Should you visit the Eyre Peninsula?

Many people that we met along the Nullarbor were planning on driving right past the Eyre peninsula and making a bee line for Adelaide. One couple that we met informed us that there was less to do on the peninsula than there was on the Nullarbor. We decided we would go experience it and make that judgement for ourselves.

We had an awesome time there and here’s why….

Crazy coastline

Í don’t know if we’ve ever been somewhere that has a sculpture park along the Cliffside, but it was a pretty cool experience! It’s just one example of the diverse coastline you’ll find here on the Eyre peninsula.

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Cliffside sculptures in Elliston

 

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Wild waves in Coffin bay

National parks

There are two beautiful national parks on the Eyre peninsula- Coffin Bay, and Lincoln national park. They both contain beachside camping, awesome fishing, hiking, wildlife, and picturesque vistas. Coffin bay also has plenty of tracks for four wheel drive enthusiasts!

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Skipping rocks in Lincoln national park

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Sunset at Yangie bay lookout, Coffin bay

 

food

Coffin bay is known for its oyster so its certainly worth visiting if you’re a seafood lover. Port Lincoln is home to our favourite bakery of the trip (and we have tried a fair few)- Hage’s bakery. Try their donut of the week.

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First breakfast out of the trip at The Rogue and Rascal cafe,Port Lincoln. Did not disappoint!

wildlife

We saw so many emus and kangaroos in the national parks in the Eyre peninsula. We woke up one night to a kangaroo digging through our bin. Emus roamed freely throughout the campsite. If you’re feeling particularly eager  for a unique wildlife encounter you can go shark cage diving in Port Lincoln.

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Emus in Coffin bay

history

We were surprised to find that there is a wealth of history throughout the Eyre peninsula. There are many memorials for the “founder of south Australia”, Matthew Flinders. The tale of his explorations are woven through the peninsula, in the names of features (such as Point Avoid) and in the landscape itself (such as the areas of land he cleared to try to farm).

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A memorial to Matthew Flinders atop Stamford Hill

 

hiking

There are great hiking networks throughout the  peninsula, including the investigator trail which is an 89 kilometre trail following Matthew Flinders’ original exploration. Lincoln national park contains one of Australia’s top 40 great walks- the Stamford Hill hike. It’s a relatively easy walk with stunning views at the summit.

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The view from the top

community

One of the most awesome things in the Eyre peninsula was the amount of volunteers who gave up their time for their community. From the volunteer run book store in Port Lincoln to the blacksmith museum in Tumby Bay whose volunteers couldn’t have been more accommodating. It’s amazing that there are so many people willing to invest their time to preserve the history of their communities. It certainly made the Eyre peninsula somewhere that we will always remember.

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Fitzgerald Bay campsite

 

 

 

Guide to Surviving the Nullarbor

The Nullarbor has a pretty infamous reputation for being boring. Spanning a distance of over 1000 kilometres and boasting the honour of containing Australia’s longest, straightest portion of road, it’s no surprise that it’s dreaded by many travelers, particularly when most of them never leave the bitumen. Despite all of this, we had an awesome and unforgettable time driving down the infamous Eyre highway. Here’s our tips for making your drive the ultimate road trip experience.

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I was much too excited when we reached this sign

10. Stop at the roadhouses (even when you don’t need anything)
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The old telegraph station at Eucla- covered in sand dunes

There are ten roadhouses across the Nullarbor and we stopped at all except one of them(sorry Cocklebiddy, we’ll visit you next time!). This was mostly due to my weak bladder, but also because these roadhouses are full of history! From the museum in Baladonia to the telegraph station in Eucla, it’s well worth pulling off the highway to soak up some of the history of this seventy year old road.

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The oldest roadhouse on the highway

9. Geocache

When you’ve had as much as you can handle of road trains and treeless plains, why not stop for a treasure hunt? Geocaching is like an international orienteering system using GPS devices. It’s a good way to break up long drives, experience some nature, and get your mind working.

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Taking a break from the car

8. Watch out for wildlife

If you keep your eyes peeled while crossing the Nullarbor you’ll see some awesome wildlife. We saw eagles, dolpins, kangaroos, and several types of lizards. We drove through a plague of locusts and saw our first wombat (it still counts if it’s dead, right?). In the winter months the Nullarbor is a hot spot for whale watching, as whales enter the head of the bight to give birth.

