Eyre Peninsula

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Satellite photo of the Eyre Peninsula bushfires, taken on 11 January 2005
Unusual herringbone crystals of evaporite gypsum, from Sinclairs Gap Lake, Middleback Range, Eyre peninsula. Size: 10.8 x 9.8 x 6.0 cm.

Eyre Peninsula is a triangular peninsula in South Australia. It is bounded on the east by Spencer Gulf, the west by the Great Australian Bight, and the north by the Gawler Ranges. It is named after explorer Edward John Eyre who explored parts of the region in 1839-1841. The coastline was first charted by the expeditions of Matthew Flinders in 1801-1802 and French explorer Nicolas Baudin around the same time. The region's economy is primarily agricultural, with growing aquaculture, mining and tourism sectors. The main townships are Port Lincoln in the south, Whyalla and Port Augusta at the north east, and Ceduna at the northwest.

Population[edit]

At June 30, 2010 Eyre Peninsula had a population of 58,700 people. The region is home to 3.6% of South Australia's population. 2,500 people, 4.4% of the region's population, is estimated to be Indigenous.[1]

Primary Industries[edit]

The major industry is farming - cereal crops, sheep, and cattle in the drier north and more water-intensive activities such as dairy farming and a growing wine industry in the south. Many coastal towns have commercial fishing fleets, the largest being located at Port Lincoln. The town has previously harbored a large tuna-fishing fleet, which is gradually transforming its practice to fish farming with the growth of sea cage aquaculture. Oyster farming was established in the 1980s and occurs in several sheltered bays including Franklin Harbour (near Cowell in Spencer Gulf) and Smoky Bay off the west coast.

Mining[edit]

Banded iron formation, South Middleback Range, Eyre Peninsula. Orangish-brown = quartz mixed with limonite. Silvery-gray = hematite.

Iron ore is mined by Arrium in the Middleback Range near Iron Knob, inland from Whyalla. Some of the product is smelted to produce feedstock for the Whyalla Steelworks. Increasing volumes of iron ore are also being exported from Whyalla directly to customers in Asia.

There is a commercial nephrite jade mine near Cowell, and jade souvenirs can be purchased in the town.

The peninsula has many small inactive mines and quarries, and is considered prospective for a variety of minerals, including graphite, coal and uranium with many deposits being proven in recent years.

The 2000s saw increased mineral exploration activity on Eyre Peninsula. As of 2013, some of the more advanced mine development projects include: Ironclad Mining Ltd's Wilcherry Hill, Centrex Metals Ltd's Fusion Magnetite Project and Iron Road Ltd's Central Eyre Iron Project.

Shortfalls in existing rail, power and water supply infrastructure continue to hamper new project development.

Tourism[edit]

Tourists can cage-dive with Great white sharks off Eyre Peninsula.
Murphy's Haystacks are a unique geological feature.

Eyre Peninsula is being marketed as the 'seafood frontier' in an attempt to showcase the region's fisheries and aquaculture produce. Key products are the Southern bluefin tuna and Yellowtail kingfish, which are farmed in Port Lincoln and Arno Bay, and Pacific oysters, which are grown in Franklin Harbour and several sheltered bays of the peninsula's west coast. Other seafood offerings include abalone, mussels, prawns and blue-swimmer crabs.

Many natural heritage attractions can be found in the region's three National Parks, in numerous conservation parks and along the peninsula's extensive coastline.

Ecotourism operators offer visitors opportunities to experience many of the region's iconic marine species either in or on the water. From Whyalla, visitors can snorkel or dive off Point Lowly to witness the mass breeding aggregation of Giant Australian Cuttlefish which occurs there from May through August each year.

From Port Lincoln, tourists can swim in a cage with Southern bluefin tuna, with a colony of Australian sea lions, or enter a shark cage to observe Great white sharks offshore near the Neptune Islands.

On the west coast, tourists can snorkel with Australian sea lions and Bottlenosed dolphins in the sheltered waters of Baird Bay, and observe Southern right whales (and occasionally humpback whales) from the shore or by boat from Fowler's Bay from May through October.

