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Published February 5th 2015
For those who enjoy the finer things in life
I've always loved visiting little towns as each one has its own character and history. In summer beachside towns are popular for their local attractions and we're envied by visitors for our majestic beaches.
Wanting to escape for a few days I decided to visit the town known best for its famous Tunarama Festival and home of Tony Santic owner of Makybe Diva. You guessed it - Port Lincoln located on the Eyre Peninsula. The famous mare was named after Santic combined the first two letters from the names of five women who worked in one of his Port Lincoln offices. Who says that a woman's touch isn't worth its weight in gold?
It's not easy to forget a town that's etched in my memory. As an entertainer I frequently performed at the local hotels. I even moved to spend one summer there, and little did I know it would take me some 30 years to return.
Port Lincoln has come a long way since I last visited. Most notably, the new $13.2 million new airport terminal. As I disembarked from the plane I couldn't help but get emotional when seeing the old terminal exactly how I remembered it years ago.
Making my way along the highway from the airport to the hotel, the one thing I couldn't wait to see was magnificent Boston Bay - even after many decades the view had remained untouched. The silos still intact, and the landmark long green steel conveyor belt used to load wheat onto ships still was still nestled in the bay. I affectionately had nicknamed it many years ago 'the long green jetty'. To the right many glorious properties with splendid views just as I remembered, many owned by local fishermen.
The one place I wanted to stay at was the Port Lincoln Hotel. Why? Because since opening five years ago I've heard nothing but glowing reports.
Located on the Port Lincoln foreshore, this hotel offers ocean view luxury balcony suites and rooms overlooking Boston Bay. For those on a budget there's the option of town view rooms which are just as appealing.
The hotel's location with its million dollar view is just the start. The interior is as equally stunning, and I was impressed to say the least. It's rare to find a hotel of this calibre in a country town, let alone one with with such quality, style and elegance.
A sweeping staircase in the foyer area compliments many added touches to keep reminding you where you are. This is a fishing town, and attention to detail is placed everywhere you turn. Striking centrepieces from fish to waves are placed throughout the foyer area, and as you enter the lift you can't help but notice the chesterfield lounge complimented with a fish feature on the coffee table.
It took no time to make my way up to the ocean view luxury balcony suite on the top floor thanks to the fast lift. I noticed a theme that ran through the hotel. Firstly, Port Lincoln's history was showcased proudly, and secondly colours charcoal and brown were chosen as the prominent colour scheme for furniture and fittings. I particularly liked the added touch of fresh exotic flower Bird of Paradise placed in the wide hallway and in the room.
The ocean view suite is quite breathtaking to say the least, both in the view and design. The lounge and bedroom are separated with the added privacy of a sliding door, and a huge balcony with large windows to take in the stunning view is just the beginning.
I love the blending of colour choice for the room - brown and charcoal with sprinkles of gold. Luxuries include a king size bed, spa in the bathroom, plasma TV in the lounge and bedroom, mini bar, bathroom toiletries, room service and free WiFi. It takes a country hotel to take the lead when it comes to keeping up with the times. While many overseas hotels offer free WiFi, some Australian hotels still seem to lag behind by continuing to charge guests.
As mentioned earlier, there's always something to remind you you're in the iconic fishing town. This town has a proud history clearly depicted through photos of Kirton Point Jetty in 1905, and a 1936 aerial view of Port Lincoln hanging on the wall.
Lounge area with wall photos capturing the history of Port Lincoln and mini bar
The large balcony stretches from the lounge to the bedroom and I spent many hours reading, relaxing, tasting the local Port Lincoln wine while fixated on the 180 degree water view and the elm tree below. I remember this tree from 30 years ago - if only it could talk imagine the stories it would be able to share.
There's lots of room on the large balcony to relax
Listening to the crashing waves I was in no hurry to get out of bed each day. No alarm clock needed as I would wake up to the calling sound of the black cockatoos. A ritual I looked forward to each morning was pushing back the curtains and opening the balcony door. One deep breath, and I felt revitalised as the sea breeze swept through my hair, face and body.
The ocean looked different each day, sometimes calm, sometimes rough. I could hear the screams of hungry seagulls approaching the foreshore looking for food. This blended in with the shrieks from children playing under the Norfolk pines lining the esplanade area and fishing off the jetty. It took me back to a time when as a child, I remembered how much I used to enjoy the beach during summer.
Just when I thought the view couldn't get any prettier, I spotted around 70 sailing boats claiming Boston Bay. It was the 53rd International Cadet Australian Championships hosted by the Port Lincoln Yacht Club, with competitors from South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales.
Heading back to the hotel for breakfast after my morning walk, I was surprised the buffet was only around $25. If you prefer a la carte, there's a selection of muesli and berries, omelettes, pancakes, fritters, burgers and French toast - all reasonably priced. There's even the option of a continental breakfast if you prefer something lighter. I must add I had dinner the previous evening in the lounge/alfresco area of the hotel, and there's no inflated prices here considering the oysters kilpatrick I ordered were fresh from Coffin Bay.
