Touring around Eyre Peninsula in South Australia has us thinking each new camping destination is the best. But now I think we’ve really found it, in Streaky Bay.
Streaky Bay is around 700 kilometres north west of Adelaide, getting its name from explorer Matthew Flinders who noticed the discoloured streaks in the water. The streaks are believed to have been caused by the release of oils from certain seaweeds in the bay.
The town has a really relaxed holiday feel about it, yet has all that you need to stay here a while. It has two caravan parks, (and we stayed in both of them), two supermarkets, bottle shops, a craft shop, pharmacy, newsagency, hotel and surf shop, and more.
We stayed firstly in the Islands Caravan Park after getting a few recommendations from friends, that it was an excellent park. They weren’t wrong. Although it’s out of town, the views are pretty amazing over rocky islands in the bay and there is beach access where you can take you dog for a run on the sand. The ablution blocks are quite incredible and unlike any I’ve seen before with individual ensuites, within the building. The grounds are kept in pristine condition and the price to stay here is cheaper than the foreshore caravan park in town. However, to me I almost didn’t feel like I was in a caravan park, for some reason it just didn’t have the right feel for me.
We tried the foreshore caravan park next and this was more to my liking. It was closer to town, you could walk to the main street and jetty, although it is a good walk, and your caravan is right on the waterfront. It has the feeling of an old fashioned, family favourite beachside caravan park.
For people with dogs, they can let them run right on the beach in front of the park and you could have a small campfire on the beach too. One of the best things about the park is that it has its own small store and takeaway restaurant within the park. We had to try it, in the name of research of course. Pelicans Retreat Family Restaurant has burgers, fish and chips and more and you can call and order and pick up when it’s ready.
The hotel in town is another great spot to visit with a lot of quirky bits and pieces in the bar and it proudly displays memorabilia on Kerrin McEvoy, a local Streaky Bay jockey and three times Melbourne Cup winner. There are a number of places to sit within the hotel including an area that overlooks the town jetty.
Staying in town for a few days meant we also spent a bit of time browsing in all the shops and the cheeky staff at Streaky Surf Shop, were really lovely and even threw in a few bonuses with our purchases. Another must see in town is in the Shell service station, where you’ll find a replica 5 metre shark. The original was caught by a local off streaky bay in 1990, and is said to be the biggest Great White Shark ever caught; today they are a protected species. Even though this is a replica, it’s still a frightening sight.
There are a few scenic drives to take from Streaky Bay and they are absolutely worth it for spectacular coastal scenery. The Cape Bauer Loop is a scenic loop of a little over 35 kilometres long and takes in the rugged cliffs of the Australian Bight and a natural phenomenon of Whistling Rocks and the Blowholes. It’s quite a long way down a 360 metre long steps and boardwalk section to reach viewing platforms, but the sound of the pounding waves against the cliffs cause a whistling sound that is quite unbelievable. We saw plenty of sea eagles soaring along the coastline too.
An even more spectacular drive is the Westall Way Loop, another scenic drive of around 32 kilometres which includes surf beaches, white sand dunes and some free camps along the way. There are so many wow moments it just has to be experienced but the spot that left the biggest impression on us was Smooth Pools.
The scenic route is easy for conventional cars to manage the dirt road and it was being graded as we were there, but some sections are 4WD only and that includes some of the best scenery. To get to Smooth Pools was a rugged and rocky, fairly steep downhill drive and then at the bottom on the sand it is just breathtaking.
The massive waves seem to be crashing and swirling way above the height of the car but as they come to shore they disperse through granite boulders and eventually the water winds its way into serene pools that can be a cool place for a dip. Quite incredible.
During this time coming in to spring, the cliffs are covered in native plants which are bursting into flower too, so the weather and conditions during late winter and spring seem to be a perfect time for touring this part of Eyre Peninsula.
Our last stop on the Westall Way Loop was Tractor Beach and an amazing looking campground there, which is still in the process of being upgraded. There are wide campsites which look all set for caravans and other campers and a brand new toilet building that all look nearly ready for use again, but keep an eye on the Streaky Bay website: streakybay.com.au for all of the great campsites in this region.
There is a really informative Streaky Bay book that you can pick up at many places in and around town, which has the maps for the scenic drives and other great tips inside.
Our favourite, so far!