Whyalla is the north-eastern gateway to the Eyre Peninsula, and the first stop on the road if you’re following the coast from Adelaide. It’s blessed with more than 300 days of sunshine every year (escape from the rain, anyone?) and while it’s known for its industrial past, it’s also blessed by its natural environment. As the largest town in the region, you’ll find a range of accommodation to suit your needs and budget and be sure to make the most of the local food scene.
Meet the friendly local dolphins at the boat ramp in the marina (it goes without saying but look, don’t touch), the walking trails of Wild Dog Hill and the 12km long Freycinet Trail and the incredible Australian Giant Cuttlefish, which you can swim with every winter. The sandy beach at the foreshore is great for families, while Ada Ryan Gardens provide a welcome boost of green, and the Whyalla Wetlands are the perfect sport to birdwatch and picnic.
For man-made activities, you can’t go past the museums – the Whyalla Maritime Museum and HMAS Whyalla, and the wonderfully weird Elvis Presley Museum, located in the home of an avid fan – or the unique circular jetty. Get a different perspective with a Whyalla Steelworks Tour (contact the local Visitor Information Centre) and enjoy the beautiful foreshore, which is one of the stops on the Whyalla Art Trail. There are currently 23 artworks dotted around the town, from textured mosaics to sculptures and murals.
Meet the Cuttlefish
Every year from May to August, thousands of Australian Giant Cuttlefish converge on the waters around Whyalla to breed. Luminescent underwater, you can snorkel with these beautiful creatures as the males compete for mating rights in spectacular displays. They reach up to 60cm in length, and the phenomenon is the largest gathering of these animals anywhere on Earth. This experience attracts people from all over – divers, international film crews, researchers and tourists alike.
Braving the cold winter waters in a wetsuit and snorkel is the perfect activity for some. Bring your own gear and speak to the friendly locals at the Whyalla Visitor Information Centre for all the details or join the team at Whyalla Diving Services to see these amazing creatures with a guide in tow. For those of you who don’t want to get wet (we understand), you can take a glass-bottom boat trip with Cutty’s Tours and keep warm and dry.
Whyalla isn’t necessarily perceived as a beach destination – at least, not in the same way other parts of the Eyre Peninsula are. But you’ll be missing out if you don’t stop by some of these unique destinations!
The Shingle Beach Ridges along the north-western coastline of the Upper Spencer Gulf are one of only three places in the world you can find shingle ridges (the others being Egypt and Scotland). They’re believed to date back to the Pleistocene period and are made up of pebbles and cobbles, forming ridges 3-5m above the present-day sea level.
Twenty kilometres northeast of Whyalla, you can also find Fitzgerald Bay. You’ll have stunning views of the gulf waters, framed by the gorgeous Flinders Ranges. It’s a place of contrasts – semi-desert vegetation runs right up to the beaches which are mostly pebbles, sand and a line of mangroves. You can follow a scenic drive further north, or you can start the Freycinet heritage trail.
And don’t forget Point Lowly, where you can often spot birds and dolphins from the rocky shore as well as admire the magnificent Point Lowly Lighthouse. The lighthouse is heritage listed and was in operation for 90 years! The two lighthouse keepers’ cottages are the oldest buildings in the area. There’s also a boat ramp, playground, toilet and (cold) shower facilities here too.