The seafood hub of Australia is a feast for tastebuds – and the eyes
Australia is truly blessed with some epic coastline. Many are world-renowned, such as the Great Ocean Road, Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Cape Tribulation and the vast Western Australian coastline. But there’s one particular coastal destination in South Australia that is surprisingly underrated – the Eyre Peninsula. It stretches from Port Lincoln all the way to Ceduna and beyond to the Great Australian Bight. We recently toured through this region and were pleasantly surprised by its beauty.
Our tour started in the major township of Port Lincoln. Famous for being the fishing capital of the country, Port Lincoln was once a major whale-hunting centre with relatively easy access to abundant southern right whales. Today, salmon is the bounty and a visit to the local marina will see the fleet of fishing boats coming in at the end of a day’s fishing. Port Lincoln is a good place to stock up with supplies and make any repairs necessary before setting off. We stayed at the Port Lincoln Caravan Park, just on the edge of town, where we found excellent tiered sites, many with full concrete slabs and almost uninterrupted views of the bay. Alternatively, grassed sites are available closer to the beach. The small jetty is perfect for fishing.
About 47km along the Flinders Highway is the town of Coffin Bay. This is one of our very favourite towns in Australia for just one reason – oysters, and lots of them. Coffin Bay is home to the best oyster farms in Australia, if not the world. They farm the Pacific rock oyster in near-perfect conditions where they grow to full size in a little over two years. They are juicy, succulent and ever-so-sweet. Oyster farm tours operate from Beachcomber Bakery & Café adjacent to the only caravan park in town. The tour is fascinating and you get to dine on the local produce with a glass of wine or two.
Coffin Bay is a great base to explore some of the local beaches and Coffin Bay National Park. A short distance out is Elliston and its Great Ocean Drive featuring some interesting sandstone carvings as well as stunning views of the rugged coastline. It’s a dirt road with easy 2WD access, although be careful if it rains as it could become quite slippery.
Heading north-west from Coffin Bay, we continued on to Streaky Bay where we were able to secure a site over the Christmas and New Year break. We stayed a little out of town at the new Islands Caravan Park. This was one of the best caravan parks we’ve ever stayed at. It features very large sites, easy access to the local beach, stunning views to the small islands offshore, clean amenities and the most friendly and helpful staff. Fishing is almost child’s play here with abundant whiting, mullet and crabs.
The Islands Caravan Park is a bit of a story in itself. It’s every bit a modern luxury park but with a low environmental footprint. They run their own desalination plants to supply fresh water to the park, process their own sewerage, recycle rain water for watering the plants between the sites, and produce much of their own power from a solar array next to the park.
Streaky Bay has two well-stocked supermarkets and a decent hardware store. The local pub has great meals and every Saturday night they run a raffle with a large number of prizes on offer. We won a carton of beer, much to our delight! It also features a few unique attractions including the fantastic Powerhouse Museum and the historic Streaky Bay Jetty.
There are some incredible coastal drives just outside of Streaky Bay, including the Westall Way Loop and Cape Bauer Loop. The local seal lion colony, Smooth Pool and Talia Caves, are also places you must visit while there. They all offer breathtaking scenery that is largely unspoilt by man.
After a five-week stay we made our farewells at Streaky Bay and headed to our next destination, Ceduna, the last major township before embarking on a crossing of the vast Nullarbor Plain. Ceduna is something of a frontier town as a result of its location, yet it offers good shopping, excellent meals at the local hotel, fantastic beaches and more great fishing. We stayed a little outside of town at the Shelly Beach Caravan Park and what a gem this turned out to be. It features large sheltered sites, older but clean and well-maintained facilities, a great little kiosk and easy access to the magnificent Shelly Beach. The views here are amazing and the night skies over the bay have to be seen to be believed.
The final place we want to mention here is Fowlers Bay. This is really just a small hamlet off the Eyre Highway but it’s rich in history and offers some of the best pier fishing in the country. The views to the south are dominated by huge sand dunes that stretch for miles. It’s an unbelievable vista and a paradise for photographers and fishos. The population here live almost completely off the grid.
The following morning, we were unable to resist a second dip in the springs before heading toward the Oodnadatta Track via Mt Sarah. It was here that we encountered our first bird strike (see next page). And not just any bird mind you, but the one that graces our coat of arms. It was an unpleasant experience, but we pressed on, driving along rocky and sandy trails for 180km before hitting the Oodnadatta Track.
We stopped at the iconic Pink Roadhouse for fuel, but their own water from soaks in the sand dunes and manage their own waste. They don’t pay rates as there are no council facilities here at all. This really is living on the edge of existence! The local caravan park is small and a bit of a dust bowl but you can get power as well as showers and toilets.
No matter how hard I tried, the photos do not do these places justice. The longer you stay, the more you explore, the more you’ll appreciate the Eyre Peninsula’s beauty and ruggedness. The people are really down to earth and only too happy to help out. If you’ve never been here before, we highly recommend you add it to the bucket list.
Port Lincoln Caravan Park: https://plcp.com.au/
Coffin Bay National Park: https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/find-a-park/Browse_by_region/Eyre_Peninsula/coffin-bay-national-park
Streaky Bay Islands Caravan Park: http://streakybayislandscaravanpark.com.au/
Talia Caves and Talia Beach: https://southaustralia.com/products/eyre-peninsula/attraction/talia-caves-and-talia-beach
Ceduna Shelly Beach Caravan Park: http://www.cedunacaravanpark.com.au/