The drive south down the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula will have you eagerly anticipating what lies ahead at Lincoln National Park. If you’re coming from the north like we did, the usual sun parched barren landscape that’s synonymous with central and southern Australia transforms into pristine beaches and breathtaking headlands where you can see for miles. What more could you want!
Driving into Port Lincoln, your first point of call should be the Port Lincoln Information Centre. You will need to book in and pick up the key if you intend to camp at Memory Cove campground, located in Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area of Lincoln National Park. Lincoln National Park is located approximately 10km south of Port Lincoln, with Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area located a further 19kms south of the park’s main entrance.
Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area is very well regulated which helps maintain the number of daily visitors to a maximum of 15 vehicles, with camping being permitted for a maximum of three nights. It’s a good idea to purchase an annual parks and camping pass for South Australia, that way you don’t have to worry about on the spot fees, which is always a bonus.
[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”If you want beautiful beach fishing, then the west coast is the place to go”[/blockquote]
Once you get the key, proceed to Memory Cove campground, which is slow going, rutted, steep and rocky. Absolutely perfect for the red-blooded 4WDer. The track took us about 90 minutes and we stumbled across a lot of emus on it. Whilst seeing the emus is fantastic, it’s a smart idea to make sure they don’t dart across the road as they try and escape. Treat it like looking for roos in the Outback. Eventually you will arrive at the beach campground, which was deserted when we arrived. The campground consists of five separate sites along the beach, picnic tables and basic drop toilets.
Memory Cove is truly spectacular. There is no doubt that you’ll want to spend a few days exploring the beach, relaxing or bushwalking. While you’re there, have a look around for an engraving in the granite rocks which was known as the ‘Whalers Post Office’. Back in the day, seaman of the many boats that sailed past here left messages for other boats to collect. Even if you don’t find it, you’ll still have a ball climbing over and up the rocky shoreline.
The kids will also love playing on the pristine beach, or swimming beautiful aqua water. For the keen anglers out there, it’s the perfect spot to wet a line. Nik caught a few fish which we thought were undersized salmon so we threw them back. We weren’t too happy later on when the blokes at the tackle shop in Port Lincoln reckoned that we had in fact caught a few really well sized Tommy Roughies, which would have made pretty decent tucker.
If you enjoy sightseeing, there are some cracking spots to explore along the road in, particularly a lookout that is locally known as ‘Ivy’s Leap’. This spot was named after an incident involving a local tourist operator conducting a tour of Memory Cove. They had stopped at this spot and had all disembarked when the handbrake on the bus failed and the bus all of a sudden started rolling off the track and over the cliff, plunging into the cliffs below. Thankfully there were no injuries, but you’d sure feel sorry for the blokes who had to recover the bus!
[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”Slow going, rutted steep and rocky. Absolutely perfect for the red-blooded 4WDer”[/blockquote]
This lookout also offers amazing views of Cape Catastrophe and Thistle Island. We also found some other tracks that lead us to another lookout, which on a clear day will offer you spectacular distant views of both the North Neptune and South Neptune Islands some 25-35km away. The waters around these islands are home for an abundance of sea life and it’s also where tourists and adventure seekers can do a cage dive with Great White Sharks. During the winter months this coastline also offers incredible views of the Great Southern Whale migration from Antarctica.
Unfortunately our three nights at Memory Cove came to an end and after we packed up and headed back along the rough track. Back into Lincoln National Park we contemplated our next campground. There are a number of campsites available within the park, some with basic facilities and fires allowed and some without. So with the weather not looking too great over the next couple of days we decided to camp at September Beach campground based on the fact that we could keep warm with a fire.
[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”Pristine beaches and breathtaking headlands. What more could you want?”[/blockquote]
September Beach campground is located at the far east side of the park, less than a kilometre from Cape Donington Lighthouse. Another top campsite within the park is Surfleet Cove, it too has basic facilities but no fires allowed. Apparently you can harvest a decent amount of Razorfish off the beach here too.
Once you head out of Memory Cove, make sure you return the key to the Information Centre in Port Lincoln. While you’re in town it’s the perfect opportunity to restock on food before returning to your next campsite. The National Park is home to heaps of bushwalks around the lighthouse and other campsites. The main walk throughout the park is the 100km ‘Investigator Trail’ which can be done as a whole or broken up into smaller sections.
On the section we walked we experienced breathtaking views of Boston Bay and the harbour in Port Lincoln, which was only roughly 15km away across the bay. One of the best things about camping at Port Lincoln National Park is how close you are to the beach. Once again Nik tried his hand at fishing and hooked up a few squid, perfect for dinner that evening.
If you still want to cram some more fantastic bushwalking in, we reckon the Sleaford- Wanna Dune track, which is located along the south western coastline of the National Park, is a must do. If you want beautiful beach fishing, then the west coast is the place to go. However it is quite exposed and proper care needs to be taken due to the strong currents and big waves. The sand is very soft so reducing tyre pressures is a must, so too is sticking to the route markers along the way.
After spending over a week exploring this wild and at times remote tip of the Eyre Peninsula it was time to move onto our next adventure. Lincoln National Park truly has something to offer everyone with its beautiful coastlines, rewarding bushwalks and multiple fishing spots it certainly ticks all the boxes, and should be on every 4WDers must see places. It won’t disappoint!
Lincoln National Park is located on the most southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, 660km west of Adelaide by 4WD. It is literally a stone’s throw, only 10km, south of Port Lincoln, Australia’s seafood capital.
Attractions include Memory Cove Wilderness Area, beach fishing, Sleaford-Wanna Dunes, bushwalking, Cape Donington Lighthouse, Flinders Monument, Shark cage diving at South Neptune Islands, swimming with the sea lions and tuna and not to mention a huge variety of freshly caught seafood. The climate in Port Lincoln during our visit in September was cool, with average temperatures of 20°C during the day.
Memory Cove Campground, September Beach Campground, Surfleet Cove Campground and Taylors Landing Campground are all unpowered with basic amenities. Camping fees apply and all payable at drop box at park entrance. If you intend to camp at Memory Cove, you will need to collect a key from the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre
WHAT TO TAKE:
Sufficient supply of food and water, ample supplies are available at Port Lincoln
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL:
Recommended travel times are anytime during the year, however the winter and early spring months are quite cold. During the summer months they average mid 20’s. We travelled in September and found the temperatures quite coolish though.
FUEL & SUPPLIES:
Food supplies, water, fuel and mechanical repairs are available at Port Lincoln.
The vast majority of Lincoln National Park is rated an E with gravel roads, Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area is rated a D, for the sharp rocky tracks and the Sleaford-Wanna Dunes track is rated a B due to soft sand, a good 4WD vehicle that has high clearance and a set of good tyres is needed. Correct tyre pressure is required.
TRIP TIME OF YEAR:
We visited in September, recommended travel times are all throughout the year, however be mindful of cold temperatures, day and night during winter and some extremely hot days during summer.
RESTRICTIONS AND PERMITS:
Permits, booking and gate key for Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area is required and available at the Visitor Information Centre in Port Lincoln. Entry and camping permits required for all National Parks, payable at self-registration boxes at park entry.
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