Trip 45, post #6 – The Yorke Peninsula

Waking up to the Black-Eyed Peas being blasted by the local community gym, we were up, packed and on the road before dawn, heading for our mid-morning appointment with some cephalopods.

Reaching up to 60cm in length and 5kg in weight, the Giant Australian Cuttlefish is the largest species of Cuttlefish in the world. And, between May and August each year, they gather in their tens of thousands to breed, then die, in the calm waters just north of Whyalla.

This was our destination from Kimba, and we’d booked the 10am glass bottom boat tour to view the breeding Cuttlefish from Stony Point. It was pea soup foggy on the drive out but cleared to an overcast day with a perfectly flat ocean on arrival in Whyalla. The skipper advised that the previous day they had dumpers rolling onto the shore, so we got lucky with the water conditions. Boarding the little glass-bottomed boat, we spent the next 45 minutes no more than 50 metres from shore, in depths of 1 to 12 metres, as we puttered around and over the Cuttlefish. None of our photos did the experience justice, but it was great watching and hearing the skipper explain how they arrive, find a mate, and die, including the three main ways of their predation:

  • 1: Death by Snapper
  • 2: Death by Bottlenose Dolphin
  • 3: Death by NZ Fur Seal

However, for a brief period in the 90s, one entrepreneurial commercial fisherman decided to catch and sell them. The word soon got out and, very soon, 38 commercial fishermen were catching them, and this almost wiped out the entire breeding colony. Luckily the government stepped in and the whole area is now protected.

Following the boat tour, we drove the last couple of km out to view the Point Lowly Lighthouse, which was built in 1883, with views back over the gulf and the Flinders Ranges as the backdrop.

A quick snap of the clear water and rocky bottom at Stony Point, as we boarded the glass-bottomed boat.
A crappy, but memory worthy pic of some of the Cuttlefish under the boat
A crappy, but memory worthy pic of some of the Cuttlefish under the boat
Bubbles caught up under the glass in the boat
The historic Point Lowly Lighthouse
A build at Point Lowly

Then it was off to our campsite at the Weeroona Bay Football Club, on the outskirts of Whyalla. Whilst the camping spot wasn’t much to talk about, Jules and I did avail ourselves of the local footy club 3-course meal the club ladies put on that night, and it was fantastic. $25 for Chicken & Corn Soup entrée, followed by the best tasting Roast Chook, Cauliflower Cheese, and Roast Vege, followed by a little Apple Pie and a dollop of Ice Cream.

We also used our stop at Whyalla to drop catch up on some laundry at the local laundromat, before doing a little drive around Whyalla to gauge the sights and feel/vibe of the town. The consensus being an old, ailing mining/port town which felt pretty rundown.

Taken from Hummock Hill Lookout in Whyalla. Personally I found this pic of the smelter much more interesting than looking out over the town or the beach
A building we spotted in Whyalla – they can service your every need from the one spot
Sculptures on the entry to the Port Germein Jetty
The final sculpture on the Port Germein Jetty. I loved this work, particularly the cuttlefish (or squid) catching a fish at the top.

From Whyalla we then made our way from the Eyre Peninsula into the Yorke Peninsular, passing through Port Augusta and down to Maitland, which is located centrally on the peninsula, camping at the Maitland Showground for a couple of nights. On route, we stopped in for a loo stop and coffee with cake at Port Germein.

Our first sortie from Maitland was North, out to Balgowan, then along the back roads into Moonta (love that name), then Wallaroo (sounds like an Austen Tayshus joke), Kadina (we kept singing a version of the 80’s song “Funky Cold Medina” – substitute with “Kadina”), Bute (which it was), then back to Maitland.

Balgowan was a sleepy little coastal town with not much going on. But Moonta had a lovely, very old, heritage feel to it with what seemed to be a good community vibe. Plenty of people going about their business and some nice galleries and shops on the main street to take in. The township of Moonta was established when Paddy Ryan noticed green stones dug out from a wombat hole. These green stones turned out to be copper and pretty soon the township of Moonta was born around the copper mine, much of which is now heritage-listed and can be viewed. Moonta is also known for its Cornish Pasties as many of the copper miners were Cornish and we had one of the best Cornish Pasties at the bakery.

