The Eyre Peninsula in South Australia has always been a region of unequivocal beauty. The wide, open spaces, charming seaside towns and villages, and stunning ancient sites brimming with nature and wildlife experiences are also home to some Australian business gems.
The Eyre Peninsula has a rich Indigenous history, and the traditional custodians of the land are the Barngarla people, formerly known as Parnkalla people. It was home to whaling and sealing industries before the first official settlement in Port Lincoln in 1839.
Port Lincoln is renowned as the seafood capital of Australia and the best place in Australia to swim with great white sharks and sea lions. Coffin Bay – which is a half hour drive away on the opposite coast of the peninsula – is famous for its cerulean waters and oyster farms where you can shuck oysters and sip on champagne in your waders.
The region produces 65 per cent of the nation’s seafood, plucked from the clear, cool waters of the Spencer Gulf and Great Australian Bight, and it is an extraordinarily beautiful place to chill out with the locals and tuck into some of the best produce Australia has to offer.
There are so many wonderful experiences – both new and well established – to dive into in this region. Here, we’ve pulled together some unique offerings so that you can do some road tripping and beach wandering, while also fitting in a gourmand’s dream trail that reflects some of the tastes, smells, sights and sounds of South Australia’s wonderfully wild west.
Reconnect with nature at Yarnbala
The Slater family have always enjoyed the simple things in life: cooking under the stars with family and friends, surrounded by nature. Sharing these pleasures with others was the birth of Yarnbala, a secluded, Heritage-listed piece of bushland in Coffin Bay, where they offer immersive foodie experiences and ecotours. These include both day and nighttime events where you can take educational tours, enjoy native bush foods, musical performances or a nine-course degustation in a stunning natural setting.
‘Wild Yarnbala’ is a 1.5 hour guided tour, where guests learn about local bushfoods, the ancient art of water divining and enjoy a didgeridoo performance with South Australian beer, wine and local gin. ‘Flavours of Yarnbala’ is a stunning collaboration of nature’s providence and other locally sourced ingredients in a nine-course degustation cooked over the coals by a world-class chef. ‘Sounds of Yarnbala’ celebrates live acoustic music where local musicians perform to an exclusive group of people with wine around the campfire.
In the local Nauo langauge, Yarnbala means ‘together in company’. As Yarnbala is 100 per cent off-grid, it offers a rare opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with the tranquility and fruits of our natural world.
Sail away with Sunset Charters
The Eyre Peninsula is famous for its abundant seafood and marine life, and one of the best ways to experience it is out on the water.
Sunset Charters offers a 3.5 hour seafood cruise, where you can taste and explore all that Coffin Bay has to offer. Included is an all-local seasonal seafood tasting platter prepared fresh on-board, as you can sit back and enjoy the postcard-perfect views of Coffin Bay (and see where your lunch lives before it gets to your plate).
Sunset Charters also offers a five-hour dolphin swim experience on their luxury sailing catamaran, where you can get up close and personal with these beautiful, playful creatures. The scenic cruise will take you right into the heart of Coffin Bay, where you can appreciate the stunning, sheltered waterways and pristine beaches of the area.
Sunset Charters provides all the dive gear you’ll need (including 5mm wetsuits to keep you warm in the water), as you climb into the swim nets at the front and back of the boat to see the resident pod of Burrunan Dolphins swim and frolic right up to you. They definitely know how to make a splash! If you’re not keen to get in the water, you can also book the tour as a passenger and view all the action from the deck. A light breakfast and lunch are provided, as well as hot showers and drinks for afterwards.
Wines with a view at Gardner’s Vineyard
In the scenic, undulating hills north of Port Lincoln lies Gardner’s Vineyard and cellar door. Rob and Chris Gardner first started producing wine on the property in 1996 and have since planted over 40 acres of vines. Gardner’s Vineyard is surrounded by a vibrant array of native flora and wildlife, and with views down to the Spencer Gulf, it is nothing short of spectacular.
The cellar door – which has the same laidback, warm and welcoming vibe of the property – is open every day, offering a diverse array of wines to taste. From the 45,000 vines, the Gardner’s grow shiraz, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, riesling and chardonnay and have developed other wine varieties from blends of these grapes.
For those caravanning, Gardner’s also offers free overnight stays with the purchase of a wine tasting paddle or cheese grazing platter.
Peter Teakle Wines
Further south towards Port Lincoln you will find Peter Teakle Wines, which is home to a state-of-the-art cellar door and award-winning restaurant – Line & Label. Overlooking Boston Bay and Port Lincoln, Peter Teakle Wines boasts unparalleled views and promises a memorable experience from the moment you step foot on to the picturesque site.
