The Hidden Coastline of Whalers Way

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Whalers Way, located near Port Lincoln in South Australia, is a stunning coastal drive that offers visitors an opportunity to explore some of the incredible scenery and wildlife in the region.

It’s dotted with rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life,

Whalers Way promises to be an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. From bushwalking and whale watching to fishing and surfing, this incredible destination has something for everyone.

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The Hidden Coastline of Whalers Way is a guest post written by Chris from Chris & Laura Travels. Chris and Laura are Australia’s Top Australian and Canadian Adventure Travel duo. A real couple doing cool stuff in a responsible way. They want people to have thrilling and beautiful experiences, that keep them excited, curious and connected to life itself.

No other place in South Australia surprised us more than finding out about a secret, private park known as Whalers Way, Port Lincoln.

Hidden from the main road, locked behind a closed gate on privately owned land, whalers Way is far enough away from the public eye that you find yourself immersed in natural, untouched and peaceful nature.

It is the perfect place to set up camp for a few days and explore the ubiquitously harsh coastline of the Great Australian Bight.

Finding Whalers Way

Whalers’ Way is often stumbled upon through chance or recommendations from others.

Despite being lesser known, it is a noteworthy drive that caught our attention after a visit to the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre – which we highly recommend as a starting point for your Port Lincoln explorations.

Others stumble across this hidden beauty through their travels of exploring Port Lincoln and beyond. Asides from the obvious great White shark cage dive and seal swim in the bay, Port Lincoln has held the buried treasure of Whalers Way for a long time.

Whalers Way has been privately owned and operated since 1887. It has been open to the general public for some time now.

If you wish to visit, you can easily access it by purchasing a pass and picking up a key from the tourist centre or by buying a pass online for $40, which includes a key code to unlock the gate.

Camping is included in the entry price. Additional days can be added for $10 each.

Pick up your Whalers Way Permit here

How Long Can I Stay in Whalers Way?

Upon arrival, your first night’s pass will grant you full access to the park and a complimentary overnight stay. With 14 different campsites and dramatic coastal views to explore, there is plenty to experience in Whalers Way.

We highly suggest staying for a minimum of 2-4 days to fully appreciate all the park has to offer, especially if you prefer a more leisurely pace.

If you do not plan to stay overnight, it is still a great idea to visit Whalers Way on a day trip from Port Lincoln. It takes only around thirty minutes to drive from Port Lincoln to the gate to start your Whalers Way drive.

The drive itself is 14km long, but it will take most of the day to explore as you will want to get out of the car at many of the stops along the way. The walks to the viewpoints range from just a few metres to around a kilometre.

Exploring Whalers Way

Looking over some cliffs at sunset with golden hues highlighting the waves crashing on the cliffs of Whalers Way

When examining a map of Whalers Way, one will quickly notice the reason for its name. The formation itself bears a striking resemblance to the tail of a whale, albeit a plump one.

As soon as you step into the park, you’ll be treated to an unmatched view of the stunning Southern Ocean and the beginning of the Great Australian Bight. In our opinion, this first glimpse is truly awe-inspiring.

The Great Australian Bight may have an unusual name, but it’s not without reason. Upon examining a map of Australia’s southern coastline, one will notice that it appears as though a portion of the country has been bitten off. This explains the origin of the Bight’s name.

Your initial encounter with nature will be at The Swimming Hole, which is your first point of interest. You can access the location through a narrow road that can accommodate vehicles.

An enclosed steel ladder is securely fastened to the cliff, where you can descend and then follow the trail that leads to the swimming hole.

On one side, a tranquil rockpool has emerged from the ocean’s waves, basking in the warmth of the sun. However, the other side is a treacherous stretch where the waves violently collide with the cliff.

It’s important to avoid venturing beyond this point as unexpected and dangerous waves can emerge and sweep you out to sea.

In the southeastern corner of the park, there’s Cape Wiles, a breathtaking lookout seated on a cliff that provides an elevated view of the cliff face and rock formations beneath it.

With a zoom lens or binoculars, you can spot black shapes moving on the rocks below. These are Australian Fur Seals seeking shelter from the ocean’s waves and predators, and enjoying some sunbathing and tanning.

Looking down on some sea lions lazing on a rocky shoreline as the rough water churns nearby

Only a short distance of less than 3km away from the swimming hole (in a straight line), this viewpoint is easily accessible on your journey through Whalers Way.

Although the descent to the bottom is steep and rocky, it can be easily navigated with your car.

One of the wonderful aspects of Whalers Way is that every viewpoint is interesting and entertaining.

