Whyalla SA – A surprise package

As we were working our way up the Eastern Eyre Peninsula we experienced some unseasonal weather conditions with temperatures around 40 degrees. It was in the high 30's when we left Cleve at 10am and we made a "beeline" to the caravan park at Whyalla to be able to plug in the air conditioner. We generally prefer freedom camps - partially because of the obscene costs in some places,  but more because we prefer some space and don't like being packed into a caravan park like sardines. Our caravan is well set up for cold weather camping with a 12V diesel heater that keeps us toasty warm regardless of the temperature outside, but in hot weather a caravan is like an oven and the only solution is 240 V and the air conditioner. This is only the second time in over six years we have had to resort to using it! We opted for the Foreshore Caravan park because although it was a bit more expensive it gets great reviews and is right on the beach. After a summer siesta we went exploring around the town and were pleasantly surprised - we had expected a dirty industrial city but Whyalla is actually quite nice if you stay away from the steel operations in the Northern part of the city.

Whyalla is South Australia's third largest city after Adelaide and Mount Gambier and is a major centre for iron ore mining and steel fabrication. Guided tours of the steel works are available but only on certain days of the week. The city is located directly on the Spencer Gulf and has a nice foreshore area with a harbour and swimming areas. The water is very calm and there is a very gradual drop off which means the water receeds some distance at low tide. Blue swimmer crabs live in the tidal zone, and are are favourite catch for many, but I nearly trod on a couple as I was wading around in the water!

 

Whyalla Beachfront Caravan Park

Accommodation Rating – 4/5

Location

On the Whyalla Foreshore about 500m South of the harbour and park area

Facilities

Full Caravan Park facilities including amenities and laundry. Boomgate security $20 deposit for swipe card

Dog Walks

Dogs can go on the beach

Local Services

All services available in Whyalla

Cost

$35 a night or $100 for four nights, we got a 10% discount for our two nights.

Comment

Beautiful spot directly on the water. First row of vans backs onto the beach about 5 feet away and has some shade trees. Second row has no shade or beach frontage. Suggest booking ahead in busy times and asking for a water front site.

The caravan sites are located in front of a retaining wall and the cabins and amenities are overlooking the caravan sites. There are steps to get to the amenities and laundry. In the morning there is a traffic jam at the boom gate as people get their swipe card deposit back.

 

 

Maritime Museum

One of the highlights of the trip was the visit to the Whyalla Maritime Museum, which houses the WWII Bathurst class corvette HMAS Whyalla. The Whyalla was a minesweeper and defence vessel and served in WWII. She was retired after the war and sold to become a lighthouse maintenance vessel in Port Philip Bay and renamed the Rip.

The ship was sold to Whyalla City Council in 1984 and sailed under her own steam back to Whyalla where she was built. She was eventually dragged 2km from the wharf on a special cage to the current site. This considerable feat of engineering is documented in a video shown at the museum. The ship apparently cost $5000 to purchase and $500,000 to install in her new home! She was restored back to close to her original state and the maritime museum opened in 1988. 

The maritime museum runs tours of the Whyalla and we had a great time climbing around on her in spite of the 40 degree heat.

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