Home » Towns » South Australia » Eyre Peninsula » Ceduna, SA
Print

Ceduna, SA

Isolated port and service town at the edge of the Great Australian Bight.

Ceduna is the only township of significance on the eastern side of the Great Australian Bight. Located 1208 km to the east of Norseman in Western Australia all that lies between the two towns are roadhouses which provide food, accommodation and fuel for travellers journeying across the Nullarbor Plain. In this sense Ceduna is very much the last easterly stop before entering the wastelands of the Nullarbor Plain and the vast flatlands which lie to the north of the Great Australian Bight. It is an attractive town which, with the nearby port of Thevenard, is located on Murat Bay which in turn is part of the larger Denial Bay. A vibrant multicultural community with a significant Aboriginal population, it is the service centre for a rural area known for its agriculture (predominantly grain and sheep), salt and gypsum mining and seafood - particularly oysters. Ceduna is set amidst a patchwork of grain farms, natural bush and rugged rocky bays, secluded white sandy beaches and wilderness.

Location

Ceduna is the one major township on the eastern side of the Great Australian Bight. It is located 776 km north-west of Adelaide via Port Augusta and 1200 km to the east of Norseman in Western Australia.

^ TOP

Origin of Name

Ceduna is probably a corruption of the local Wirangu Aboriginal word 'chedoona' which possibly means "a place to sit down and rest".

^ TOP

Things to See and Do

Encounter Walking Trail
Starting at the Ceduna Sailing Club on the harbour foreshore and finishing at Pinky Point, Thevenard, this is an easy, 3.6 km walking trail which includes historic and interpretative signage located on ceramic tiles along the trail. Look out for the anchor from the sunken Eleni K ship in front of the Ceduna Sailing Club at the beginning of the walk. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the bicentenary of the historic meeting between Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin, the English and French explorers who were the first to traverse the South Australian coastline.

Thevenard Port
The most pleasant way to access this major port facility (it can be seen from around Murat Bay and across the waters at Denial Bay) is the 3.6 km Encounter Walking Trail. In 2011 it was recorded that the port had handled 1.8 million tonnes of gypsum in 85 ships; 130,000 tonnes of salt in 5 ships; 140,000 tonnes in 12 ships; 600,000 tonnes of mineral sands in 30 ships and unloaded 1,800 tonnes of fish from 90 trawlers.

Fishing around Ceduna
Ceduna is recognised as a premier fishing location. Apart from jetty fishing there is also surf fishing, rock fishing and the waters of Murat Bay are safe for small vessels. It is common to catch leather jackets, snook, garfish, tommy ruffs, King George whiting, salmon, trevally, mullet, silver drummer, mulloway, sweep and a range of sharks including school shark, bronze whalers, hammerheads, gummy sharks and white pointers. It is also possible to catch squid and blue swimmer crabs.

The Old School House National Trust Museum
The Ceduna Museum is located in the town's first school (built in 1912) which is now a National Trust Building surrounded by exhibits of local farming equipment and housing.  There is a special Maralinga Room housing much of the equipment used during the 1950s when atomic testing was going on at Maralinga. The museum has an extensive folk memorabilia collection with historic photographs, a room devoted to the medical history of the region, good displays of domestic utensils, and a policy to store and display the "commonplace" rather than the exceptional. The museum grounds include a number of old school classrooms (including one which was used by Edith Lee in 1918 - she was Robert James Lee Hawke's mother) as well as the first Ceduna gaol, the Denial Bay gaol, a blacksmiths shop, a large shed for horse drawn vehicles, and a large farm machinery shed. Located on the corner of Murat and Park Terrace, the museum is open Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 10.00 am to noon, and on Wednesday, Thursday and the first Sunday of each month from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm. For information tel: (08) 8625 3599 after hours.

Ceduna Aboriginal Arts & Culture Centre
Definitely worth a visit this Arts and Culture centre has original Aboriginal paintings, didgeridoos, boomerangs and gifts for sale. As well it offers a rare insight into the indigenous history and culture of the area. It is proud of its language centre which preserves the endangered languages of the Wirangu, Kokatha and Mirning people of the Far West Coast of South Australia.

