Family-Friendly Holiday in Whyalla, South Australia | Review

Family-Friendly Holiday in Whyalla, South Australia – Review

Where the Outback meets the sea … From a glass-bottom boat tour to see giant cuttlefish to perusing a suburban Elvis Presley Museum, Whyalla sure doesn’t disappoint. 

by Carla Caruso

Whyalla wasn’t a place I’d thought about visiting for a short break before. But after venturing there for a snorkel tour, I’ve fallen under the spell of the Outback city.

One of its drawcards is the CuttleFest – an annual event, celebrating the winter congregation, for the mating season, of thousands of giant cuttlefish nearby. The unique, world-class phenomenon has even featured on David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II.

But, as we discovered during our two-night getaway, there’s even more to see and do in this quirky Eyre Peninsula spot.

It’ll take you about four hours to drive to Whyalla – “where the Outback meets the sea” – from the CBD. The reward is 300 days of fine, sunny weather and an annual rainfall of just 271mm. (Its population, by the by, numbers 22,000.)

We stayed in a two-bedroom apartment at Quest Whyalla, which proved spacious and neat with great facilities – including a kitchen and laundry.

Here are some of the highlights of our stay, below:

Glass-bottom boat, snorkelling, and Point Lowly Lighthouse

As well as doing a snorkel tour with Experiencing Marine Sanctuaries (read our review here), we joined one of Cutty’s Glass Bottom Boat Tours. These run between May and July. 

If you like the idea of staying warm and dry, while still getting to experience one of nature’s great spectacles, this is a great option. 2022 was the first season on the water for the company.

The departure point is at Stony Point, just a half-hour drive south of Whyalla. Our tour guide, Matt Waller, was a font of knowledge and previously ran a shark cage diving venture in Port Lincoln. While onboard, we were also lucky to see a trio of dolphins frolicking. 

If you still like the idea of getting wet, but prefer to hit the ocean solo, you can hire snorkelling and scuba diving gear from Whyalla Diving Services too.

While at Stony Point, it’s just a five-minute’s drive to the Point Lowly Lighthouse – quite the photogenic spot. Constructed in 1883, the lighthouse is back in operation.

Iconic loop jetty

Whyalla’s jetty, unveiled in 2020, is 165m long and the only one of its kind in Oz, featuring a unique loop. It’s best viewed from up above – or take in its stunning LED lights while catching a beautiful sunset.

The jetty’s also dotted with art and signage, honouring the area’s famed cuttlefish.

  

Hummock Hill Lookout

Driving up to the Hummock Hill Lookout, on Queen Elizabeth Drive, is a must-do. The 360-degree views take in such sights as the Whyalla Steelworks (which began production in 1965) and the marina and foreshore. (At the time we visited, the Steelworks Tours were unfortunately on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.)

Defence infrastructure was installed up on the hill during World War Two to provide protection to the steel mill, loading jetty, and shipyards. You can learn about the city’s early days via signage and monuments at the spot.

Jim Pollock Whyalla Wetlands

Whyalla’s wetlands have something for everyone – walking and riding trails, birds galore, a nature playground with a flying fox, and an on-site café, Sumthin’ Tastee. Well worth a meander. 

Ada Ryan Gardens

How many local parks include a massive bird aviary? This one does. The picturesque setting also gave us botanic garden vibes.

Elvis Presley Museum 

This one you have to see to believe. Local Peter Bleeze has turned his suburban home into a shrine to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

If you’ve just caught Baz Luhrmann’s biopic of Elvis Presley at the cinema, you’ll love perusing Peter’s memorabilia, collected over a lifetime.

Every room in the abode has been taken over by merchandise – even extending to an Elvis toilet seat, animatronics, and numerous ticking clocks. In order for Peter to still live there and not disturb the display, he microwaves his food and takes his clothes to a laundromat. (Previously, he resided in Adelaide and ran a gym called the Graceland Fitness Centre.)

Bookings at the museum are by appointment, seven days a week, with just a gold coin donation for entry. Peter or a friend will take you through each space. Allow a good hour to take it all in.

What we love about holidaying in Whyalla

  • It’s such a unique destination, with its combination of red dust, turquoise waters, and shingle beaches.
  • There are so many quirky, fun things to do, from a tour of its suburban Elvis Presley Museum to a visit to its parkland bird aviaries.
  • Whyalla boasts 300 days of fine, sunny weather and an annual rainfall of just 271mm.
  • While there, you’re not far from many other great locations, including the Flinders Ranges and Port Lincoln.

Things to consider

Whyalla is a four-hour drive from Adelaide’s CBD. So, factor in stops for lunch, loo visits, and leg-stretching. 

Coffee and food options nearby

While in Whyalla, we dined at haunts like the Eyre Hotel and Westland Hotel. (Attached to the latter is the Bottle & Bird – apparently the only drive-through in the Southern Hemisphere to blend a bottle shop and takeaway food outlet.) Both hotels provide hearty, tasty pub-grub.

Location:

 

Review by Carla Caruso

things to do in Adelaide for families


For more information on Whyalla, please visit the Whyalla council website.

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

As per all our Play & Go reviews, this is not a sponsored post and our review is done completely independently. All photos are by Play & Go.

All photos by James Elsby for Play & Go Adelaide 

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