While growing up, Whyalla was a city I visited with my family from time to time, usually for medical appointments or other “official business” type stuff. It was never a place to visit as a tourist. Recently though I did just that, looking at all the best things to do in Whyalla South Australia. Here’s what I found to do during my stay.
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TL;DR? Here's the outline
- Where is Whyalla
- Is Whyalla Worth Visiting?
- Things to do in Whyalla
- Visit the Whyalla Maritime Museum & HMAS Whyalla
- Tour the Whyalla Steelworks
- Drive or Walk to the Hummock Hill Lookout
- Take a Break in the Ada Ryan Gardens
- Visit the Mount Laura Homestead Museum
- Swim with the Whyalla Giant Cuttlefish
- Glass Bottom Boat Tour
- Be Amazed at the Elvis Presley Museum
- Look for the Public Art
- Hike the Freycinet Trail
- Hike one of the City Trails
- Look for the Street Art
- More Views at the Flinders & Freycinet Lookout
- Relax on the Beach
- Catch some Fish
- Hire a Kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard
- Spot the Dolphins at the Whyalla Marina
- Check out the Point Lowly Lighthouse
- Explore the Whyalla Conservation Park and Wild Dog Hill
- Whyalla SA Accommodation
Where is Whyalla
Whyalla SA is located on the Eastern coast of Eyre Peninsula, a bit less than 400km drive from Adelaide.
I got to Whyalla by driving, and it is very convenient to have a car while you are in town so I would suggest this is the best way. It is possible to rent a car for your stay in Whyalla too.
Bus to Whyalla
Stateliner buses run from the Adelaide Central Bus Station to Whyalla up to four times a day. The trip takes about five and a half hours. For more information on times and prices of the Adelaide to Whyalla bus, see the Stateliner website here.
Flights to Whyalla
Both QantasLink and Rex fly from Adelaide to Whyalla. There are multiple flights per day with the trip being a quick, 50-minute flight. To see times and prices, go to the Qantas website or the Rex website.
Is Whyalla Worth Visiting?
When it comes to things to do Whyalla may not have as many attractions as some other places. It is a commonly held belief that since Whyalla is an industrial city it is not one worth visiting – even during my own childhood this was the case.
And it is true, this is not a town that relies on tourism as its major drawcard, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit.
I wouldn’t recommend spending a week in Whyalla, but if you are passing, it is certainly worth stopping in for a day or even overnight to take a look around and learn about the history of the area.
There are some surprising WWII connections that I was unaware of, and the dolphins are fun too.
The other reason to visit Whyalla is for the unique cuttlefish experiences in winter – there is nowhere else in the world to swim with the cuttlefish. When looking for what to do Whyalla has this unique natural attraction right on their doorstep.
Things to do in Whyalla
A few hours or overnight will allow you to get a good idea of all the things to see in Whyalla. Include it in your itinerary to break up the driving if you are travelling between Adelaide and Port Lincoln.
Drive from Port Lincoln to Whyalla on the first day, stay overnight, and then drive from Whyalla to Adelaide on the second day. In the opposite direction, you can instead stop over in Port Augusta, allowing you to explore both of these cities.
Here are all the Whyalla tourist attractions.
Visit the Whyalla Maritime Museum & HMAS Whyalla
As you arrive it’s hard to miss the most prominent of Whyalla attractions, a ship sitting near the side of the highway. This is HMAS Whyalla, the first ship to be built in the newly opened shipyards in 1941.
It served in WWII and spent some time as a mine sweeper. At the end of her life, she was bought by the City of Whyalla for the huge sum of $5000 and brought back to be dry-docked in the exact same location she originally slipped into the sea.
Now she sits 2km inland and is the focal point of the Whyalla Maritime Museum.
The museum itself contains information about the local area, from the shipbuilding industry to the exploration of sealife to Indigenous stories.
There is also a model railway depicting the local area and plenty of models of the ships built in the area. Make sure you also watch the video that shows moving the HMAS Whyalla from the water to its location today.
To visit the HMAS Whyalla, you will have to join one of the tours that are run twice a day, at 11:30 am and 2 pm. The tour is included with admission to the museum.
Tour the Whyalla Steelworks
Whyalla exists primarily thanks to the steelworks which have been the basis of much of the industry of the city even up to the present day.
So while in the city, a visit to the steelworks will fill you with stories of over 100 years of history as well as the processes from ore to finished products.