Ceduna Oyster Bar
The area is famous for its oysters and the Ceduna Oyster Bar, on the edge of townLearn about the district’s oyster industry and buy fresh oysters direct from the growers. There are also direct sales at Denial Bay and Smoky Bay where most of the oysters beds in the district are located.

The murder of Mary Hattam
On 20 December 1958 Mary Hattam, the nine year old daughter of a Ceduna butcher, was raped and murdered on the beach between Ceduna and Thevenard. Over the next year this horrific event became one of the most controversial murder cases in Australian legal history. It became known as the Rupert Maxwell Stuart case after the Aborigine accused of the murder. In his book The Stuart Affair Sir Roderick Chamberlain, who was the counsel for the prosecution, explained the fascination with the case (it was similar to the Lindy Chamberlain case decades later): "In every State of the Commonwealth, the newspapers covered each step of the case with breathless furore. In South Australia, the streets were plastered with newspaper posters in flaming red ... As the press campaign continued, Rupert Stuart became little more than a pawn in the game. The attack was turned against the Liberal Government of the State and its Premier, Thomas Playford, and South Australia was said to be a 'hanging State' dominated by bloodthirsty country-folk. Many reputations suffered in one way or another. A newspaper editor was placed on trial for seditious libel. A Royal Commission was established to enquire into allegations that new evidence had been found and that this would prove the conviction to be wrong. One of the appeals was carried as far as the Privy Council, and heard by the Law Lords of the United Kingdom. The case was discussed in many parts of the world, and the campaign eventually succeeded in having South Australians condemned by Asian countries as persecutors of coloured people." In the end Rupert Maxwell Stuart was found guilty of the crime and convicted to death. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. Today there are still people in Ceduna who will swear that Stuart was definitely innocent or guilty. When finally released, Stuart returned to Central Australia, was welcomed by his people and became an important elder in his tribal group. The full story can be read in great detail at http://www.misacor.org.au/emagazine/current-news/1358-death-of-max-stuart-2014.
The town still has reminders of the crime. The gates to the Ceduna Cemetery have the initials MH on them. They were paid for by public subscription after the murder of Mary Hattam. Mary Hattam's grave is on the left just four rows in from the gates. Only a few hundred metres from the cemetery, on the road to Thevenard, are the 'cliffs' where Mary Hattam's body was found. They are really no more than an embankment between the road and the beach.

^ TOP

Other Attractions in the Area

The Longest Golf Course in the World
Nullarbor Links Golf Course
A very typical Aussie outback joke the Nullarbor Links Golf Course is the world’s longest golf course with the first hole in Ceduna and the 18th hole 1365 km away at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. Check out the details at http://www.nullarborlinks.com. It is real and can be a lot of fun for committed golfers.
The golfer intending to play the course needs to start at the Ceduna Visitor Information Centre at 58 Poynton Street where you can purchase a card for the course, receive a lot of useful advice (the best tees are the tops cut off soft drink bottles, pink balls help because there is so much white limestone on the course that a white ball can be hard to see, etc) and a detailed guide to the course. You can also buy hats and T-shirts and other memorabilia.

The Ceduna holes are called:
Hole 1: Oyster Beds  Par 5 and is 485 metres.
It is the first hole at the Ceduna Golf Course and, as such, is a relatively easy hole in comparison to what lies ahead.
Robbie’s Guide to the Nullarbor Links
"Ceduna – Oyster Beds
A straight par 5 with a wide open fairway.  Longer hitters able to go for the green in two. The small sand scrape green is slow, but receptive to pitching to the pin."
The notes on the hole record: "Aquaculture oysters are a relatively new industry in the district, but has developed rapidly into a major part of the district's economy. One of the main founders of the industry was Graham Hoffrichter. It began when a relation of Graham's, Selwin Kloeden, who was experimenting with Pacific Oysters in Venus Bay, gave some to Graham to try in the waters of Denial Bay. Where the oysters failed in Venus Bay they thrived in the local waters. In 1985 Graham established the first beds in front of his house at Denial Bay, using reinforcing rods and shade cloth. Today there are 85 hectares under cultivation in the bay and another 40 off St Peters Island. They are considered a pristine seafood product and are in great demand nationally and internationally." The tee is named after Graham Hoffrichter.

