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Streaky Bay, SA

Quiet holiday town on beautiful stretch of the Eyre Peninsula coastline.

Streaky Bay is a important, small service centre on the edge of the only safe, deep water harbour between Port Lincoln and King George Sound in Western Australia. While the town has a wonderfully casual, Mediterranean ambience its real attraction is that it is surrounded by some superb, unusual coastal scenery. The beautiful Smooth Pool and huge white sand dunes on the Westall Way Scenic Drive; the sea lions lazing in the sun on the rocks below Point Labatt; the rugged cliffs and pristine, white beaches all help to make Streaky Bay a magnet for holidaymakers.


Streaky Bay is located 699 km north-west from Adelaide, 391 km west of Port Augusta and 295 km north-west from Port Lincoln.


Origin of Name

Matthew Flinders explored the coast in 1802 and named the bay because of the streaky discolouration he noticed in the water. It is likely the discolouration was simply seaweed.


Things to See and Do

Streaky Bay Historic Walk
Contained within the Streaky Bay Visitor Guide (see http://streakybay.yourvisitorguide.com.au/#folio=21) is a detailed description of a 2.6 km walk around town which starts at the Streaky Bay Visitor Centre (the old Masonic Hall dating from 1926) and includes the National Trust Museum, a number of significant private homes, memorials, and a number of public buildings in a total of 28 places of interest around the town. Of the most important are:

3. Streaky Bay National Trust Museum
Located at 42 Montgomerie Street (which is two blocks south of the harbour foreshore) is the National Trust Museum. The museum includes displays of Aboriginal artefacts, birds eggs, shells, old furniture, medical equipment, early printing equipment which was used by the local newspaper, and early agricultural machinery. It is a typical rural folk museum with lots of interesting memorabilia about the local region. In the grounds is the restored Kelsh Pioneer Cottage which was built of pug and pine in 1886. The cottage still has furniture and domestic utensils dating from the late nineteenth century. It is open between December and February from 1.30 pm - 4.00 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays. For more information tel: (08) 8626 1443 or (08) 8626 1485.

4. Balfour House
Now a private residence it was built for Baron Von Bockelberg in the 1880s and used as a private hospital which was run by Irish nurses from 1884-1913.

11. Powerhouse Museum
Located at 20-22 Alfred Street, the Powerhouse Museum has over 400 engines all of which have been restored and are in working order. It is open Tuesday - Friday from 2.00 pm - 5.00 pm. Tel: (08) 8626 1459 or (08) 8626 1567.

17. Town Jetty
The town jetty was constructed between 1891 and 1896 and is a reminder of the town's importance as a port for both the transportation of wheat from the hinterland and fishing in the bay.

18. Pieter Nuyts Memorial
The Dutch sailor Pieter Nuyts was probably the first European to sail across the Great Australian Bight. In 1627 he reached the South Australian coast near Streaky Bay before turning westward and heading to the Dutch East Indies. The town celebrates this early contact with the area in the Pieter Nuyts Monument which is located in the median strip on the corner of Bay Road and Alfred Terrace near the Community Hotel.

20. Community Hotel
Built in 1866 and known as the Flinders Hotel, the second storey was added in 1905 and the name changed in 1983. It is currently an excellent cafe.


Other Attractions in the Area

Three Scenic Drives in the Area
There are three scenic drives around Streaky Bay and each offers superb opportunities to see the best that this wild and rugged coast can offer.

1. Westall Way Loop and Coastal Scenic Drive
To the south of the town on a gravel road is a truly beautiful stretch of coastline which includes sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, pleasant bays and inlets, and headlands and rocky outcrops which can be explored. There is Tractor Beach, High Cliff, the surfing beach known as the Granites, the Smooth Pool which is reputed to be an excellent fishing spot, the white sand dunes at Yanerbie which lie to the south of Smooth Pool, and Speeds Point and Sceales Bay.

2. Cape Bauer Loop Coastal Scenic Drive
Located to the north-west of the town, the Cape Bauer Loop, which is mostly a good gravel road, includes Hallys Beach, Whistling Rocks, the Blowholes (which have an excellent boardwalk and viewing platform - but, note, it only blows at high tide - otherwise there is a just a thump) and the opportunity to see the breeding habitats of the Peregrine Falcon, Southern Osprey and White-bellied Sea Eagle. It also passes a section of mangroves. The sign at Cape Bauer points out: "Cape Bauer marks the northern end of Corvisart Bay. A high limestone headland, it recedes east to the sheltered waters of Point Gibson and south to the ocean beaches of Corvisart Bay. Cape Bauer scenic drive offers magnificent views of an exposed coastline including the Razorbacks, the Blowholes and Hally's Beach. Traditional custodians, the Wirangu People called Cape Bauer Moona-Mai, their name for a type of limpet. They provided a tasty and reliable food source. Today they are commonly known as a 'Chinaman's Hat' and can be seen clinging to rocks and reefs in the intertidal zone.
The first European records of Streaky Bay were made in 1802 by Matthew Flinders. Cape Bauer is named after the Austrian artist of Natural History, Ferdinand Bauer who recorded the fauna and flora encountered on Flinders expedition.
White-bellied Sea Eagles and Eastern Osprey nest on islands, cliffs and sea-stacks along the Eyre Peninsula coastline. These magnificent birds of prey seek nest sites with high refuge and access to protected, shallow water for feeding. Often called Sea Hawks, Ospreys are unique amongst raptors in having a reversible toe. This enables them to orientate fish to a head first position while flying. They can be distinguished by an elbow like bend in the wing when flying and hovering."

