Head to Port Lincoln for aquamarine-coloured water so clear you can see every speck of sand, seafood as fresh and flavourful as it comes, a (safe) face-to-face encounter with a great white shark and exhilarating moments spent in secluded national parks that meet remote coastlines. It is the perfect spot to base yourself to explore all of the mesmerising attractions of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.
Driving from Adelaide to Port Lincoln will take around seven hours. Break up the journey with stops at Port Augusta, Whyalla, Cowell and Tumby Bay. Alternatively you can fly direct into Port Lincoln with Rex or Qantaslink. Another option is to take the SeaSA’s car ferry service from Wallaroo to Lucky Bay (due to be operational in September, 2020).
Journey to the southernmost tip of the Eyre Peninsula to Lincoln National Park to explore its sheltered bays, granite headlands and over 17000 hectares of bushland teeming with rare native wildlife. Traverse one of its many trails – a sunrise walk to Flinders Monument vantage point on Stamford Hill rewards with views of Boston Bay out to Port Lincoln; swim in the crystal-clear waters of Stamford Beach, Surfleet Cove or Spalding Cove; head to Donnington Beach at low tide to discover the Aboriginal fish traps – it’s also a great place to snorkel, as is September Beach and Maclaren Point; boating, fishing and bird watching are also popular reasons to visit.
Walk past historical sites (including the 1839 First Landing Site), secluded beaches and grassy picnic areas as you hug the coast of Port Lincoln along the Parnkalla Walking Trail. Tackle the full 35-kilometre trail or choose one of the many entry points for a shorter stroll. The most popular stretch is 11.2 kilometres from Axel Stenross Maritime Museum to Billy Lights Point. Leashed dogs are also welcome.
One of the best views in Port Lincoln can be found just five minutes outside of the CBD at Winter Hill Lookout. A few steps from the carpark you’ll be met with 360-degree panoramic views of the city, Boston Bay, Lincoln National Park and Boston Island to the east, Whaler’s Way to the south and Coffin Bay to the west. It’s also wheelchair-friendly.
Drive west from Port Lincoln to spend a day in Coffin Bay National Park. Pick up supplies for a picnic in town – including the world-renowned Coffin Bay oysters. First on the agenda is to head to Templetonia Lookout to scope out the park from above, then continue on to Yangie Bay to walk the 45-minute Yangie Bay Loop Trail, followed by a swim or kayak in the pristine Yangie Bay Marine Sanctuary – be on the lookout for dolphins, kangaroos and emus – then enjoy your lunch at the sheltered picnic areas. Vehicle entry fees apply and permits must be booked online in advance. A 4WD is needed to explore the more rugged areas of the park and its many surfing beaches.
Feed and cuddle baby animals, play a round of putt-putt golf, cook a barbeque lunch, navigate through the giant maze or get around on a Segway at the Glen Forest Tourist Park & Vineyard. The 400-acre farm is an animal park, golf course and vineyard in one.
Drive 30 minutes southwest of Port Lincoln to Whaler’s Way; a privately-owned stretch of coast to see the treacherous but beautiful Cape Carnot (the headland is also where the coastline first meets the Great Australian Bight). Find blowholes, water-filled crevasses, caves, rock pools and beaches and numerous relics of the state’s whaling history littered along the route, including an old cauldron that was once used to boil whale blubber (learn more at Axel Stenross Maritime Museum in town). Purchase a permit for $30 prior to visiting from the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre. A $20 cash key deposit is also required at the gate. A 4WD isn’t necessary but would be more comfortable.
Port Lincoln is renowned as the ‘seafood capital of Australia’, which is a pretty solid reason to drop a line in the water during your visit. There are a number of popular jetties to fish from in and around the city, including Port Lincoln Town Jetty, Port Lincoln Tourist Park Jetty, North Shields, Tumby Bay, Coffin Bay and Mt Dutton Bay. Alternatively, book a fishing charter for a deep sea fishing expedition in search of tuna, snapper and nannygai.
Face your fears and go cage diving with Port Lincoln’s great white sharks. Adventure Bay Charters are the only operator to offer an aqua sub shark experience with 360-degree unhindered views of your surroundings – all while staying dry. Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions tailor the dive to your level of experience, daily weather conditions and give you more time in the water. SCUBA divers also keep guests company down in the Ocean Floor Cage. Calypso Star Charters take guests out to Neptune Islands Marine Park to cage dive. They’re the only one-day operator permitted to use natural fish berley to attract the sharks to the boat, which means the likelihood of coming to face-to-face with sharks is pretty high.
Shark diving Port Lincoln appears in as many nightmares as it does bucket lists. Alissa Jenkins finds out that diving with great...
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The iconic Port Lincoln Hotel is set on the coast overlooking the beach with many of its 111 guest rooms featuring balconies with inviting ocean views. Muted tones and soft furnishings with pops of colour adorn the modern interiors with rooms ranging from the modest and comfortable to the more luxurious ocean view suites. Guests have access to the onsite gym, pool, several bars, a restaurant and café – and all this within walking distance to Port’s many attractions.
Stay on the Lincoln Cove Marina to place yourself in the heart of its waterfront dining precinct. The Marina Hotel and Apartments feature 11 self-contained waterfront apartments with three to four bedrooms and 14 luxury suites with breathtaking views of the marina. White, grey and soft teal tones feature throughout the interiors, giving the rooms a Hamptons feel.
The Hilton Motel delivers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets; from the luxurious Ocean View Spa Suites to the more modest Standard Rooms. Guests have direct beach access from the waterfront property and are within walking distance to the eateries and shops of the CBD.
