Two Peninsulas and a Mountain Range: Eyre, Yorke and the Gawler Ranges
This Outback Australian tour is limited to 15 travellers. A small group tour to the , , and the Gawler Ranges is designed for mature and senior travellers, travelling as a couple or single traveller, to discover the hidden gems of . You're likely (rightly) familiar with the wine regions of the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale, the pristine scenery of , and the outback adventures offered on the stunning Flinders Ranges. Yet, the lesser-known western half of is a worthy rival for an vacation, offering the pristine coasts of the and - often strikingly under developed compared to the East Coast of - and the rugged landscapes of the Gawler Ranges. Delve deeper, and the visitor will find a fascinating journey and often unexpected history as they travel to this unique destination.
This, like all Odyssey Traveller small group tours is limited to 15 people.
Odyssey Traveller's Australian tours are small group outback tours for seniors, designed for mature travellers who want an in-depth and authentic experience of their chosen destination. Since 1983, we have specialised in bringing Australian travellers to the world: now, our goal is to let you again rediscover your own country. We don't just go from tourist stop to tourist stop, but aim to get off the beaten path, bringing to life some of the less-explored regions on your chosen Outback tour. We want you to see through new eyes as you travel, learning about geology, , native wildlife and local history as you pass through the 'Wild West' landscapes of Southern .
Beginning and ending in Adelaide, this tour of takes us on a roughly circular route to the west of the city. We first head north to Port Augusta, before exploring the Gawler Ranges, which protect the from the arid heat of the desert to the north. This Australian tour then explores the , a broad triangle shaped on the western side of the , protruding into the Southern Ocean. Finally, the last few days of our tour explores , a boot-shaped surrounded by the to the west and the to the east.
is well-known as the driest Australian state. On our Australian outback tour, we will pass through arid landscapes, with no rivers and only ephemeral creeks and drainage lines. Much of the water supply for the two peninsulas is piped from Morgan, on the Murray River. These regions nonetheless successfully support agriculture. To the north of the Princess Highway and the , sheep grazing is the main form of farming; while cropping becomes increasingly important on the Eyre and peninsulas.
Having met the tour leader and your fellow travellers in Adelaide city on the first day of our guided outback tour, on the second day we head to the city of Whyalla on the west of the , stopping for lunch in Port Augusta, the 'crossroads of '. 's 'steel city', Whyalla juxtaposes the industrial landscapes with the striking of the . The - previously known as Hummock Hill - was established in 1901 by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) as the terminus of a tramway transporting iron ore from the Middleback Ranges (nearby on the ) for use as a flux in the lead smelters at Port Pirie. Whyalla became a major centre of industry after World War II, home to the biggest shipyards in until their closure in 1979.
Whyalla today is the fourth-largest city in (after Adelaide city, Gawler and Mount Gambier ) with a population of around 21, 000. The continues to export iron ore and steel, and manufactures industrial chemicals. The steel and shipping history of Whyalla can be explored in a number of museums, including the HMAS Whyalla, the first ship built at the Whyalla shipyard in 1941.
From Whyalla we head west to Mt Ive Station in the Gawler Ranges, stopping at the Middlebark Ranges and Iron Nob iron ore areas on the way. The Gawler Ranges and Lake Gairdner are a small southern part of the Gawler Craton, a remarkably stable landmass that has not been subject to tectonic activity for over 1000 million years. It was initially formed by volcanism over 1100 million years ago, which formed the Gawler Ranges, on the southern edge of the craton.
The traditional owners of the area are the Gawler Ranges people, a distinct group of families made up from some (but not all) of the Barngarla, Kokatha, and Wirangu people. After European settlement, the area was used by pastoralists. In 2002, it was preserved as the Gawler Ranges . The yellow-footed rock-wallaby and southern hairy-nosed wombat. was recognised for its striking geological features - particularly the Organ Pipes, an organ-like natural amphitheatre created by volcanic eruptions in the area 1500 million years ago - and abundant unique wildlife, particularly the endangered
From the station, the tour makes a day trip to Lake Gairdner , a salt lake just to the north of the Gawler Ranges. The lake - along with a number of surrounding depressions - is a remnant from millions of years ago, when central was covered by a vast inland sea, stretching five hundred kilometres from the Southern Ocean to Menindee, near Broken Hill . Lake Gairdner (160 km by 48 km) is 's fourth-largest salt lake. Like Lake Eyre , Lake Gairdner is a dry salt pan, intermittently filled with water . With a glistening white surface, surrounded by red dirt hills, it has a mesmerising and surreal beauty.
