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Spencer Gulf Ferry

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Spencer Gulf is the westernmost of two large inlets on Australia's southern coast. On its western shore is the Eyre Peninsula and on the eastern side is the Yorke Peninsula. The largest towns are Whyalla, Port Pirie and Port Augusta.

The recently introduced ferry saves drivers around 350 kilometres when travelling from Adelaide to the Eyre Peninsula. Now they just cut across the Gulf.

Sea SA is a fast and luxurious passenger and vehicle ferry, travelling between Wallaroo and Lucky Bay. It has six services every day.

Wallaroo, Moonta and Kadina are the Copper Triangle towns famed for mining in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They are known as Little Cornwall. Kernewek Lowender, the Cornish festival, is held in the three towns in May in odd-numbered years. It is the world's largest Cornish festival and this year will run between May 14 and 20.

On the way to Wallaroo, Ben visited Moonta. It was home to the first mining company to pay over £1 million in dividends. There is a museum on the site, as well as an old miner's cottage. The old school is a folk museum.

It's almost compulsory to enjoy a Cornish pastie from the Cornish Kitchen while you're there. The delicious folded pastries were originally filled with beef, potatoes, onions and turnips. Tradition says they were made as lunch for Cornish miners who were unable to return to the surface to eat. Covered in dirt, they could hold the folded pastry case and eat the rest without touching it.

Wallaroo, just 15 minutes away, is a major shipping town on the western side of Yorke Peninsula. It is kept busy moving large tonnages of barley and wheat.

It offers safe beaches, good fishing and has places of interest such as the National Trust Wallaroo Heritage and Nautical Museum and historical walks. Its standout buildings include the railway station, customs house and Hughes chimney stack.

Lucky Bay on the Eyre Peninsula was reached in comfort in under two hours. The triangular peninsula is bounded on the east by Spencer Gulf and the Great Australian Bight to the west.

Its major industry is cereal, sheep and cattle farming, and many towns, particularly Port Lincoln, have large tuna fishing fleets.

Southern blue fin tuna has made a lot of money for the fishermen in the area. Large schools are netted at sea, towed back to Port Lincoln and fattened up in pens for five months before being harvested and shipped to the world market. Kingfish is another sought-after delicacy in kitchens around the world. Japan is a very important consumer, and they always want the best.

Jenny and Boof Grenfell run the Hotel Arno, 537 kms north-west of Adelaide. The hotel is almost 100 years old and is a friendly place, serving lunch and dinner every day. Arno is known as the Kingfish Capital, and a specialty of the house is kingfish burgers. There are 19 rooms and the beach and jetty are just 200 metres away.

The Kingfish Aquaculture industry is progressing rapidly in the area and tours of the hatchery are available. The beer garden is used for dining, private parties and it has a juke box as well as live entertainment. Accommodation is a choice between budget hotel rooms or self-contained motel rooms.

Location

The Great Australian Bight.

Cost

The Spencer Gulf Ferry operates between Wallaroo and Lucky Bay. One way trips start at $30 for adults and $10 for children. Bicycles are $5, motorbikes $30 and cars $100.

Arno Bay Hotel double rooms are $40 for a double and $50 for a family. Light breakfast is included.

Virgin Blue has flights to Adelaide. One-way fare from;

  • Melbourne, $95
  • Brisbane Sydney, $129
  • Perth, $199
  • Darwin, $255

There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are Internet only and one-way. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at May 17, 2007 and are subject to change.

More information

The Spencer Gulf Ferry
1 Heritage Drive
Wallaroo 5556
Ph: (08) 8823 0777
Fax: (08) 8823 0707
Website: www.seasa.com.au
Email: admin@seasa.com.au

Tourism Yorke Peninsula
Website: www.yorkepeninsula.com.au

Tourism Eyre Peninsula
Website: www.tep.com.au

The Cornish Kitchen
10-12 Ellen Street
Moonta 5558
Ph: (08) 8825 3030

Arno Bay Hotel Motel
Tel El Kebir Terrace
Arno Bay 5603
Ph: (08) 8268 0001
Fax: (08) 8628 0150
Email: hotelarno@aussieallover.com

Virgin Blue
Ph: 13 6789
Website: www.virginblue.com.au

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