Hole 2: Denial Bay Par 4 - 370 metres.
This hole takes you back to the Club House.
Robbie’s Guide to the Nullarbor Links
"Ceduna – Denial Bay
A long par 4 dog-legging slightly right. There is out of bounds to the right, but plenty of space on the wide fairway. Another slow, but receptive, scrape green."
The notes on the hole record: "Denial Bay was the first settlement and port in the area; the town of Ceduna and the Port of Thevenard developed from the foundations set down at Denial Bay. A notable pioneer of the district was William McKenzie 1844–1906. He was one of the first to settle in the area in 1880 and had many jobs in the community which he did with the same dedication and enthusiasm, some of which included blacksmith, builder and harbour master. He assisted many new settlers in establishing properties with lots of advice and in many cases chip in with some physical labour. William was the first in the District to desalinate water from the sea for stock use. Many of the pioneers followed his example and prospered. His slogan was 'You can't grow wheat with hands in your pockets.'" The tee is named after William McKenzie.

OTC Ceduna Station
Located 30 km north of Ceduna on Goode Road is the remains of the OTC (Overseas Telecommunications Commission) Ceduna station which once handled all international telecommunications from Europe, Japan and the Middle East. There was a time when the station had two huge discs (Ceduna 1 was built in 1969 - 32.8 metres high it weighed 300 tonnes and had a diameter of 29.6 m while Ceduna 2 was completed in 1980 - 35.2 m high it weighed 260 tonnes and was 32 m in diameter). Today the University of Tasmania operates a 30 m diameter antenna as a radio astronomy observatory. The choice of Ceduna as the location of an Earth Station was dictated by the limits of the coverage zone of the Indian Ocean satellite, the need to be reasonably close to Australia's populous south eastern region and the need to be in a location free from man-made electrical noise. In July 1980, a second antenna provided an additional path for communication. During 1984, almost half of Australia's International telecommunication traffic passed through Ceduna's Earth Station. Earth Stations could simultaneously transmit and receive thousands of telephone calls, telegraph and telex messages, high speed data, facsimile and television signals. The dish antenna of the Earth Station was aimed precisely at the satellite through which it communicated. A microwave signal was received by the satellite and re­transmitted back to Earth, where the signal was amplified a million times in strength before distribution to the Australian communication network. In October 1994, improved communication methods and a desire to rationalise services saw the closure of the Ceduna Earth Station. Tours to this site are not currently available, but you can travel on Goode Road for around 30 km to see the building and the one dish left there. A reminder of the changing nature of satellite communication. See http://www.ceduna.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=495 for more detailed information.

Laura Bay Conservation Park
Located 20 km south of Ceduna is the Laura Bay Conservation Park. It can be accessed via Decres Bay Road or the Flinders Highway. Covering an area of 251 ha which was proclaimed a conservation park in 1973, it is a unique conservation park which offers an insight into what the vegetation in the area was like before the arrival of Europeans. Historically it also has remnants of the water gathering and transportation techniques which were used around 1900. Laura Bay itself protects mangroves which grow in tidal mud and twice daily are flooded by the incoming tides. The bay is surrounded by a number of interesting coastal flora communities and there are impressive stands of coastal mallee which once covered large areas of the northern Eyre Peninsula. In 1911 a timber platform was constructed on the Laura Bay headland to load bagged grain onto ketches. The grain had been hauled from nearby farms on horse drawn drays. Although the platform has been removed it is still possible to find the sight from the cuttings that were made in the limestone by the wheels of the drays. On the road out to the headland is a large stone water storage tank and gutters which was built in 1914 to collect runoff for local farmers in times of drought. The water storage tank is capable of holding nearly 1 million litres of water. The website - http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Eyre_Peninsula/laura-bay-conservation-park - notes "Explore the sandy cove and the rock pools or go swimming or fishing along the coast. A bushwalk through the park's vegetation and rocky headland will allow you to discover the habitat of bush birds and animals that have made their home here. You may even see the honeyeaters which are attracted to the flowering plants or the western grey kangaroos that often seek shade from the heat of the day."

