Travel

South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula: Port Lincoln & Coffin Bay

Eyre peninsula port lincoln coffin bay cover image
22 min read

You may think that you have tasted the best seafood in Sydney, experienced native marine life in Cairns, or even visited the most picturesque landscapes in Tasmania. But there are two places located in the Eyre Peninsula that will prove you so wrong. These gems have been kept a secret from non-Australians (and even locals themselves) for too long and hold the true essence of Australia. It’s about time we let the cat out of the bag. Today, we explore Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay with Xplore Eyre!

Port Lincoln – More than just the Seafood Capital of Australia

Image Source: Xplore Eyre

Located on South Australia’s lower Eyre Peninsula, Port Lincoln has the purest, freshest, and highest quality seafood in the world. But that’s just scratching the surface.

Diving in pristine waters with the Great White Sharks, swimming with sea lions, dining at award-winning eateries/wineries – the list just keeps going on!

Have a Breath of Fresh ‘Eyre’ at Lincoln National Park

Take a four-wheel-drive down Lincoln National Park and enjoy absolutely spectacular coastal views! Some of the notable lookout points which we visited were Stamford Hill and Wedding Cake Island via Wanna Lookout.

Take a four-wheel-drive down Lincoln National Park and enjoy absolutely spectacular coastal views! Some of the notable lookout points which we visited were Stamford Hill and Wedding Cake Island via Wanna Lookout.

Right outside Lincoln National Park lies another hidden gem of South Australia’s coastlines, Whalers Way. It used to be a whaling station owned by the South Australian Company in the 1830s but was short-lived and fizzled in just 4 years. Now, Whalers way is a privately-owned wilderness reserve located on the southern tip of Eyre Peninsula and is an awesome destination for you to spend some time at.

We had some time admiring what we thought was nature’s very own pyramid and giant turtle at Cape Wiles and Cape Carnot respectively. Bring a pair of binoculars and there’s a good chance of spotting a fur seal colony or an osprey nest!

A key must be obtained earlier from the Port Lincoln’s Visitor Centre to get through the locked entrance gate which is pleasantly followed with 14km of tracks which is definitely South Australia’s most sensational and exciting stretch of coastline.

Don’t want the hassle of paying for park entrance fees or loaning keys for privately owned land? Neither did we. That is why we took the day tour with Xplore Eyre where our extremely proficient guide, Paul, got it all settled for us.

Wildlife Sanctuary – Experience Nature Like Never Before

Having a little trouble finding wild koalas during your stay in Australia? 

From Cape Carnot, make a short drive upwards and you will arrive at, yet another privately-owned land named Mikkira station. Once a large sheep station, Mikkira Station is currently home to Port Lincoln’s only koala colony that live in really old fascinating-looking manna gum trees. Although it is possible to visit this station independently, it is best to do as part of an Eyre Peninsula tour!

Here you can find wild koalas so photogenic and close to you that it’s almost unbelievable. The koalas originally came from Kangaroo Island in 1969 and have become a separate colony since. If you’re lucky enough, you may even get the chance to pat those little wild koalas. Besides koalas, kangaroos, emus, native birds and reptiles are also easily found around the station.

Additionally, you will be able to enter a well-preserved old cottage set out as the home of the Borthwick family who lived there previously with many anecdotes and personal mementoes.

Spice up your day with even more native animals by visiting the Glen-Forest Tourist Park & Vineyard, where you can feed cuddly koalas, kangaroos, donkeys and more! The park also has a vibrant collection of birdlife in the aviary, free-roaming peacocks, and larger birds (Emus & Ostriches) in separate enclosures.

P.S. The kangaroos in Glen-Forest Tourist Park are Western Greys but we found these kangaroos so much cuter than any other kangaroo we saw out there before!

City Touring in Port Lincoln – Landmarks, Seafood, Alcohol & Coffee?!

Port Lincoln strikes an insanely good balance between nature and city life. Other than having the cleanest waters with almost no pollution, it is also home to locally roasted coffee, award-winning wineries, craft beer, and of course, delicious seafood cuisines!

Here are some places you must visit to experience the flavour of Port Lincoln:

  • The Fresh Fish Place – Have you ever tasted Fish and Chips with an ultra-thin batter so perfect that you could savour the steamed fish inside? Try it and you will understand why this place lives up to its name.
  • Boston Bean Coffee Co. – We had the opportunity to have a behind-the-scenes tour of their cafe, learning about the different equipment and how their beans are carefully sourced, roasted and brewed. You can easily tell how passionate someone is when they start to get all technical about it – Yep, that’s Richard and Sue, founders of Boston Bean Coffee, for you!
  • Boston Bay Winery – Try imagining yourself tasting an array of Eyre Peninsula wine samples, surrounded by wineries overlooking the blue seas. That is a real place at award-winning Boston Bay Winery. 
  • Beer Garden Brewing – As their slogan “Fresh Eyre on Tap” suggests, the brewery has 10 taps with all of their beers brewed on-site.
  • The Line & Label – Dine at Port Lincoln’s award-winning restaurant located on a vineyard. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity being away from the main street; a perfect place for any occasion.

Don’t forget to visit a few of the famous landmarks & other worthwhile activities too while you are in Port Lincoln:

  • Statues – Makybe Diva, Captain Matthew Flinders with his cat companion Trim, and the Tuna Poler Sculpture
  • Old Mill – Oldest building left standing in Port Lincoln. Climb up the spiral stairs to have a view of the city and the foreshore.
  • Foreshore – Come at the right time in the morning and you might be able to catch horses on their morning walks
  • Winters Hill Lookout – For a birds’ eye view of the entire city of Port Lincoln. Try spotting the Old Mill from up here. It’s possible (tried and tested)!
  • Aerial City Tour in an Open Cockpit Plane – See Port Lincoln from above by flying the way it is meant to be with Joy Flights Port Lincoln. You can even opt for a ride filled with aerobatic manoeuvres.