Murphy's Haystacks are a unique geographical feature, located between Streaky Bay and Port Kenny.

Artifacts from the Peninsula's pioneer and, to a lesser extent, indigenous heritage can be seen at a network of National Trust museums, which include the Mount Laura Homestead Museum in Whyalla, the Tumby Bay National Trust Museum and the Koppio Smithy Museum. The Whyalla Maritime Museum has a nautical theme which commemorates the former Whyalla shipyards. Its displays include guided tours of the World War II corvette HMAS Whyalla, which sits in dry-dock and is visible from the Lincoln Highway.

Fishing charters are offered departing from many coastal towns, including Whyalla, Cowell, Tumby Bay and Port Lincoln.

Transport[edit]

Major population centres on Eyre Peninsula are connected by a network of highways. The Eyre Highway runs east-west across the peninsula, while the Flinders Highway and Lincoln Highway follow the west and east coasts, meeting at Port Lincoln in the south. The Tod Highway bisects the peninsula, running south-north from Port Lincoln through the town of Lock to the Gawler Ranges.

To facilitate prospective mines, new freight corridors and ports have been proposed to export minerals via Spencer Gulf. New port proposals are in place at Port Bonython, Lucky Bay, Cape Hardy and Sheep Hill (Lipson Cove). A proposal to export iron ore from Port Lincoln by Centrex Metals Ltd was approved but abandoned after strong public opposition.[2]

The peninsula is served by the isolated narrow-gauge Eyre Peninsula Railway. This line is separated from the main system by desert country, and there has therefore never been any need for a connecting link.

Port Bonython Fuels, a future fuel distribution hub has been approved to be constructed at Port Bonython to aid the development of the mining industry. Once constructed and operational, fuel will be delivered to towns and mine sites by road tankers up to A-triple class.

Water supply[edit]

Potable water is scarce on Eyre Peninsula. Presently, water is pumped several hundred kilometres from the River Murray to the town of Whyalla through the Morgan-Whyalla pipeline. Underground water resources are suffering from gradually increasing salinity. The only reliable surface flows are from the Tod River and its main tributary, Pillaworta Creek which are captured by the Tod Reservoir. The reservoir was built to augmented the groundwater supply of Port Lincoln and was constructed in the early 1920s. It was taken offline in the early 2000s due to concerns over rising salinity and contamination from agricultural chemicals. SA Water has investigated potential locations for seawater desalination plants to address future water security problems. As of January 2014, no plants are proposed to be built for domestic or agricultural supply, though one currently exists and two have been proposed to serve the mining industry exclusively. The existing plant is located at Whyalla and is operated by Arrium and plants are proposed for Point Lowly and Lipson Cove to serve BHP Billiton and Centrex Metals respectively.

Conservation[edit]

Eyre Peninsula features a variety of National Parks, Conservation Parks and Regional Reserves. The following list is not exhaustive.

Little Penguins nest in Eyre Peninsula's island conservation parks.

Eyre Peninsula National Parks[edit]

Eastern Eyre Peninsula Parks[edit]

Eyre Peninsula Island Conservation Parks[edit]

Other Eyre Peninsula Parks[edit]

Disasters[edit]

In January 2005, the Eyre Peninsula was the site of major bushfires killing 9 people.[citation needed]

In the 1920s, seven people were killed during the construction of the Tod Reservoir, north of Port Lincoln.[citation needed]

The Eyre Peninsula coastline is littered with shipwrecks from the 19th and 20th centuries.[citation needed]

Physiography[edit]

The area is also known as the Eyre Coastal Plain, is part of the Eyre Yorke Block bioregion, and is a distinct physiographic section of the larger Eucla Basin province, which in turn is part of the larger West Australian Shield division.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Regional Development Australia Whyalla & Eyre Peninsula Fact Sheet" South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, South Australia (2012).
  2. ^ "Port Lincoln protest over ore plan" The Advertiser, South Australia (2008-06-12). Retrieved 2014-01-23.

Coordinates: 34°20′S 135°45′E / 34.333°S 135.750°E / -34.333; 135.750