Smoky Bay
Located 44 km south of Ceduna, Smoky Bay was named by Matthew Flinders who, observing a haze over the area which may have been result of fires lit by the local Aborigines, wrote "The number of smokes arising from the shore of this wide, open place, induced me to give it the name Smoky Bay." Today it is a sleepy holiday resort town where fishing for whiting, flathead, snook and garfish is popular.

Denial Bay
Located 13 km north of Ceduna, Denial Bay, like Laura Bay, was developed specifically to load and unload supplies and grain onto the ketches that plied the coast. The shoreline rocks run into the bay and grain ships were able to come close to shore and be loaded by wagons which could be driven across the rocks at low tide. At first sight the landing at Denial Bay, known as McKenzie Landing, seems to make no sense. Remnants of the landing sit some 50 metres from the shore. However closer inspection shows the grooves in the rocks where the bullock drays were driven out to the jetty. The other piece of history at Denial Bay is the famous dog fence which runs down to the water near McKenzie's Landing. Today Denial Bay is the home of oyster growing in Ceduna. It is an ideal place to buy fresh oysters direct from the grower and Astrid Oyster Tours - enquire at the Ceduna Visitor Centre for bookings - can show visitors the entire process. The Denial Bay Jetty, now approximately one third of its original length, is excellent for catching fish, crabs and squid.

Cactus Beach
Located 90 km west of Ceduna and 20 km on an unsealed road south of Penong is Cactus Beach which has a reputation as one of the best surfing beaches in Australia with 2 world class left hand breaks named "Cactus" and "Castles", and a right hand break known as "Caves". It is strictly for serious surfers and people who are "crazy brave" as the area is known for its significant numbers of great white sharks. Reputedly it was originally known as Point Sinclair until some surfer, incapable of recognising its superb potential, described the surf as "this place is cactus". How wrong he was. Cactus is now regarded as one of the best breaks in the world. It was recognised as a National Surfing Reserve in 2013 and there has been a pamphlet distributed which explicitly claims: "The National Surfing Reserve Charter prohibits the following within the reserve: surf contests, jet skis, commercial photography, and publishing still or moving images on any format including the internet." They want to keep it strictly for dedicated surfers. Point Sinclair, which Matthew Flinders named after his midshipman Kennet Sinclair in 1802, is a 502 ha area of coastline known for its surfing, fishing and camping and its dramatic cliffs, blowholes and huge sand dunes.

Googs Track (4WD only)
Starting at Ceduna, this 200 km 4WD track heads north until it meets the Transcontinental Railway Line at Malbooma. Passing through Yumbarra Conservation Park and Yellabinna Wilderness Protection Area, it then heads east and follows the train line toward Tarcoola, ending in Kingoonya. It is a genuine adventure with the 4WD crossing more than 300 sand dunes some of which are over 20 metres high. It eventually reaches Mount Finke. The aim, apart from adventure, is to travel across the desert from Ceduna to Tarcoola. The track is named after John (Goog) Denton who built the track between 1976-1979. It is possible to drive from Kingoonya to Glendambo on the Stuart Highway. The total distance is 360 km. Check out http://www.australian-4x4.com.au/googs-track-australia.html for more details.

^ TOP

History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area around Ceduna was home to the Wirangu Aboriginal people.

* The first Europeans to observe the coastline near Ceduna were the Dutch sailors who accompanied Pieter Nuyts in his 1627 voyage across the Great Australian Bight. Nuyts reached the islands off the coast which are now known as Nuyts Archipelago before turning west to head for Batavia.

* It is claimed that Jonathan Swift, hearing of the discovery and learning of a Dutch plan to settle the area, used the islands of the Nuyts Archipelago as the models for the lands of Lilliput and Blefescu in Gullivers Travels.

* In 1802 Matthew Flinders, circumnavigating Australia in the Investigator sailed down the coast of Eyre Peninsula naming prominent landmarks, bays and harbours as he went.