Cage Dive with the Great Whites or Swim with Sea Lions

Fuel yourself with a truckload of adrenaline and get up close with the apex predator of the ocean – the magnificent Great White Shark in Neptune Island. Port Lincoln is one of the very few places in the world where you can do so safely in full gear, witnessing the most dangerous fish almost the size of a regular car.

Image Source: Adventure Bay Charters

Fun fact: Did you know that the Great White Sharks have almost magical like healing abilities? In one case, a shark was severely hit by a boat propeller and still miraculously heal with no visible long-term damage!

Not a fan of sharks? Fair enough.

How does swimming with the ‘puppies of the sea’ sound to you? These cheeky and spirited little Australian sea lions at Port Lincoln would love to spend an enchanting time with their newfound friends! Enjoy the company and the attention of these gorgeous puppies as they welcome you to their underwater playground.

You should book in advance for either of these unique Eyre Peninsula attractions to avoid disappointment as bookings tend to fill up fast!

If you can’t get enough of the marine life and would love to do more, you could also head to Whyalla to swim with Giant Cuttlefish! Whyalla is about a 2 hours 45 minutes drive from Port Lincoln.

South Australia honestly offers one of the most unique experiences that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world. 

Just Twenty Minutes Away Lies Coffin Bay

If the world is your oyster, Coffin Bay would be the pearl inside.

Home to the world-famous Coffin Bay Oysters

Coffin Bay produces World Class Pacific Oysters thanks to its remote, unspoilt and untouched waters. The oysters are grown as how nature intended them to be, they just graze off the nutrients washed into Coffin Bay.

Needless to say, no trip to Coffin Bay would be completed without trying the world’s freshest and tastiest oysters. Yep, you guessed it right – The oysters are freshly shucked after being harvested from the ocean right in front of your eyes! You won’t be able to find them fresher anywhere else. Even if you’re not an oyster love yourself or haven’t tried oysters before, you will be pleasantly surprised by their freshness and taste! 

Hop on a boat and take a tour around the oyster farms, hosted by the oyster farmer Chris himself. You will learn about the oyster industry, learn how to shuck oysters and enjoy the clean air and waters as you cruise around the Coffin Bay township waterway.

If you’re game enough, chuck on a pair of waders, wade out into the waters to harvest and shuck your very own oysters!

Fancy an exotic seafood platter? Try it here at 1802 Oyster Bar with an amazing view over the bay.

Coffin Bay National Park

Get ready for another day filled with pristine beaches, unbelievable cliffs and wildlife at this unspoilt paradise. 

Just like Lincoln National Park, it is highly recommended to take a 4WD to get from point to point in a faster and less bumpy fashion.

Here’s Coffin Bay National Park in pictures:

Fun fact: Lieutenant Matthew Flinders and his crew discovered Coffin Bay in 1802. He named the bay after Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin who was the Resident Commissioner of Sheerness Naval Dockyards in England and was responsible for the outfitting of Flinders’ ship, for his imminent voyage to Terra Australis. That’s how Coffin Bay got its name! 

Getting to Port Lincoln & Coffin Bay

The most convenient way would be taking a domestic flight from Adelaide. REX and Qantas run flights to Port Lincoln daily. This might not be the most economical way if you’re on a budget.

Take the stress out of getting there! Xplore Eyre does offer packages that include flights, accommodation, all meals and tours from Adelaide. 

But if you insist on getting there yourself, you could do a road trip before you tour Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay. Bear in mind that although it is possible, the drive from Adelaide to Port Lincoln takes about 7 hours (without stopping) and not everyone is used to driving such long distances.

We personally took the drive from Adelaide and had a few pit stops at a number of destinations, including the Lake Bumbunga in Lochiel (the most accessible pink lake from Adelaide) and Port Augusta. At Port Augusta, we also visited the Arids Botanical Garden which gave us a sneak peek into the scenic views of the Australian outback. 

Bonus: If you are already planning to go on a road trip from Perth to Adelaide, Port Lincoln should be one of your stop points! You don’t want to be missing out on the crystal clear waters (and everything else we have mentioned)!

Why you need to go with a guide

The Eyre Peninsula is one of Australia’s best-kept secrets. Naturally, there are not many comprehensive self-drive itineraries and guides on the Internet, unlike other major touristy destinations. With a guide, you’re more likely to get the best out of Port Lincoln & Coffin Bay.

To fully experience the dramatic coastlines that the lower Eyre has to offer, you will also need to enter private property, where park fees and a key are required. You can get the keys from the visitor centre and unlock the gates yourself but why trouble yourself? Let someone help you with it! A guide also has the local knowledge and personal anecdotes that the Internet simply cannot give. 

In both Lincoln National Park and Coffin Bay National Park, there are many 4WD only tracks that will lead you to the best spots. Although not all of the driving tracks require a 4WD, you definitely can’t get to the best spots with your usual 2WD.

The Coffin Bay and Port Lincoln tours by Xplore Eyre encapsulates most of what we’ve covered in our guide. The operator also provides private, luxury, customised tours to tailor to your travel needs and requirements.

Take the road (very much) less travelled and head to Australia’s very own backyard – the Eyre Peninsula now! 

Accommodation options ins Port Lincoln:

Booking.com
Pinterest Eyre Peninsula

Related to Eyre Peninsula:

Free & Easy Kangaroo Island Tour 2-Day Itinerary 2019

14 Things to Do in Adelaide, South Australia – Not That Boring After All!

Last updated on December 29th, 2019.

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