Holy mackerel, it’s the seafood capital
With a contrasting coastal landscape ranging from sheltered waters and beaches, to surf and rugged ocean coastline, Port Lincoln on the lower Eyre Peninsula is about 650km from Adelaide.
It overlooks beautiful Boston Bay, one of the largest protected natural harbours in the world which is three times the size of Sydney Harbour.
Boston Bay opens into the Spencer Gulf so it has ready access to the Great Australian Bight and beyond.
It’s a blue water playground for yachting, scuba diving including shark cage diving, swimming with Australian sea lions and game fishing.
The nearby Lincoln National Park, Coffin Bay National Park and Kellidie Bay Conservation Park are all within easy driving distance and in January, it is the local Tunarama Festival.
We camped at Port Lincoln National Park and stayed for days at Richardson’s Hut on the eastern side. The views back to Port Lincoln were stunning.
Other worthy camp spots were at Surfleet, Fisherman’s Point and September Beach.
Located on a rugged peninsula with spectacular ocean views and sandy beaches, the Port Lincoln National Park has an abundance of sheltered camping sites so the trickiest job is choosing which one.
Alas, our visit coincided with a Total Fire Ban so we couldn’t have a fire, which would have been the icing on the cake – or in this case, the marshmallow on the coal.
The tip here is to investigate the South Australian National Parks holiday pass.
It is the best value and saved a lot of camp fees and park entry.
Check out their website as there are many options depending on how long you plan to stay. Go to environment.sa.gov.au/parks and navigate to park passes.
One unfortunate thing about the park is that foxes and cats have exterminated much of the wildlife, such as bettongs but rangers have been reintroducing animals and we were lucky enough to see kangaroos, emus and lots of bird life.
Port Lincoln is a big, vibrant town of about 15,000 people and is reputed to have the most millionaires per capita in Australia.
It has everything from supermarkets and large department stores to galleries as well as one of the most helpful tourist information centres ever visited.
If you need to top up on water before heading out of town, the Tourist Information Bureau will lend you a tap fitting to access town water in their parks.
Now for a little bit of history. Boston Bay was discovered in 1802 by Matthew Flinders who named Port Lincoln after his home in England.
A lack of reliable surface water has always been a problem and was a factor in preventing Port Lincoln being proclaimed the colony’s capital in the 1830s.
It is now largely dependent on water drawn from groundwater basins.
The Iron Knob to Kimba pipeline completed in 2007 provides limited water from the Murray River. More recently to assist with their water supply issues, the government has been investigating other options such as a desalination plant.
As the home of Croatian-born fisherman Tony Santic, who is best known as the owner of three-time Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva, the city has a life-sized statue of the legendary racehorse on its foreshore. (The horse though, never actually made it to Port Lincoln).
The hub of the tuna industry, Port Lincoln also supports a thriving aquaculture industry with lucrative fishing and fisheries including southern blue fin tuna and sardine, abalone, mussels and oysters.
We certainly tucked into the Port Lincoln oysters – the size and taste was incomparable.
Port Lincoln’s strong economy is also boosted by a huge grain handling facility, a canning and fish processing works and sheep, wool and beef farming.
There is also some experimental farming in seahorses and spiny lobsters.
As you can imagine the local fish and chip shop is like walking into a candy store – you just don’t know where to start.
And as its great claim to fame, the book Blue Fin was set in Port Lincoln, the movie filmed at nearby Streaky Bay and some shark scenes for Jaws and the Anzac Cove scenes in Gallipoli, were also filmed in this area.
There is a warning though if you are planning a visit – you may need more time than you think. It is easy to be tempted to spend more time exploring Port Lincoln’s beauty and feasting on its famous fruits de mer.