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Published January 5th 2017
Linger a while on Yorke Peninsula
Around 2 - 2 hrs 45 minutes drive north-west of Adelaide lies the beautiful Yorke Peninsula, with more than 700 kilometres of coastline which attracts many visitors seeking pristine and safe beaches, fishing, boating, scuba diving as well as many other water based activities. In diverse contrast, there are numerous historic towns such as Wallaroo, Moonta and Kadina, all established with the discovery of copper in the area during the 1840's. There are also several rural towns built on pastoral activity such as Yorketown, Minlaton and Maitland.
On a recent jaunt to Yorke Peninsula, I discovered 8 wonderful coastal spots which seemed to cry out "spend some time with me".
Although Wallaroo is well recognised as a major grain port, it is also a great place to stay, nestled in a bay overlooking Spencer Gulf.
The name Wallaroo comes from an Aboriginal word, "Wadlu Waru", apparently translating as Wallaby urine. (Great name for a town!). The early white settlers reportedly tried to pronounce the aboriginal word and being difficult, it ended up coming out as "Walla Waroo". The only problem with that name adoption was its length, particularly when stamping bales of wool ready for distribution and export. Hence a shortened version of the name was eventually taken up, "Wallaroo".
Probably the most popular beachside area for accommodation is at North Beach, which has developed remarkably over the past 10 - 20 years from a beachside shack quiet location to a thriving environment complete with a large marina and up-market homes, both for rental and permanent living.
Closer to the town lies Office Beach, adjacent to the Wallaroo jetty as well as the regular operating ferry between Wallaroo and Lucky Bay on the Eyre Peninsula. Although less options are available for accommodation it does have the popular Office Beach Caravan Park and Mac's Villas, with options for staying right on the seafront, also boasting an inground pool.
A well-used path travels along the foreshore, which allows you to take in the seaviews as well as the magnificent sunsets on show. If you continue down the path towards the jetty, you will come across Caffe Mia, a great spot for coffee right on the foreshore as well as offering all-day breakfasts. They are normally open from 9 am to 5 pm 7 days a week.
Adjacent to the town of Moonta lies Moonta Bay, a sheltered area looking out into Spencer Gulf. Extremely popular with holiday crowds, the town had substantially grown over the years and its population currently stands at around 2,000 people. Of course with people visiting during varying times of the year swells the population, particularly during the summer.
Due to its high visitation, the area caters well for tourists with a good caravan park, restaurants, cafe and even a function centre designed for weddings.
I discovered how dedicated and determined the local fishermen/women were when I talk a walk out along the jetty and noticed a plastic soft drink bottle which had been utilised by one man for relieving himself, saving him the trip back along the jetty to the foreshore toilets, as well as probably allowing him to save his favourite fishing spot. Hope he was able to distinguish between the contents of this bottle and the refreshments he undoubtedly had with him.
The other spectacle I noticed was the incredible hues and colours of the sea, both with the sun shining and the effects of underwater seaweed, from a crystal clear green to a deep blue.
Not that far from Moonta Bay lies Port Hughes, named after Sir Walter Watson Hughes, who had property in the area, and on one of his many properties, Walla Waroo, copper was discovered in the 1840's. Hughes is also renowned as being the first ever donor to the establishment of the University of Adelaide in the 1870's.
This area has gone ahead in leaps and bounds with land developers sub-dividing tracts of space, including a Greg Norman backed golf course and resort known as "The Dunes", as well as "Patrick's Cove" and "Patrick's View", big sub-divisions for housing. The beaches are known for their safety and there is a decent boat ramp for fishing and recreational enthusiasts. Scuba diving is also a popular pastime in the area.
Despite all of this, the town is relatively low in population, with around 220 people, but much bigger during peak holiday times.
Still on the Spencer Gulf side of the peninsula, around 20 kms from Minlaton and 13 kms from Warooka sits Hardwicke Bay with its expansive sandy beaches, regarded as safe for swimming.
The community started out as a fishing shack area during the 1950's and interestingly wasn't regarded as a township until 1988. The community continued to grow, and the first building was finally erected in the town in 1996, classified as a community hall. This hall has been well utilised and even today, on Friday evenings the community invite anyone to come on down for drinks and nibbles (BYO),where pool and darts can be played, and even featuring a meat tray raffle.
The sand hills around Hardwicke Bay are well respected and admired by the community and visitors alike.
If you savour King George whiting, this is one of the areas within South Australia where you can catch it (hopefully!), being regarded as one of the top table fish in Australia.
