Matthew Flinders visited the large harbour in 1802 and named it after his home of Lincolnshire. Port Lincoln is yet another Australian town that remembers this explorer. Flinders was looking for fresh water during his visit, which lasted several weeks. He eventually located some, which enabled him to continue his voyage into the Spencer Gulf.
He lost eight of his crew in a rowing boat prior to discovering the harbour. The boat was found but the bodies of the crew never were. The cape at the tip of Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area is called Cape Catastrophe after the event, and the surrounding islands named after each of the lost crewmen.
Port Lincoln doesn't get as warm as you may expect during summer, with averages remaining lower than Adelaide.
Port Lincoln today is a town of around 15,000 people, it has a foreshore area, marina district, and is close to the Lincoln National Park. Although tourism is important to the area, this is a working city, and you are just as likely to see trawlers in the marina as you are luxury yachts or tourist charters. While swimming at the foreshore jetty, you can see the large grain silos and conveyors load grain ships at speed.
- 1 Port Lincoln Airport (PLO IATA) (situated around 15 km north of the town on the Lincoln Highway (B100) and near North Shields at the north western end of Boston Bay.). The regional airport is the second-busiest airport in South Australia.
Rex Regional Express and Qantaslink fly from Adelaide several times daily. Compared to the drive, flying is quick and flights are easily obtainable for less than $100 each way. The distance of 245 km (152 mi) as the crow flies across the Spencer Gulf and St Vincent Gulf to Adelaide is not that great when compared to the much longer road route to the north via Port Augusta and around the top of the two gulfs and top of Yorke Peninsula.
Whyalla is the next closest airport with scheduled services, about 3 hours drive (268km) to the north. Flights there are less frequent and more expensive.
Rental cars are available in Port Lincoln and at the airport taxis and taxis operating around the town including Enterprise
Bike hire is available from Port Lincoln Adventure Hire.
- Whaler's Way is a drive on private land commencing 20 km south of Port Lincoln. The drive itself is around 15 km, and will take around 3 hours to see all the sights along the road. You need to purchase a $30 permit to enter from the visitors centre, and show it at the gate. You can also buy the permits at the gate when it is attended. You can get a key to the gate from the visitors centre in Port Lincoln for after hours entry with a $10 deposit. Expect to see dramatic cliffs edges, rockpools, craveasses, islands, rock falls and seals.
Lincoln National Park
Lincoln National Park is 15 km drive south of Port Lincoln, The road is sealed (paved) for most of the distance to Cape Donnington and a well graded gravel road for the remainder. Near Cape Donnington there are many emu, kangaroo and goanna. Bring binoculars to see the wildlife on Donnington Island.
- Cape Donnington has a fairly modern looking lighthouse, rocks, and waves. Views out to Donnington Island.
- Stamford Hill at 1.6 km return walk to the Flinders monument. A great view over the town and beaches. This is the point to which Flinders climbed when he located the water that allowed him to continue his journey.
- Coffin Bay with its two conservation parks, oyster farms and beaches, and Tumby Bay make ideal day trips.
- At the foreshore. There is a park, swimming enclosure and jetty just in front of the main shopping area. Showers and change rooms are available in the park.
- At the beach
- Go cage diving with great white sharks. Three operators have cage diving tours leaving from Port Lincoln, one offering a day trip and another offering multi-day sleep on board trips. The best time for seeing great white sharks is in the winter months as they like cooler water.
- You can swim with the tuna in enclosures. You can see the circular tuna nets out beyond Boston Island. Each can hold up to 3,000 tuna, with little room for anyone to jump in with them. The swim with Tuna platforms are purpose built, and have enough tuna so you can fit in as well. Tuna are large fish, with constantly open mouths, and they can swim up to 80km/h when darting for a pilchard. Swimming with them isn't a calm snorkeling experience, but rather a slightly freaky experience with tuna darting rapidly at you, and then turning away with precision accuracy as they avoid everything that isn't a pilchard. Wetsuits, gloves and booties are supplied if you want to dive in.
- Adventure Bay Charters, 2 Jubilee Dr, ☏ . Visit a Tuna farm and enjoy hand feeding, seeing fish from the underwater viewing platform or get in for a swim. This two hour tour is a fascinating insight into the history of the Tuna industry and includes a taste of sashimi. from $65.
- Swim with the Tuna. Underwater viewing, two pools, feeding and swimming. Free coffee and tea, and cookies and sausages available for purchase. No tuna available here though, so this may be the place for those who are more into watching them than eating them.
- You can Swim with the Australian Sea Lion. A marine encounter. Half day tour including light lunch and morning tea. An experience not to be forgotten.
- Adventure Bay Charters, 2 Jubilee Dr, ☏ .
Tasman Terrace is the main shopping strip of Port Lincoln, with shops occupying one side of the street, and the park and waterfront on the other. There are some fashion stores, cafes, restaurants, as well as all the essential supplies available.
If you have been touring the Eyre Peninsula eating in pubs and at fast food outlets, Port Lincoln may give you a chance to branch out a little. There is a selection of restaurants here, with seafood being a speciality.
- 1 Del Giorno's Cafe, 80 Tasman Terrace, ☏ . A small cafe with outdoor dining specialising in Italian style cafe dishes along with a view of the coastline.
- 2 L'Anse French Cafe & Croissanterie, Shop 5 & 6/60 Liverpool St, ☏ . M-F 7:30AM–3PM, Sa Su 8AM–3PM. As the name of the cafe suggests, this is an authentic French cafe nestled in the middle of the central business district.
- Marina Hotel. A nice spot in summer, with the bar looking out over the water viewing the boats in the Marina
Telstra has good connection, while Optus and Vodafone do, they're very sketchy, and may not be suitable. Carry a satellite phone if necessary.
- Coffin Bay Fresh oysters and the Coffin Bay Conservation Park.
- Tumby Bay
- Arno Bay walk along the Arno Bay Boardwalk, through the mangroves and down to the beach.
- Cowell and the ferry departing from Lucky Bay to Wallaroo on Yorke Peninsula.
- Cleve an agricultural centre and administrative centre to the north. 18 hole all season golf course, skate park, bowling greens, netball/tennis/basketball courts with coin operated lights, town oval and playgrounds.
- Flinders Ranges to the north of Port Augusta and a gateway to the north of the state
- Wallaroo on nearby Yorke Peninsula (via ferry)
- Elliston follow the coast further to Ceduna and onward to the Great Australian Bight.
- Nullarbor Plain