The third in our blogs featuring coastal travel destinations with a seafood twist takes us slightly further afield to Port Lincoln in South Australia. Widely recognised as the seafood capital of Australia, it’s also home to the largest fishing fleet in the southern hemisphere and is renowned for its tuna, whiting, Coffin Bay oysters and Spencer Gulf king prawns. Port Lincoln is located 240 kilometres west of Adelaide on the east shore of Eyre Peninsula within the Spencer Gulf and offers a holiday of spectacular beaches, maritime adventure and some of the best seafood on the planet.
Port Lincoln was home to the indigenous Barngarla people, who fished for a wide variety of seafood and sung to sharks from the clifftops in a belief that it would encourage the sharks to drive the schools of fish closer to the shore so they could catch them. They used a network of fish traps, spears and a fishing boomerang called a wadna which has only been found to be used in two other places in Australia - the Kimberleys and Arnhem Land.
When explorer Matthew Flinders sailed into the bay in 1802, the Barngarla believed he was the spirit of their ancestors returned from their islands. They showed Flinders where to find fresh water which saved his sailors from dying of thirst. In fact, the indigenous name for the area was Galinyala, which means place of sweet water. It was Flinders who gave the place the name of Port Lincoln after his home county of Lincolnshire in England.
Initially considered as a possible location for the capital of South Australia, it attracted French whaling ships in the 1820s and sealers by 1828. Settlers didn’t really arrive until 1839 with the area becoming an agricultural centre and commercial port for wheat, barley, wool, and mutton. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the fishing and seafood industry really took off.
Fun Fact: In 1980, local farmers and fishermen made ideal extras for the classic Australian movie, Gallipoli, filmed near Port Lincoln.
The town is a seafood lover's paradise, offering an array of fresh catches from the Southern Ocean and a visit to the iconic Port Lincoln Fisherman's Wharf is an absolute must. The industry didn’t really take off until the State Government loaned a local family money to build a super vessel in the 1950s. Australia’s first purpose-built tuna fishing vessel, MFV Tacoma is still a working boat today, taking tours out to the local fishing areas.
Today the industry employs hundreds of locals, exports all over the world and is known for the freshness of the products coming from the pristine waters of the Spencer Gulf - both fresh-farmed and wild-caught. High quality southern bluefin tuna, yellowtail kingfish, southern rock lobster, green lip and black lip abalone, Spencer Gulf king prawns, Boston Bay blue mussels, and Pacific and Angasi oysters are just some of the delicious delicacies of this extraordinary area.
Things to Do
High on the list of things to do in Port Lincoln and surrounds is eat. Eat seafood of course. Perfectly complemented with local wineries and farm fresh produce, the wine and dine scene here is well developed. Don’t miss 1802 Oyster Bar or Oyster HQ located at Coffin Bay where you can also join a Coffin Bay Oyster Tour, wading out into the water and actually shucking oysters in the sea!
Wine lovers can enjoy Gardner’s Vineyard, Boston Bay Wines or Peter Teakle Wines where you can also experience fine dining at its best at Line & Label. If you’d rather your tipple come from a tap, try Jump Ship Brewing or if you prefer it stronger, there’s also West Coast Distilling Co, a boutique distillery with a focus on gin and vodka products using locally sourced botanicals in its fully copper still.
Adventurers can dive with great white sharks, or swim with sea lions or giant cuttlefish. There’s the Port Lincoln National Park to explore and a four-wheel drive is highly recommended to access some of the more remote and beautiful beaches. Take a fishing charter or enjoy the Port Lincoln Golf Club which boasts a beautiful 18-hole course overlooking the ocean.
If you can’t quite make it to Port Lincoln for a holiday, here at Dawson’s Oysters we stock the Spencer Gulf king prawns all year round. When it comes to the oysters, we’ve tried shipping Coffin Bay oysters here previously, however we’ve found they do not travel well. If you’re after Pacific oysters, similar to those in Coffin Bay, make sure to try our Pacific oysters from Karuah instead. We also stock southern bluefin tuna so there’s no need to schlep all the way to South Australia to enjoy the tastes of the region. We’ve got you covered.