Whyalla was born in the early 20th Century near the Spencer Gulf. It developed quickly in the post-war period with an integrated shipyard and steelworks.
Broken Hill Proprietary Company, the largest mining company in the world, was there from the beginning.
In 1901, they founded Whyalla’s first settlement. It was located at the terminus of a tramway that brought iron ore down from nearby mines in the Middleback Range.
Whyalla’s heavy industry remains a vital part of our lives. You can visit the Whyalla Steelworks or the Ore Mines at Iron Knob.
There’s also a side to Whyalla. It has tranquil lawns and gardens along the foreshore, and in winter when migrating cuttlefish put up a spectacular display.
1. Whyalla Maritime Museum
This museum explains the city’s historical relationship. It also houses the Visitor Information Centre.
This and three other corvettes built by BHP in Whyalla during World War II are available for you to learn more.
The BHP Shipbuilding Gallery records Whyalla’s shipyards from 1940 to 1978. During that time, 66 vessels were built, including tankers, ferries, and container ships.
Singing to Sharks is a journey into the Whyalla area’s indigenous history that explains the connection between the different cultural groups and the sea.
Also, you can view the 1814 edition Matthew Flinders’ charts and journals, explore the Spencer Gulf marine life, and visit one of the largest H0 gauge model railways with over 400m of track.
2. HMAS Whyalla
It’s difficult to miss the Bathurst-class corvette, stranded right next to the maritime museum, as you drive by the Port Augusta Road.
HMAS Whyalla, which was launched in 1941, was the first ship to be built at BHP’s Whyalla Shipping Yards. The vessel served as an escort ship for convoys that travelled along the south-eastern Australian coast and then in New Guinea and Okinawa, before the war ended in Hong Kong.
It was purchased by Whyalla in 1980 to preserve this important piece of heritage. The hull is two metres above the ground and you can walk under it.
Museum admission includes a complete tour of the ship, starting at 11:30 am and ending at 13:30 pm.
3. Whyalla Marina
The marina is the perfect place to take a refreshing dip in Whyalla.
In the southern corner of the breakwater is a swimming platform that allows you to take a dip in the clear, safe waters protected by a net.
If you’re lucky, you might even see Whyalla’s resident bottlenose dolphin pod in the breakwaters. However, it’s important that you keep your distance.
From the marina’s south corner, push out to Spencer Gulf to find the new fishing jetty. Here you can catch blue swimmer crabs and whiting.
4. Whyalla Steelworks Tour
A tour of Whyalla Steelworks is a great opportunity for those who are interested in how things are made.
This 1,000-hectare site produces more than 1.2 million tonnes steel every year. The process is fully integrated. It begins with Iron Knob mining (more later), and ends via railway and port.
You’ll see every stage of steel fabrication from girders and railway tracks. The tour is as detailed and informative as you can hope.
The Whyalla Visitor Centre offers these 90-minute tours. They depart Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 09:30.
5. Ada Ryan Gardens
Whyalla’s favorite park is located in the foreshore zone. It is just a short walk from the marina.
This was Whyalla’s first cemeteries. It is now the best place for residents and visitors alike to walk, picnic, play tennis, or take their children to the playground.
Ada Ryan Gardens combines tree-shaded lawns and formal flowerbeds. It is woven with accessible, paved footpaths that have benches.
The animal enclosures have been upgraded and are home to kangaroos as well as a variety of birds in the aviary. This will be a hit with children.
6. Point Lowly Lighthouse
Point Lowly is the location of the oldest structures in the Whyalla region, located just around False Bay.
The Spencer Gulf’s iconic conical lighthouse is just short of 30 metres high and was built in 1883. It was last manned in 1973. The beacon has a range 26 nautical miles.
Information signs tell the story of the lighthouse. Near the tower’s base are two cottages for keepers, which were built simultaneously and are now available to rent as holiday accommodation.
If you are interested in an overnight stay at a historical and stunning location, please inquire at the Whyalla Visitor Information Centre.
You can see kangaroos in the brush in the morning and dolphins jumping in the water in the morning.
As we will see, the winter migrating cuttlefish put up a spectacular show.
7. Whyalla Conservation Park
You can find this area in the Lincoln Highway, about ten minutes from Whyalla.
You can also hike in the Western myall/chenopod forest, which is typical of this part of the Eyre peninsula.
Wild Dog Hill is the main reason you should make the trek. It’s located in the northwest corner of the park.
The craggy sandstone mass is easy to climb and offers spectacular views from its summit.
This is best done when the sun is at its lowest point in the morning or evening, and the landscape’s reddish stones are glowing.
From May to August, the Australian giant cuttlefish migrates from the Spencer Gulf to shallow, inshore rock reef areas.
This cuttlefish species is the largest in the world and can grow to half a metre long and weigh 10.5kg.
They also use pigment-changing, chromatophores to change the colour of the eye in a blink.
Cuttlefest is an annual event that the local tourist organization has created to recognize it. It takes place in June, July, and August.
There are many things to do on the land, including a lantern parade and an art trail. But, what’s best is diving or snorkeling with these incredible molluscs.
It couldn’t be simpler, as the cuttlefish can be found within metres of the shore. The most popular spot is Stony Point near Point Lowly’s lighthouse.
9. Mount Laura Homestead Museum
This National Trust Museum, run by volunteers, documents early European life within the Whyalla region.
The Station Homestead is a nine-room building that has been here since 1922. It’s filled with interesting artifacts, and each room is dedicated to a different aspect Whyalla’s history, from education to industry.
Mount Laura has some historic buildings, including a gaol dating from 1914, a harness shed that displays horse-drawn carriages and a blacksmith shop, as well as a cottage/washhouse that depicts local domestic life in early 20th century.
The Nicholson and Lions Engine Sheds are filled with historical machinery.
10. Hummock Hill Lookout
The hilltop located just above the marina was the original site of Whyalla’s first European settlement around the turn of 20th century.
BHP created the lookout in 1986 to commemorate its centenary. It transformed old WWII gun emplacements and turned them into observation platforms.
The site includes an anti-aircraft gun that has been restored, as well as a protected viewing area, interpretive boards, and space for picnics.
It is a stunning view. You can see Whyalla, its steelworks, port, and out to the Southern Ocean. Then, inland, you will see the iron-rich peaks in the Middleback Range.
11. Whyalla Foreshore
The Foreshore zone runs west from the marina along its seafront. It is a great place to spend some time on a sunny day.
This is the east end of the beach with its white sandy beaches. It is less affected by the tides, so it’s more suitable for swimming.
You’ll find Ada Ryan Gardens behind the beach, along with wide open lawns, shaded children’s playgrounds, electric barbecues for free, a cafe, and toilets.
12. Iron Knob
About 40 minutes north-west of the Middleback Range is the cradle for Australia’s steel industry.
Iron Knob is named after the iron ore deposits that surround the town. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company made the first claim to the area in the late-19th-century.
Iron Knob’s population declined after 1998 saw the end of mining activity. However, work at the Iron Monarch mine’s immense tiers has resumed since 2015.
The Whyalla Steelworks can either export or melt this ore.
You can visit the visitor center in the town, which houses a small museum with antique equipment, minerals specimens and photographs, as well as a theatrette that screens interesting presentations.
You can also book minibus tours from this location to see panoramic views of the Iron Knob pits, Iron Princess and Iron Monarch mines.
13. Flinders & Freycinet Lookout
From this point, you can see the upper Spencer Gulf. The southern Flinders Ranges are to the east and the Middleback Range is visible about 20 km to the south.
The Flinders & Freycinet Lookout was named after Matthew Flinders (1774-1814), first European to map this coast in 1802, and also Louis-Claude de Freycinet (1779-1841), a French cartographer who charted the Spencer Gulf in 1803, and moored at Whyalla for a night.
The lookout has a neat landscape that includes a pair of stylised statues depicting the two explorers. There are also information boards about whyalla’s early history and their careers.
14. Wilson Park
Near the Maritime Museum and Visitor Information Centre is an urban park that offers views of the bay towards Port Bonython and Point Lowly.
North of Wilson Park lies the distinctive outline of Whyalla Steelworks. On the grass there is a monument to the city’s industrial heritage.
In 1974, the unveiling of the upturned ship’s rudder marked the jubilee in the naming of Whyalla.
Nearby is a Kedge anchor measuring 2.5m high, which was cast in 1950s.
Wilson Park offers a playground for families with children who are restless, picnic tables and shelters, as well barbecue and grill facilities.
15. Whyalla Wetlands
In the south of Whyalla, there is a network of artificial lakes that attract rich birdlife.
This was the site of the Whyalla Aerodrome from 1951 to 1951. The wetlands there serve an important conservation function.
Storm water runoff and underground seepage replenish the lakes. A lot of effort has been made to improve their environment, including planting grass, setting up barbecues, picnic benches, information boards, and creating eco-friendly hybrid toilets.
Birds that are not usually found in Whyalla have been seen at the wetlands over time.
Muscovy ducks feel most at home on the site and can be fed birdseed or rice.