When HMS Investigator reached New Holland (WA) in December 1801, Captain Flinders and his Complement of 88 followed orders and sailed eastward, encountering strange sights in a place then called Peter Nuyts Land. They interacted with Aboriginal people, replenished supplies, explored, and charted everything along the way. New discoveries made prior to the Spencer Gulf include the cliffs of the Nullabor Plain and the Eyre Peninsula.
Spencer Gulf is the westernmost of two large inlets on Australia’s southern coast, facing the Great Australian Bight. The Gulf is 322 km (200 mi) long and 129 km (80 mi) wide at its mouth. The western shore is the Eyre Peninsula, while the eastern side is the Yorke Peninsula, which separates it from the smaller Gulf St Vincent. The largest towns on the gulf are Whyalla, Port Pirie, and Port Augusta. Among smaller towns are Wallaroo and Port Broughton.
The first to document these two incredible gulfs was Matthew Flinders in April 1802:
'Our examination of the Gulf of St Vincent was now finished; and the country round it had appeared to be generally superior to that on the borders of Spencer's Gulf.
Yorke's Peninsula between them is singular in its form, bearing some resemblance to a very ill-shaped leg and foot. '
The Banyandah tasted all seasons of South Australia and looks forward to another enjoyable feast very soon. When you visit, best watch the weather in SA, as you would in any active zone. In the Gulfs, strong winds and small seas can be fun, but there can be big seas. Except in summer when you just need to be going west. The persistent North and East Winds will then be your friend. Have we mentioned the good fishing and delicious wines?
Anchorages along that ill-shaped foot
Excellent in calms & northerlies, minimal protection otherwise. All GPS positions approximate.
Point Devonport, 35°09.35’ ~ 137°20.91’E
There is plenty of sand on the point protecting the anchorage from west. Look for bare patches in weed. Total depth18' Plenty of squid. One house in sight - possibly deserted
Marion Bay, this from a knowledgeable friend who needs 5’ to float, Master John parks either side of the jetty. 1/ 35°14.31’S 136°59.42’E 2/ 35°14.69’S 136°59.16’E
Stenhouse Bay, 35°16.61’S ~ 136°56.97E’
The gateway to Innes National Park, just over 300 km by road from Adelaide, and actually inside the National Park. From the campground at Stenhouse Bay, where there is a toilet but little else, it's a hop, skip and a jump to the general store and tavern.
The town of Cape Spencer that stood nearby circa 1927, had a population of 150 and the company employed eighty men. Electric lights in all buildings, a public hall, school, post office, general store, cricket oval, chemist, butcher and baker and this lead to a successful request to change the town's name to Inneston, to honour its founder, W.R.D. Innes.
The gypsum was shipped through Stenhouse Bay, transported there on a wooden rail tramway then stockpiled at the top of the cliff before ore trucks on rails and cables transported the gypsum down the steep face to the 164 metres long jetty at Stenhouse Bay.
High Quality Gypsum, supplied most of Australia's needs until the Waratah Gypsum Company closed its works in 1972, then the town was sold to the South Australian Government which demolished it! - except for the few houses required for the rangers who administer Innes National Park.
Anchorage: The recommended anchorage mentioned above was too active, so we moved in and found rock bottom! 35°16.67’S ~ 136°56.91E’ depth 8.5m. Chain noise, snubbed! Sailed!
John anchors further in: 35°16.56’S ~ 136°56.88'E
Cable Hut Bay, 35°17’ S ~ 136°54’ E
Shelter from N to NW
The W half of the bay seems rocky, there are sandy spots in the E half. The bay is shallow for quite a ways offshore. Holding seems good in sand with light weed patches.
Straightforward entry. But the charted shoals can rise suddenly, creating breaking waves, dangerous in storm conditions. There is road access along the hills above the bay and a wooden walkway and lookout at the Eastern end of the bay.
As strong N to NW winds can be followed by a SW change, you might then move as we did to Althorpe Island.
Althorpe Island, 35°22.4’ S ~ 136°51.8’ E
Shelter from NW through W to SW
Seeking shelter from a westerly gale, we anchored in the small bay on the NE side of the island, north of the jetty, with good holding in 6 to 8m of water over sand. The exposed reef extending to the north 500m gave good protection from the huge swells rolling into Investigator Strait.
