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Published: August 21st 2014
Streaky Bay to Hancocks Lookout (Birdseye Highway/Eyre Penn.)
Leaving Streaky Bay via the Flinders Hwy our first scheduled stop is Elliston where in 2011 we attended the Elliston Hotel Melbourne Cup Day and Trish won the Cup Sweep, I wonder if they will welcome us back! You can take a scenic route out of Streaky that joins the Flinders Hwy via Point Labbatt, where you can see the only permanent colony of Australian Sea Lions. On this loop you can also visit Murphy’s Haystacks, a unique outcrop of ancient wind-worn pink granite inselbergs, (do you remember what an inselberg is? Check our Blog, MikeandTrishV.Pildappa Rock). If you take this loop to leave Streaky heading South East towards Elliston, you will join the Hwy about 40klms out.
The next place to visit along this route is Venus Bay. Named after the schooner Venus
that traded around the Eyre Peninsular in the 1850’s, today the town is a favourite holiday and fishing destination which could looks like it could get pretty busy in summer. The water here is incredible, sapphire blue, (similar to around Esperance, WA) and the jetty has an amazing bend in it which makes it quite
Anyway, on to Elliston passing the turnoff to Walkers Rocks (a great free campsite on the beach), a small well serviced community with a great beach. Yes, it has a jetty also, a supermarket, great bakery/café. Pub, a couple of caravan parks etc. Elliston is a popular holiday destination, offering the beach, amazing fishing, walking tracks and a number of local attractions including Talia caves. It was good to revisit Elliston that held a lot of great memories for us and we enjoyed our ‘morning tea’ (read coffee) here where we met some people from near Kyneton that were also travelling home after a trip to the West, small country!
If you continue on down the Flinders Hwy you will pass many great spots including Coffin Bay, (hmm Oysters), and eventually you will arrive at Port Lincoln, but, we have never gone across the middle of the Eyre Peninsular so turned off at Elliston for Lock and Cleve. The next 50klm or so as we drove through Bramfield Station, along the Birdseye Hwy, the country was very interesting. If there had been a bit of snow on the ground (never likely here!) we could have been anywhere
Looking west over the city from Hummock Hill Lookout.
around Nimmitabel or Jindabyne near Cooma in NSW. Native grass country, exposed granite plates over a lot of the country and sheep. As we got closer to Lock, the country started to change and cropping was obviously the focus…from horizon to horizon! And the crops looked like they were enjoying an amazing year, let’s hope they fill out and harvest the potential they are showing. Lock is a small hub that services the rural community of the central Eyre Peninsular and is an important cog in the grain handling and transport system for the Eyre Peninsular.
Next stop for us along the Birdseye Hwy is Cleve, quite a large and important town servicing all the needs of the extensive rural community of the Central Eyre Peninsular. With a good range of shops and services, we found Cleve to be a busy and prosperous community that offered a lot for travellers also. The rich farming heritage of Cleve and surrounds is depicted in impressive wall murals around town and in outdoor displays. There are also 27 heritage signs around the town that you can follow making up a heritage trail that tells the stories of buildings and businesses over 100
Foreshore and beach.
years old. There is a reasonable camping ground available at the Cleve Showgrounds which is within walking distance of everything in town, pretty handy.
After Cleve we headed directly for Cowell to join the Lincoln Hwy that would take us on up to Whyalla and then to Port Augusta. We saw a sign for a scenic route across to the coast but as we needed to ‘keep going’ to get to our night’s intended campsite we did not take it…but next time! The Cleve Hills Scenic route drives through the hills passing the Mount Millar Wind Farm and looks an interesting alternative, so I would consider it if not in a ‘hurry’. Cowell is memorable for the beautiful old buildings, the great pub on the corner at the Spencer Gulf end of the street, and the foreshore with its Mangrove walkway and of course, another jetty. Cowell is actually situated on Franklin Harbour, a 48 square klm Bay off Spencer Gulf. Known for its fishing, Cowell is a popular destination when the fish ‘are on’, whiting, snapper, and flathead are readily caught here. Because of the shallow waters in areas of the harbour, oyster farming has become a burgeoning
The steel works ...this is what Whyalla is about, iron ore.
new industry to the area increasing the popularity and importance of the area.
Our next stop is Whyalla (see previous Blog MikeandTrishV.Whyalla), a scheduled stop for us for fuel before pushing on through Port Augusta for the turnoff to Horrocks Pass. Whyalla is an interesting iron ore town and had not changed a lot since our last visit. Hummock Hill Lookout in Whyalla is a must, once a gun battery it now provides an incredible view over Whyalla, the Steelworks, the foreshore and marina, across the Spencer Gulf to the Southern Flinders Ranges as well as to the west over the city to the iron ore rich Middleback Ranges. If you have not been here before there is a lot to do and see in Whyalla so call in at the visitor information centre and take a tour of HMAS Whyalla which is in the Maritime Museum whilst there.
Our route from Whyalla takes us directly north to join the Eyre Hwy and then straight through to Port Augusta; this now completes a ‘loop’ for us on the Eyre Peninsular for this trip. Heading out of Port Augusta towards Adelaide on the Augusta Hwy we turn
great campsite over looking the Spencer Gulf.
off to the north about 27klm down the road to climb into the Southern Flinders Ranges and over Horrocks Pass. As we descend from the top of the range towards Wilmington we are looking for a road that will go off to our right and sign posted “Hancocks Lookout.” A 7klm dirt road takes you back up to the top of the range where there is an amazing free camp site with million dollar views, but, there are no facilities so you have to be self-sufficient. We quickly set up, get the table and chairs out, some pre dinner nibbles and a bottle of red and then sit back to watch the sun set over an amazing vista that is the Spencer Gulf. As it gets darker, the lights of Port Augusta appear below us and to our right, directly below us the lights of Port Germein and Whyalla behind it over the gulf….spectacular, as I said million dollar views and free! Tomorrow it is on to Melrose, for coffee again, and then on to Spalding to stay with friends, Bruce and Mim.
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