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Here you will find information on Whyalla and the surrounding areas. Choose your area of interest below:
Whyalla is first visible an hour from Port Augusta as a smudge of grey over Long Sleep Plain, WHYALLA, the state's second most important city and headquarters of its heavy industry, is not the prettiest of places. BHP has its massive "long products" steelworks here (tours Mon, Wed & Sat 9.30am; 2hr; $8; book through the information centre) and tankers queue offshore to fill up at Santos' oil & gas refinery and distillery. Until it closed in 1978, the shipyard produced a few famous vessels, the first being the Whyalla, which now guards the northern entrance to town, having been dragged 2km from the sea in a complicated and expensive manoeuvre.
The accompanying information centre and maritime museum (daily 10am-4pm; $5 including ship tour; tel: (08) 8645 8900) is largely occupied by a huge model of the oil refinery as well as more relevant displays of shipping history. From the southwest, Whyalla presents a much greener visage. You can cuddle a koala or a python at the Wildlife and Reptile Sanctuary (daily 10am-dusk; tel: (08) 8645 7044; $5), and at the junction of Broadbent Terrace and Playford Avenue an old aerodrome site is being landscaped into a series of ponds to recycle stormwater and eventually provide a pleasant recreational area.
The highway curves through the old town as Darling Terrace; you'll find a post office, banks, a bus station, hotels and shops around the junction with Forsyth and Patterson streets, all periodically covered in (harmless) red fallout from BHP's mysterious pellet plant.
With the exception of Whyalla, the east coast is an unassuming string of sheltered beaches and villages nestled beneath towering grain silos, the sort of places one could drive through without a second glance or else get waylaid beachcombing for a week.
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The process of steelmaking - from coke ovens to rolling mill - is demonstrated on a bus tour of the plant. Visitors see the pouring of molten steel, the shaping of various products and all components in between. Book through the Whyalla Tourist Centre.
Renamed after the pioneering navigator, this spot offers views across the eastern part of the city and on clear days Port Pirie - some thirty kilometres away - can be glimpsed across the Gulf.
Hummock Hill Lookout
This hill, developed by BHP was the site of the first settlement at the turn of last century. It saw service as a gun battery and observation post during World War II and today provides outstanding views of the city, its foreshore and the distant southern finders Ranges.
Mount Laura Homestead Museum
This National Trust museum housed in a former sheep station homestead displays much local history. A 1920s BHP worker's cottage, Blacksmiths workshop and engine shed containing more than 50 stationary engines are all open for inspection - along with the original police lockup!
Just twenty minutes from Whyalla, Point Lowly gives beautiful views of the Gulf and southern Flinders Ranges. Two kilometres past the Santos works at Port Bonyithon is the Point Lowly Lighthouse, built in 1883. The coast is frequented by dolphin and birdlife and the shoreline is popular for fishing.
The HMAS VCWhyalla is a prize exhibit. It was the first ship built at the Whyalla Ship yard in 1941. The city's important shipping past is captured in photos and memorabilia inside the Tanderra Building. One of the largest 00 gauge model railways in Australia is also housed here.
Fauna And Reptile Park
One of the largest of its type located in an arid climate. Within the bushland setting, visitors can see hundreds of
birds. including eagles. reptiles, free-ranging kangaroos and emus, Australia's deadliest snakes, wornbats, dingoes, sugar gliders and bandicoots - plus imported deer, iguana and capuchino monkeys. Excellent picnic and barbecue facilities are provided.
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Options include the Foreshore Caravan Park on Broadbent Terrace and Derham's Motel on Watson Terrace, both a ten-minute walk from the centre along a surprisingly attractive beach with Hummock Hill to mercifully obscure your view of the steelworks; people and pelicans find good fishing off the jetty. Otherwise, try your luck at one of the hotels - Spencer on Forsyth Street has rooms, good food and weekend music.
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Seafood marinara at Spagg's, 26 Patterson St, makes a welcome change from counter meals; after eating, walk past the rows of fifty-year-old workers' homes to the top of Hummock Hill for a view of the industrial complexes by night.
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