Althorpe Island lighthouse stands atop 90 metre cliffs, with the only access from a small beach on the north side. Here in 1877, a small jetty was built for landing supplies. From this jetty, 10 feet wide and 146 feet long, the cliff was scaled using a ladder. Up this, all supplies including building materials had to be hauled up! Later, a small tramline and flying fox were erected to ease the arduous job. Later still, a steam engine further ease the task of shifting supplies.
Once the jetty and cliff access were finished, the main task of building the lighthouse could commence. The tower was built from limestone and sandstone quarried on the island. Chance Brothers supplied the glass gallery, lantern and dome, and on 14 February 1879 the Althorpe Island lighthouse was illuminated for the first time.
West Cape, 35°14.5’ S ~ 136°49.8’ E
Shelter from SW to S to NE
We had read that West Cape had better holding and a less dangerous entry than Pondalowie a little further north. That appealed when seeking shelter from a SW storm and we attempted entry and got as far as nearly releasing our anchor when two combers stood up and stretched across the bay. As they ran along the rock wall next to us they peaked and we had seconds to come heads up before they broke over us. Then we hi-tailed it out of there with lots of throttle.
Anchorage: Enter keeping close to southern shore, follow the break into the lee of the cape. Careful of reefs to north of bay. The recommended anchorage is close in to cliffs, just off a distinctive rock formation. It is said some swell may lick around the tip of the cape but the holding is good and the anchorage generally comfortable. We say; It is a dangerous winter anchorage.
Having said that, in summer it’s uninhabited and provides a perfect stopover to and from Port Lincoln. The high cliffs provide excellent shelter from southerly weather, and there is a beautiful beach and good fishing. It's said this bay provides better holding than Pondalowie.
Pondalowie, 35°13.9' S ~ 136°50.2' E
Shelter from All directions
The bay is attractive with a few shacks and moorings but the approach must be made carefully. The anchorage is in the southern part of the bay. The holding is not good - only a thin layer of sand over rock base. It may be possible to pick up a mooring. A shift in the wind to the NW will mean anchoring in the lee of the south island. But again watch out for moorings.
Note: It is essential to identify the three islands at the entrance to the bay. The South Island has a light on it and it is to the north of this island that the approach must be made. There is a submerged rock approx 500 meters NE of the South Island.
Island anchorages to Cape Catastrophe
Wedge Island Main Bay, 35°09.2’ S ~ 136°29.0’ E
Shelter from SW to S
Anchor south of the main house and jetty. The water is deeper closer in than further north. You can anchor in 6 M very close to shore in sandy patches.
On Banyandah, although we had 6 m swells outside, we found good shelter in 13m - Weed. Light boat motion The wind change to NE12 at midnight, we sailed for Boston Island overnight.
Attractive anchorage, good fishing, can be uncomfortable if swell comes from SE, in which case, move to West Bay. If the wind moves to N or NE, anchor in the lee of North Islet.
Wedge Island West Bay, 35°08.8’ S ~ 136°26.8’ E
Shelter from S through E to NE
West Bay anchorage is in about 10 m on the western side of Wedge Island and frequented by cray boats. When approaching from the north be aware of West Rock. There is a deep passage about ¼ mile wide between the NW corner of the island and West Rock.
Thistle Island Whalers' Bay, 35°00.2’ S ~ 136°10.7’ E
Shelter from Winds W through S to SE
Holding is good in sandy patches.
This is a beautiful spot but can be uncomfortable if the swell licks around the point and the wind holds the bow to the shore. In which case consider moving to Snug Cove.
Banyandah has anchored here twice, we walked a lot of the southern end of the island, very interesting, caught big feeds of King George whiting in the sand surrounded by weed. Yummy.
Thistle Island Snug Cove, 34°56.32’ S ~ 136°05.63’ E
Shelter from winds S through E to NE
Banyandah sailed close past this anchorage and only looked. North western corner of island, sheltered by a north westerly projection of land at the southern end of a mile long beach starting at Observatory Point.
