Celebrate Spring on Yorke Peninsula...
Yorke Peninsula is one of the most fertile (and certainly most lovely) primary producing regions in South Australia. With its warmer weather, green shoots and big salmon runs, it’s no wonder spring has everyone doing cartwheels …
1. Is that a salmon in your bucket (or are you just pleased to see me)?
We love Australian salmon for three good reasons: they come in dirty black schools of swirling fish; they fight like the devil; and they make great eating.
Spring is the thing when it comes to Arripis trutta, and you can’t do better than the lower beaches of Yorkes where they gleefully amass to feed on bait fish. Beautiful Daly Head (closest towns, Corny Point and Warooka) is the sweet spot. The rocks give you an elevated vantage to sight your quarry and the beach runs for 5km. Better yet, the salmon are said to average a most pleasing 2.7kg.
You don’t need bait, you don’t even need to be particularly good at fishing -- if the black masses are swirling, just point and shoot. It won’t be the first time a novice has hooked a salmon only to find themselves equally hooked on the nation’s most popular sport…
If you’re looking for a dedicated fishing escape, try staying at Hillocks Drive overlooking salmon-tastic Butlers Beach. This privately-owned farm sits on seven kilometres of beachfront and hundreds of acres of bushland. You can camp or make use of their futuristic Ocean Pods.
2. Become a ghost hunter in Moonta
Since it’s Halloween season, here’s an idea – why not spend a night among the ghostly ruins of Moonta Mines and scare yourself silly?
Award-winning tour operator Adelaide’s Haunted Horizons conducts regular paranormal investigations of South Australia’s spookiest destinations. It transpires one of their most popular events takes place among the historic buildings of Moonta Mines.
The tour offers seven hours of paranormal investigation using specialist ghost hunting equipment to explore the Model School, the School of Mines, the Miners Cottage, Hughes Pump House and Richman’s Enginehouse (all courtesy of The Moonta National Trust which gives the group permission).
Of course the question we all want answered – is it actually haunted?
According to the website (www.adelaidehauntedhorizons.com.au), the very first visit tour group witnessed shadowy figures, a ball being moved by a poltergeist and the disembodied voices of children (urgh!).
Tour leader Alison Oborne confirms it is a particularly active site. “The first visit really caught us by surprise -- it’s unusual to have so much activity. But we’ve been five times now and something always happens. The old School of Mines is particularly lively!”
The tour runs every two months and costs $135, which includes refreshments. It begins at 8pm and finishes at a suitably spooky 4am…
If you’re looking to investigate paranormal activity in other parts of Yorke Peninsula, check out – Adelaide Spirited SA Ghost Tours. The group does investigations and tours around Wallaroo, Ardrossan and Port Wakefield.
3. Question: What’s the difference between a Coffin Bay oyster and a Stansbury oyster?
Answer: not a lot.
Coffin Bay’s famous shellfish are sold in Australia’s most exclusive restaurants. Yet they start their lives in racks off Stansbury – a fact you can (quite literally) get to grips with on Steve and Gerri Bowley’s fabulous ‘Deckie for a Day’ tour with Pacific Estate Oysters.
The Bowleys own one of the five oyster leases not far out from the little town of Stansbury, and run tours aboard their oyster boat from the jetty.
The 1.5-hour experience will have you out to the racks, suited up in waders and up to your waist in the turquoise shallows. Depending on the season, jobs will need to be done (we had to help load baskets onto the boat), before you get to kick back and sample the fruits of your labours.
Stansbury oysters are grown for a year in the Gulf St Vincent before being trucked to Eyre Peninsula where they’re quickly fattened on the super-rich tides of Coffin Bay. At this point they’re dutifully renamed and their price goes north.
After the tour, head for the Dalrymple Hotel in Stansbury, for a brilliant seafood menu, plus some fine white wines to wash down those local oysters.
