Eyre Peninsula, SA

By: Ali Millar, Photography by: Matt Fehlberg, Video by: Matt Fehlberg


Big things await those who travel halfway across Australia.

Halway -across -Australia -at -Kimba -SA

The sight of the ‘Halfway Across Australia’ sign on the highway at Kimba, SA, is enough to get even the weariest of travellers a little bit excited. It’s a milestone of sorts, providing a sense of achievement after many long hours on the road.

We’d travelled around 1240km since we left Melbourne and, according to the Hema MX-1, there was still another 2300km to go, so it might not have been the halfway point of our journey, but it didn’t matter; we stopped for the obligatory photo regardless.

Avida -Birdsville -on -the -road -in -Eyre -Peninsula -SA

These kinds of novelty signs and icons are something Australia has in spades, providing great entertainment for road-trippers in need of a coffee break, and Kimba, a tiny town in the middle of SA’s Eyre Peninsula, and geographically halfway across Australia, has two such claims to fame.

Just a hop, skip and a jump down the road is the Big Galah. One of Australia’s ‘big’ icons, the 8m-tall galah has been guarding the adjacent ‘Halfway Across Australia’ roadhouse, with its gems, Kimba tea towels and souvenirs, fluffy toy galahs and stubby holders, since 1993. Of course, we had to stop in there for a look (and an ice cream), too.

Kimba is just under two-hour’s drive west of Port Augusta on the Eyre Highway, which traverses the top of the triangular peninsula of the same name. We’d left Melrose and the southern Flinders Ranges behind that morning, heading west across the ever-sparser plains of the northern section of the peninsula.

WHITES KNOB

The Eyre Peninsula takes its name from Edward John Eyre, who traversed the peninsula in the 1840s, and was the first to record this exploration of the three sides of the peninsula. One of Kimba’s other attractions is a pair of metal sculptures atop Whites Knob, on the outskirts of town, depicting Eyre and an Indigenous tracker. The sculptures gaze out across the landscape, Eyre holding a compass out in front of him, commissioned as a tribute to Eyre’s courage as an explorer as well as the Indigenous men whose bush skills he often relied on.

A-woman -standing -at -the -White -Knob -Lookout

Whites Knob offers a vantage point of the surrounding countryside and you can easily drive to the lookout there, not far off the highway just north-west of town. If you have the time, though, the lookout can also be reached via a six-kilometre (return) walking trail through the Roora Reserve, with a number of recycled steel sculptures of native animals and interpretive signage along the route.

Sculptures -as -a -tribute -to -Edward -John -Eyre -at -White -Knob -Lookout -in -SA

Kimba is on the traditional lands of the Pangkala Aboriginal people. European settlers began planting grains and crops here in the early 1900s, but the region was extremely isolated until the railway from Port Lincoln was extended to reach the area in 1913. The town was proclaimed in 1915 and the community began to flourish, with the surrounding district becoming one of the largest wheat growing areas in South Australia. Huge white grain silos are a common sight on the side of the highway as it passes through the small towns that dot the peninsula.

For those interested in learning about the region’s past, the volunteer-run Kimba and Gawler Ranges Historical Museum features buildings from the town’s early beginnings as well as historical displays relating to farming, transport and social activities.

Kimba is the eastern gateway to the Gawler Ranges National Park, with access to the park 40km north of the Eyre Highway, via Minnipa, around 140km west of Kimba. The park is a great place to stop off for a few days, giving you time to explore the dramatic volcanic rhyolite formations known as the Organ Pipes and enjoy the serenity of sitting by the campfire under starry skies. Three of the park’s six campgrounds can be accessed with high clearance 2WD vehicles in dry weather.

STREAKY BAY

Streaky -Bay -jetty -at -sunset -SA

After hours spent traversing the peninsula, far from the coast, the ocean seemed strange and almost out of place as it appeared on the horizon behind the town of Streaky Bay. Located on the far north-western point of the Eyre Peninsula, Streaky Bay is a service centre for the surrounding rural area and this small coastal town is a popular stopover for travellers.

We pulled into the Foreshore Tourist Park on the edge of town to find it filled to the brim, and were lucky to pick up one of the last powered sites available. Our site was right behind the calm waters of the protected beach, but we had photos to take and exploring to do, so happy hour was going to have to wait. We turned our Avida Birdsville motorhome around and followed the road along the grassy-green foreshore into town.

Two -women -standing -on -the -Streaky -Bay -jetty

Streaky Bay has the feel of a sleepy fishing village and fishing is indeed big business here. The town’s foreshore is dominated by the long jetty, which we found empty except for a lone fisherman. We wandered along the jetty as the light shifted, enjoying the uninhibited views out to sea and the peace and quiet, interrupted only by the occasional squawk of a seabird.

While our fisherman didn’t seem to be having heaps of luck, the jetty is reportedly a good spot to throw in a line and there are plenty of other fishing spots to choose from off the surrounding beaches.

Streaky Bay is renowned for its seafood, particularly King George whiting, southern rock lobster, oysters, abalone and sharks. In fact, sharks are high on Streaky Bay’s claim to fame, with a replica of a 1520kg, 5m-long great white, caught by a local fisherman, on display at the Streaky Bay Roadhouse and Tourist Centre.

Two -women -walking -under -the -jetty -in -Eyre -Peninsula -SA

Just outside of town is the Cape Bauer Loop Coastal Drive, offering scenic vistas off the cliffs, stunning beaches where you can throw a line into the surf, and the main event, the Whistling Rocks and Blow Holes, formed from fractures in the limestone cliffs and years of erosion. For those travelling with a tinnie, there’s a concrete boat ramp around 5km outside of town on the Cape Bauer Road.

Streaky -Bay -Hotel -SA

With the sun setting, our weary crew decided to call it a day and headed back to town, hoping to sample some of the famed local seafood. We found what we were looking for at the Streaky Bay Hotel, with its friendly staff and cold brews. We settled down on the wide, covered deck, overlooking the jetty and the calm waters of the bay and tucked into locally caught King George whiting served with salad and chips. Delicious.

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The full destination piece appears in Caravan World #564 2017. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!