Home of the Australian Giant Cuttlefish
The seaside city of Whyalla (population 22,500) is the north-eastern gateway to Eyre Peninsula. Blessed with more than 300 days of sunshine every year, Whyalla is home to OneSteel (formerly BHP) and is renowned as a steel and ship building hub. Whyalla has also become a popular tourism spot, thanks to its proud industrial history and natural wonders including the annual spawning of giant, luminescent cuttlefish.
Divers and snorkellers from all over Australia and the world converge on Whyalla between May and August each year, when thousands of giant cuttlefish gather to spawn in and around the rocky shores of Black Point and Point Lowly. These amazing ‘chameleons of the sea’ are one of the largest species of cuttlefish found in the world, and can reach up to 60cm in length and weigh up to 5kg.
The Whyalla Maritime Museum is one of the city’s major attractions, showcasing the BHP shipbuilding industry, maritime heritage, naval history and natural history of the upper Spencer Gulf. It’s home to the former HMAS Whyalla, the first modern warship built in South Australia in 1941, which stands on dry land 2kms from the sea. Thousands of visitors every year enjoy the experience of walking under the ship before boarding it with their tour guide.
In the museum building, a WWII display tells the story of the four corvettes built in Whyalla. The museum also exhibits scale models, photographs, documents, tools and artefacts that reflect the BHP shipbuilding era, plus a display of the natural history and early maritime heritage of the upper Spencer Gulf.
The museum is also home to one of the largest H0 gauge model railways in Australia with landscapes that replicate the real scenery along the railways to and from Whyalla, Iron Knob, Port Augusta, Snowtown and Adelaide. Visitors can also browse the newest exhibition ‘Singing to the Sharks’, which chronicles the indigenous people of Whyalla and their remarkable connection with the sea. The museum is situated in a large Australian native garden with free barbecue facilities.
Originally known as Hummock Hill and renamed Whyalla in 1914, the town developed from 1901 as a departure port for iron ore discovered at nearby Iron Knob (a tramway was used to cart the raw material to the sea). Today, Whyalla has all the facilities you would expect from one of South Australia’s major regional centres, with an array of shopping, 24 hour service stations, various accommodation options, dining venues and sports facilities.
Things To Do
Ada Ryan Gardens
Whyalla’s most popular park, Ada Ryan Gardens has extensive and well-shaded lawns and gardens, a collection of birds and parrots, duck pond, free barbecue, tennis courts, picnic and playground facilities and public toilets. The gardens have paved paths throughout providing easy wheelchair access. Located between Cudmore and Watson Terraces and linked to the Whyalla foreshore.
The marina provides a four-lane launching ramp and all-weather marina, together with a floating service jetty, boat wash-down area and undercover fish cleaning facility. There’s also a safe swimming enclosure within the marina and wheelchair access to the jetty is available via a concrete path from the car park. As well as being the home of the local yacht club, Air Sea Rescue, Whyalla Sportfishing Club and Whyalla Boatowners’ Association, the marina has its own resident dolphins.
Mount Laura Homestead Museum
Housed in a former sheep station homestead, the National Trust Museum and grounds contain a restored and furnished cottage, an engine shed with 60 plus stationary engines and an old steam locomotive, once used to haul iron ore from Iron Knob to Whyalla. A telecommunications display showcases the era of the Overland Telegraph (circa 1872) through to modern-day satellite communications. There’s also a collection of horse-drawn vehicles and agricultural implements in ‘Barber’s Barn’ and a heritage rose garden incorporating the Women’s Memorial Sculpture. Located in Ekbolm Street, the museum is open 10am to 2pm on weekdays and 2pm to 4pm on Sundays and by appointment - phone (08) 8645 4213.
Middleback Arts Theatre
Enjoy theatre productions, concerts and entertainment, the latest movies and art and craft exhibitions. On permanent view in the theatre foyer are five leadlight windows depicting aspects of Whyalla and a mural tracing the pioneer history of the Middleback Ranges. Ask the Whyalla Visitor Centre for the latest ‘what’s on’ information.
Flinders & Freycinet Lookout
These abstract life-size statues commemorate the bicentenary of the charting of Spencer Gulf coastlines by English and French explorers, Matthew Flinders and Louis de Freycinet, in 1802. Located at the intersection of Farrell and Elliott Streets, they have magnificent views of upper Spencer Gulf, the Southern Flinders Ranges and Middleback Ranges.
At the northern entrance to Whyalla, this park has views over the OneSteel Whyalla Steelworks and, in the distance, Port Bonython and Point Lowly. There are free sheltered barbecues, picnic facilities, a playground and 24hour toilets, and plenty of parking for cars, caravans and coaches.
Located in the centre of Whyalla, this park features a central garden, large lawned area, a fenced dog park, playground, award-winning skateboard park, skate bowl and BMX jump track. There’s also a free barbecue, half and full basketball court facility, a sound shell entertainment centre and ornamental lake. Located in Nicolson Avenue, opposite the Westland Shopping Centre.