The Darymple was established in 1875 as the Oyster Bay Hotel, named for the original oyster beds off Yorke that were instrumental in the region being settled. The natural beds were exhausted by 1890, and Yorke’s oyster connection languished for decades until 1966.
Today, the Bowleys grow their oysters over seagrass, a terrior which, Steve believes, gives the Stansbury oysters a flavour that’s subtly distinct from the mineral flavours bestowed by Coffin Bay.
So maybe there’s a difference after all…
4. Courses for horses
The Melbourne Cup arrives on November 7 this year, and will be in full swing at pubs across the region. For some extra cup fever, get along to the Seagate pub in Moonta Bay, the Dalrymple in Stansbury, or the Coopers Alehouse Wallaroo; The Yorke Hotel in Yorketown is also hosting a Melbourne Cup Ladies Day on the Sunday before the big race (fascinators at the ready…).
If you fancy feeling the thunder of hooves for real, don’t forget the Balaklava Cup, SA’s biggest country fixture attracts crowds of 10,000. This year, they’re off and running on September 13.
5. Does spring make you snappy?
Very likely if you’re a photographer. The season of renewal throws up some terrific subjects on Yorke Peninsula:
Canola fields – great rolling vistas of cadmium yellow beneath skies of cerulean blue. No filter required. Canola is something of a hero crop right now – pick any country lane on the peninsula and you’re likely to get an eyeful.
Baby emus in Minlaton – there’s a clutch of them guaranteed every year.
Wildflowers at Innes National Park -- Innes is flushed with colour, with golden wattle, red ‘cockie’s tongue’ (Templetonia) and pale pink fringe myrtle. Birds are also on the wing in spring, offering twitchy photographers the chance to snap at rarities like ospreys and red-capped robin.
Surf action – there’s a million-hit Instagram shot waiting to be had when the big dolphin pods decide to surf the waves around southern Yorkes.
A classic English garden – Camelot Garden in Kadina is replete with lawns, 150 roses and a lavish collection of trees. It’s open to the public on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 November between 10am and 4pm. Plenty of colour, form and composition -- to help you with your colour, form and composition…
People at play – spring sees colour of a different sort spreading across the region thanks to events like Yorke Peninsula Field Days at Paskeville (September 26 to 28), the ‘Wine, Wheels and Whiting’ Food and Wine event at Wallaroo (September 9) and The Price Rodeo (a Landcruiser line-up and mechanical bull at the Wheatsheaf pub on the October long weekend). It’s a chance to grab portraits of country people living the good life.
6. Surf’s up!
Did you know South Australia’s first National Surfing Reserve (NSR) was established on Yorke Peninsula? Daly Head received official NSR status in 2013, becoming one of just 19 Australian surf beaches recognised as an 'iconic place of intrinsic environmental, heritage, sporting and cultural value to [the] nation’. Alumni include Maroubra, Margaret River, and Burleigh Heads.
According to the NSR website (www.surfingreserves.org):
Over 50 years ago, the Daly Head surfing area was discovered by a group of surfers in search of quality breaks on the Yorke Peninsula. Local fishermen talked of large waves breaking in the area which kept the eager surfers hungry in their search, despite the limited beach access throughout the scrub & farmland. By 1961, the surfers’ efforts were rewarded with a variety of breaks that make the Daly Head area the stand out that it is to this day.
Spring sees some frenzied surfing action around the southern beaches of Yorke Peninsula. There’s the 30-year old Yorkes Surfing Classic (Saturday 30 September & Sunday 1 October ) with surfers competing for the Keith Sugars Memorial Trophy. And on November 4 and 5, the Rip Curl Grom Search is open to under-16 talent.
Be aware the surf can get pretty serious around these parts, but the vibe is distinctly chilled, with none of the ‘surf wars’ that plague busy breaks in the eastern states. Beginners can also get a break thanks to occasional surf schools operating on gentler waves. Check out Yorkes Junior Surf Club which meets at Berry Bay (Corny Point) on the last Sunday of every month at 10am.
Written by Max Anderson for Yorke Peninsula Tourism