The Eyre Peninsula is a triangular-shaped coastal area in the middle of South Australia. This incredibly stunning part of the Great Australian Bight is a major seafood and tourist hub of the state.
It’s home to several major towns, of which Ceduna marks the western flank of the peninsula on the edge of the Nullarbor Plain. The town makes for a great base for exploring much of what the peninsula has to offer.
There’s so much to see and do in this incredible coastal area, from unique wildlife encounters to tasting the freshest seafood. This article will cover everything that you need to know about the Eyre Peninsula.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is the Eyre Peninsula?
- 2 Best time to visit the Eyre Peninsula
- 3 How to get to the Eyre Peninsula
- 4 How to explore the Eyre Peninsula
- 5 What is the Eyre Peninsula known for?
- 6 Things to see and do on the Eyre Peninsula
- 6.1 Cage dive with great whites
- 6.2 Swim with dolphins and sea lions
- 6.3 Go whale watching
- 6.4 Go surfing
- 6.5 Explore the Gawler Ranges
- 6.6 Taste some seafood
- 6.7 Enjoy the white sand beaches
- 6.8 Go on a fishing charter
- 6.9 Spot some native wildlife
- 6.10 Snorkel with giant cuttlefish
- 6.11 Explore on foot
- 6.12 Head to a museum
- 6.13 Festivals and culture
- 7 Ceduna and the Eyre Peninsula
- 8 While you’re in Ceduna:
What is the Eyre Peninsula?
The EP is a long, triangular-shaped peninsula, roughly the same size as Switzerland, along the coast of South Australia. It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean with the Spencer Gulf to the east and the Great Australian Bight to its west. On land, the Gawler Ranges run across its north and the Nullarbor Plain stretches to the west. These pristine natural environments harbour some unique and rare wildlife. The peninsula is home to a number of major towns, including Port Lincoln towards the southern end, Whyalla and Port Augusta to the northeast, and Ceduna to the northwest.
The coast was first explored by Europeans with Matthew Flinders and his expeditions in 1801-1802. The peninsula was eventually named after Edward John Eyre who explored the area inland from the coast between 1839-1841.
Best time to visit the Eyre Peninsula
The Eyre Peninsula can be visited all year round, with a pretty favourable climate for travelling no matter the season. Summers can be a bit hot but with the long days, this is a nice time to explore the beaches. Winters are much cooler, but the advantage of visiting at this time is that you can catch the Southern Right Whales off the coast. These migratory mammals can only be seen in the cooler months. Arguably, the best weather can be enjoyed in Spring and Autumn, with much more pleasant days. It’s also outside of peak summer holidays and it’s likely to be much quieter so you explore without the crowds.
How to get to the Eyre Peninsula
You can easily reach the major towns on the Eyre Peninsula from Adelaide, or even coming in the other direction across the Nullarbor Plain from Eucla. The Eyre Highway is the main road that connects the region with Adelaide and across to Western Australia. It begins in Port Augusta and runs through Ceduna, across the Nullarbor, and then on to Eucla and Norseman in Western Australia. This road makes up one of Australia’s most epic drives, with travellers coming from all over the country to take a road trip across the Nullarbor on the Eyre Highway.
Approximate distances and driving times are:
• Adelaide to Port Lincoln: 648 kms or approximately 6-hour drive (flights also available).
• Adelaide to Ceduna: 777 kms or approximately 8-hour drive (flights also available).
• Eucla to Ceduna: 493 kms or approximately 5-hour drive across the Nullarbor Plain
You can also reach the peninsula by air. There are regional airports in Whyalla, Port Lincoln, and Ceduna, with daily connections to Adelaide.
How to explore the Eyre Peninsula
The best way to explore the peninsula is by car. It’s the perfect trip to add on to a road trip across the Nullarbor Plain. For many people who come from the west, the Eyre Peninsula is the first major destination in South Australia when they arrive after the long drive.
Basing yourself in Ceduna, or another of the major towns in the region makes for a great way to see the area. You can easily head out on day trips and self-drive tours around the Eyre Peninsula, providing the ultimate freedom for your adventure.
However, many of the best experiences on the Eyre Peninsula are water-based. There are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the incredible marine life in the surrounding ocean. There are local tour operators who can help with day trips out on the water including snorkelling, fishing charters, whale watching trips and oyster farm tours.
What is the Eyre Peninsula known for?
The Eyre Peninsula is home to incredible landscapes and a variety of native wildlife. From the dramatic coastline to the stunning outback, it’s a striking destination in South Australia that attracts a large number of visitors every year.