Whyalla Conservation Park
Rising suddenly from the surrounding plains, Wild Dog Hill is the most outstanding topographical feature of the Whyalla Conservation Park. A walking trail (30minutes one-way) with interpretive markers leads to the top of the Hill, giving a clear view of the park and surrounding landscape. It’s a popular picnic location, and is particularly stunning at dusk and sunrise. Dedicated in 1971, the 2,020ha park preserves examples of flora and fauna native to this semi-arid area. Major tracks are suitable to 2WD vehicles, except after heavy rain, but are not suitable for caravans. Entry to the Park is free - it’s open daily from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. For more information visit www.parks.sa.gov.au
Murrippi Beach - Nude Bathing
Established in 1985 following a request from the local nudist club, this nude beach is popular with sun-lovers, swimmers and those looking for relaxation. Beach-goers are asked to show respect to other beach users, and to take great care on unpatrolled beaches as the sea can be dangerous at times. Located 12kms along Mullaquana Road from Lincoln Highway.
The Loaded Dog
A sculpture based on Henry Lawson’s dog Tommy, created by famous Glasgow sculptor Andy Scott. Located in the garden of the Whyalla Veterinary Clinic, 97 McDouall Stuart Avenue.
Whyalla Art Group Gallery
The Darling Terrace Gallery features works by local and regional artists working in various mediums, including oil paintings, watercolour, acrylic, pen and wash. Subject matters includes local land and seascapes, picturesque scenery, the Flinders Ranges, painted gum leaves and packs of greeting cards that are ideal souvenirs for travellers. Entry is free. Disabled access is available. Motorhome and caravan parking area adjacent.
A modern ten-pin bowling alley with automatic electronic scoring, pop-up bumpers, video game entertainment plus café and bar facilities. Check out the bowling-themed wall mural as you arrive in the carpark. Open seven days, it’s located at 103 Essington Lewis Avenue.
Whyalla Golf & Bowling Club
Whether it’s a relaxed round of golf with friends or a company day, the Whyalla Golf Club offers a relaxed atmosphere and challenging lay-out of 18 holes with fully grassed fairways and excellent putting surfaces on the greens. Appealing to both the amateur and professional golfer, the lush grassed fairways and greens utilise an innovative water recycling system. Visitors are welcome, with golf clubs, carts and electric buggies available for hire from the Golf Shop. The facility also has two bowling greens that are regarded as some of the best in the region.
Steel City Drag Club
Whyalla has the only drag strip in regional South Australia, and meetings are held throughout the summer months. With competitors battling it out for prize money in their mean machines, it’s heart stopping adrenalin pumping fun for the whole family. Visit www.steelcitydrags.com for details.
Scenic Drives & Walking Trails
Fitzgerald Bay, Port Bonython & Point Lowly
Just 20minutes north-west of Whyalla, this coastal drive between Port Bonython and Point Lowly takes in Fitzgerald Bay, home to stunning gulf views framed by the picturesque hills of the Southern Flinders Ranges. Dolphins and birdlife can often be seen, and the rocky shoreline is popular for fishing, sightseeing and walking. Fitzgerald Bay was once home to a Yellowtail Kingfish aquaculture enterprise - look out for the farm cages from the lookout. At Point Lowly there are toilets, cold showers and barbecue facilities.
A heritage and nature trail suitable for hiking, cycling and driving that follows the coast for 12km between the Point Lowly Lighthouse and Fitzgerald Bay camping area. Interpretive signage along the trail gives visitors an insight into the Aboriginal history, early European exploration, flora, fauna and marine life of the area. Trail information available from Whyalla Visitor Centre.
Whyalla Heritage Trailways
These three heritage walking trails were developed to commemorate the centenary of Whyalla in 2001. City Walk takes in many historic sites and Hummock Hill and the Education and Cultural Walk showcases Whyalla’s main education and cultural precinct. The Wetlands Walk utilises an ingenious water-harvesting scheme and this major development is located on the site of the City’s first aerodrome. The walk includes pedestrian paths around the lakes, a viewing and parking area with a barbecue, shelter, picnic benches, lawn and virtually waterless hybrid toilets (with baby change facilities and disabled access). Sightings of birdlife such as the reed warbler, native hen, herons and cormorants are common. Located on the corner of Playford Avenue and Broadbent Terrace.
For more information contact the Whyalla Visitor Centre.
Festivals & Events
Australian Snapper Championship & Festival
(Easter Long Weekend)
With great prizes the Australian Snapper Fishing Championship attracts anglers from all over Australia and overseas in search of the elusive ‘Big Red’ snapper. One of the most respected fishing events in Australia, the competition covers a range of species and culminates with the snapper championship. The event has a long and successful history with the largest snapper weighing in at almost 16kg. The festival hosts a celebration of local, national and international art and culture; featuring music, live performances, workshops, food and fun.
Tanderra Craft Village
South Australia's largest country market is home to a craft market, speciality shops, tearooms, pottery, hobbies and entertainment. There's also an annual food and wine fair with foods of the world and boutique wines from the region. Located on the Lincoln Highway, 200metres north of Whyalla Visitor Centre and Maritime Museum.
For details refer to the Festivals & Events Calendar or contact Whyalla Visitor Centre on 1800 088 589.