3. Point Labatt Sea Lion Drive Scenic Drive
Lying 51 km to the south of Streaky Bay (most of it on gravel roads), the 60 metre high cliffs at Point Labatt are impressive. To stand on the cliffs gazing across the waters is to feel as though you are standing on the edge of a dark ocean which stretches from the Great Australian Bight down into the Great Southern Ocean. Point Labatt's primary appeal is that it is home to the only accessible mainland breeding colony of Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinera). The colony varies in size but it has been estimated at about 50 sea lions. The rocky edge of the shore is also home to New Zealand fur seals and Australian fur seals (The seals grow to 4 metres in length and can weigh as much as 200 kg) and the cliffs offer nesting homes for Osprey, White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Peregrine Falcon and Black-faced shags, Red-necked stints and Crested terns mingle with the sea lions on the rock platform.
The signage at the top of the cliff explains that: "This colony at Point Labatt represents the largest mainland population of
Australian sea lions in the world. Here the natural features of this ancient coastline provide ideal habitat for these beautiful aniimals to breed and nurture their young. The surrounding waters provide them with abundant food resources - fish, squid, octopus, cuttlefish, crabs and crayfish. The reefs offshore break up the strong Southern Ocean wave energy and disperse it into smooth granite rock pools and sheltered sandy beaches inshore. This provides a perfect natural nursery, free from predators like the great white shark. The towering cliffs above also provide protection from human activity and animals on land. Pups weigh around 7 kg at birth and take to the ocean for the first time at about four weeks of age. They depend entirely on their mother's milk for the first year. During this time they learn important hunting skills by following their mothers on excursions at sea. At 18 months they are fully weaned and have developed the skills necessary to dive, hunt and catch their own fish independently. The Australian sea lion was hunted to the brink of extinction until the abolition of commercial sealing early last century. Whilst otehr species like the New Zealand fur seal have recovered steadily, the Australian sea lion is still one of the most endangered marine mammals on earth due to a number of their unique characteristics - they feed primarily on the sea floor; they breed only every 18 months and they prefer to colonise more sheltered coastlines."
Between June and October Point Labatt is an excellent whale watching site. Notices on the clifftop point out that the bay is an area where the whales breed. As well there is a notice covering the history of the area: "Point Labatt Conservation Park. Matthew Flinders, in the Investigator, was the first European to explore, map and name this coastline for England in 1802. About the same time Nicholas Baudin in Le Geographe charted this coast for France. This reserve protects the only permanent sea lion colony on the Australian mainland. The Marine Reserve off shore ensures minimum disturbance to the seals and the reef fish upon which they depend for food. This area was declared a Conservation Park in 1973."
Don't expect to get up close and personal with the sea lions. They lie on a rock platform far below the viewing platform. A pair of binoculars would be very helpful.

Murphy's Haystacks
Located 40 km south of Streaky Bay, just off the Flinders Highway on the road to Calca, are Murphy's Haystacks, probably the most famous of all the natural local attractions. The 'haystacks' (some of them really do look like old fashioned haystacks) are a series of dramatically weathered granite outcrops known to geologists as inselbergs. They were laid down around 1500 million years old. They were named after Dennis Murphy, the property owner, by the local mail coach driver who used to point them out to passengers during the journey from Streaky Bay to Port Kenny. It is believed that the Hay Stacks, which are composed of pink granite, were weathered and sculpted into their present form about 100,000 years ago. The granites were formed at a depth of 7 to 10 kilometres below the earth's surface. Today when we look at Murphy's Hay Stacks we see these Hiltaba granites exposed on the surface. The Hay Stacks include boulders and pillars. They have been eroded into wave and flared formations. The 'haystacks' are exceptional examples of a weathering process which occurs throughout the area and, if you are heading across the Nullarbor Plain, it is worthwhile checking out Ucontitchie Hill near Wudinna and Pildappa Rock which is located approximately 20 kilometres from Minnipa.
The site is well organised with a circular walking track which takes the visitor around the most impressive haystacks and into a small woodland where the haystacks are surrounded by eucalypts. There is useful signage which explains the geological origins of these unusual formations as well as their history since white settlement: "These unusual rock formations acquired their name from an Irish agricultural expert who advocated that to produce good hay farmers should harrow their land for the best results. While travelling with the coach, he noticed the rock formations in the distance and informed the coach driver and passengers that this farmer harrowed his land to produce so much hay and fodder. Being located on Murphy's property they became known as Murphy's Hackstacks. From then on passing coaches described them as haystacks to their passengers. However the haystacks are described technically as inselbergs - a hill that look like a rocky island rising sharply from the sea ... Inselbergs are formed by the uneven weathering of crysalline rock. Densely fractured compartments break down through weathering more quickly than massive unfractured compartments."

