How to plan a road trip to Eyre Peninsula? Have you been thinking about that? You will experience freedom while traveling around. No buses, no public transportation forgetting about schedules.
When people refer to travelling in South Australia, naturally what comes to mind first is Adelaide. Yes, it’s a lovely city, but it is just the start of what the state has to offer, not the pinnacle. The incredibly rugged and beautiful Eyre Peninsula is often overlooked by travellers. It is well worth a turn off the beaten tourist track in South Australia.
Named after the English explorer Sir Edward Eyre. The 2000km peninsular stretches from the tip of Spencer Gulf to the edge of the Great Australian Bight and encompasses pristine coastline, acres of rolling farmland and clusters of little historic townships.
Why a road trip?
Public transport around the peninsula is limited and if you only rely on hostels or hotels for accommodation then perhaps it’s not the trip for you. But for those who like a bit of adventure, a chance to experience Australia in a different way whilst getting up close and personal with nature, then arming yourself with a vehicle, a tent and a roll-up mattress is a sure bet.
Travelling along the Lincoln Highway by car is the perfect way to stop and see the sights at your own pace. You have the freedom to stop and start as many times as you like without being stuck to bus timetables or tour group schedules. The roads are long, smooth and parallel to the coast, offering beautiful panoramic views and plenty of photo opportunities.
How to plan a road trip?
Choosing the right tent is important but doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive experience. You’ll need to make sure it’s waterproof – even in Australia! You don’t want to be caught out come rainy season waking up with your feet in puddles – listen to those of us who have learnt the hard way. You’ll need a sturdy tent if it’s windy, not just a pop up one, and ensure it can be secured down with enough space for you plus any travel partners and luggage.
To grab a good tent for half the price of your local supermarket or camping shop, check out Op-Shops/ charity shops to see if they have any second hand bargains available. To be sold in the shop the tents will have to be in a good condition, but best to double check it comes with all it’s tent pegs anyway. See if they have a good price on sleeping bags and any other miscellaneous camping gear. A roll up mattress can be bought on the cheap from any camping shop or online store usually for under $20.
Where to sleep during the road trip
There are plenty of small towns, farming villages and larger holiday destinations you could camp in during a journey around the peninsula. It seems every village you stop in has a caravan park or one nearby. Most offer the choice of unpowered or powered sites, however be prepared to pay an extra $5-$10 just for a plug socket on a powered site. To save money, book in at an unpowered site and charge your appliances at the plugs dotted around the camp sites (such as camp kitchen or bathrooms) for free.
Where to go
If you are approaching the peninsula from Adelaide or central Australia, break up your drive in Port Augusta. Known as ‘the start of the outback’, the bustling port is a chance to refuel and restock before continuing your journey. The town has a large shopping region with a good choice of supermarkets, cafes and restaurants to suit an array of budgets.
In Port Augusta visit the unique Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden (free entry) to explore the red sand dunes, salt bush plains and native flora and fauna. Being so close to the outback, water is limited with only a small amount of rainfall each year. At the Botanic Gardens you can learn all about how Port Augusta uses water-wise gardening using ‘AridSmart’ plants.
Camping on powered or unpowered sites is available at the ‘Big 4’ campsite. An unpowered site for two people sharing costs $30/n and includes the use of clean, air conditioned facilities, a TV and games room and a small swimming pool. There is also free WiFi available in certain areas of the camp.
After a few days enjoying the sights in Port Augusta, head to Whyalla to soak up the sun. Famed for more than 300 days of sunshine each year, Whyalla is a popular seaside town for locals and holidaymakers alike. Originally named Hummock Hill and retitled Whyalla in 1914, the town has a proud industrial history in mining, shipbuilding and steel production.
Best season for the road trip
It’s easy to have a free day out at Whyalla foreshore where you can enjoy the beautiful beach, dive off the old jetty and make use of the free barbecue facilities available. If you arrive between May and August, any keen divers or snorkelers should head towards the rocky shores of Black Point to see the spawning of giant cuttlefish.
Reaching up \to 60 centimetres in length, these ‘chameleons of the sea’ are a sight to behold. For more information on the cuttlefish and to understand Whyalla’s industrial history, a drive up old Hummocks Hill is a must offering panoramic views over Whyalla and the beautiful beaches beyond. A good campsite is the Whyalla Foreshore Discovery Caravan Park which is right next to the beach. An unpowered site for two people sharing costs $35/n.
Just over an hours drive further down the coast, lies the quaint harbour town of Cowell. Cowell’s Franklin Harbour has a reputation for being one of the best fishing destinations of South Australia and its calm waters offers an abundance of whiting, snapper and squid. The main street is lined with historic buildings dating back to the late 1800s with a bakery, butchers, town hall and pub. The tourist information centre is twinned with the home of Cowell Art Group, a group of amateur female painters, whose work is hung across the walls to be admired.
On the first Sunday of every month, the pavements of Cowell become full of stalls selling local crafts, jewellery and cakes. Local musicians play their own music whilst visitors can enjoy a delicious Devonshire tea for just $4 from the National Trust museum.
Take a drive down to Gibson Point, a beautiful rugged beach to take your chances spotting sea lions who often gather on the rocky shores. Another tourist drive, which is well worth the short trip, is to Lucky Bay – a small scattering of holiday shacks backing onto an untouched beach. Golden sand and turquoise blue sea equals a picture perfect afternoon for sunbathing.
Stay at the Harbour View Caravan Park, a small family-owned campsite with a swimming pool, laundry room and camp kitchen. An unpowered site for two people sharing costs $25/n. Compared to the little harbour villages close by, Port Lincoln is a busy and bustling modern town, proudly boasting of it’s fishing heritage. Seafood restaurants, independent cafes and shops line the streets in the centre, whilst the long promenade is full of young families enjoying the sunshine, taking advantage of the free BBQ facilities and ample playgrounds on offer.
A short drive away, the beautiful beach town of Coffin Bay makes for a great cheap day out exploring the beaches and little coves. Be sure to shuck an oyster fresh from the waters in Australia’s ‘oyster capital’. The stunning Lincoln National Park offers the opportunity for bush camping and exploring close by.
The more adventurous can whet their appetite windsurfing, shark cage diving and swimming with sea lions with regular trips offered by several local companies. The Port Lincoln Tourist Park provides unparalleled views out to sea where you can sit with a cup of tea in the morning and watch the boats sail by. An unpowered site costs $25/n, based on two sharing and includes free WiFi.
If you continue on your road trip around the peninsula, the west coast offers plenty of smaller, quieter harbour villages to explore including Elliston, Venus Bay and the popular holiday retreat Streaky Bay. Wherever you go you can guarantee the locals will be friendly, the seafood will be delicious and you’ll have the drive of your life without breaking the bank.
Now you are ready for a road trip in South Australia? Do you have more recommendation to do a road trip? Where did you have a road trip?
If you want to know more about traveling around Australia cruising, you can take a look to our Top 5 Cruises around Australia.
If you have another road trip to enjoy in Australia or in another part of the world. Let us know and share with us.