The peninsula is particularly known as the seafood hub of Australia. The area accounts for an estimated 65 percent of the country’s seafood. This has made the peninsula become a bit of a foodie destination with people coming from all over the country to sample some of the freshest scallops, prawns, oysters, and tuna you can find.
The waters of the Eyre Peninsula are also home to some other incredible sea life. Dolphins, great white sharks, sea lions, cuttlefish, and whales can all be found around the peninsula at different times of the year. Many people visit in the hope that they can encounter some of these incredible animals from the shoreline or even up close in the water.
The area’s natural landscapes are also another drawcard. The peninsula is home to a number of beautiful national parks. The rugged Gawler Ranges run across the north and can be explored by 4WD or on foot. Coffin Bay National Park is on the southwestern side of the peninsula and is home to some incredible white sand beaches. Lincoln National Park is on the adjacent southeastern tip of the peninsula. This beautiful place is popular for hiking, fishing, camping, and four-wheel driving. There’s plenty of beauty to be found everywhere around the Eyre Peninsula.
Things to see and do on the Eyre Peninsula
No matter what your interests, the Eyre Peninsula has something for everyone. From ocean encounters to outback adventures, there’s plenty to do to keep you busy for weeks. Here are some of the highlights and top experiences of the Eyre Peninsula.
Cage dive with great whites
Off the coast of Port Lincoln are some of the biggest great white sharks in the world. It’s the perfect place to go cage diving with these intimidating animals. It’s an activity for the real adrenaline junkies, but you can also catch a glimpse from the safety of the boat if you’d prefer not to jump in with them. Some of the cage diving operators on the Eyre Peninsula are some of the longest standing in the world, having been doing it for decades, so you can rest assured that you’re in good hands.
Swim with dolphins and sea lions
If the idea of sharks is a bit frightening, then swimming with dolphins and sea lions might be more appealing. If you head over to Baird Bay on the western side of the peninsula, you can find bottlenose dolphins and Australian sea lions in the sheltered waters. It’s a great spot to jump in and snorkel with these gentle animals with experienced tour operators.
Go whale watching
From May until October, you can find Southern Right Whales and occasionally humpback whales off the shore of Fowlers Bay. They come from Antarctica each year to the sheltered waters to meet and calve. You can either observe them from designated lookouts on the coastline or head out on a two-hour whale watching tour to get a closer view of these giants of the ocean.
Surfing is a popular activity on the Eyre Peninsula. There are some impressive surf breaks, particularly on the west coast. Popular spots include Fowlers Bay, Cactus Beach, Venus Bay, and Elliston. The most famous is certainly Cactus Beach, which is considered a world-class surfing destination the world over. The breaks there are definitely reserved for experienced surfers, so it’s best to stick to Fowlers Bay or Venus Bay if you’re a beginner.
Explore the Gawler Ranges
The Gawler Ranges National Park lies along the north of the peninsula. The incredible park is characterised by a stunning red outback landscape with volcanic rock formations and an array of native wildlife. The ranges are best explored either on foot on a bushwalk or in a guided 4WD tour. The landscape is a striking change from the coast and offers a glimpse into the red earth of the Australian outback.
Taste some seafood
When you’re in the seafood hub of Australia, you can’t miss out on sampling some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever eat. You can easily find it on any of the menus in restaurants on the peninsula. However, an even better way is to head out on a self-drive tour of the best spots.
The Seafood Trail can take you to Ceduna, Streaky Bay, Port Lincoln, and Coffin Bay, stopping along the way to sample some of the best oysters, prawns, tuna, abalone, and rock lobster you’ll likely ever eat. Visiting a working oyster farm or seafood factory is one of the real highlights of the peninsula’s seafood trail and is a must-do for real foodies.
Enjoy the white sand beaches
You can find plenty of beaches along the coastline of South Australia, but the Eyre Peninsula has particularly beautiful white sand beaches. Almonta Beach in the Coffin Bay National Park has some of the whitest sand and clearest water you can find anywhere on the peninsula.
There are also some beautiful beaches that you can camp inside Lincoln National Park. Memory Cove is a secluded bay with white sand and plenty of wildlife encounters. You can stay here at the designated campground for a truly special beach experience.
Go on a fishing charter
Being the seafood frontier of Australia, fishing is a huge activity on the Eyre Peninsula. There are plenty of fishing charters to join for the best opportunity to get a good catch, and there’s a good chance that you’ll get the famous King George Whiting, as well as, other species.
