Road trip: Eyre Peninsula

Dolphin Beach Eyre Peninsula my nrma road trips
Dolphin Beach Eyre Peninsula my nrma road trips
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1434km
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Foodie destination
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Celebrated for its world class seafood, the Eyre Peninsula is also a magnet for snorkellers, anglers, surfers, hikers and kayakers.

Many people come here just to cage dive with great white sharks. Universally known as “Australia’s seafood frontier”, the Peninsula offers a unique combination of sparkling ocean, great produce and a sparsely populated landscape that stretches to the far horizon. Along the way you’ll discover national parks, oyster leases and country pubs. With its well maintained roads, stunning scenery, numerous bays and delicious produce, this part of South Australia is a delight to explore. Just bring an Esky and plenty of ice.

Hero image credit: Ben Goode

Day 1: Adelaide to Whyalla

4hr 15mins | 383km

Stop 1: Learn about the history of Port Augusta

Once you see Gepps Cross you know you’ve said goodbye to Adelaide’s boulevards, parklands and civic squares. The country from here to Port Wakefield is flat and unremarkable, but the rhythm is soon broken by the sight of Port Pirie’s dramatic smokestacks. First stop is Port Augusta, an atmospheric old seaport at the tip of Spencer Gulf. Once a thriving railway hub the city now serves the isolated communities to the north – the Flinders Ranges are visible in the distance.

Visit the Wadlata Outback Centre to learn more about this ancient landscape, the dinosaurs that once roamed here and its Dreamtime stories. Continue your education at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, which is also a great place for lunch – try some kangaroo pepperoni, quandong chutney or native spice flavoured dukkah.

Wadlata Outback Eyre Peninsula my nrma road trips
Wadlata Outback Centre (Photo credit: SATC)
Stop 2: Snorkel and stay in Whyalla

From Port Augusta, it’s an easy 79km drive to Whyalla, gateway to the Eyre Peninsula. Due to its belching smelter, many people rush past Whyalla, but there’s much to discover here. Local attractions include guided steelworks tours, a restored WW2 minesweeper and the Stranded Shingle Beach Ridges – the only formation of its kind in Australia. Between May and August each year, millions of giant Australian cuttlefish come to these waters to breed. It’s a spectacular event, and you can either snorkel with them or watch from the shore. Both Stony Point and Black Point offer excellent viewing spots.

Clean, well run and conveniently located opposite the city’s main beach, the Foreshore Motor Inn, Whyalla offers spacious motel style rooms, a licensed restaurant and a small swimming pool. Ask for a room overlooking the gardens.

Stony Point Eyre Peninsula my nrma road trips
Stony Point Snorkelling (Photo credit: Carl Charter)

Day 2: Whyalla to Port Lincoln

2hr 45min | 267km

Stop 1: Sample seafood in Cowell

This section of your journey covers the east coast of Eyre Peninsula, a region that combines rolling farmland, jaw dropping ocean views and some of the prettiest coastal settlements in South Australia. Many Adelaideans have holiday houses on this stretch of coast and it’s easy to see why.

Just south of Whyalla, the township of Cowell is the centre of a booming oyster industry – there are several seafood outlets here, including Turners Oysters & Seafood, where you can buy freshly shucked oysters or, for something different, try an oyster kebab. Cowell is also famous for its jade, which is mined in the nearby Minbrie Range.

Cowell Harbour Eyre Peninsula my nrma road trips
Cowell Harbour (Photo credit: Walter Spehr)
Stop 2: Fish at Tumby Bay

A short drive down the Lincoln Highway is Arno Bay, “home of the South Australian kingfish”. It’s another popular holiday destination, offering a protected swimming beach, a busy fishing harbour and a general store. If you’re a keen angler, drive on and stop instead at Tumby Bay. It’s famous for its King George whiting, but the waters are also well stocked with snapper, prawns and rock lobster.

This is also the stepping off point for trips to the Sir Joseph Banks Group Marine Park. Animal watchers can spot sea lions and velvet octopuses, or take a fishing charter in the unrestricted areas. Afterwards, relax on the front verandah of the Seabreeze Hotel, right on the town foreshore, before continuing south to Port Lincoln.

Stop 3: Rest at Port Lincoln

Port Lincoln Hotel, the swishest accommodation in town, comes with one of the best ocean views in South Australia, plus an impressive dining room, swimming pool, super friendly staff and a very pleasant sundeck.

Eyre Peninsula Port Lincoln my nrma road trips
Port Lincoln

Day 3: Port Lincoln to Baird Bay

3hr 30min | 284km

Stop 1: Stop for a drop at Boston Bay Wines

Once a commercial fishing harbour, Port Lincoln is now a magnet for outdoor adventure fanatics from around the planet. No one’s quite sure how it happened, but the combination of sparklingly clean water and great white sharks, Australian sea lions and bottlenose dolphins definitely helped.

Today, Port Lincoln is one of the few places where you can both dive with sharks and swim with sea lions. Local operator Adventure Bay Charters offers shark cage diving, snorkelling with sea lions and, for the less brave, seafood cruises on Boston Bay. Southern bluefin tuna from here is air freighted to the world’s top restaurants, but you’ll find plenty of local places of sample the seafood.

To appreciate the sheer abundance of these waters, visit The Fresh Fish Place, which sells a huge selection of fish, crabs, abalone, scallops, octopus, mussels and oysters. The factory outlet also offers cooked fish, gourmet fish products, tours and cooking classes. For a more refined dining experience, book a table at Del Giorno’s, Port Lincoln’s premier seafood restaurant.

Before leaving for Baird Bay and the west coast, make sure you drop into Boston Bay Wines. The winery makes a range of pleasant, food friendly reds and whites. Other nearby attractions are Lincoln National Park and the ramshackle oyster village of Coffin Bay.

Swimming with Sea Lions Eyre Peninsula my nrma road trips
Sea lions (Photo credit: SATC; Caroline Fisher)
Stop 2: Book into Baird Bay

If you’re going to linger anywhere on the Eyre Peninsula, make sure it’s at Baird Bay, a pristine stretch of water located between Coffin Bay and Streaky Bay.

Trish and Alan Payne have been taking people swimming with the Australian sea lions here for 25 years. They’ve developed a very special relationship with these inquisitive creatures. Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience runs twice daily trips to visit the small colony of Australian sea lions that live in the bay. Even in summer the sea here is really cold, so swimmers are supplied with wetsuits – and hot showers afterwards. The couple also operates two waterfront eco lodges – these straw bale apartments are an excellent option if you want to stay overnight.

Day 4: Baird Bay to Ceduna

2hr 20min | 177km

Stop 1: Admire Murphy's Haystacks

The next section of the drive, which hugs the wild coastline, is equally rewarding. Make sure you stop at Murphy’s Haystacks, an outcrop of pink granite boulders. A little further north is historic Streaky Bay, which now supports a thriving fishing community; for something a little different, buy some wild caught abalone from Streaky Bay Seafood.

Stop 2 Dine in Ceduna

Follow the road to Smoky Bay, Laura Bay and finally Ceduna. Apart from being the last major town before the Nullarbor, Ceduna is a centre for Indigenous art and has a growing reputation for its cuisine. The Bistro serves fresh local seafood – and the best waterfront view in town.

As the name suggests, the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel Motel is located bang on the foreshore, with sweeping views of Murat Bay. The executive rooms are exceptionally comfortable. Facilities include a popular bistro, bottle shop and two bars.

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