There's so much to do in Port Lincoln from shark cage diving, fishing charters, diving, swiming with tuna and sea lions, to visiting wineries, museums and national parks. There's around 20 footprint free swimming, surfing and fishing beaches all within close proximity. With six pubs in the town and with an abundance of fresh seafood on offer, you're spoilt for choice as there's always something happening every night.
I wanted to visit Coffin Bay the small fishing town famous for oysters and around 45 minutes out of the town. Decades ago I used to head there, hire a dinghy, fish for whiting with a hand line and eat it fresh for dinner that night.
Sadly, the dinghy business no longer exists, but there were plenty of eager people anchoring their boats and heading out to fish for the day. Others were enjoying a picnic on the manicured parkland area.
How's this for luck? The local Coffin Bay Markets which operate on the second and fourth Sunday of the month in summer were open. Fresh organic produce, Greek sweets, flowers, jewellery, toys and gifts are showcased by the local community. This is what's so endearing about country towns - the community get a chance to host their own stall at the community hall on the Esplanade.
When you're in a town that's famous for its seafood you can't leave without indulging in some, for not only is it fresh, it's quite affordable. Lucky to be placed at a table with a picturesque view on a beautiful sunny day - with the windows open there's no disputing this is what I'd call the 'perfect setting'.
Restaurant area with windows that open to let in the ocean breeze
I started with the Eyre Peninsula Seafood Tasting Plate. Natural Coffin Bay oysters, tuna rosette, kingfish rosette, marinated squid, marinated Spencer Gulf king prawns, poached abalone and spice ocean jack cheek fillet. Yes folks, this is the 'best of' and caught locally.
The wine is 100% estate grown by the Turvey Family. The fertile soil and the fresh air certainly produces a good drop!
For main I ordered the Port Lincoln Hotel Seafood Platter. Coffin Bay oysters, King George whiting fillet, grilled local Spencer Gulf king prawns, salt 'n' pepper squid, marinated Kinkaooka mussels, grilled half Spencer Gulf bug, crisp fries (you start on one you can't stop) all served with tartare sauce and lemon wedges.
This by far is one of the best and freshest seafood platters I have tasted in South Australia. I was definitely being spoilt, and if I lived locally this would be the place I'd be hanging at!
Banana Pikelets and Peach and white chocolate Macadamia nut tartlets
For dessert I ordered Banana Pikelets topped with caramel custard sauce, vanilla ice cream and almond praline. I was lucky to also try the Peach and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Tartlets served with salted caramel almond toffee, lemon sorbet and vanilla anglaise. Accompanied by d'Arenberg Dessert Wine, my lunch was to say the least - very satisfying. All this without having to leave the hotel.
There's one word to describe the hotel staff - happy. It's one thing to be fortunate to work in an environment such as this, however going above and beyond was one thing that wasn't a problem for any of them. From check in, to room service, to waiting staff, nothing was too much trouble. I find it rare to come across a workplace where everybody is genuinely happy.
I couldn't find my TV remote (it was right next to my bed), called reception, and who came up to my rescue? The duty manager! It's clear this is a team effort, reflected by the service.
After lunch I drove to the Port Lincoln Marina and Leisure Centre, the largest aquatic centre on the Eyre Peninsula and home to a variety of exciting swimming programs and leisure activities. I wanted to see how much the area had grown, since the last time I was there it had just been completed. A lot has changed with many new homes, a new hotel, and luxurious properties and yachts lining the banks of the marina.
I took a stroll around the marina and stumbled across a Fishermen's Memorial dedicated to fishermen in the area lost at sea. Their names have been etched into granite donated by West Coast Granite. Some fishermen don't have gravestones, giving an opportunity for those left behind a place to mourn them.
Back at the hotel that evening I decided to have a drink around the pool courtyard area before dining at the outdoor alfresco area. The thing about this hotel is you never get bored of the options on offer.
This town hasn't lost any of its charm and is still one of my favourite South Australian destinations to visit. As I caught up with local friends I hadn't seen for decades, it occurred to me that I may even see a famous local walk into the hotel.
The town is renowned for producing sporting heroes - Dean Lukin, famous AFL players Byron Pickett, Eddie Betts, Lindsay Thomas, Graham Johncock, brothers Peter and Shaun Burgoyne, netball player Lauren Nourse and cyclist Kieran Modra. Could it be the seafood? The fresh sea breeze? The peace and quiet, the serenity? If this is anything to go by it may just well be.
I hope you visit and fall in love with this town as much as I have.
HOW TO GET THERE: Rex and Qantas offer daily flights from Adelaide that take around 45 minutes. Premier Stateliner offers a daily bus service that takes around 10 hours.
The drive from Adelaide takes around 7.5 hours.
A STAND OUT:
Friendly country hospitality, room service and Moccona coffee in the room - no International Roast at this hotel!
MUST STEP OUT FOR:
A walk along the foreshore to check out the Makybe Diva statue.
MUST STAY IN FOR:
The unforgettable view, the seafood platter, and the well priced lounge menu.
This article, would have to be one of the best if not the best I have seen on this website.It is over 50 years since I went to Pt.Lincoln and now that I have seen these photos and in particular the hotel,I think it is time I revisited.Thanks to the writer for doing such a professional and wonderful job.