Whether you’re an experienced or novice, a fishing charter can be a fun way to experience the peninsula’s famous waters.
Spot some native wildlife
The Eyre Peninsula is home to an abundance of wildlife on land, as well as, in the sea. You can spot many of Australia’s favourite native animals around the coastal area. Whether you’re in the Gawler Ranges, Lincoln National Park, or any other park area on the peninsula, keep a lookout for koalas, wombats, emus, and kangaroos.
Snorkel with giant cuttlefish
For something a little different, if you find yourself at the peninsula in winter you can snorkel with giant cuttlefish. Thousands of them congregate around Point Lowly and Stony Point to attract a mate during the cooler months. The rainbow-coloured fish make for a dazzling display and a completely unique underwater experience. Most snorkelling trips depart from Whyalla where you can swim amongst the fish and enjoy their ever-changing colours.
Explore on foot
There are some great walks on the Eyre Peninsula to stretch your legs and slow down the pace a little. You can find walking trails in Lincoln National Park, Coffin Bay National Park, and the Gawler Ranges such as Hiltaba Walking Trail and Stamford Hill Hike. However, some other lesser-known trails include the Elliston Coastal Trail which stretches between Little Bay Surf Break and Cape Finnis, and the Roora Reserve Walking trail at Kimba which takes you past steel sculptures of native animals.
Head to a museum
You might be surprised to find that the Eyre Peninsula has some great museums where you can learn something new about the region. At Port Lincoln, you’ll find Port Lincoln Railway Museum and Axel Stenross Maritime Museum which offer an insight into the history of this unique peninsula.
Over near Ceduna on the western side of the peninsula, you can find the Arts and Cultural Centre which displays beautiful Aboriginal artwork. Just a little bit further along at Penong, the Windmill Museum has become one of the most popular museums in the region. It’s an open-air display that showcases the agricultural history of the area. This can be found on our Ceduna Map.
Festivals and culture
The Eyre Peninsula is home to some great annual cultural festivals. One of the most famous is the Australia Day weekend festival in Port Lincoln known as Tunarama Festival. It includes everything from a market with art and cultural displays to live shows and, of course, seafood.
If you find yourself in Ceduna during October, then you’ll be delighted to know Ceduna is home to the annual Oysterfest. This fun long weekend of music, art, wine, and seafood is a great experience and a top way to taste some of the freshest oysters in the country.
Lastly, if you’re into art, then the SALT festival runs for a few days in April each year around Port Lincoln. It’s a festival celebrating local artists and their work with a number of workshops, exhibitions, and displays across multiple disciplines on show around town.
Ceduna and the Eyre Peninsula
Ceduna is a major town to the northwest of the Eyre Peninsula. It’s a popular place to base yourself for exploring much of what the peninsula has to offer. From the incredible seafood to the wildlife encounters, many of the highlights of the area are easily reachable from Ceduna.
The Oyster Capital of Australia
If you’re heading to the Eyre Peninsula for its famous seafood, then Ceduna is one of your main priorities. The town is considered the Oyster Capital of Australia with some incredible tours around the area where you can visit and learn from a working oyster farm at SA Premium Oysters.
There are also some great fishing opportunities either from the jetties or on a boat around Ceduna, Denial Bay, and Smoky Bay. You can catch a range of species such as Tommy ruffs, King George whiting, salmon, and garfish. Find these towns on our detailed map of Ceduna.
The Eyre Highway and the Gateway to the Nullarbor
Ceduna is in a unique location marking the western side of the Eyre Peninsula, as well as, being the gateway to the Nullarbor Plain. The Eyre Highway runs right through the town, which is the main connection across the coast of South Australia. This means that you can easily explore the best of the peninsula and the outback all from Ceduna.
The town also makes for a convenient stop between the Eyre Peninsula and the Nullarbor Plain, this huge limestone bedrock is one of the most unique landscapes in the country. You can restock supplies and take a rest from all the sightseeing and adventures, choose from multiple accommodation options at Shelly Beach Caravan Park in Ceduna before or after the long crossing of the Nullarbor.
Ceduna has all the amenities and conveniences that you need for a trip to the Eyre Peninsula and beyond. The town has plenty of accommodation options to suit all kinds of budgets from caravan parks to holiday homes.
You can also find plenty of convenient shops in Ceduna from where you can pick up everyday essentials and last-minute supplies, such as a supermarket, pharmacy, hardware store, and souvenir and giftware stores.
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