Shallow weedy bottom; hence the actual anchorage is outside the Cove with the cliffs in line to the SW. The bottom seems to make for good holding.
Note: Flinders anchored here while sending his red cutter on the disastrous journey to seek a water source on the mainland. This resulted in the loss of all hands. He named the features in Thorny Passage after the victims or the event.
In W or NW weather, Memory Cove or possibly Shag Cove on the mainland to the W offers better protection. The nearest protection from strong N winds is probably under Maclaren Point.
Thistle Island Mittler's Cove, 34°57.4’ S ~ 136°05’ E
Shelter from E through NE to N
Situated at the western end of Thistle Island, between Nose Point to the north and Carrington Point to the south. The eastern end of Hopkins Island is about 3/4 of a mile to the west. A reef, not clearly shown on some charts runs underwater from Nose Point at least half way to Hopkins Island. If approaching from the north, keep to within a few hundred metres of Hopkins Island.
Memory Cove, 34°57.7’ S ~ 135° 59.5’ E
Shelter from NW through S to SE
It is quite deep relatively close to shore, but there are some moorings for public use. Memory Cove was named by Captain Matthew Flinders in memory of the sailors drowned in Thorny Passage in 1802.
Captain's logbook , Wednesday 24 February,
"… I caused a stout post to be erected in the Cove, and to it was nailed a sheet of copper upon which was engraven the following inscription...."
An attractive sandy, tree lined cove on the Jessieu Peninsula close to Port Lincoln. Quite popular due to its shelter and beauty and can be a little crowded. A delightful walking trail south of the beach reaps good views of Thistle Island.
34°54.41' S, 135°58.78' E
Good shelter from westerly weather. A small cove about 3 mi north of Memory Cove on the Jessieu Peninsula. Less known and more peaceful at busy times of the year. Fairly good holding in weedy bottom.
Marina Entrance, 34°44.5’ S ~ 135°52.7’ E
Shelter from All Directions
In the old days, yachts used to anchor in the bay in front of the town or tie up to the jetty. Today, some say the marina, located a little south of town, represents the best option for visiting yachts. We disagree. We like the freedom to move around, maybe pop into the yacht club for a beer, or into town for a meal, there are several good spots right off the beach. Just across the channel is Boston Island, and two hours across calm water is the Lincoln National Park.
If taking the marina option, tie up along the long pontoon in the channel just before the pub. Then contact the marina management on (08) 868 33399. Or Malcolm Blake, marina manager, MOB 0427 059 040. VMR Port Lincoln is also contactable on VHF ch 81 for local information and help.
Facilities: This major city on the Eyre Peninsula, Port Lincoln has every facility for visiting yachts. It is a major fishing port and a regional centre providing the infrastructure for the West of South Australia. The airport has numerous daily flights to Adelaide as well as connections by bus. There are ship chandlers, slipways, accommodation, hospitals, in fact every amenity a visiting yacht could need including the wonderful Alex Stenross maritime museum.
As a base for cruising, it is the best in South Australia. The islands and coves around Pt Lincoln represent some of the most varied and interesting cruising grounds in the state.
The modern marina is a little to the south of town, in an area which incorporates one of the largest fishing fleets in the southern hemisphere. There are various marine supply and repair businesses associated with the fishing fleet there, as well as a good pub, restaurant and accommodation in units at the marina. Taxis are available to take you to town, which is about 10 minutes away by car. If you have a lot of things to do, maybe hiring a car for the day would be more convenient.
Fuel is available at a very busy berth built for big fishing boats, uses only a credit card. This berth is especially busy early mornings, but after the rush, a gap can be found, park north end. If jerry cans are an option, near the marina is a service station, incorporating a small shop. Hot showers can be had at the Community Recreation Centre which is located at the marina and includes a large indoor swimming pool, sauna and gym facilities.
We have a video of Banyandah's winter cruise from Adelaide to Port Lincoln and back again to Adelaide that will keep you entertained for a bit more than an hour. For more details: http://jackandjude.com/dvds/
Next >> The Joesph Banks Group and anchorages to Port Augusta