If you view Yorke Peninsula as a leg with accompanying foot, then Edithburgh lies at the heel. Some 227 kms from Adelaide, the town was named by a Governor with the name of James Fergusson, after his wife Edith and overlooks Salt Creek Bay.
Edithburgh is well known for its good sandy beaches as well as its steep rocky cliffs. The town originally served as a port for servicing pastoralist pioneers and was once a major salt provider to South Australia. Before the establishment of the salt industry in 1891, many of the lakes were harvested by the local farming community. The Edithburgh salt refinery finally shut up shop in the early 1960's.
If you like to stretch the old legs, there is a great walk called the Mosaic Trail to nearby Sultana Point, which is lined with more than 40 nautical themed mosaic rock art works, forming part of the Walk the Yorke Trail (over 500 kms of continuous walking trails around Yorke Peninsula).
Apart from the fishing, Edithburgh is also popular for scuba divers and our marine state emblem, the leafy sea dragon can be observed in this area, as well as seahorses.
The town also has a unique seawater swimming pool constructed on its shoreline, originally built for men only, back in the nineteenth century, with another pool close by for women.
In its heyday, Edithburgh was the third busiest port in South Australia, so up to the time the pool was built, there was no-where really to swim safely around the area. The area was also notorious for rough seas, and several shipwrecks litter the waters, including "The Clan Ranald", wrecked off Troubridge Hill in 1909, claiming the loss of 40 men. The anchor of this ship lies in the main street of Edithburgh and the story of the tragedy is outlined in the Edithburgh National Trust museum.
Another popular town on the eastern side of Yorke Peninsula washed by the shores of the Gulf of St Vincent is Port Vincent, originally inhabited by the Nharungga Aborigines and established as a town by white settlement in the 1870's.
Port Vincent was at one time the main entry point for people and goods to and from the Yorke Peninsula until a good road was built from Port Wakefield around 1949. Three major fuel companies at one time had storage and distribution depots in the town, supplied by boat or barge from Port Adelaide.
Boasting a population at around 490 permanent residents, like a lot of the Yorke Peninsula coastal towns, the area swells with those seeking recreational pursuits including fishing, crabbing, swimming and boating. The blue swimmer crabs are always up for grabs (pardon the pun) and you can dive for scallops offshore.
There is also a 90 berth marina allowing easy access and launch of your boat into the well-used waters around Port Vincent. The nearby ramp caters for all tides.
One of the jewels in the crown further north on the eastern side of Yorke Peninsula is Black Point, at one time a nineteenth century Quarantine Station, where tragically 50 people died of measles over a period of 5 days.
The original Aboriginal (Nharungga) name for the area was Koolywurtie, meaning "dirty tail", however the early white settlers came up with "Black Point".
Black Point is becoming an ever growing holiday destination, with a beautiful white crescent shaped beach, and activities to be enjoyed include swimming, fishing, crabbing and water-skiing.
One of the larger centres on Yorke Peninsula is located further north again, still on the western side of the Gulf of St Vincent, Ardrossan.
The town was largely initiated by wheat farmers and wheat transporters during the late nineteenth century, who desired infrastructure to ship their produce across the gulf to Port Adelaide. Similar to Edithburgh, Ardrossan was named by Governor Fergusson after the Ardrossan seaport in Scotland, being proclaimed in 1873.
What really stands out in the area are the majestic red cliffs, which are even more dramatic at sunrise. Ardrossan, being a grain producing town, was also home to the factory of R.B. and Clarence Smith, who manufactured the first Stump-Jump plough between 1880 and 1935. This plough was one of South Australia's most important inventions and saved so much back-breaking work in clearing nearby mallee scrublands.
The jetty was constructed in 1878 to originally accommodate steamships and windjammers used to ship grain. Today it is very popular for anglers.
A newer 1 km jetty was constructed and added to the Ardrossan area during the 1950's which today is utilised for ships loading dolomite and salt from the solar salt pans at Price, approximately 10 kms north.
If you like blue swimmer crabs, the season for catching in this area is between September and April.
This has been but a taste of what Yorke Peninsula has to offer. Due to its close proximity to Adelaide, it is both within easy reach and beckons you to further explore some of its interesting towns and localities.
One of your best Graeme.It seems that the Yorke has finally come of age ,so to speak....Wallaroo in particular has made considerable progress over the last 10 years or so and is still developing..the Copper Triangle I believe is now the home of aprox. 15000 permanent residents and growing.I am familiar with all the places you have mentioned, except Hardwicke Bay.I have always wanted to visit Butler's Beach...so this will a wish come true I hope this year.