Motoring on the Eyre Peninsula

The triangle shaped Eyre Peninsula located between Spencer's Gulf and the Great Australian Bight in South Australia was named after Edward John Eyre (1815-1901). Edward John Eyre, with his aboriginal friend Wylie, were the first to cross Australia from east to west. Its area of approximately 170,000 sq kms with a population of 55,000.

Getting There

Up at 5:00am. Need to drive 160 kms from Adelaide to Walleroo to catch the 8:00am ferry across Spencer's Gulf to Lucky Bay on the Eyre.

The Road to Elliston

Leaving Lucky Bay, ignoring Cowell, I drive inland, down a road I have never been, a road that I have driven hundreds of kilometers along, a road where mallee and the three strand barb-wire fence separate road from paddock.

Lock, in the middle of the Eyre appears. Its wheat silo, rail head, cafe and an old painted tractor posing as a pioneer museum, is, a blink later, in the rear vision mirror.

Wheat Silo at Lock
Wheat Silos at Lock

Road and farms continue, some fields have a crop of rocks instead of wheat or barley. Sometimes pine replaces the mallee. The road terminates in the coastal town of Elliston.

Elliston

Lying on Waterloo Bay, a coastal inlet partially protected by a rock reef, Elliston has a population of 380. Its economy revolves around farming, sheep grazing, fishing and tourism. Tourism in turn is based on recreational fishing and water activity in Waterloo Bay. Its claim to fame is a 500 square meter mural depicting the area's history painted on the town hall.

Elliston Town Hall
Elliston Town Hall

Today, again rising bright and early, and hoping to reach Streaky Bay by late afternoon, it is the journey, not the destination, that is of prime importance. In keeping with the journey philosophy, I stop at Venus Bay.

Venus Bay on the Eyre Peninsula
Venus Bay

It is a locale in which I could spend a week or two walking along beach and jetty, fishing, taking photographs and writing of travel experiences in exotic locations far from Venus Bay.

But on this trip, it is a mere two hours before I leave for Murphy's Haystacks. Not true haystacks, but a series of granite outcrops called iselbergs . I spend about an hour at Murphy's Haystackswith my bush companions. My companions on this hot day are the bush flies who seem to think my eyes are lakes from which they can take drinking water.

Driving to Streaky Bay I come across many sleepy lizards ambling across road oblivious to mortal danger.

Streaky Bay

Streaky Bay, on arrival around 4pm, appears deserted. Similar to most small towns on the Eyre it has its murals. Further decoration is provided by totem poles and mosaic covered public seats.

Streaky Bay on the Eyre Peninsula
Streaky Bay on a languid Sunday afternoon

After completing the obligatory and pleasant walk along the fore shore and jetty I retire to the hotel for the evening meal, a nice peppered T-bone steak.

At Wudinna, the trail turns south, through the centre of the Eyre to Port Lincoln. "Lock, did I pass through Lock? I must have blinked!"

Port Lincoln

Port Lincoln is located on Boston Bay in the south of the Eyre Peninsula. Partly because of its deep natural harbour it was once considered as a site for South Australia's capital.

Port Lincoln
Port Lincoln from Sovereign Hill

Rejection because of inadequate fresh water supply didn't stop it from growing to a city of 14,000 people boasting more millionaires/capita than any other town or city in Australia. The source of this wealth is the Southern Blue Fin Tuna, a one meter long smokey black fish capable of swimming up to 70kms/hr. Japanese are willing to pay thousands of dollars for sushimi-grade tuna. Tuna are fished using long lines. In recent years, in response to declining tuna stocks, aqua culture farming has come more prominent.

Whaler's Way

At the southern tip of the Eyre is Whalers Way, a 14km scenic drive along a rugged coastline of crevasses, blow holes and some very tempting rock pools. Because it is on private land a fee and a key is required. Food and water must be taken.

Rock pools at Whalers Way
Seductive! Rock pools can be very dangerous.

Swimming in some of the rocks pools is not recommended. Here on the edge of the world, with no land farther south until Antarctica, unexpected sea swells can come and totally scour out everything in the rock pools, including unwary swimmers.

A few emus are seen, but as expected, no kangaroos, as they generally do not come out until dusk.

The Road Back to Cowell

My journey through the Eyre is coming to and end. I must now travel north, along the Lincoln Highway, to catch the ferry at Lucky Bay. Along the highway are a number of small towns, almost villages, such as Arno Bay, Port Neil, Tumby Bay. Because of the mild climate and long stretches of sandy beaches they are popular for swimming, boating, fishing and generally chilling out. And I do chill out, taking several stops before reaching the last town before Lucky Bay, Cowell.

Cowell

Cowell is noted for its jade deposits, among the oldest and largest in the world. It is a deposit of high quality nephite jade (traditional Chinese jade) which can vary in colour from white, yellow, green, brown to black depending on the amount of iron present. Cowell jades vary from the common green to the rare black. An important property of jade, in addition to its colour, is its toughness allowing it to be delicately carved.

Of more interest to me than jade is the local pub where I indulge in a languorous lunch before commencing the journey's final leg.

Hotel on the Eyre Peninsula
Typical hotel (pub) on the Eyre Peninsula