* Later in 1802 the French explorer Nicholas Baudin sailed up the coast and named Murat Bay after one of Napoleon's marshalls and Thevenard after a French admiral.

* In 1839 John Hill and Samuel Stephens explored the area but told Governor Gawler in Adelaide that it was waterless although the bay was valuable.

* The first European settlement in the Ceduna area occurred in the 1840s on the shores of Denial Bay. The area had first been explored by Matthew Flinders who, with a rare sense of a good pun, had named the bay as a combination of the fact that it denied entry into a larger body of water as well as an oblique reference to the island of St Peter off the coast - St Peter having denied Christ three times. In his journal Flinders wrote: "The bay to the northward, between the islands and the mainland I named Denial Bay, as well in allusion to St Peter as to the deceptive hope we had formed of penetrating by it some distance into the interior country."

* By the 1850s a whaling station had been established on St Peter's Island.

* The Ceduna area was first settled by William McKenzie in 1889. He fancied himself as something of a rural philosopher and is famous for the observation that "You can't grow wheat with your hands in your pockets" to which it would be fair to add that with an average annual rainfall of 300 mm it is hard to grow wheat in the Ceduna area regardless of whether your hands are in your pockets or on a plough.

* McKenzie cleared the mallee scrub with an axe, built a general store, became the local harbour master, blacksmith, postman, saddler, butcher, haulage contractor and Justice of Peace.

* The settlement of Denial Bay was created to load and unload supplies.

* A petition to have the town of Ceduna surveyed was signed in 1896.

* The town of Ceduna was surveyed and proclaimed in 1901. At the time it was known as Murat Bay.

* The jetty, which runs out into Murat Bay from the bottom of the McKenzie Street is ideal for fishing and is a pleasant way to walk out into the Bay. It was built in 1903 by John Tait.

* The town grew quickly after the arrival of the railway line from Port Lincoln in 1915. The railway siding was named Ceduna.

* The name was changed in 1921 when the local Post Office removed the name of the bay and replaced it with the name of the railway siding.

* In 1928 the Tod water pipeline was opened. It provided the town with reliable water.

* In 1969 the Overseas Telecommunications Commission built a major satellite telecommunications facility in the town. It became a major employer.

* February, 2010 saw the opening of the largest mineral sands mine 200 km north west of the town.

^ TOP

Visitor Information

Ceduna Visitor Information Centre, 58 Poynton Street, tel: (08) 8625 3343 or 1800 639 413.

^ TOP

Useful Websites

The website http://www.nullarbornet.com.au/towns/ceduna.html has very good information about eating and accommodation in the town. There is also http://exploreeyrepeninsula.com.au/destinations/west-coast/ceduna which has useful advice about activities in the area. If you are planning to travel across the Nullarbor make sure you pick up a copy from the local Visitor Centre of the excellent The Nullarbor - Australia's Great Road Journey. A new website https://cedunaonline.com.au has been created as a 'quick find' directory for everything in the area. Check it out.

^ TOP
Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

5 suggestions
  • Are there any indoor or outdoor climbing places in Ceduna?

    Love to climb
    • I don’t know but it is very flat country. There would be no natural places until you get to the Nullarbor. The “cliffs” in town, out near the cemetery, are only a couple of metres high.

      Bruce Elder
  • Thank you so much for adding our business directory! Our full site is https://cedunaonline.com.au/ and Ceduna Business Directory is the directory part of Ceduna Online. Check out our super cool surfing, surfing & travel ‘Next Door to the Nullarbor’ souvenir range. We are available on live chat on the site for any questions and we are also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CedunaOnline/ for any questions, best buys etc. etc.

    Thanks again for recommending our directory, we’re here to help 🙂

    Ceduna Online
  • My Name Dawn Sampson I was living in Ceduna about 1943. Our home backed onto the railway line. I cannot find our street or home. Can you help me? My parents were Thomas and Clarice Tee. My Father is buried in Ceduna cemetery.

    erica dawn sampson
  • Are there car rental companies in Ceduna?

    Tony