Take a detour off the Lincoln Highway, around 45 kilometres south of Cowell and you’ll find one of the friendliest towns on Eyre Peninsula, Arno Bay.
This little gem is a quiet, unassuming town that has oodles of things to do, and the whole family are catered for.
As you drive in from the highway you notice the town is separated from the beach with a mangrove area which has been made into a really interesting feature to explore. On one side of the mangrove is the central business area with a post office, a really well stocked supermarket which includes a bit of hardware and fishing gear and most of the town’s population of around 350 people. On the other side, is the town’s hotel, a beachside café, a beachfront park and the caravan park, which sits in prime position on the water edge.
For fishing fans, this park is perfectly placed behind the dunes of the squeaky white sand beach and right next to the jetty. It’s so close in fact; that you can wait and see if anything is being caught on the jetty from the comfort of your caravan, before you decide to venture out. When the conditions are right it doesn’t disappoint either, with plenty of squid to nab.
Next to the caravan park is Turnbull Park, a family friendly green space full of play equipment for the kids, as well as amenities, barbecues and a viewing platform to take in the clean blue sea views. The giant unmissable ‘Super Shed’ is located here too, a structure that in the early 1900s stored goods prior to shipping from the jetty. These days it contains a terrific display of historic photos and information on local history, flora and birdlife to see in the area.
One part of the town’s history that has carried through to this day is the annual New Years Day activities at the beach. Officially the annual celebration began in 1911, but some references go back even further to a sports programme and races on the beach in 1899.
Events can change each year, but in the past they’ve included sand dune golf, outdoor movies, swimming competitions and other water sports. Merchandise can be bought around town with money raised going to supporting this fun event for the community. On the edge of Turnbull Park is a shed which commemorates the annual New Years Day activities, in a mural painted by Monique Van Eyk.
Behind the caravan park is the jetty café which has a few essential grocery items, comfortable indoor and outdoor dining spaces and takeaway food as well as a few gifts and souvenirs. Across the road is the Arno Bay Hotel which is another welcoming and friendly spot to visit.
Along with the jetty and sparkling white beach, you can take a walk on the Boardwalk and Mangrove Trail. From the caravan park you head to the end of the road, about 800 metres, arriving at a car park area for the boardwalk, and shelters with picnic spaces.
The wheelchair friendly mangrove trail takes you on a raised boardwalk over the mangroves for around 700 metres to the mouth, where Salt Creek meets the bay. Along the way there are areas to go fishing and plenty of birdlife to spy.
Once you get to the bay you can then keep walking along the sand and back to the jetty and caravan park, a walk of just over 2.5 kilometres in total. With stops along the way to admire the scenery it took us around an hour.
With Arno Bay as your base, you can take a few drives to other scenic places nearby including Redbanks Beach, Port Gibbon and the town of Port Neill, all very worthwhile picturesque places to visit. We really enjoyed our stay at Arno Bay but have to say that the caravan park is looking pretty run down and could do with a good tidy up and general cleaning. A gold mine in the waiting!