The next stop was Wallaroo, which just didn’t have the same feel as Moonta, however, we did drop into the Bond Store to sample their gin – nothing took our fancy. From Wallaroo it was off to Kadina, what seemed to be the larger of the three towns, which are all within 10km of each other, for some supplies at the Woolworths.

Rather than drive straight back to Maitland, we detoured out to Bute to view the fantastic silo artwork.

The old church in Maitland, established in 1875
A doorway in Maitland
The church builder must have been Irish and thought, to be sure, to be sure, to be sure, when building the crosses atop the roof.
Hydration at the Maitland Pub after a walk
A lonely chimney stack in a paddock on the road out to Balgowan
Some wall art in Moonta
Jules sampling the gins at the Bond Store in Wallaroo
Beautiful silo art in Bute

We had intended to explore the southern parts of the Yorke Peninsula from Maitland, but with a nearly 400km round trip, we decided to relocate further south to Warooka, which is in the neck of the southern tip of the peninsula.

A leisurely start to the day, saw us driving down through Port Victoria, then into Minlaton for coffee and lunch at the bakery. Then it was down to Warooka to set up the van before we did a loop drive out around Corny Point, and back along the northern coast of the peninsula foot, through The Pines, Point Souttar and finally Point Turton. The Corny Point Lighthouse and coastline was nice, as was Point Turton.

“The Red Devil”, the sole remaining Bristol MC1 fighter plane of a total of 130 made in England during WW1 and was owned and flown by Captain Harry Butler of Minlaton during WW1
The Corny Point Lighthouse
Black basalt rocks meet granite at Corny Point
Looking over the beach from Corny Point Lighthouse
Corny Point Lighthouse from the drone
Drone shot of the coast
Drone shot of the coast showing the black basalt rock and granite meeting
A pelican poses perfectly in the welcome to Point Turton sign and the town jetty
Beautifully rounded and coloured pebbles in a little cove at Point Turton. From what I could see these were decomposing out of host boulders in the cliff face. This leads me to surmise that the pebbles were rounded in ancient riverbeds and then formed into conglomerate rock/boulders before being released back on the beach as the waves and wind wear the cliff face away.

Today we explored the Southern side of the foot, that is, the bottom of the Yorke Peninsula. Driving out through Yorketown, then Edithburgh, we then followed the Southern Coastal Road along the coast, South to Marion Bay for lunch, before exploring the Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park.

A pink salt lake just outside of Yorketown. Unfortunately, I just missed getting the drone up in time to video a fox we saw run across the middle of the shallow lake.
A pink salt lake just outside of Yorketown
A pink salt lake just outside of Yorketown
A pink salt lake just outside of Yorketown
An old house in Yorketown
Water tank art in Yorketown
The wind farm near Edithburgh
Troubridge Lighthouse
Coastline, note the black basalt rock.
Coastline view from the Cape Spencer Lighthouse
Coastline view from the Cape Spencer Lighthouse
A Silvereye
A Little Grassbird that was singing beautifully
A honeyeater
A Welcome Swallow
West Cape Lighthouse
Remains of the Ethel shipwreck
Remains of the Ethel shipwreck
Bakery ruins in Inneston. The township of Inneston sprung up to mine Gypsium.
The old Chalk Factory ruin in Inneston. They used the byproducts of Gypsium to make coloured chalk pencils which were then shipped out to, and used in various schools.

The final day of our Yorke Peninsula trip was driving up the East coast of the peninsula, taking in Stansbury, Port Vincent, Ardrossan and Tiddy Widdy Beach. Leaving the peninsula at Port Wakeford and heading out through Gawler and finally to our destination, Tanunda in the Barossa Valley which is the subject of our next post.

Water Tower art in Stansbury
Unfortunately, there were workmen on the Port Vincent water tower art, so I hid them behind the gate art.
The port at Ardrossan
Taking a back road we happened on a Salt Mine at Price so I used the drone for a few shots
Salt Mine just out of Price
Salt Mine just out of Price
Salt Mine just out of Price

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