South Australia's Yorke Peninsula is a popular holiday destination and rightly so. Its pristine waters are perfect for aquatic activities, the towns have a relaxed pace of life, while the seafood and local produce are mouth watering. There are many attractions in larger towns like Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo, and heritage tourism brings many visitors every year to the Copper Triangle.
But if you're keen to escape the city, don't miss the things to see and do in smaller towns. The road less travelled is often more rewarding, opening your eyes to natural attractions, quirky sights, unusual things to do and special spots.
Heritage Listed Wool Bay Lime Kiln 1923 (Image: State Library SA PRG-280-1-37-16)
You could easily miss Wool Bay if you blink as you head down the St Vincent Highway on Yorke Peninsula, but it's worth your time to call into this little unspoilt town. Fishing is good here and scuba diving is popular too. What I find quite special is the immense state heritage listed lime kiln that perches on the side of the cliff.
Six Wool Bay lime kilns were built from around 1900, burning lime to create quicklime for use in mortar. They operated for around fifty years before most were demolished. Today only one remains, a spectacular reminder of the industry of our past.
Coobowie Coobowie disguises itself well as a sleepy hamlet, but it has had its share of the limelight with exciting things to do over the years. First called Salt Creek and later Deception Bay, Coobowie was proclaimed in 1875 - and the Coobowie Hotel appeared not long after. This god fearing town was gobsmacked when the school's head teacher suddenly died in the pub in 1900, and the suspense was even greater when a motorist half drove over a cliff.
Most of Coobowie's excitement came from sport though, and from around 1900 the Coobowie races were the main attraction for miles around. They were held on Easter Monday (or whenever there was an excuse) until around 1950, when the Coobowie rodeo rocketed into town. I'm not sure the town has recovered yet from the excitement, but fortunately the State Library has the highlights from the 1952 Coobowie rodeo on film.
Mount Rat Heritage Signage (Image: TheJosh-Wikipedia)
The Ghost Town of Mount Rat The intriguingly named Mount Rat is a Yorke Peninsula ghost town, although there's not much of it left to find. Southern Flinders Ranges ghost towns like Hammond and Terowie have managed to stay largely intact, but all that remains of Mount Rat is St Raphael's Anglican church and an interpretive sign.
Mount Rat was founded in the 1850's and named after the abundance of kangaroo rats in the area. In 1881 the Mount Rat Hotel began to serve the thirsty locals, but a mere four years later it had closed for a lack of business. A 1939 photo shows the ruins of the Mount Rat Hotel which was completely demolished in 1954. More about Mount Rat here.
The Pines The good people at The Pines like to keep a low profile, and you will be lucky to find it mentioned on Google. This special spot on Yorke Peninsula's north tip can be found between Corny Point and Point Souttar, and is immediately recognisable by the large fleet of tractors at The Pines boat ramp. It's almost a fashion statement.
The Pines is popular with fishers and seabirds, so presumably there is plenty of aquatic life. You can Walk the Yorke Peninsula from here by following the Hudson Walk along the coast. It will take you through the sheoak woodland of neighbouring Leven Beach Conservation Park, and you may catch a glimpse of the endangered Yellowish Sedge-skipper Butterfly.
The Top Shop Warooka: A Community Store for Local Produce
Warooka is a delightful little town and its name is believed to mean 'muddy waterhole'. Much of the land around here was swamps back in the 19th century, and it was decided to drain these to allow more farming. In 1900 twenty men laboured for 50 weeks digging a 13km channel called The Drain, which took away surplus water from the swamps to the coast near Point Turton.
The Drain Port Turton - Still Emptying Swamps Near Warooks
Interestingly, the place where The Drain met the sea - once called Chinaman's Camp, became a popular spot for parties and camping in the early 20th century. The campsite was simply called The Drain back then, but now it is called the Len Barker Reserve.
The Orrie Cowie station benefited greatly from The Drain and still farms Merino sheep today. If you'd like to get your hands dirty in Warooka, the Orroe Cowie farm experience is great fun for kids. Alternatively wander a while in the Warooka Museum at the old police station, or go shopping for local produce at the community Top Shop.
Fur Seal Watching
Keep your eyes peeled as you travel the North Coast Road east of Point Souttar, as fur seals frequently flock to a playground here. Watch them frolic in the sea or playfully fight for the best place on a rock at this special spot. You'll also see plenty of sea birds including coastal waders, and Burners Beach campground is conveniently close to stay at.
Fishing at Point Turton Jetty: A Special Spot on Yorke Peninsula
In the early 20th century Point Turton was best known for its limestone flux quarries operated by BHP, but these closed around a hundred years ago. The jetty has since been put to good use by recreational fishers, and Point Turton is now a popular holiday destination for people in Adelaide. Many stay in the Point Turton caravan park which nestles in the shelter of the old flux quarries.
Barge Loading Limestone Flux at Point Turton for Port Pirie Smelters 1910 (Image: State Library SA PRG-280-1-43-541)
The Point Turton Store and Bakery produce fantastic fresh bread that's sold hot from the oven, which is handy for soaking up anything you consumed at the Tavern on Turton. The small size of the community at this special spot on Yorke Peninsula means that everyone is friendly, and country waves abound as you walk or drive around.
Hello Dave, when I read about the Chinaman's camp it reminded of my grandfather (who spent many years in Moonta and Minlaton a long time ago),who told me that a Chinese Hawker would travel the Yorke selling his wares etc and that he was a nice person.Perhaps he and other Chinese were workers on the southern tip of YP.I also read that the water sourced near here called PH8 and bottled there...said to be equal to the best spring water in the world and available at Foodland...was originally discovered by the Chinese living in the area...and this water is now exported to China and possibly elsewhere.I can assure you it is excellent tasting water..the best I have tried.