The Eyre Peninsula is relatively free of tour buses and consequently is a beautiful part of Australia that many people have yet to discover. Flash resorts are not perched hideously on public space, ruling over pristine beaches, instead there are a myriad of dinky caravan parks, free campsites and national parks that allow you to stay in areas that are either gob smackingly beautiful, or quirky and cute in a run down, ramshackle sense that invited exploration on foot. The people we met were generous with their hospitality and friendly. Super friendly. We had plenty of chats and laughs. Strangers quickly became friends.
We started this road trip leaving Melbourne on a Friday late afternoon. Not a great idea considering the traffic we had to battle, but we soldiered on through the Western suburbs Mr Google maps took through towards Naracoorte and eventually arrived just after the pink glow of a stunning sunset disappeared behind the trees. We had a late dinner and hit the bed for our first night in the new home away from home.
The morning was brilliant. Blue skies and verdant lawns littered with white parrots greeted us. After a lazy brekky we checked out the ‘Lake Pool’ and wow. it was a sensational pool. A sandy shallow entrance on one side, and floating pontoons provided access for all ages. This is a great place for families. The camp kitchen is well equipped and large, and they even had a vending machine for night time munchies…
Much as I liked the giant pool, we were on a road trip, so we hit the road. Port Wakefield was our entry into the Eyre Peninsula. On the way we skirted a grass fire in Windermere, reminding us that the Peninsula has had some immense bushfires and care needs to taken in the open. Silo art in Coonalpyn is worth a stop.
The Port Wakefield caravan park straggled along a lagoon type of inlet. It is a mish mosh of what looked like permanent residences ala retro caravan with transient travellers poked in spare spots. As soon as we set up, neighbours headed over for a chat, a timber walk bridge that spanned the lagoon provided another chat session with a chap who told us all about the area with great humour and much gesticulation while his family stood below us in the water neck deep, keeping cool and not doing much at all actually. Across the bridge, there are walking tracks to the York Peninsula which disappear into the distance. Very tempting, but we were on a road trip. Perhaps another time.
We had dinner at the Port Wakefield Hotel. We wisely chose the King George Whiting. It was grilled and served with salad and chips and was simple, clean and delicious.
From Port Wakefield, our next stop was Tumby Bay. We were now in the parts of the Eyre Peninsula that my father-in-law had been born, and grown up in. The caravan park was at the end of the street that runs along the beach and tucked away. Good grassy sites. The amenities are dated but very clean.
I continue with my love of retro bathrooms. Check out these tiles in the ladies in the pub where we had dinner! The Tumby Bay water is clear and the sand white, but there is a lot of seaweed. The pier is a cracker but beware the Pelicans, of which there are absolutely heaps. Be warned, don’t walk under the light poles where they perch. When they drop a poo, it is a bucket load of sloppy white muck and you don’t want to be in the line of fire.
The Koppio Museum is an interesting stop if you are into farm machinery and artefacts. There is a lot to look at. Sheds full of tractors and all sorts of blokes stuff. I did not think anyone would collect barbed wire, but there is a massive collection at Koppio. if you are into that sort of thing…it isn’t far from Tumby Bay.
Lunch on the way to Elliston was at Cummins. My father-in-laws place of birth. The family home is still there and the bakery in town well knew the family name. Oh, i must mention that the Beer Garden Beers, brewed in Port Lincoln are brilliant. I bought a selection and they were all very good. Worth a try.
The old Cummins railway station is no more, but a park in its place has some wonderful commemorative mosaics, and the toilets are filled with photos and more mosaics. In the ladies there was a huge photo of my father-in-laws old tea room that was a part of the station, and there was also a mosaic on the outside wall. We felt quite chuffed.
Elliston Caravan Park was in a terrific spot and had huge grassy sites with shady trees. The young couple running the place were quite lovely and they had a big book swap area. There was a pool and across the road the beach. Another lovely long pier and beautiful coastal drive made me very happy. We stopped here for a couple of days and were amused by the bakery that we either found empty of baked goods, or shut. The pub is basic but again, super friendly people. There is only one store in town to buy supplies and it is a bit questionable when it comes to choice, so stock up in a bigger town before checking in if you need or want anything of variety or a little more upmarket.
Calpatanna Waterhole Conservation Park, is about halfway between Port Kenny and Streaky Bay. ‘Murphy’s Haystack’s’ are worth a side trip. Quite beautiful. And there are quite a few different formations with a meandering little walk track through them.
The highlight of this road trip for me was Coffin Bay National Park. Unfortunately we didn’t think to stay here, but only took in a day trip. We will return. It was stunningly beautiful. The colours of the water and the white sand was unbelievable. I recommend a visit to everyone!!
We had lunch at Venus Bay, another place i intend to return to and spend more time. Once again, the colours in the water were unimaginable. Vivid turquoise and velvety blues, sparkling aqua marine, it was a full spectrum of blues and crystal clear. Lots of gentlemen were fishing. The general store made a good feed and the ice coffee was a miracle of a coffee milkshake. As excellent as it was, the view was even better from the sheltered veranda. You must go. It is so lovely. My phone photos couldn’t pick up the colours properly but you can see the clarity of the water under the pier…yes, i have a pier thing…i love a good pier.
Talia Beach has some interesting sites and views. The beach above glittered in the sun. The white sands were quite blinding. Heaps of birds, well places steps and viewing areas, and stunning scenery everywhere. Nothing is ugly. Even the unmade roads were pretty.
And Elliston boasts a ripper sunset from the coastal road. Daytime we watched surfers, and night time…
Heading inland, we drove through beautiful country. We messed up our distances and ended up driving in the dark to reach Lake Bonney. It was rather stressful dodging kangaroo’s and feral cats. Don’t drive at night. Many people had stopped in roadside free spaces. We were a bit stupid that day. This was taken in Burra. Really pretty landscape. But the GPS sure got it right at some parts.
We arrived at Lake Bonney in Barmera which is in the Riverina district late at night. Everyone was tucked away in their tents and vans and we set up quietly, stuffed down some food and hit the mattress. In the morning i woke and peered out of the window and could only smile when i saw the view we had scored from our bed. Unfortunately, it was grape picking time and it appeared the loading of huge trucks was an all night event. The rumble and squeal of trucks was a bit of a pain.
I gotta admit, grape vines are very pretty. And roadhouse toilets can be interesting. Grapevines were at Red Hills and the roadhouse where we had sandwiches like you would expect a 1950’s gran to make, served with large mugs of instant coffee that probably were out of someones gran’s kitchen is at Culleraine. I love these little roadside stops.
Our last stop was an overnighter at Travellers Rest North, in Charlton. For $20 we had clean amenities, a camp kitchen, very obliging park managers and thick, luxurious, carpet like grass. Terrific overnight stop. And quiet too.
Lunch on the way home was at Holgate Brew House in Woodend. Do yourself a favour if you haven’t been there. The old pub serves great food and of course you can choose from a variety of the beautiful Holgate beers. Tasting paddles are available and you can take a peek at the brew house through large viewing windows.
The Eyre Peninsula is beautiful. It is quite a large land mass, and needs at least 7-10 days to explore it. Fishing is good, the people are so friendly. It was quite noticeable. Lot’s of good happy chats along the way. I will go back. Cheers.