The recently renovated accommodation at Limani Motel boasts uninterrupted sea views of Boston Bay from every room. Choose between spacious Family Suites and Apartments to the luxurious Studio Spa Suite with its free-standing bath flanked by floor to ceiling windows, in addition to the dual spa bath, king sized bed, lounge area and private balcony.
Treat yourself to waterfront views out towards Boston Island and Lincoln National Park at Port Lincoln Tourist Park. The park offers powered and unpowered campsites (including drive through sites) in standard and large sizes in addition to cabins. The playground, jetty, boat ramp and easy beach access will keep all ages entertained during your stay.
For a quiet and convenient stay within walking distance to the town centre, stay at the Port Lincoln Cabin Park. The self-contained cabins accommodate two to five people with full cooking facilities and air conditioning.
Find Coffin Bay Caravan Park on the Esplanade of Coffin Bay overlooking the water. Accommodation ranges from standard, en suite and deluxe cabins to over 130 large powered and unpowered sites spread across 12 hectares that suit caravans, campers, motorhomes and tents. Expect to spot the resident emus that wander the park at whim too.
For an uncrowded camping destination head to the south-eastern tip of the Eyre Peninsula to camp alongside sheltered coves, deserted beaches and tucked away within Mallee scrub in Lincoln National Park. One of the most coveted campsites can be found at Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area. The rugged coastal wilderness is only accessible via 4WD and a key is required to access the site. Here, sugar-white sand meets the calm turquoise waters of the bay and with only five allocated campsites on offer you can expect to have it mostly to yourself. For a full rundown on the 14 campgrounds located throughout the park visit the Parks SA site here.
Stay at one of two glamping sites in Lincoln National Park on September Beach with Kata & Belle. The Fairy Wren site is located alongside the beach and sleeps up to eight people within two safari-style tents, while the Sea Eagle site is elevated on a hill with views of the ocean and sleeps four people.
Surfers, anglers and birdwatchers will quickly feel at home in Coffin Bay National Park. There are seven campgrounds located within the park, all of which require a 4WD to access with the exception of Yangie Bay campgrounds.
Spot koalas snuggled into the nooks of manna gums as you set up camp on the native bushland of Mikkira Station Koala Sanctuary on the Eyre Peninsula. Public camping is available on the private property with a permit and key that is organised through Visit Port Lincoln.
Find locally-roasted coffee, a full brunch menu and a hearty list of lunch options on offer at Rogue & Rascal café. Sit alfresco to indulge in a triple stack of buttermilk pancakes topped with chocolate, Nutella mascarpone and toasted hazelnuts with a drizzle of berry coulis. Or opt for the breakfast bowl of pearl barley, harissa hummus, seasonal roast veg, kale and crunchy fried chickpeas topped with poached eggs and a sprinkling of dukkha.
Sarin’s Restaurant & Bar is located within the iconic Port Lincoln Hotel overlooking the foreshore of Boston Bay. Boasting alfresco dining at its best, live entertainment and a menu that pays homage to the Eyre Peninsula’s best seafood and local produce. Keep things simple at breakfast with a the Brekky Burger or try the Croque Madame with Virginia ham, Swiss cheese and a fried egg topped with tomato relish and mustard béchamel served on seeded sourdough. Splash out on the Seafood Platter at lunch or dinner to dine on Coffin Bay oysters, King George whiting, Spencer Gulf king prawns, salt and pepper calamari, mussels drowning in Kinkawooka coconut curry and more.
The owners of the award-winning Del Giorno’s restaurant are passionate about supporting local producers. Dine on Southern Bluefin tuna from Southern Waters Marine, freshly-shucked oysters from various Coffin Bay oyster farmers, southern calamari from Fresh Fish Place and sip on locally-grown and produced wines from Boston Bay Wines, Lincoln Estate Wines and Delacolline Estate. Did we mention it also overlooks Boston Bay?
From its waterfront views to the seemingly endless variety of seafood plucked straight from the waters on its doorstep – the 1802 Oyster Bar takes full advantage of its enviable location on Coffin Bay. As to be expected, you’ll find a long list of local oysters served hot or cold and in a variety of styles; try the chilled Japanese oysters topped with soy, pickled ginger and a smear of wasabi. The fully-licensed bar stocks the best South Australian wine to complement its extensive dining menu.
The Beachcomber Café in Coffin Bay doubles as a corner store, but don’t let the unassuming shopfront fool you. Step inside for a serving of fresh Coffin Bay oysters enjoyed alongside a crisp local wine. Early risers are met with a quality barista-made coffee and breakfast options that include Avo Smash with feta, chilli flakes and lemon on toasted ciabatta through to Eggs Benedict and a long list of optional sides. Stop here to fill up before venturing into Coffin Bay National Park.
We’ve mentioned the best shark diving tour operators in Port Lincoln above, but for a face-to-face animal encounter that is a lot less terrifying you can book a swim with the sea lions tour with Calypso Star Charters from September through to mid-June. The advanced eco certified tour operator travels to four different snorkelling locations, including Hopkins, Langton, Grindal or Blyth Island. Choose between a single island and double island tour.
Join an unforgettable one hour Oyster Farm Tour in Coffin Bay to learn how to shuck your own oysters straight from the sea. You’ll wade among the oyster beds with your guide as they relay the finer details of oyster farming.
Let a local guide take you on a one day Tasting Eyre Tour of Port Lincoln and surrounds with Xplore Eyre Day Tours. Take in the scenic beauty of the coast, meet local wildlife, and dine on the region’s best seafood and wine offering. Trip highlights include a stop at Mikkira Station to spot the wild koalas, lunch at the renowned Fresh Fish Place and a wine tasting at Lincoln Estate Wines, plus you’ll meet plenty of colourful locals and producers along the way.
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