Owner Peter Teakle – whose family has been involved in the wine industry for generations – firmly believed that the Eyre Peninsula, and its unique maritime climate, would result in outstanding wines, and his vision also included a fine dining restaurant on site to showcase Port Lincoln’s enviable array of local seafood and fresh produce.
To bring his vision to fruition, Peter enlisted his son Ben Teakle, chief winemaker Liz Heidenreich and executive chef Mark Jensen, to lead a talented and dedicated team. Utilising a multi-million dollar, 100-tonne wine crush facility, the fruit is kept in pristine condition before being made into wine, resulting in award-winning flavours.
The property’s iconic cellar door was rapidly embraced as a Port Lincoln landmark thanks to its spectacular curved aesthetic, reminiscent of a trio of wine barrels. The unique building was recognised in 2021 with the Best Building Excellence Award in the two to five million dollar category at the Master Builders SA Awards.
Under the masterful eye of executive chef Mark Jensen, Line & Label’s menu combines outstanding local produce with fresh Asian flavours, and it has earned the eatery both the Australian Good Food Guides’ Chef Hat and Readers’ Choice Award.
Finding new horizons after jumping ship
Jump Ship Brewing was established in January 2023 when owners Michelle and Steven Hankins turned an old and deserted tile shop in Port Lincoln into a brewery and restaurant.
Jumping ship is the reason they are here today, as Steven’s great grandfather was a sailor, who in 1924 endured violent storms aboard his ship from Norway that had docked in Port Lincoln. He jumped ship at night and ventured inland, escaping the ship and creating a new life in Australia. Fast-forward to today, and the owners are grateful for his courage to choose a new path which inspired them to also venture into the unknown.
The brewery is a celebration of community in a relaxed and inclusive social space predominantly filled with products made in Port Lincoln and South Australia. Tapas and tacos are dished up to perfectly pair with the range of beers on tap.
Jump Ship Brewing has a core range of pale ales, lager and mid-strength options, and the beer names and branding pay homage to the local area. If you aren’t a beer drinker, there’s a range of non-alcoholic beverages, also made in South Australia.
The brewery is open Wednesday to Sunday 12pm-10pm, with an 8pm closure on Sunday.
French connection at Boston Bay Wines
A ten minute-drive north of Port Lincoln along the highway you’ll find Boston Bay Wines, which was originally called Port Champagny by French explorer Captain Nicholas Baudin and his cartographer, as they were so impressed by the area that they thought it would be ideal wine growing country.
A hundred and eighty years later the Ford family arrived in the region and settled in Boston Bay, and when Graham Ford was told that it could be fine grape country, he and his wife Mary and their family planted a vineyard of premium riesling, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz.
Today, the next generation – Tony and Sonia Ford – are the proud owners of Boston Bay Wines, and they are committed to the celebration of Eyre Peninsula’s finest seafood, offering their guests flavour-filled, unpretentious food in a relaxed restaurant with seating outside on the lawns overlooking the ocean.
The wines are the stars of the show – their 2019 Boston Bay Riesling recently won the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Trophy for the Wine of the Year at the Winestate Magazine Awards – however it is also the only vineyard in the world to offer sightings of whales at play in the waters below the stunning rows of vines surrounded by emerald-green pastures.
Tony and Sonia’s latest venture is an interactive seafood cooking experience partnered with wine tastings and good dollops of Tony’s humour (which is almost as well-known as the wines) and a food and wine members’ club.
The Ford Family would like to thank all their amazing supporters over the last 39 years.
Boston Bay Wines is open 7 days a week from 12.00 to 4.00pm, and it also has an in-house catering service and can be hired for corporate events and weddings.
Must-do nature activities
Many come to the Lower Eyre Peninsula for its epic beaches, stunning national parks and rugged coastline. Here are some of the best outdoor experiences:
Gawler Ranges National Park
The park is famous for the magnificent Organ Pipes, spectacular granite cliffs formed over 1500 million years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions.
Coffin Bay National Park
Known for its remote coastal scenery, stunning pure-white shores and crystalline waters, Coffin Bay is an unmissable destination.
Lincoln National Park
Lincoln National Park overlooks Boston Bay, the largest natural harbour in Australia, with granite headlands, sheltered bays and scenic offshore islands. A variety of campgrounds offer easy access to the beaches, bays and walking trails.
In Elliston, see the awe-inspiring granite caves of Talia Beach. The Woolshed is a large cavern carved into the cliff by waves. A walkway and wooden steps provide access onto the rocks to view the cave with its honeycombed ceiling, dark crevices and nearby blowholes.
Take a stroll through the amazing 100,000-year-old rock formation known as Murphy’s Haystacks. These ancient inselbergs (a German word for island mountain) are a must for photographers.
For more amazing South Australian adventures, check out the Limestone Coast.