Eyre Peninsula III – Whyalla to Port Neill

Eyre Peninsula II – Sunrise at Point Lowly Lighthouse

Whyalla Accommodation

After watching the sunrise at Point Lowly Lighthouse, we make our way back to our hotel to pack. We spent the night at the Bayview Hotel in Whyalla. It was a cute little place, nothing fancy, just plain and simple. A single room consisting of three beds and a bathroom; just enough for an accommodating one-night stop over. As simple as it was, the bed and pillow were super comfortable and with the lights off and curtains shut, the room was pitch black which made for an incredible nights sleep.

Whyalla: Where the outback meets the seaToday we are making the two and a half hour, 186 km (116 mile) drive from Whyalla to Port Neill. But first, we are going to take in the serenity and charm of Whyalla by visiting the Easter fair. With its population of 27,000, Whyalla’s slogan “Where the outback meets the sea” perfectly encapsulates what this coastal town is all about. The city boasts 300+ days of sunshine a year, the locals are friendly and there is a real sense of community that lingers in the air.

The Whyalla Easter fair is held in conjunction with the Australian Snapper Championship which is an annual event that occurs each year over the Easter long weekend. While hundreds of eager fishermen from all over Australia make their way into town for the event, their families mix in with the locals and enjoy the festivities right by Whyalla beach. There are local small businesses that have stalls promoting their goods and services, primary school children performing singing and dancing routines up on stage, rides and even the odd appearance from popular cartoon characters. The weather could not have been any more perfect than it was so we soak up the carnival atmosphere while basking in the warmth of the suns rays and nomming down on sherbet sticks from the candy stall.

Whyalla Fair & Beach

Being from Melbourne, a city with a population of just over 4 million, there is no real sense of community or belonging when strolling through the city streets. It wasn’t until the Whyalla Easter fair that I realised this. Lisa, a Whyalla native, seemed to know almost every single person in attendance at the fair. We could not walk on for a few metres at a time without her greeting or being greeted  by someone she knows. It seemed nice to experience this small-town, community vibe where everyone knows and looks out for each other, even if only for a few short hours.

I have a fear of small aircrafts whether they be tiny planes or helicopters for three reasons:

a) They always crash and as a result…
b) Everybody in them dies and…
c) My first time flying I looked out the window just after take off and saw a crashed, burned out one below

Since then, I often feel the need to shit my pants, piss my pants and vomit on myself (simultaneously, might I add) if I am ever faced with flying in one. I once had to take a 10 seater small plane over the Great Lakes between the USA and Canada. I could feel a draft from outside sweeping through the plane walls. This made me want to overdoes on sleeping pills and Xanax. It didn’t help that the one flight attendant was profusely sweating. I told my friend this is because he knew we were going to crash and die.

You could imagine my excitement then when the girls decided they wanted to take a helicopter ride over the beach. My initial thought: Great, not only will we all crash and die, but it will be a fiery inferno mixed in with a side of drowning and maybe for the fun of it throw in a shark or two circling our helpless bodies. Ugh.

At the same time though, I knew this was my chance to look my fear straight in the face, flip it the bird along with a big F U! Without further ado, I sign my name up, pay my $30, update my Facebook and Twitter accounts bidding everyone farewell and then I anxiously wait our turn while nervously uttering the words “oh my God” repeatedly.

It is our turn. OH. MY. GOD.

I don’t know what possesses me but for some reason unknown to mankind, I decide that the front seat is best for me; fmylife.com. I jump in, get seatbelted up and am given a headset to wear. I am actually so excited right now over the fact that I can hear my own voice through my headset that I don’t even realise we’ve taken off. I also fail to realise that I’m singing along with the radio into my microphone (don’t judge, Sara Bareilles was playing!). Von, Nicole and our pilot can hear me singing through their headset and I no doubt sound like a 15 year old boy who has just hit puberty. Woops, sorry ladies!

Flying over Whyalla beach in a helicopter!

Whyalla to Port Neill, SAWell. You’ll be glad to know we didn’t crash. Or die. Or get eaten by sharks. What a relief. What did happen, however, was another one of those too cool for words experiences to add to the list. The view of Whyalla beach from up in the helicopter was sensational. The beach glistened in the sun and the water looked so blue, so calm and so inviting. When we flew away from the beach and over land you could really gain a sense of the whole “where the outback meets the sea” tagline that Whyalla wears so well. There was red dirt, the typical Aussie outback kind, sand and traces of drought were hard to ignore. Combine though, the experience was nothing short of incredible and I’d get back up there in a heartbeat – the views were nothing short of incredible! I Facebook and Tweet again to let everyone know I’m alive and well. We bid farewell to Whyalla and begin our journey to Port Neill. It is crazy to think that in only a short period of time we can go from gorgeous beach to this…

Along the Lincoln Highway towards Port Neill - SA

And then back to this again all within the same hour…

Enjoying a beer along Arno Bay, SA

We make a quick stop off at Arno Bay’s Jetty Cafe to grab a bite to eat. If you’re passing through the area and having a rumbling tummy, I highly recommend grabbing some food from here. It doesn’t look like much more than your egular convenience store but the burgers at this joint are out of control! I ordered a bacon and chicken burger which they make fresh and on the spot for me. We sit down to eat and after unwrapping my burger, I was shocked to see that it is bigger than my head, for real! For a pocket full of loose change, it was definitely satisfying. The only dissatisfying part about this whole gastronomical experience is not being able to finish it. Good bye, oh delicious one, you have more than served your purpose.

Arno Bay Jetty Cafe, SA

Finally, we reach our destination…

Port Neill, SA

Port Neill is an attractive coastal town situated nearly half way along the western side of the Spencer Gulf in Dutton Bay. With a tiny population of just under 200, Port Neill boasts white, sandy beaches, unspoilt coastlines and crystal clear blue waters. Tonight we are staying at the Pt. Neill Hotel. This will be base camp for the next few days and we will set out on numerous mini roadtrips from here and back.

Carrow Wells, Port Neill, SAWe unpack our luggage, relax for a short while and then we’re back in the car and ready to head to Carrow Wells to capture what will no doubt be an incredible sunset. Carrow Wells is roughly 3 km (2 miles) out from Port Neill. The wells were the main water supply for the Port Neill township in the early days until 1928. We spend some time driving around the surrounding area waiting for the sun to set. We’ve been blessed with clear skies all day long so I’m expecting a breathtaking sunset.

Just like sunrise this morning at Point Lowly, sunset is nothing short of spectacular. The setting sun set the sky ablaze with a combination of fiery shades of orange; amber, rust, electric and burnt orange blending together to form a rather beautiful spectacle. I’ve seen the sun set from many corners of the globe but I’ve never seen anything as elegant as this. It reminds me of something straight out of the Lion King. Pure bliss.

Sunset in Port Neill, SA

After a hell of a long day, we return back to the Port Neill Hotel to shove our faces with the most delicious meat lovers pizza ever, some beer and a few games of pool in which I may or may not have kicked ass.

Port Neill Hotel, SA

Tomorrow another exciting day awaits us!