For your chance to view rugged coastlines sculpted by the constant pounding of the Southern Ocean tour the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.
Yorke Peninsula is truly the gateway to cultural and culinary delights of SA.
The odyssey begins in Ardrossan on the east coast, an area that enjoys a temperate climate with regular sea breezes. You can watch, transfixed, as the waves crash into deep red cliffs. Cameras will be kept clicking as at every vantage point the coastline displays itself in even more breathtaking beauty.
Thirty minutes south will get you to Port Vincent. Like most of the towns on the Yorke Peninsula, Port Vincent is an old port, once one of the landing spots for ketches going up and down the coast. Now known as the watersport centre of the peninsula, it makes an ideal spot for sailing and boating enthusiasts. Its stunning, peaceful bay provides anchorage for boats and swimming for families. Port Vincent has a permanent population of only 420, but rises dramatically at peak periods, when the bay turns into a sea of boats. And, if you ask the locals, they’ll tell you “the fishing’s pretty damn good!” You can’t travel through this former Tidy Town winner without poking your head into the Port Vincent Primary School Marine Study Centre. A range of marine life is on display, but they take a hands on approach to teaching here and the students revel in educating and delighting their guests in every aspect of what lies beneath. The real highlight is the younger students’ enthusiastic mimicking of sea creatures, complete with costumes.
Motor on, Wool Bay is the next stop and home to Barachel Alpacas farm. Alpacas are curious animals, and as such provide for a unique encounter when allowed to get this close. Watch them being fed as you peruse some of the finery made from their soft, delicate wool. A large herd, including several young members, really warms to the human interaction. Be warned alpacas have an ability to spit accurately up to an impressive 30m, but these animals are still loads of fun.
By the time the road takes you to Edithburgh in the peninsula’s south eastern corner, you will be feeling spoilt by what you’ve experienced so far. A number of early settlement buildings still survive here, a reminder of the town’s past importance as a port which once exported up to 24 tonnes of salt a year. These days the seas off Edithburgh are a safe and exciting environment for divers and underwater photographers. Bird-lovers should keep an eye out for penguins, cormorants and many other sea birds.
if you imagine the shape of the Yorke Peninsula as a shoe, you’ve reached the toe when you hit Marion Bay. And this toe has plenty to offer, including Innes National Park, which encompasses coastal landscapes, wildlife habitats and a wide range of recreational opportunities. View rugged coastlines sculptured by the constant pounding of the Southern Ocean and wander through the remnants of SA’s mining and maritime history.
Marion Bay offers the best of both worlds, with a sheltered swimming beach popular with families and a surf beach on the other side. The Adjahdura people traditionally owned the land here on the peninsula, leading a peaceful existence, moving among their many campsites while hunting, fishing and gathering food. By the 1850s the agricultural expansion had encroached on much of the Adjahjura land, destroying culture and traditions evolved over thousands of years. Speaking of shoes and toes, it’s apt that the next area of interest is Corny Point. If you love the water, this is the spot for you. Anglers, surfers and swimmers are all catered for. If you prefer to keep high and dry, then why not try a coastal or scenic drive?
If you have had your fill of all things aquatic, the tonic is Flaherty’s Beach. Around 5km north of Warooka on the road to Minlaton, this beach is famous for the annual Flaherty’s Beach Sandbar Golf Classic. The first classic was in 1996. Its longevity is a testament to its popularity, attracting diehard golfers as well as once a year hitters in their droves. It’s a golf tournament where the water hazards are par for the course and you’re always in a bunker! If you have trouble playing out of sand, this will do wonders for your game. With a course etched into the beach, all you need do is let fly. Fore!
By the time you reach Minlaton, you are starting to wind your way back to Adelaide, not that the fun of the peninsula is set to dry up. Minlaton was settled in the 1870s, and today this small township promotes itself as the barley capital of the world. But most tourists make the trip to take in the history of the great Captain Harry Butler. A memorial in the centre of town pays homage to this gifted aviator. The exhibit even holds the fabled Red Devil. The captain purchased this plane from the British government, shipped it to SA in 1919 and used it to transport mail from Adelaide to his hometown of Minlaton – the first flight across the sea in the southern hemisphere by any plane. It was last flown in 1945 and is believed to be the only one of this type in existence anywhere in the world.
Maitland, the ‘golden heart’ of the Yorke Peninsula, is poised on a ridge with views of Spencer Gulf to the west and York Valley to the east. Thirteen kilometres south is Gregory’s Wines, the peninsula’s first and only commercial vineyard, with its unique “Barley Stacks” shiraz, chardonnay and liqueur chardonnay. The winery also hosts the Annual Gourmet Feast to promote local fresh food, with tastings and produce including seafood and other gourmet delights from local providers. Artworks from local artists make a spectacular display along the winery walls. The winery is only open by appointment but that is a telephone call well worth making.
There’s an old saying in SA that you haven’t travelled until you’ve seen Moonta. Immigrants from Cornwall settled this copper mining town in 1861 and their influence is obvious, from the bric-a-brac available in the gift shop all the way through to the famous Cornish pasty. The pasty’s design catered for the fact that the miners always had so much copper residue on their hands. The unique crimp at the top made it easier to hold while eating the goodies inside, and was thrown away when the pasty was eaten. While you are in Moonta, get into ‘training’ at the Moonta Railway Station, which doubles as the local tourist office and is an ideal starting point for anyone wanting to explore the town. For those with a sweet tooth, the Old Sweet Shop is a genuine and delightful trip into the past, with large jars of sweets adorning the walls. The Tourist Railway, a narrow-gauge rail journey which takes about 50 minutes, is lots of fun and the kids will love it.
Find: accommodation in Moonta
Kadina rounds out your trip to Yorke Peninsula, as you’ll no doubt be calling it by now. You simply cannot go through Kadina without popping into the Kadina Banking and Currency Museum. All things money and bank-related are here. Marvel at the authentic bank vault, or actual shredded currency. Reminisce as you gaze at the rows and rows of old money boxes, and allow yourself to ‘spend’ the countless amounts of cash on display.