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We even found a giant kangaroo!

7. Get your golf on

Did you know the world’s biggest golf course is located on the Nullarbor? Beginning in Ceduna there is a hole located in every roadhouse as far as Kalgoorlie. The Nullarbor Links is a genuine golf course aimed at golf enthusiasts, but even if you’re not interested in partaking it’s worth stopping and taking a look at the information plaques. They often contain interesting information, like the story of the Nullarbor nymph.

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The biggest windmill in the world at Penong

6. Play “I Spy”

For some reason the Nullarbor is filled with wacky sights. You don’t expect to see art in the middle of nowhere, but it’s there if you look for it. There are multiple interesting trees to look out for along the highway. We tried to spot as many as we could but failed miserably. Maybe you can do a better job!

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A whale of a time

Things to spot

-Teddy Bear tree

-Teacup tree

-Underwear Tree

-Christmas Tree

-Bottle Tree

-Flag Tree

5. Go spelunking
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An award winning sign

Did you know the Nullarbor is a huge area of limestone known as a karst region? Because of this there are numerous caves, sink holes and even blow holes. Some of these caves are closed to the public but some of them are open to exploration. If spelunking isn’t your thing you can still go and peer into these amazing cave systems. We really enjoyed the Koonalda caves. There is an inland blow hole there that blows cold air out at you. I found myself wishing I had a Marilyn Monroe style dress!

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Koonalda Cave

4. Look up
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A beautiful Nullarbor sunset

One of the things we were really excited for as we began our Nullarbor journey was the night skies. I’m glad to say we weren’t disappointed. The stars across the Nullarbor were pretty amazing. I saw the milky way for the very first time and we had an awesome time laying on the car bonnet and spotting constellations. The days might be hot, fly filled, and consist of endless driving, but the night skies are truly magical.

3. Stop at the Lookouts.
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A view worth stopping for

Sometimes when you’ve settled your butt in the seat for a little while and you’re just focused on getting to wherever you’re planning on setting up camp that night you can be inclined to skip lookouts. I can honestly say that every lookout we stopped at was awesome. Views of the Bunda cliffs, the dessert plain, and even just the highway from a distance as it stretches for miles and miles before you were all real highlights of our time across this infamous stretch of land.

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Our first view of the sea!

2. Visit the old homesteads
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Nanambinia’s front gate

The absolute best and most interesting bits of the Nullarbor for us were our visits to two old homesteads. The first was to Nanambinia, a homestead dating back to 1896 which is unoccupied but is open to the public. You can actually sleep inside the house and use the fire place; there’s even a toilet. However, it’s incredibly creepy! There is still clothes in the laundry baskets and food in the pantry, and the previous visitors had stacked and dressed chairs to look like they were people. It’s a pretty bumpy four wheel drive road to the homestead but it was definitely worth the trip.

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Pranksters at work!

While Nanambinia was awesome it had absolutely nothing on the Koonalda homestead. This old roadhouse and sheep station is a wonderfully preserved part of history. It’s situated on the old Eyre highway. For those that don’t know, when they Eyre highway was sealed in the 1970s they realigned the road, leaving a section of highway North of the current road to deteriorate into dirt track. The Koonalda roadhouse became defunct when the road bypassed it, and now remains open to the public, complete with petrol pump and dozens of old cars that once broke down on the highway.

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The homestead and shearers quarters remain intact and lack the creepy vibe of Nanambinia. In fact, we found the shearer’s quarters to be an awesome place to chill out away from the heat and flies. The sink hole and blow hole which I mentioned above are a short walk from the homestead, and there is a cave about ten kilometres away. We also saw wombat mounds so if you’re lucky you might get to see some of them out and about. Koonalda station felt like going back in time and immersing ourselves in a piece of history for the day.

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The shearer’s quarters-home for a day

And, our number one tip for enjoying your time on the Nullarbor? Drum roll please…

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A walk around Koonalda

Take your time!

It sounds obvious, but everyone we met who hated the Nullarbor had rushed across it and a couple of days. We took a whole week to get from Norseman to Ceduna and I’m so glad we did. We saw a beautiful section of coast, enjoyed the history of the road, observed wildlife, and made awesome memories. In some ways the Nullarbor felt similar to route 66 in its roadtrip worthy-ness. Give yourself time to explore the hidden gems of the area and you’ll have an amazing time.

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A successful border crossing!

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