When winter starts to sink its teeth in and you can see your breath on the morning commute, the urge to pack a bag and hit the road is an inescapable one for most of us. Yet the appeal of South Australia as a seafood frontier and road trip destination has always been a hidden jewel in Australia’s crown.
If you’ve got a couple weeks of annual leave begging to be taken, start your journey by flying into Adelaide, hop in a hire car and make your way to the other side of the spectacular Spencer Gulf for your first night in Whyalla, 4 hours (385 km) to the west. If you’ve never heard of the town before, that’s perfect. You’re already experiencing the adrenaline of the new and undiscovered.
Whyalla is home to one of the state’s most unusual underwater activities: it’s where you can swim with giant cuttlefish between May and August. If tentacles aren’t your thing, never fear as the town also gives you the chance to get up close and personal with its resident pod of dolphins, bird life and native marsupials.
Just 1 hour (106 km) down the road is the town of Cowell, a peaceful seaside spot on the Eyre Peninsula where you can continue exploring the seafood frontier of South Australia. If you’ve brought a rod and tackle with you, its shores represent some of the best fishing spots in the entire state, perfect for catching lunch or dinner.
If you were able to catch lunch in Cowell, you’ll still be able to make it to Tumby Bay before dark after ticking over another ~1 hour (114 km). Tumby Bay is home to a vibrant community of artists and the location of some stunning grain silo murals. Not to mention Tumby Bakery, which is one of the best bakeries on the coast.
In the morning, you’ll be able to make it to your next stop for breakfast at Port Lincoln just ~35 min (50 km) away. You could easily spend a day or two here, especially if you’re game to experience the thrill of one of South Australia’s most adrenaline-pumping activities: cage diving with sharks.
You read that right, it’s one of just three locations in the world where you can safely swim with great white sharks and sea lions, making for a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t forget in a hurry. If you’d prefer to keep your feet on terra firma, Port Lincoln is also the location of a 4WD-ready national park and a number of great seafood restaurants to refuel at after a big day out and about.
Hopefully, you saved room for more oysters at our next location, ~35 min (45 km) away at the iconic Coffin Bay. You can take a tour of the oyster farm if you’re interested in trying the freshest oysters imaginable, while there’s also Coffin Bay National Park and some spectacular beaches to immerse yourself in the landscape.
If you weren’t lucky enough to pull a fish or two out of the water at Cowell, Elliston could be your next port of call (~1.5 hrs, 140 km). The area is well-recognised as one of the best salmon fishing destinations in the country. As you’d expect, the trail walking is also remarkable in the surrounding areas, with a dedicated coastal trail that delivers dramatic views that shouldn’t be missed.
Baird Bay (~1.5 hrs, 113 km) is a great option for your next stop, especially if you missed out on swimming with the giant cuttlefish and sharks. The region offers another once-in-a-lifetime chance to swim with sea lions and bottlenose dolphins, as well as a whale-watching tour on offer during the winter months.
It’s not far ‘til you arrive at another spot with plenty to eat and drink: at Streaky Bay, just ~40 min (51 km) down the road, you’ll find a smorgasbord of seafood dining options, including king prawns, Moreton Bay bugs and more. Ceduna is also just a short drive away (30 min, 44 km) and can give you a break from the delicious food while you enjoy the Ceduna Aboriginal Culture Centre, which spotlights more than 130 different Indigenous artists from the local coast.
Hop back in the car for the final solid stint on the road during your westward journey, to arrive at Fowlers Bay (1.5 hrs, 143 km) for an opportunity to see nature’s largest mammals up close. EP Cruises will take you out to see southern right whales, humpback whales, sea lions, seals and much more. You’ll also be just one hour’s drive from the highly photogenic Lake MacDonnell, which is bright pink thanks to its high salt content.
Finally, your road trip across the seafood frontier of South Australia can come to an end at the remarkable head of the Great Australian Bight. What’s so special about this secluded bay with sheltered waters is that it’s used by southern right whales as a birthing place, and is where they gather between June and October to welcome newborn calves into the world.
After a fortnight, with less than 15 hours clocked behind the wheel and around 1,300 kilometres of unforgettable driving, you’ll have experienced some of the most spectacular landscapes and scenery that South Australia has to offer. Not only will you have seen sights you would have missed had you not journeyed off the usual path of winery tours, you’ll also have enjoyed some of the very best seafood in Australia.
If you’re itching to experience the trip of a lifetime this winter, you’d be silly not to consider tackling the seafood frontier of South Australia. Either follow along with our itinerary or feel free to create your own journey using the South Australia Trip Planner tool.