To the North of Streaky Bay
Perlubie Beach
Further up the coast (20 km north of Streaky Bay) is Perlubie Beach which has become famous on the Eyre Peninsula for its unique New Years Sports Day. Originally there was a race meeting - a 1600 m event along the beach at low tide - for horses. It had been run since 1914 and for years it was a remarkable sight to see the stands and saddling enclosures, all weathered by the sea, standing forlornly waiting for the next race meeting. Needless to say stories about the race meetings are legend with such hilarious practices as filling a jockey's pockets up with sand to get him up to correct handicap weight. Today it is a friendly family day with a 1600m foot race along the beach, a swimming competition, a tug-o-war, netball throwing and stump throwing among other fun family activities. For detailed information about the beach check out https://beachsafe.org.au/beach/sa1184. And for those wanting details of the New Year's Day Sports carnival (there is no longer a horse race) check out http://streakybay.com.au/event/perlubie-sports-day. In recent times modern houses on the hills above the beach have been built. They are notable because nearly every house, availing itself of the prevailing weather, has solar panels. The beach may be the ultimate camping holiday destination and people take their tents and caravans onto the firm sand and seem to settle in for extended holidays.

Located 41 km north of Streaky Bay township at the northern end of Streaky Bay, Haslam is little more than a jetty, a very rocky beach covered in seaweed, and a boat launching ramp. The jetty, built in 1914 to export grain and wool, continued to operate until the last cargo ship departed in 1964.

Smoky Bay
Smoky Bay is located 73 km north of Streaky Bay. It is a quiet, sleepy, attractive holiday town which came into existence in 1895 and was officially surveyed in 1913. It was a port for the local grain farmers. Until the building of the jetty (the town's vital piece of infrastructure) the wheat was taken out to the clipper ships through the shallow water by boats pulled by horses. The jetty was completed on 12 April, 1912. It was 381 metres and had a depth of 3.3 metres at low tide. The jetty was used until the 1950s when most of the wheat started being shipped out through Thevenard. The jetty was reduced by 88 metres in 1969.



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

* The first Europeans to observe the coastline 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.

* 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.

* In 1840 the explorer Edward John Eyre passed through the area. His journey is recalled in Eyre's Water Hole which is located about 3 km out of Streaky Bay on the road to Port Kenny. A sign points out that "At this spot, Baxter, after crossing the peninsula from Port Augusta waited in dire anxiety to rejoin his leader, Edward John Eyre, who had ridden from Mount Arden via Port Lincoln."

* Pastoralists had settled the area by 1854.

* By the late 1850s whaling was common along the coast.

* In 1858 the explorer John McDouall Stuart passed through the area.

* The first trading store was built at Streaky Bay in 1862.

* The Hospital Cottage was built in 1864.

* In the early 1870s a small oyster factory was established at Streaky Bay.

* The township of Streaky Bay was officially proclaimed in 1872. At the time it was named Flinders but the older name of Streaky Bay persisted.

* The Hundred of Haslam was proclaimed on 18 May, 1893. It was named after the politician, William Haslam.

* In 1914 19 blocks of land were offered for sale at Streaky Bay, 21 blocks at Haslam and 12 at Smoky Bay. Bertie James Thompson was the first permanent resident at Haslam.


Visitor Information

Streaky Bay Visitor Information Centre, 21 Bay Road, tel: (08) 8626 7033.


Useful Websites

There is an official local website. Check out http://streakybay.com.au. There is also a useful council website - https://www.streakybay.sa.gov.au.

Got something to add?

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4 suggestions
  • Daisy Bates resided with Cyril & Vida Thompson on the farm “Westall” about 1950

    peter smart
  • How do I find a friend in Streaky Bay? Gloria White. (Maiden name is Pratt). I think she worked at the school for a while. She was my neighbour in Elizabeth when I was 17. She now lives in Streaky Bay I believe with her partner of about 20 years. I hope you can give me a lead. I have a land-line number that appears to not be working.

    Jeanette Rich
  • It is also the centre of the known universe as far as I am conerned