With a salt layer that reaches up to one metre thick, Lake Gairdner is regarded as one of the best places in the world for land speed records. The lake plays host to the annual Dry Lake Racers event, held in the reliably-dry March, which attracts speed racers who make this journey from all around .
After the Gawler Ranges, this outback tour for seniors heads south, taking the visitor through the striking natural landscapes and pristine beaches and waters of . Extending from Whyalla in the east, down to Port Lincoln , and through to Streaky Bay and Ceduna to the west (after which begins the Nullarbor Plain and the great Australian outback) the region offers a range of landscapes, from the calm waters and white sands of the to rugged surf beaches on the western side of the , open to the heavy oceanic swells and waves of the Southern Ocean in the Great Australian bight. The landforms on the western side are defined by and steep inclines to the sea. For this reason, most of the ports we encounter on our small group tour are on the eastern side of the .
The rolling hills observed on the mallee country . tour are part of ‘Mallee woodlands’ have been listed by the Australian Department of Environment and Energy as one of the 32 ‘Major Vegetation Groups’ of Western .. Mallee country is defined by the predominance of the mallee eucalyptus, a stocky eucalyptus with several stems, which grows on semi-arid soil. Mallee lands have a Mediterranean climate - hot, hot summers, and cool winters - and are often defined by the absence of on-ground freshwater (including on the ). 's mallee spreads in a belt across the south of , centring around the Murray River in western Victoria and eastern , the west of Adelaide, and the 'wheat belt' of
Dismissed by European explorers as 'dreary' and 'desolate', the Mallee lands of the supported the Naou Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years before European settlement. In order to deal with the absence of fresh water, they exploited underground soaks, wells, and rock waterholes. Despite this, the Naou had access to sufficient, even abundant food , using fire-stick farming to create plains of silky grass that attracted native wildlife.
The was first charted by the English Matthew Flinders and the French Charles Baudin, who were both circumnavigating the Australian coast in 1801-2. The two explorers met on the Fleurieu , near Adelaide, and as men of science, put their political rivalries aside (Britain and France were then at war) to exchange information and work together to chart the last stretch of the Australian . The landmass and rugged was subsequently explored by Edward John Eyre from 1839-41, whom the was named after by George Gawler, the second Governor of .
Today, tours discover that this is 's seafood frontier, the hub of 's seafood industry, producing 65% of the nation's seafood, including tuna, prawns, scallops, oyster and abalone. Fresh seafood can be enjoyed at a range of restaurants on the , from classic fish and chip shops to fine-dining establishments. But the lower provides whale watching, to watch the passage of Southern right whales, often joined by bottlenose dolphins.
On the way to the , our tour first stops at the wheat belt of Wudinna, where we see the striking monument to the Australian farmer, designed by Croatian artist Marijan Bekic out of local pink granite. From Wudinna, we make the trip to the coastal of Streaky Bay, where we spend two nights. On our way to Streaky Bay we pass through granite country , stopping off at the remarkable rocks formations of Turtle Rock, Mount Wudinna, and Ucontitchie Hill.
Streaky Bay was first sighted by the Dutch explorer Pieter Nuyts in 1627, and was named by Matthew Flinders after a 'streaky' discolouration he saw in the water , likely seaweed. On our first day, we explore this attractive seaside resort in the morning and then make a day tour of Point Labatt Conservation , home to mainland 's only breeding ground for Australian sea lions, one of our most endangered mammals. Protected from mainland predators, the baby sea lion learns to swim, play, and rest on the . After our trip to the Conservation , we visit 'Murphy's Haystacks', a number of strikingly-weathered granite outcrops, which got their name because a local settler mistook them for haystacks! It is believed that the pink granite sculptures were weathered around 100, 000 years ago. If we have time we may stop in at Baird Bay, a charming village 50 km to the south of Streaky Bay.
