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Home > Travelogues > 2005 Travelogues Index > Eastern Eyre Peninsula
Short version only - full version with pictures yet to come
The dry eastern coastline of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia

The Eastern Eyre Peninsula

 

At Port Lincoln it was the annual Tunarama Festival weekend and we drove through the town and out past waiting crowds along the roadside, just ahead of the main parade, feeling very special as they waved. 

 

On the north side of Port Lincoln at North Shields we saw the greatest devastation from the fire.  The caravan park on the east side of the road was burnt out right to the beach, and in streets where some houses were burnt a few still stood amongst the ruins.  This was where the greatest loss of lives occurred. 

 

80,000 hectares of land was burned out, 73 houses, as well as sheds, caravans, buses, boats and a shop.  Nine people died in the bushfires, while more than 100 people were injured.  Around 5,000 kilometres of fencing was lost, and livestock that couldn’t be moved to agistment were shot due to lack of water, as the pipeline bringing water into the region was damaged by the fire. 

 

Some farmers were already commencing replacing fences on their bare paddocks.  I could not intrude and photograph these scenes.  The only photo I took shows the ground burnt bare, with scorched trees and blackened hills.

 

We could see where fingers of fire had rushed across paddocks with the strong winds. Speaking to locals, they told us of a very hot day with unpredictable and swirling strong winds.

 

Further up the coast, locals told us that on the Eyre at times of high fire danger the electricity system is shut down.  Considering the number of fires inWestern Australia started by power lines I can see why, but can imagine the outcry from people about having no electricity in extreme weather (or any other time).

 

At beautiful Tumby Bay we met a man with his young family helping land a carpet shark, which he returned to the sea after our photos.  We tried fishing for a while from the jetty, catching nothing edible before a quick swim, purchasing fish and chips in town, and moving on to Lipson Cove.  As we approached the small campground and beach, stone ruins were evident.  These may have dated back to early farming days, or even to when copper was mined here between 1849 and 1852. A jetty was constructed in 1882.  It was closed in 1935 and dismantled in 1949. 

 

At Lipson Cove there is a small island where terns nest.  Terns were feeding their young on the beach near where we had a swim while the birds noisily protested at our dipping in their fishing ground.  We had the Cove to ourselves that night, but for these noisy terns.   A truly delightful spot for nature lovers.    See more about Lipson Cove campsite.

 

The following history is as shown on a sign at Lipson Cove.

 

Named after Captain Thomas Lipson R.N. in 1840.  Lipson was Australia's first Harbour Master and also Collector of Customs.

 

John Tennant, originally from Dumfreisshire, Scotland, is believed to be the first person to permanently settle in the hills behind Lipson Cove in 1846.

 

Copper was discovered in 1849 south west of the jetty and mined for three years. An old gold prospector, locally known as Wallaby Sam, lived in a cave though to be one of the copper mine entrances.

 

Remains of "Three Sisters", a 15 ton ketch which broke up in a storm in 1889 is occasionally exposed from under the beach sand.

 

Edward Swaffer began shearing sheep at Lipson Cove in 1875.  The ruins of the shearing shed, kitchen and dips are visible left of the causeway leading to the jetty.

 

The jetty was built around 1882, closed in 1935 and dismantled in 1949.

 

We took a walk along the edge of the rocky coastline before leaving this little paradise and continuing northwards through the towns along the east coast. 

 

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It was a warm day at Cowell, where the boat launching ramp and dock has been constructed utilising old tyres.  Again the bay is almost fully enclosed, and there are fish farms of yellow tail, king fish, snapper and tommy ruff (what we call herring), but we were told these farms are not viable.  Oysters are now farmed. 

 

The area receives and average of 8” of rain per annum; less in recent years.  Locals told us how hot winds from the North West can bring temperatures of over 50 degrees. 

 

Mangroves lined the coast and the water nearby was murky, so going for a swimming was not an attractive idea.  There was a short mangrove boardwalk near the jetty. 

 

Nephrite jade was discovered near Cowell in 1966, and has only been effectively mined since 1976.  This high quality jade is mined on private property with no public access.  The Cowell jade deposits, found occurring in an area confined to nine square kilometres, are recognised as being amongst oldest and largest in the world. The majority of the jade from Cowell is traditional green. A small portion is black and this commands the highest price owing to its rarity and ability to take a high polish. Associated with the jade are deposits of ornamental marble and carving quality talc.

 

We passed Iron Duke, angular and with lines of colour indicating slag heaps rather than the shape of the original mountain.  This was similar to Iron Knob, but Iron Duke is still being actively mined.  Mining commenced here in 1990.

 

The first ship built at the Whyalla's BHP shipyards in 1941 - HMAS Whyalla – has been permanently landlocked two kilometres from the sea and is part of the Whyalla Museum.

 

At dusk a full moon rose over the orange ridge to the east of us at our roadside stop north of Whyalla. 

 

 

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