On the Seafood Frontier you'll find fisherman, aquaculturists and growers, strung along this stunningly beautiful coastline. Many of them are in small coastal towns, but many are concentrated in the fascinating seafood capital of Port Lincoln. Together, they account for more than 65 per cent of Australia's total seafood catch, as well as some of the world's most prized produce.
Be dwarfed by the largest commerical fishing fleet in the southern hemisphere
Join Captain Fred on his little electric boat and get a duck’s eye view of the monster fishing fleet that operates out of Port Lincoln. Whirring quietly among Lincoln Cove Marina, you’ll see flotillas of cray boats, prawn trawlers and tuna boats and learn how fishermen work the wild seas off Eyre’s thousand-kilometre coastline.
If you’d like to head for deeper waters to catch something of your own (the fabled bluefin tuna perhaps?), a Why Not Fishing Charter has the experience, the gear and the boat.
Swim with dolphins and sea lions in the same bay
After 20 years of operation, the Baird Bay Eco Ocean Adventure experience is rightly considered one of Australia’s signature wildlife encounters. It’s your chance to snorkel with bottlenose dolphins and Australian sea lions in one impossibly beautiful bay.
Marine specialist Alan Payne motors you out to meet Baird Bay’s resident dolphins, which are always curious when humans enter their environment. After that, it’s over to meet the local Australian sea lions which charm the Speedos off everyone. There are equally playful sea lions off Port Lincoln: half-day swimming experiences can be had with Adventure Bay Charters and Calypso Star Charters.
Go to the toothy end of the food chain with a cage dive
The Neptune Islands are home to a huge colony of New Zealand fur seals which in turn attracts the world’s most notorious predator, the great white shark. Cage diving out of Port Lincoln is another bucket list experience, with three companies offering day-long adventures into these wild waters.
After being suited up, you’re submerged in a cage on the end of an air regulator (no diving licence required) and left to keep vigil. Be warned, these fearsome animals are the ultimate stealth predator, and however hard you look, you won’t see them coming.
Harvest your own fisherman’s feast off streaky bay
Eyre Peninsula Cruises offers a gorgeous Ocean to Plate cruise out of the remote seaside town of Streaky Bay. You’ll visit a turquoise cove aboard Asherah, a handsome craft that comes complete with host, chef and experienced diver. Feel free to jump in the water with the diver to bring in abalone, razorfish and blue swimmer crabs.
Alternatively you can drop a line over the side. When the ingredients start coming aboard, the chef has the culinary know-how and the host has the sparkling wine.
Wade into coffin bay and eat oysters off the rack
1802 Oyster Bar and Bistro is a chic retreat overlooking the famous waters of Coffin Bay. Blessed with two protein-rich tides, Coffin Bay nurtures some of the plumpest, sweetest oysters in the world, which can be seen growing on racks not far off the front deck of the restaurant.
As part of the 1802 experience, diners can do an Oyster Farm Tour by simply donning a pair of waders and walking out into the shallows to pick their own oysters for lunch. (To accompany, a chilled Lincoln Estate chardonnay comes highly recommended.)
Watch wintering whales and strobing cuttlefish
Winter in Eyre Peninsula offers two fabulous wildlife experiences. From May to October, some 30 humpback and southern right whales move into sublime Fowlers Bay to calve. Rod Keogh, owner of the Fowler’s Bay Caravan Park invites visitors to join him on his boat for close-up whale encounters.
On the other side of the peninsula is the town of Whyalla, home to a natural event that occurs nowhere else in the world: from May to August 200,000 giant cuttlefish swarm in the shallows to mate. Swim into neck-deep shallows with snorkel and mask and you’ll see male animals flushing with electric colours in a dazzling courtship display.
Whyalla Diving Services (08 8645 8050) can help with both knowledge and gear hire.
Become a hunter-gatherer
David Doudle runs Goin’ Off Safaris, using his local knowledge – and LandCruiser – to introduce city folk to the joys of hunting and gathering their own seafood feast. After sourcing lobster, prawns and tuna from the fresh fish outlets of Port Lincoln, you’ll be collecting oysters from the racks of Coffin Bay, diving for scallops, cockles and mussels, and casting long lines off a deserted beach for wild salmon.
If you want to up the ante, David can also arrange heli-fishing – a thrilling chase along an empty 25 kilometre-long beach in search of huge salmon schools swirling in the shallows. Once the fish are spotted, the chopper pilot puts you down on the sand, dispenses rods from a special pod and leaves you to do the rest.
Choose a local wine to go with your local fish
Eyre Peninsula is an unlikely wine region but the handful of local producers swear by the fresh sea air and limestone soils. Try the cellar door at Boston Bay Wines with views over vines that extend almost to the sea. Lincoln Estate Wines is 15km inland and no less picturesque: visitors can tour the vineyard on a Segway, hand-feed kangaroos and enjoy a walk-in bird aviary.
Eat your way along the Eyre Coastline
Dotted around 1000km of coast, you’ll find fish wholesalers and aquaculture industries keeping Eyre’s famous primary industry afloat. Participants vary from small family-owned businesses to multi-million-dollar exporters pioneering new production techniques – and most offer the chance to tour their sites and sample their produce.
Stop at Whyalla (barramundi and Murray cod farmers), Cowell (oyster growers), Arno Bay (tuna and kingfish breeders), Elliston (lobster fisherman) and Streaky Bay (abalone suppliers). And if you’re looking for a one-stop shop, don’t go past the Fresh Fish Place in Port Lincoln – their fish and chips are legendary.
Get a taste for the wild coast
Lincoln National Park sits at the southern-most point of this rugged and remote peninsula looking out to the spectacular Southern Ocean.
Lose yourself in 200 square kilometres of spectacular coastal wilderness – climb to the crest of a towering dune, roam on an empty beach or perch yourself on a cliff top. And be sure to breathe in the salt air. It doesn’t come any fresher.
Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are at Adelaide Airport.