If you’ve never planned to visit South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, add it to your list of Australian adventures to take. This triangular chunk of land pointing towards Antarctica, to the east of the Great Australian Bight, is about to be on everyone’s list. Combining stellar natural beauty with a thriving food culture (in part thanks to abundant local seafood) and unique wildlife experiences, the peninsula and city hub Port Lincoln, seven hours drive from Adelaide, has something for everyone.
What to do in the water
The ocean temperature might be fresh (you can thank those Antarctic currents) but when you’re visiting this peninsula, you need to get in – or on – the water. It’s a haven for marine life and boat tours leave regularly from various ports, particularly Port Lincoln. Expect to encounter dolphins, fantastical leafy sea dragons, giant cuttlefish and sea lions – and even take a swimming tour with the latter. And if you’re looking to tick off a bucket-list item, Port Lincoln is the only place in Australia where you can cage-dive with great white sharks (several operators offer tours).
Where to eat and drink
Port Lincoln isn’t known as the seafood capital of Australia for nothing; it’s one of the best places to feast on freshly caught tuna, prawns, oysters and more. 1802 Oyster Bar serves the molluscs seven ways, including topped with zesty pickled ginger and wasabi or Southern Fried (marinated in buttermilk and served with aioli). Del Giorno’s Cafe Restaurant showcases marine delicacies in its Eyre Peninsula seafood platter and smaller dishes such as delicate kingfish ceviche and The Fresh Fish Place does a tasty take on tempura favourites, from fish and squid to abalone. The drinks here are no slouch either – Boston Bay Wines offers a wine and seafood pairing at its cellar door (look out for the cheekily named Great White sav blanc), while local roaster Boston Beans Coffee Co brews a smooth cup guaranteed to perk you up.
Explore national parks
Lincoln National Park (pictured top) is almost its own island, connected to the southernmost part of the Eyre Peninsula by two slivers of land. Scores of natural wonders are tucked within its perimetre, best discovered by following one of the many hiking trails through the mallee eucalypts, but a must-do is camping overnight at Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area. Only 15 vehicles can enter this expanse of white sand per day (and access is granted with a key), making for a truly special wilderness experience. Find a good vantage point between May and October and you’ll likely spot southern right whales migrating along the coast.
Where to stay
Base yourself near Boston Bay, Australia’s largest natural harbour, with accommodation at the Port Lincoln Hotel. The neatly styled Deluxe Spa Suites feature an in-room spa bath and water views, and there’s a solar-heated pool, gym and regular live entertainment on site. For a more off-grid experience, book a self-contained private villa at Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodges, just 20 minutes from Port Lincoln. Each offers incredible views from every angle – The Ridge, perched on a hillside, has glimpses of the ocean beyond, while The Valley property is hugged by bushland.
The best road trips
There are scores of hidden coves and coastal towns worth exploring on either side of the peninsula’s arrowhead. Spend a day cruising to some of the popular spots on its western edge. Coffin Bay, 30 minutes from Port Lincoln, is surrounded by pristine national park and has an important port for commercial fishery – wander the wharves early in the morning to watch the catch being brought in. Continue up the coast to Venus Bay, home to fewer than 200 permanent residents and calm waters ideal for wakeboarding and kayaking, before driving on to picturesque Streaky Bay to take in the stunning beaches and living history throughout the town.
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Image credit: Del Giorno/Take 2 Photography (1802 Oyster Bar).