From Streaky Bay, the guided tour heads to Port Lincoln , the only city on the , where our small group spends another two nights. On the way we stop in at Coffin Bay, a charming seaside that produces some of 's best oysters, and Elliston, with panoramic views of some of the 's most striking scenery.
Port Lincoln is located on Boston Bay, a natural harbour three and a half times the size of Sydney Harbour, and as such, the largest harbour in . Once a simple shipping port, exporting grain and canning sandwich tuna, Port Lincoln became hugely wealthy in the 1980s thanks to Japanese demand for premium southern bluefin tuna for sashimi. Local fishermen became 'tuna millionaires' overnight, with the city having the most millionaires per capita in . Their palatial mansions - nicknamed 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' by observers in the 1990s - can be seen to the north-east of the city and on the harbour. The 'tuna millionaire' Tony Santic was the owner of the three-time Melbourne cup winner Makybe Diva, who is honoured with a statue on the 's foreshore. Here, we enjoy a walking tour of the city with a local guide.
On the other side of Boston Bay sits Lincoln , a 29, 000 hectare wilderness of secluded beaches, granite headlands, and offshore islands marks the southern-most point of the lower . Many of the headlands and natural features bear the tragic names given to them by Matthew Flinders - 'Cape Catastrophe' and 'Memory Cove' - after an incident in which eight crewmen died. The southern side of the , on the Southern Ocean, are the massive sand dunes of the Sleaford-Wanna sand dune system, shaped by the winds around 6000 years ago.
After leaving Port Lincoln and the tour section, our tour group slowly winds back around the , stopping in Port Augusta for the night, before heading to Wallaroo, for a for this small group. offers 700 kilometres of , pristine white beaches and azure seas, starkly contrasting with the mallee landscape behind.
The traditional owners of the are the Narungga, a nomadic people who practiced fire-stick farming, and were admired by European settlers for their facility for and aquaculture. Like the , the was first charted by Flinders and Baudin as they navigated the coast. The charts created by the two explorers were so accurate that navigators were using them well into the 20th century!
Wallaroo - along with nearby and - form the 'copper triangle' on the . Copper was discovered in the area in 1859, with over 100 tons per week being produced by 1868. Copper production ceased in 1923, but the industry continues to shape the culture of the area , which is still known as 'Little Cornwall' ( or ) thanks to the number of Cornish immigrants who worked in the copper industry. Since 1973, Wallaroo has hosted the Kernewek Lowender (Cornish for 'Cornish Happiness'), the world's largest Cornish festival, featuring Cornish song, dance, craft, and a pasty-making competition.
Our tour spends two nights in Wallaroo, learning about the 's history as a port at the Heritage and Nautical Museum , and visiting the other two Little Cornwall/Copper Triangle towns of and , as well as nearby , home to one of the prettiest beaches on the northern part of the .
From Wallaroo, we head further down into the to the of Yorketown. On the way we visit , on the tip of the . The is home to Inneston, an abandoned township surrounded by bushland, which once had a population of 200 people, including a bakery, post office, school, and tennis court.
The tip of the is one of the most treacherous coasts, with spectacualr scenery in , and - given the fact that shipping was the main means of transporting goods well into the 20th century - it is not surprising that the here saw over 80 shipwrecks , 40 off . An interactive walk tells the stories of the bravery of the many sailors who saw their boats go down at sea, while is also home to the Ethel, a rare on- land shipwreck. The is home to two operating lighthouses, at Cape Spencer and West Cape, which continue to provide guidance to vessels passing the today.
Yorketown marks the second last night of the tour. On our last day, we visit the cliff-top of Edithburgh, and enjoy the coastal walk to Coobowie, stopping to spot birds along the way. From here, we return to Adelaide city where we have a goodbye dinner at a local restaurant , enjoying celebrated gourmet food and wine. The organised tour ends the following morning.
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link .
Articles about Australia published by Odyssey Traveller:
- Australia's Ocean Frontier: Exploring the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
- The Kimberley: A Definitive Guide
- Uncovering the Ancient History of Aboriginal Australia
- Aboriginal Land Use in the Mallee
- Understanding Aboriginal Aquaculture
- Mallee and Mulga: Two Iconic and Typically Inland Australian Plant Communities (By Dr. Sandy Scott).