Whyalla Steelworks Tours are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 am and leave from the Whyalla Visitor Information Centre.
Drive or Walk to the Hummock Hill Lookout
The Hummock Lookout is a good starting point to help get your bearings and helps with what to do in Whyalla. It’s a good hike up the hill to the top, or there is a road up for driving too.
At the top there are various viewpoints, some overlooking the steelworks, others overlooking the Whyalla marina, beach and city.
There is also a small sliver of history at this Whyalla tourist attraction too – a large gun that was used during WWII as protection for the shipyards and steelworks, both of which were instrumental in the Australian war efforts.
Take a Break in the Ada Ryan Gardens
There are quite a few parks and gardens in Whyalla, but the one I would recommend is the Ada Ryan Gardens. This leafy area is a great place to take a break, or there is plenty of lawn if you prefer to kick a ball and blow off steam.
You can even have a hit of tennis or a game of volleyball for free. There is a playground for the kids and a free BBQ set up for picnicking. There are even some aviaries to showcase some of the local birdlife.
Visit the Mount Laura Homestead Museum
This part of Whyalla was originally the Mount Laura sheep station, and the main museum building was originally the homestead, hence the name. The whole museum is based on the history of Whyalla and the surrounding area.
It includes lots of steam engines and other memorabilia from that time including an old locomotive that hauled iron ore in 1902. There are also displays on local telecommunications, a blacksmith’s display, horse-drawn vehicles and even the first police lockup.
Swim with the Whyalla Giant Cuttlefish
Here in Whyalla, you are so close to a unique phenomenon that happens nowhere else in the world – thousands of giant cuttlefish congregate between June and August to breed at Stony Point, near Point Lowly, about 35km north of Whyalla.
You do not need to book a tour, it’s as simple as donning a thick wetsuit and jumping in the water.
While snorkelling in frigid waters in the middle of winter may not sound too enticing, how magical must it be to see these amazing creatures up close?
The cuttlefish are giving Whyalla tourism a big boost, and more and more events and infrastructure are on the way, such as the new tour below.
Glass Bottom Boat Tour
If getting in that freezing water to see the giant cuttlefish does not appeal to you, then this might be more your style. Head out with Cutty’s Glass Bottom Boat Tours and see the cuttlefish that way.
The tours are offered twice every day during the cuttlefish season and leave from the Point Lowly area. Read more about my experience here.
Be Amazed at the Elvis Presley Museum
The last thing I was expecting to find when looking for Whyalla things to do was an Elvis Presley Museum, but yes, there is one here.
It is more of a private collection that the owner, Peter, has put together over a lifetime of fandom, and he is happy to show anyone who is interested.
Before you visit, contact Peter through his Facebook page here to make a time. Entry is by donation.
Look for the Public Art
Throughout Whyalla, there are many examples of public art just waiting to be discovered. Look out for the Loaded Dog outside of the Whyalla Veterinary Clinic, the Diver Sculpture located on the Whyalla Foreshore, and the nearby Peace & Harmony Globe and Sundial.
Hike the Freycinet Trail
The Point Lowley lighthouse is also the start (or end) of the Freycinet hiking trail. This twelve-kilometre trail follows the coastline of Fitzgerald Bay.
There are information boards dotted along the path providing information about the natural wonders and coastal landscape. During the walk, you will enjoy spectacular views out of the Spencer Gulf too.
In a few places along the trail, there are bush camping facilities, some with running water, others without.
Make sure you carry plenty of water for your hike as there are not a lot of places to refill out here, and of course, take a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
Hike one of the City Trails
There are three heritage walking trails set up within the city that are a great way to learn a little about the local area while stretching the legs. The City Walk includes Hummock Hill but also walks past the steelworks and many of the first buildings in Whyalla.
The Education & Cultural Walk walks past many of the schools, colleges and art precincts, with signs providing interesting facts about the buildings along the way.
The Wetlands Walk, as it implies, is located at the Whyalla Wetlands and provides information about the innovative water management system as well as the local flora and fauna. Each of the three walks is approximately 2km long.
Information and a map of Whyalla including all three walks can be picked up at the Whyalla Visitor Information Centre.
Look for the Street Art
Street art is popping up around the streets of Whyalla, so as you travel around town, keep your eyes peeled for some of the incredible murals. Start your search on Essington Lewis Avenue for some of the best art.