The park’s southern area features numerous gravel turnouts that lead you to the edge of the cliffs, where you can enjoy the best views after a short walk. We suggest using a vehicle that can handle the rough dirt and sharp gravel roads.

There are other interesting places to visit along Whalers Way, such as Cape Carnot, Blue Whale Bay, Moonlight Bay, and scenic views of Groper Bay.

While we were in Melbourne, we rented a van and it managed to handle the drive quite well. However, there were certain moments when it made us a bit anxious.

For optimal reassurance, we recommend a four-wheel drive as the preferred choice (and don’t forget to bring a spare tyre).

Our second favourite point of the park was the only place we decided to stay the night and is all the way far southwest at the Blowhole and Baleen Rockpools.

View of a rocky shoreline as you look out into the ocean. There are more rocks forming small islands, one in particular has a distinctive pyramid shape.

One of the best things to do in Whalers Way is park your car in the blowhole car park located at the bottom end of the trail. It’s most easily noticed by the sign at the cliff’s edge that reads “Do not pass beyond here- freak waves have killed 6 people”.

This area has two sections. The first section is the Baleen rockpools, which are a vast collection of naturally carved rock pools formed by the continuous pounding of the harsh waves against the coast.

The Baleen rockpool is a stunning sight, situated just before the cliff drops off into the ocean. However, it is important to note that the area is not safe or secure for visitors to walk down and explore.

It is recommended to enjoy the view from a distance unless you have access to a helicopter.

To the right of the rockpool lies a breathtaking sight – a cousin that is not as welcoming, but still mesmerising. The shooting water creates an incredible visual display, especially during the sunset.

views of bare, sheer cliffs falling into churning waves along Whalers Way

We decided to spend the night in a spacious circular parking lot, even though it was quite windy and unsettling since we were the only ones there.

Despite that, it turned out to be one of our most memorable and unique experiences during our visit to Whalers Way.

To reach Whalers Way, head towards Sleaford, which is the suburb where it is located. The park is connected by a single main road called Whalers Way Road.

Follow this road as far west as possible and then take a left turn at the signs indicating Baleen Rockpools and the Blowhole, just before the roundabout.

As you make your way from the blowhole towards the entrance, you’ll notice a sign on the left indicating The Caves and Old Whalemans Grotto.

Follow the path of sharp rocks leading down to the water’s edge, and you’ll come across impressive caves that have been formed over thousands of years due to erosion, on your right-hand side.

These caves are believed to be 2643 million years old, making them the oldest rock formations found in South Australia.

As Whalers Way continues along the coastline towards Red Banks Beach, it follows a track that can only be accessed by 4WD. In the distance, a vast windmill farm spans the southwest coastline of the Eyre Peninsula.

If you venture to the area between Red Bluff Beach and Old Whaleman’s Grotto, Theakstone Crevasse is a must-see destination.

Things to Know About Whalers Way

A long, dirt road disappears into the distance where there are cliffs falling into the sea. Each side of the road is low vegetation, green-grey in colour.

I suggest getting a sturdy 4WD vehicle for driving around the unsealed roads that make up Whalers Way. Some parts of the road can be a bit challenging to navigate, so it’s best to be prepared.

Another reason for this is that Whalers Way has no phone reception. As a result, it will be challenging and expensive to arrange for a tow truck if needed.

When visiting Whalers Way, it’s important to keep in mind that the area is exposed to harsh weather conditions throughout the year. Therefore, it is essential to come prepared with appropriate clothing to stay protected and comfortable.

It’s also important to check that you have weather conditions suitable for what you want to do on your visit. Often certain sections become only accessible by 4WD vehicles, or perhaps they get closed off altogether.

Final Thoughts on Whalers Way

If you’re thinking of travelling to South Australia and hoping to explore some lesser-known areas, Whalers Way is an ideal spot to spend a few days.

Additionally, you won’t want to miss out on other stunning parks such as Lincoln National Park, Coffin Bay National Park, and many others on the Eyre Peninsula.

Prefer a Tour to Whalers Way?

Take a look at this Port Lincoln day tour that takes you not only to Whalers Way but some of the other great attractions in the area, such as Lincoln National Park and Sleaford Bay, Mikkira Station koala Sanctuary and enjoy a delicious lunch of local seafood along the way. Click here to see to details.

Looking for more great content for your Port Lincoln stay? Try these posts
Best Things to Do in Port Lincoln
Best Place to Stay in Port Lincoln
Shark Cage Diving in Port Lincoln

Don’t forget to come on over and join the Facebook group for more South Australian inspiration and to get all your questions answered. Click here to join now.

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About the author

Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred, living here for her whole life. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.

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