situated on Boston Bay, one of the largest protected natural harbours in the world and three times the size of Sydney Harbour, Port Lincoln is the home to Australia’s largest commercial fishing fleet. Port Lincoln is well known for having a vast variety of seafood from the beautiful pristine waters surrounding Eyre Peninsula’s east coast.
For the adventurous, you can go shark cage diving and come face to face with the ocean’s ultimate predator – the great white shark. For a more sedate adventure you can swim with the sea lions on a half day cruise with one of the charter operators. Otherwise get aboard a fishing charter and try your hand at catching your own fish.
Lincoln National Park
View whales, in season, from nearby Sleaford Bay, which has some gorgeous sun-drenched beaches.
Whaler’s Way & Cape Carnot
Featuring some of the most accessible and ruggedly beautiful coastal scenery in South Australia, Whaler’s Way is a wonderland of cliffs, blowholes, crevasses, caves and white sandy beaches. Couple this with the whaler’s days long gone, but still in evidence at the old Sleaford Bay Whaling Station, sited at Fishery Bay.
Whaler’s Way and Cape Carnot is situated at the southern-most tip of the Eyre Peninsula and is an absolute must see. It is privately owned land, so once you get a permit and a key from Port Lincoln’s Visitors Information Centre, you head south west for 32 kilometres until you reach the entry gate. With map in hand you enter the property and meander your way along 14 kms of dirt roads with all points of interest signposted along the way. The dramatic scenery will simply take your breath away.
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 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.
Visit nearby Coffin Bay National Park, which includes Whidbey Wilderness Area, where there are many beaches and headlands offering excellent fishing and 4 wheel driving.
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.
Following the coastline along in a northerly direction from Coffin Bay through vast farmlands and salt lakes, there are many beaches off the beaten track, including Farm Beach, Greenly Beach, Convention Beach and Picnic Beach. The little known beach called Point Drummond was absolutely captivating with it’s steep cliff faces, rocky shorelines and long stretch of the most striking white sanded beach.
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 travellers 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.
A popular beach for camping, fishing and surfing with its magnificent white sand dunes. On the way to the beach 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.
Stretching 20 kms 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. Whilst 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 calm water 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.
Enroute 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 kms 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.
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 Hally’s Beach, Whistling Rocks and the Blowholes and Cape Bauer itself, with thundering huge waves crashing against the tall cliffs.
The 31 km 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 high cliffs 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 itself 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, scallops and a large variety of fin fish.
20 kms 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.
For a change or scenery venture inland in an eastwards direction about 120 Kms from Streaky Bay towards the Gawler Ranges and the small rural community of Minnipa. The Gawler Ranges are renowned for spectacular volcanic rock hills, valleys, rocky gorges, seasonal wildflowers and colourful wildflowers.
Minnipa 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.
The Eyre Peninsula is a travel experience you won’t want to miss. There are few experiences in life that can parallel the surreal opportunity of interacting with wildlife in their natural environments. I think that this is what I loved most about the 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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