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The Eyre Peninsula

April 2023

The Eyre Peninsula is a triangle shaped peninsula bounded by the Spencer Gulf (east) and the Great Australian Bight (west). It is renowned for its seafood, its pristine waters and its raw and rugged coastline. It was my favourite part of South Australia and we got here just as the weather started to cool down so our endless days on the beach are becoming fewer.

Speeds Point

After refreshing ourselves 'post Nullarbor' in Ceduna we wandered south to find somewhere to stay for 3 nights, as our stay on Perlubie Beach was 3 days away. We explored Smokey Bay and walked along the old jetty (this is only the start of the SA jetty bonanza) making friends with a beautiful cormorant. Whilst Mali and I made lunch, Craig threw a line out. As he sat down to start munching on his wrap his rod started to lean so he bolted across the sand to reel in the biggest flathead he has caught so far. Winner winner fishy dinner!!! As this peninsula is known for its amazing oysters we purchase a dozen to go with the ‘flatty’ and a bottle of our stashed Margaret River wine. We found a very 'full' free camp, just south, at a little hamlet called Haslam. We were the second last van to arrive. Half a dozen vans arrived after us having to turn around and find somewhere else. It is so damned busy now, so I am relieved I have booked our sites along most of this peninsula.

We were aiming for Speeds Point (see top pic) the next day (20km south of Streaky Bay). Now sometimes not having a booking results in a gem of a find somewhere you would not have normally pulled up. Speeds Point is one of about 20 council managed campsites dotted around the peninsula. All can be booked online and are about $15 per night. The Yorke Peninsula (east of Eyre) offers the same. Well done South Australia!!! Craig fished, Mali and I swam in a private little beach, we had a campfire each night and watched the sun go down over the ocean. The outlook was just wonderful.

Perlubie Beach (nth of Streaky Bay)

We headed back north for our 2 nights at Perlubie beach. This was our first absolute beachfront site. It took us 2 years and I told Craig we cannot stop until we do it. There were about 15 other vans nearby but I did not care. The day we arrived was picture perfect. We swam and paddle on the boards all day. I did a long swim up the bay but kept popping up and wading in the water as the idea of sharks unnerved me (the recent Elliston shark attack was only a little way south of here). Craig was missing the ol' tinnie so he packed up a bucket, balanced it on my surfboard and set off to fish. Needless to say, he came back with nothing. I think he needs a boat! He talks about it a lot and ogles at every expensive looking boat being towed past us. We went foraging for pippis and razor fish (another bivalve - like giant scallop) and cooked them up in garlic and butter with more of our Margaret River wine. Ahh, this is the life!!

The Streaky Bay races

Next stop, Streaky Bay, only 15km south. We decided to don our fanciest clothes (you can see by the pic that we do not do fancy well these days) and head off to the Streaky Bay races. The laundry at the van park was full of women ironing frocks and the queue for the bus out the front was enormous. We simply had to go too!! We had met a lovely family, 'the Kimm's', at Perlubie Beach so planned to meet them all at the races. It was quite the afternoon. The kids enjoyed the jumping castle and slides and we all enjoyed watching the horses. I noticed that the same jockeys rode in each race, just on different horses. Perhaps that is a thing, but I had never been close enough to notice before. We saw a horse knock off its rider at the starting gate and then the winning horse took off, bashing through a fence and bolting into the adjacent paddocks. People we running after it on foot (good god) and horses and then several vehicles joined them. It was particularly entertaining and, despite the chaos on the track, a really well organised event. Thanks Streaky Bay!

Whistling Rocks (top left), misty walk (top right), rugged Eyre coastline (above)

We took the Cape Bauer Loop Drive along the rugged and spectacular coastline visiting the Whistling Rocks and Blowholes. The 360 metre boardwalk takes you to a viewing platform. There are shafts in the rocks that connect to underground caves. As the ocean swell fills the caves they force air and water through these pipes towards the cliff surface making a spooky whistling noise. Mali was a bit scared so wandered off back up the boardwalk. I thought it sounded a little like blowing whales.

I had a wonderful sunrise walk in the misty rain along the bike track that meanders through the salt marsh and creek around the bay to Moores Boat Ramp. I spent most of the walk skipping over 1000s of cute little snails who had found the opportunity to cross the track whilst it was wet. The great white shark replica in town was confronting. It is the size of a shark caught here years ago. It was hidden in the back room of the local service station (weird) and by the size of it could probably fit 2 humans in its stomach. Yikes!!!

Sculpture trail (top left), Elliston Jetty (top right), Locks Well Beach (above)

We headed further south to Elliston as I wanted to explore the coastal sculpture trail on the top of the headland along the rugged sandstone cliffs. We stayed at the local golf club ($10) with excellent views of the town below. Craig had to try his hand at salmon fishing on Locks Well Beach - which hosts the Australian Salmon Fishing Competition every winter. There is a huge staircase down to the beach and the beach is shadowed by high sandstone cliffs. The view from above was impressive, and.......he caught 3 salmon!! Fish cakes for dinner! I wonder if there is any wine left? Oh, we also walked along the Elliston jetty at sunset. Another a nice jetty (there are plenty more to come).

Clockwise from top left: Emus, oyster vending machine!, Coffin Bay NP x3, Coffin Bay oyster leases.

