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Flinders Highway, SA

A giant triangle of the Australian continent that juts out into the Gt Australian Bight, Eyre Peninsula is one of the lesser known regions of Australia. The Flinders Highway, which follows its west coast, is one of Australia’s least travelled highways, yet passes by some of the most unusual and visually diverse coastal vistas in the country.

Perhaps because of its position, very few travellers venture along the west coast of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. Most that do are either South Australians who are aware of the secrets held by this corner of the country, or are drivers making the Nullarbor crossing with time on their hands who opt to take the long way round on their passage between Port Augusta and Ceduna. Whether you are a Nullarbor traveller who takes the long route, or you drive the triangle of highway that links Port Augusta, Ceduna and Port Lincoln, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find here.

Location: west coast of Eyre Peninsula, South Australia

Length: 1,327 km

Port Augusta – Ceduna (Eyre Highway): 467 kmbr>
Ceduna – Port Lincoln (Flinders Hwy): 406 km
Port Lincoln – Port Augusta (Lincoln Hwy): 354 km

Suggested return journey: the drive is a loop, commencing and finishing at Port Augusta

Features/attractions: coastal cliffs; Pt. Labatt sea-lion colony; Whaler’s Way; Coffin Bay National Park; Lincoln National Park

Minimum duration (one way): two days. Recommended: 1 week

What You Will See: Commencing at Port Augusta, travel east along the Eyre Highway. This stretch of road passes the Gawler Ranges, the peninsula’s Granite Country and a section of the state’s wheatbelt. A sign at Kimba marks the halfway point between Sydney and Perth via Eyre Highway.

Streaky Bay

Travelling south from Ceduna, the first town you come to is Streaky Bay, a very laid back, friendly place that is the kicking off point for another road less travelled that is so good, it has earned its own page – The Westall Way. Along it are some quite striking coastal cliffs and the highlight for me – the only accessible permanent colony of Australian Sea-lions on the Australian coast at Pt. Labatt.

Trhe next town you come to is Port Kenny. The short drive out to the fishing village of Venus Bay is well worth the effort. The coastal scenery is quite different to the Westall Way, but equally as stark and picturesque. I have often spotted dolphins frolicking in the waters at the head of Venus Bay.

Murphys Haystacks

On the way to Talia Caves at Anxious Bay, you’ll see and inland turn-off to Murphys Haystacks. There are a bunch of unusual shaped granite rocks stuck out by themselves on a hillside in the middle of fields – there are some great photo opportunities here. mining techniques to extract copper ore from the mines. It is reputed that The Moonta Company was the first mining company to shell out over a Million Pounds in dividends.

Swimming Hole, Whaler’s Way

By Cape Finniss the coastal vistas have changed again; take the coastal side road if you can find it, as the scenery and views are quite superb.

After the fishing village of Elliston, the next major coastal feature worth going off the beaten track for is Coffin Bay. There are a long of great walking tracks in Coffin Bay National Park that are well worth taking if you have the time and love bushwalking.

Port Lincoln

When you arrive at Port Lincoln, you’ll need to backtrack a bit to see what I consider to be one of the best bits of coastline in the country. Lincoln National Park, which covers most of Jussieu Peninsula to the south of Port Lincoln, has some unique natural features such as the vast Sleaford-Wanna dune system, offshore islands, and the outstanding wilderness of Memory Cove. With its undulating limestone hills, vast expanses of mallee woodland with occasional granite outcrops, sheltered coves, isolated sandy beaches and rugged cliffs, the Park can be explored by foot or vehicle.

On the other side of Shelford Bay is Cape Carnot, which is accessed via a track through private property called Whaler’s Way. For a small fey payable at the visitors centre in Port Lincoln, you get a gate key for access and a map pointing out all the highlights, with a little story about each. There are over 20 stopping places at lookouts, cliffs, crevasses and offshore islands from Sleaford Bay to Cape Wiles, and then to Cape Carnot. The coastal scenery is quite stunning and you can easily spend the best part of a day taking it all in if you have the time.

Tumby Bay jetty

From Port Lincoln, head north along the east coast of the peninsula. Tumby Bay is a quiet fishing village that makes a quiet, peaceful alternative to Port Lincoln as a base for exploring the southern tip of Eyre Peninsula. 74 km south of Port Augusta is the former BHP company town of Whyalla. The maritime museum’s prize exhibit is the navy vessel HMAS Whyalla, which was built here in 1941. The vessel is on blocks and is open for inspection.

Just before re-joining Eyre Highway are Australia’s oldest iron ore mines of Iron Knob and Iron Baron. The once thriving community of Iron Knob is all but a ghost town these days, but the few who have stayed on run a museum telling of the mine’s and town’s histories that is well worth seeing. They are proud of the town’s heritage and have plenty of fascinating tales to tell.

Iron Knob

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