A sealed road leading in from the main Whyalla to Port Augusta highway takes you to Point Lowly - a rocky outcrop of land facing the Spencer Gulf.
At the tip of this very rocky outcrop of land is a lighthouse. The white Point Lowly lighthouse was built in 1876 and is Whyalla's oldest building. The lighthouse and it's adjacent lighthouse keepers cottages are now heritage listed. The keepers cottages are available for rent and there are caravan and camping facilities available nearby with clean toilets and showers with fees starting from just $8 per night.
The area is famous for being one of the world's largest cuttlefish mating and breeding grounds in the world. Every May to August, tens of thousands of the giant cuttlefish arrive in the 10km area between Fitzgerald Bay and False Bay. The Giant Australian Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) migration puts Whyalla and South Australia on the global map as a spectacular and unique nature based tourism experience.
Cuttlefish are the favourite food of the bottlenose dolphin. During the migration, dolphins can be seen in large numbers too. Whyalla's dolphins are well know for being extra friendly and curious. They are quite accustomed to visitors and often pop up to say hello.
In the early shipping days, navigation of the Spencer Gulf was a difficult task due to wind dominated waves and a rare tidal event, a dodge tide, which occurs in only 3 coastal areas in the world - the 2 Gulfs in South Australia, the Torres Strait in Queensland and the Gulf of California.
And, once again, Adelaide is unique with our use of the word 'dodge' instead of it's usual name 'neap tide'.
A dodge tide happens once a fortnight and for a day or two each time, there is no tidal movement at all.
The Point Lowly Lighthouse is made of local sandstone and was originally built to a height of 15 metres. An extension in 1909 increased it's height by 8 metres after a ship ran aground at Douglas Point, as well as a number of other incidents the gulf. A kerosene vaporising light was installed at the same time as the lighthouse height increase.
Manned by lighthouse keepers for 90 years, the beacon was a guiding light for the ships heading up the gulf to Port Augusta and Port Pirie. The lighthouse became automated and then was delisted altogether after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority thought it not important enough and too expensive to maintain. In February 1993 the lighthouse light was turned off.
Thankfully, the Whyalla Council thought differently and with the support of the Government of South Australia, purchased the lighthouse. The light was re-activated and the lighthouse was back in operation in March 1995. The light now shines brightly every night.
Point Lowly is a beautiful spot. There's a lot to do if you like fishing, snorkelling and relaxing. Fishers can expect to snag Salmon, Garfish, Tommy Ruffs, small to medium sized Snapper and Yellowtail Kingfish. There's also the occasional sighting of a Great White Shark in the area. If the kids love to look under rocks for crabs and other sea life there's plenty of rocks to do that.
What we didn't expect to see on the 20 minute drive in from the main road was a massive fracking processing plant at Port Bonython as well as the Australian Defence Force's 2100 square kilometre army weapon training area. Both are just a few minutes drive from Point Lowly.
So, if you don't mind a bit of industry and year-round armoured, mechanised and cavalry forces training mixed in with your nature getaway, then Point Lowly is a great little holiday destination.
Spencer Gulf was originally named Golfe Bonaparte by Nicolas Baudin. The gulf's name was changed by Matthew Flinders in 1802 who named it Spencer's Gulph after George John Spencer, the 2nd Earl of Spencer and one of Princess Diana's ancestors.