Now I had been looking forward to our next destination for some time. Situated on the western tip of the Southern Eyre Peninsula Coffin Bay overlooks the pristine waters of Port Douglas. Aquaculture is the main industry here and oyster leases can be seen everywhere. The town established rather quickly in the second half of the 19th Century after the native angasi oysters were discovered by the settlers and collection began. By 1890 the fishery had collapsed from overfishing and now the Japanese Pacific oyster is farmed here. You can even join a tour of the oyster leases on a boat offering champagne and oysters and a chance to wade into the shallows and taste a freshly collected oyster. Emus also roam around town. Oyster walk is a great footpath to explore the town's interesting mix of holiday homes and coves as it meanders 15km along the foreshore to Kellidie Bay. I was drawn to the town's most famous seafood - oysters - and found a vending machine across the road. Needless to say, I visited each afternoon to gorge on these delicacies. We spent a day exploring Coffin Bay National Park including Golden Island and Almonta Beach and some 'sand duning' on the way. We drove 10km along the 4WD track towards Point Sir Isaac but thought better of it as it twisted and turned and we just were not in the mood for an adventure drive.

Port Lincoln

Port Lincoln is only 35 mins SE and it was one of my favourite places on the peninsula. It reminded me of Hobart on a drizzly winters day (because it was a drizzly autumn day). Port Lincoln is the Peninsula's second largest town. It is all about seafood and shark cage diving. This is where the 'ranching' of southern bluefin tuna was pioneered in the 1980s, boosting the fortunes of the town. It is now home to the largest commercial fishing fleet in the Southern Hemisphere. We cycled along the beautiful foreshore, stopping at the bakery to refuel. We cycled over to the Lincoln Cove Marina and looked at all the fishing boats coming and going and then enjoyed some seafood at the Fish Place, which offered a daily behind the scene tours (we did not make it in time - cycling long distances with Mali and avoiding the rain slowed us down). We tried to visit the Maritime and the Railway Museum for something to do but both were closed mid-week (something that still surprises us). The Art Gallery was wonderful and Mali enjoyed appreciating the art on the walls, standing under her favourite for a photograph (above). Mali cycled 10km today and she was pretty proud of the distance.

Tumby Bay Art

We left the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula and landed on the east coast in Tumby Bay, a sleepy seaside town known for its awesome bakery and street art trail. The bakery was closed (still not used to this). It was raining but we walked the lovely mangrove boardwalk and played some frisbie. We grabbed the mural trail mapped and walked around town. Some of them were truly stunning. The one on the silos was very impressive (below). It requires viewing from a certain angle to ensure the three sections of the mural join as they are drawn on three separate silos. Very Cool!!! My enthusiasm for snorkelling the jetty in order to find a leafy sea dragon was thwarted by the winds. Snorkelling around the jetty pylons for leafy sea dragons was out!! I am not having any luck finding any of these sea dragons along Australia's southern coastline.

Tumby Bay Silos

Another 220km north along the east coast of the Eyre is Whyalla, where we spent 3 nights camping at the Weeroona Bay Football Club. The caretakers are retired club members and they were wonderful. They found us a spot, even though they were full, and we even got some anzac cookies!!! $10 a night! Loved it! Whyalla is the regions biggest city and is a combination of industrial and nature based experiences. There is a steel works and other industry in the area but also diving, snorkelling and fishing. I knew of Whyalla due to the mating congregations of the Giant Cuttlefish, which occur here each year. Giant cuttlefish migrate here every year in their thousands (250,000) to the wintery waters between May and August. It is the only place in the world where they do so. We drove out to Stony Point where the dive trail begins but we were too early in the season and there was very little chance I would see any . Even if there were some early arrivals they hide in crevices until everyone else arrives. Boo!!!!!! I will just have to return again. The circular jetty was pretty cool and after seeing dozens it was great to finally see a quirky one. Before we left we decided to try to call in the dolphins that frollic and feed in the harbour. We spent quite some time tapping the water and the pontoon (top left). We saw one in the distance following the returning boats, in the hope for some food. Craig was keen to get moving but Mali was determined to call in this dolphin. It got close but not close enough to really see it in the water. I praised her for her commitment.

After leaving Whyalla we passed through Port Augusta and settled in for a few nights camping at Mount Remarkable NP, just inland from the northern tip of the Spencer Gulf. We shared our campsite with goannas and parrots and cycled along some of the river paths and visited the old Baroota Ruins (where farmers who had leased the land tried their hand at sheep farming - a tough life with few to succeed in the area). I took the Sugar Gum Lookout hike, along Mambray Creek up to the viewpoint via an old stone hut. The bush was so peaceful, a definite change from the coast.

Mambray Creek Campground (Mt Remarkables NP)

The Yorke Peninsula (between the Spencer Gulf and the Gulf of St Vincent, ~1hr from Adelaide) was our last free camp adventure before we hit the Barossa Valley and Adelaide City. We had not been able to book anything for the Easter weekend so we camped at the Moonta Bay RV site for a few nights. Moonta Bay has a free waterslide park on the foreshore. OMG!!! Mali spent hours running up and sliding down here (we all did). It really was starting to cool down in these parts but there was nothing stopping Mali the Mermaid. We watched the light show on the silos from the car, whilst a wild storm was building around us. We drove up to Wallaroo to play mini gulf but it was closed on Easter Saturday (still not used to it...I suppose it IS Easter weekend). It was an unfenced course so we played it ourselves with handballs and hacky sacks. We walked through the quirky main streets of Moonta Bay with its old shops and churches and historical features.

It rained most of the weekend and I could see that Craig was 'done' (as he says) so I started to move a few bookings around so we could get home sooner. In the end, after seeing the awful forecast on the BOM we decided to cancel the whole of the Yorke Peninsula and head to Victor Harbor to visit some of Craig's friends. I was a little bummed we would miss the Yorke as we had heard so much about it and I was looking forward to Innes National Park on the southern tip. Although, I must admit we simply are not enjoying each place we visit as much as we would like so we would rather save it for later. So off to Victor Harbor we go!


1 Comment

Brian Wellings
Brian Wellings
May 18, 2023

WOW!!! get it going guys!! Bloody beautiful!

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