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to Australia:
- Top five things to see in Gawler Ranges National Park
- Eyre Peninsula
- Tourism Australia: Guide to the Eyre Peninsula
- South Australia's Adventures of a Lifetime: Swim With the Wildlife
- The South Australia guide: Eyre Peninsula
- Get swept away by the Eyre Peninsula
- Yorke Peninsula
- Yorke Peninsula: Head north of Adelaide for the perfect round of Gulf
- SA History Hub: Yorke Peninsula
Overview: Meet at the designated hotel in Adelaide for an introduction to our Australian outback tours program, ready for an early departure the next day.
Today the this Australian outback tour makes the journey to Whyalla (390) kilometres away, stopping off at the ‘crossroads’ of Port Augusta for lunch.
Once in Whyalla, we explore the history of the , an important shipping port for the iron ore extracted from the Middleback Ranges on the .
Overview: Today we leave Whyalla, driving 200km to Mt Ive Station in the Gawler Ranges. On the way we visit the Middleback Ranges and Iron Nob, centres of the iron ore industry in . On arrival at our destination we spend the afternoon settling into our accommodation and having a look around the station.
Accommodation: Mt Ive Station
Overview: Today we make a day tour to Lake Gairdner. On the way, our tour stops off to see the incredible native wildlife of Gawler Ranges on the way, including the hairy-nosed wombat, the yellow-footed rock wallaby, and an array of birds; and views many of the striking natural formations of the area, including Mount Scott and Peter’s Pillar.
Accommodation: Mt Ive Station
Overview: Today, we head to Wudinna on the , via the Gawler Ranges . On the road, we stop to see features including the Stone Dam. In Wudinna, we visit the Australian Farmer Monument.
Overview: Today, we head from Wudinna to Streaky Bay, on the west coast of the lower , visiting several landforms in Granite Country along the way, including Turtle Rock, Wudinna Recreation Area, and Ucontitchie Hill.
Overview: In the morning, we explore the charming seaside of Streaky Bay, before making a day trip to Point Lebatt Conservation Area, where we see Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals. On the way back we visit the granite outcrops known as ‘Murphy’s Haystacks’.
Accommodation: Streaky Bay
Overview: Today we head from Streaky Bay to the ’s only city, Port Lincoln, stopping off at the seaside towns of Coffin Bay and if time Coffin bay and Elliston along the way.
Accommodation: Port Lincoln
Overview: Today we enjoy a full day tour of the and port with a local guide. We will also make a visit to Lincoln .
Accommodation: Port Lincoln
Overview: After the tours of the last few days we head to begin our , heading up the to the of Port Augusta. On the way we see silo art at Cowell, part of the Australian Silo Art Trail, in which street artists and local communities team up to revitalise rural areas. In Port Augusta, we spend the afternoon at the Wadlata Outback Centre.
Accommodation: Port Augusta
Overview: Today we head to the of Wallaroo, part of the ‘Copper Triangle’ of the . In the late morning, we enjoy a guided tour of Wallaroo and in the afternoon visit the Wallaroo Heritage and Nautical Museum. In the evening, you will have free time to explore Wallaroo for yourself.
Today we make a day trip to the other ‘Copper Triangle’ towns of and , learning about the Cornish history of this region. We also visit the nearby of before returning to Wallaroo in the evening.
Overview: Today we head to , on the southern tip of the , a combination of dominated by . After the visit to the , the tour returns to the of Yorketown, where we spend the night.
Overview: Today we head from Yorketown to Adelaide. On the way, we walk the coastal track from Edithburgh to Coobowie, stopping off for bird-watching along our trek. On our return to Adelaide, we enjoy a final program dinner at a local restaurant.
Overview: Program ends after breakfast.
What’s included in our Tour
- 15 nights accommodation.
- 15 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 10 dinners.
- Transport by modern and comfortable vehicle suitable for the highway conditions.
- Entrances and sightseeing as specified.
- Services of Tour Leader for the duration of tour.
- Detailed Preparatory Information.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Return Domestic airfares.
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry.