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It’s hard not to fall in love with the boot-shaped Yorke Peninsula, with its sleepy seaside villages and legendary surf breaks overlooking the marine wonderland of the Spencer Gulf on one side and Gulf St Vincent on the other. This part of South Australia became famous in the 1860s, when Cornish miners arrived to seek their fortunes from copper. Busy port Wallaroo was at the heart of this mineral boom, and its historic buildings recall those days in vivid detail. The town still draws historians to the Copper Triangle, which includes neighboring Moonta and Kadina, but just as many visitors arrive for the sun, sand, and seafood, abundant in the pristine waters off the coast. Office Beach comes with shaded areas and cafes, not to mention some of the best sunsets on the continent.
There are many domestic and international flights serviced by Adelaide Airport (ADL), a two-hour (100-mile) drive northwest to Wallaroo. Car rental outlets are available once you step off the plane, and it would be wise to visit them. Having your own transportation here is ideal, as one of the highlights of the Yorke Peninsula is a scenic coastal road trip, which is difficult (and time consuming) to complete via public transport. For those who prefer not to drive, a bus from the center of Adelaide will get you to Wallaroo in around four hours. Coaches operate among some towns on the peninsula, and taxis are also available.
Summers (December through February) can get steamy in this part of South Australia, with daily high temperatures between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit; during winter (June through August) they fall to around 60 degrees. At this time of year, the water is actually warmer than the air; you can dive into 66-degree seas that heat to 75 during the summer months. Winter is also wet, with the year’s highest rainfalls and levels of humidity. In spring (September through November) and fall (March through May), look forward to glorious daytime highs between 65 and 80 degrees, with seas between 68 and 73.
Explore the 435 miles of Yorke Peninsula’s coastline on this epic road trip. Wallaroo is one of 17 recommended destinations, attractions, and activities along the route; others include stopping in Stansbury for the town’s famed oysters, tackling the waves at Daly Head National Surfing Reserve, hiking sandy tracks at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, or sipping shiraz in the small town of South Kilkerran.
At 2,850 feet, the Wallaroo Jetty is one of the longest in the state, its pylons sinking into water up to 32 feet deep. Anglers come here to catch snapper, squid, flathead, and salmon, while scuba divers can be spotted underneath the pier, taking in the rich marine world from below the sea’s surface.
Take a tour of Wallaroo’s copper smelting era (1861-1923) at this museum, set in a handsome limestone building almost as old as the town itself. The 1865 former post office is just one of the stops on the self-guided Wallaroo Historical Town Walk. In addition to housing historical artefacts, the gallery is the resting place for a curious marine creature: George the Giant Squid, found in the late 1970s in the stomach of a whale and measuring 28 feet in length with tentacles outstretched.