More Views at the Flinders & Freycinet Lookout
For more views over Whyalla and the gulf head to the Flinders & Freycinet Lookout. Not only are there great views, but there are some interesting sculptures commemorating the parts both Matthew Flinders and Louis-Claude de Freycinet played in charting this section of the coast back in the early 1800s.
Relax on the Beach
The main Whyalla beach runs the length of the foreshore. It’s gently sloping with white sand, and perfect for families who want to enjoy the area with some swimming in the shallows or take a walk.
If you want to swim in deeper water with the protection of a cage, head to the swimming enclosure in the nearby marina.
You will also find facilities along the shore such as a cafe, toilets, playgrounds, BBQs and some shade-sail areas, all making it possible to spend a whole day here.
Catch some Fish
The location on the Gulf is perfect for fishing in Whyalla. From the jetty and marina, it is possible to catch tommy ruff, whiting, garfish, squid and crabs.
The city has a new circular jetty which will provide ample space for recreational fishing and it should definitely be on your list of what to see in Whyalla.
Over the summer months, crabs can be caught from the beach with a rake too. All along the coastline, there are dozens of small beaches both to the north and south of Whyalla that provide a wide range of fishing opportunities.
If you are keen to go after some bigger fish, look into some of the local fishing charters such as Whyalla Fishing Charters which can take you out for a day of great fun and big fish.
Always be aware of fishing restrictions in the area, especially the marine sanctuaries where fishing is not allowed. The best way to get the most up-to-date information is to ask at the Visitor Information Centre.
Hire a Kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard
If you are looking for another way to explore the coastline, why not hire either a kayak or stand-up paddle board and spend some time out on the water exploring?
As you paddle around, keep an eye out for the dolphins who love to come and say hello. Look up rates and book your hire through Dolphin Treasure Hire
Spot the Dolphins at the Whyalla Marina
The Whyalla Marina might not be comparable to many of the other big marinas around, but it is worth a walk around to see if you can spot the local dolphins. The pod here is well known for being friendly and they come right in close.
They can often be spotted darting between the boats looking for small fish to eat. Remember though that these are wild dolphins, so feeding or handling them is not recommended.
Check out the Point Lowly Lighthouse
While in the area, it’s worth heading out to Point Lowely. It takes about half an hour to do the drive, which will be a great opportunity to spot the local kangaroos and emus.
Besides swimming with the cuttlefish at nearby Stony Point, there is a lighthouse to explore, built here in the 1880s, before Whyalla itself existed.
There are two little cottages here that were built around the same time that are available as accommodation (see the Whyalla Tourist Information Centre to book)
If looking for more things to do in Point Lowly, there is also what is being – confusingly – called the Cuttlefish Boardwalk Whyalla.
There actually isn’t a boardwalk at all, but there are some signs and other information about the giant cuttlefish and their migration to this area.
It can be found not right at the lighthouse, but a little further back down the road where the glass bottom tours leave and swimmers can enter the water.
Explore the Whyalla Conservation Park and Wild Dog Hill
Also outside of the city are the Whyalla Conservation Park and Wild Dog Hill, 10 km to the north on the Port Augusta to Whyalla highway.
The park shows the natural landscape of this area and is best seen late winter/spring after some rain makes the wildflowers bloom.
Located in the park, Wild Dog Hill is a sandstone outcrop that can be climbed to admire views over the surrounding landscape.
There is also a walking track here, and walking the whole track will only take around half an hour. Wild Dog Hill is a great spot to enjoy a picture-perfect sunrise or sunset over the wilderness surrounding it.
Whyalla SA Accommodation
Accommodation in Whyalla tends to be comfortable and functional rather than luxurious. There is also plenty of budget places to stay in Whyalla, with multiple tourist and caravan parks in Whyalla.
Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Quest Whyalla – an aparthotel where all rooms have a kitchen, living and dining area. Apartments range from studio to three-bedroom to suit families. There is an outdoor swimming pool and a BBQ area on site too. The pick (but also the most expensive) of the accommodation Whyalla has to offer.
- Sundowner Motel Hotel – basic motel-style accommodation. No frills, but clean and neat. Breakfast is included and there is a bar and restaurant on site too.
- Discovery Parks Whyalla Foreshore – a well-rated tourist park that provides a variety of cabin accommodation.
- Whyalla Country Inn Motel – motel-style accommodation that offers single rooms for a cheaper option as well as the standard double, twin and family rooms.
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