Port Lincoln, a city with a population of around 13,000 people is located on the Eyre Peninsula on Boston Bay some 650 kilometres from Adelaide by road and 250 kilometres by air.
It has become famous for both its commercial tuna fishing fleet that is based here, and also in recent years for cage diving with sharks, where divers descend in a steel mesh cage into the ocean, where Great White Pointer Sharks circle around them.
Tuna fishermen (those that own the boats) have made fortunes selling tuna to the Japanese Sashimi market, and Port Lincoln is said to have more multi-millionaires than any other Australian city – their fortunes made from Tuna.
Port Lincoln is a magnificent port and was first used by whalers and sealers in the early 1800’s, and mapped and named by Matthew Flinders in 1802, with the first settlers arriving here in 1839 to take up ‘sheep runs’ the land leased from the South Australian Company. The basis of the lease was ‘a penny for each sheep, sixpence for a cow and five pounds for the sheep run’ – with the lease holder having to tend their sheep and fend for themselves. With little water, droughts, no fences and possible attack by dingos and aboriginals these ‘sheep runs’ proved to be a tough life, made even more difficult when you needed to get the sheep shorn and the wool taken to market. It was not until 1857 that Port Lincoln’s first Jetty was built.
The early limestone buildings and mud and daub huts of the shepherds and early pioneers have largely gone, but one of these can still be seen at Mikkira Station (See www.mikkirakoalas.com Tel: (08) 8685 6020) on Fishery Bay Road. This property was first leased and settled in 1839, and the limestone cottage there dates back to around 1865.
In Port Lincoln itself there are some older limestone buildings including the Old Mill built in 1846 in Dorset Place off Gloucester Terrace and St Thomas Anglican Church built in 1849-50. Port Lincoln Railway Station Museum at Railway Place is also built in stone– with some of the old carriages and memorabilia dating back to the times when Clydesdale horses were used to shunt the loaded carriages carrying hessian bags of wheat to load on ships.
Other museums include the Axel Stenross Maritime Museum (97 Lincoln Highway) with a great collection of boats and artifacts and Flinders Park Settler’s Cottage and Mill House Museum at 20 Flinders Highway. Axel Stenross came from Finland to settle in Port Lincoln in 1927.(See www.axelstenross.com.au Tel: (08) 8682 3624)
The National Trust run Koppio Smithy Museum is at 1951 Koppio Road in Koppio – about 40 minutes from Port Lincoln. It also has a number of buildings including an old school house and blacksmith’s workshop, as well as a slab built cottage with a thatch roof built in 1890. The Tod Reservoir Museum is next to the reservoir and picnic grounds on White Flat Road.
While the early whaling, sealing and wool growing enabled Port Lincoln to develop into a town, it was Tuna Fishing after World War Two that brought new Croatian, Italian and other European immigrants and industry to the town, starting up the Tuna business and building the boats, and later the fish farms that have made Port Lincoln the city it is today.
To see the number of commercial Tuna boats head to Lincoln Cove marina, and if you want to see and buy fish head to Austar Seafood at 50 St Andrews Terrace (www.austarseafood.com.au Tel: (08) 8683 5366) and the Fresh Fish Place 20 Proper Bay Rd (See www.portlincolnseafood.com.au ).
Port Lincoln’s foreshore is lined with large pine trees and the Town Jetty and grassy lined shores make this a very attractive place to wander. The Port Lincoln Visitor Centre is located at 3 Adelaide Place in the centre of town, and can answer most questions you have, and there are lots of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops to wander by and see too in the city centre.
You will also see the Makybe Diva statue here too. This great mare was the three time winner of the Melbourne Cup in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and owned by a Port Lincoln Fisherman.
While tuna and other fish can be caught on a line or a net from a boat – what they call “wild catch”, more and more fish are being grown in aquafarms, and here in Port Lincoln you can see both.
The ‘Tacoma’ is an original Tuna boat and is being restored (See www.tacoma.org.au ), there are also many tuna boats moored at Lincoln Cove Marina, and if you want to see a real aquafarm the best view is to take a tour and see the fish from under the water with Swim with the Tuna (See www.swimwiththetuna.com.au Tel: 1300 008 862 Address: 10 South Quay Boulevard). They have an underwater observatory, and as the name suggests you can also swim with the fish too.
For fishing charters either as a group or joining with a group – see www.whynotfishingcharters.com.au Tel: 0427 020 060; or www.triplebaycharters.com.au Tel: (08) 8682 4119.
For shark adventures – See www.sharkcagediving.com.au (Tel: (08) 8682 3939); www.rodneyfox.com.au (Tel: (08) 8363 3544); www.adventurebaycruises.com.au (Tel(08) 8682 2979)
For tours around the Port and canals – see www.fredsmarinecruises.com.au and for Paddle Boarding, Kite Boarding and surfing see www.xtremekitepaddle.com.au Tel: 0402 842 944.
You may well have heard of Coffin Bay Oysters – and these come from Coffin Bay – about 45 kilometres from Port Lincoln. See www.coffinbayoysters.com.au
A 14 kilometre long walking track called Parnkalla Walking Track takes you along the coastline, while for a great view over the city and Port – head to Winter Hill on the Flinders Highway or Puckridge Park on Angas Street.
Just out of town too – there are two wineries – Boston Bay Winery on the Lincoln Highway (www.bostonbaywines.com.au and Delacolline Wines and Lavender farm at 31 Whilas Road (www.delacollinewines.com.au )
PORT LINCOLN may well be an isolated town, but it is also a vibrant one too. The claim to have the best seafood in Australia may well be true – and you can only judge the truth of this by visiting the city.
To read more about some of the towns west of Port Lincoln – and the trip across the Nullarbor Plains – see the Western Australian pages on this website.