|• Density||0.3443/km2 (0.8917/sq mi)|
|Area||170,500 km2 (65,830.4 sq mi)|
|LGA(s)||See Local government areas|
It is named after explorer Edward John Eyre who explored parts of the peninsula in 1839-1841. The coastline was first charted by the expeditions of Matthew Flinders in 1801-1802 and French explorer Nicolas Baudin around the same time.
The peninsula's economy is primarily agricultural, with growing aquaculture, mining and tourism sectors. The main townships are Port Lincoln in the south, Whyalla and Port Augusta in the north east, and Ceduna in the northwest.
Naming and extent
The peninsula's coastline boundary was defined in 1839 as “Spencer's Gulf in its whole length, to the southern ocean from Cape Catastrophe to the western point of Denial Bay.” Its northern boundary was described in 1978 as follows: “no official boundary [has] ever [been] proclaimed but the common sense choice would be to draw a straight line from Yorkey Crossing to the northern most point of Denial Bay.’’
As at 30 June 2010, the peninsula had a population of 58,700 people. The peninsula is home to 3.6% of South Australia's population. 2,500 people, 4.4% of the population, is estimated to be indigenous.
The major industry is farming - cereal crops, sheep, and cattle in the drier north and more water-intensive activities such as dairy farming and a growing wine industry in the south. Many coastal towns have commercial fishing fleets, the largest being located at Port Lincoln. The town has previously harbored a large tuna-fishing fleet, which is gradually transforming its practice to fish farming with the growth of sea cage aquaculture. Oyster farming was established in the 1980s and occurs in several sheltered bays including Franklin Harbour (near Cowell in Spencer Gulf) and Smoky Bay off the west coast.
Iron ore is mined by Arrium in the Middleback Range near Iron Knob, inland from Whyalla. Some of the product is smelted to produce feedstock for the Whyalla Steelworks. Increasing volumes of iron ore are also being exported from Whyalla directly to customers in Asia.
The peninsula has many small inactive mines and quarries, and is considered prospective for a variety of minerals, including graphite, coal and uranium with many deposits being proven in recent years.
The 2000s saw increased mineral exploration activity on the peninsula. In 2013, some of the more advanced mine development projects included: Ironclad Mining Ltd's Wilcherry Hill, Centrex Metals Ltd's Fusion Magnetite Project and Iron Road Ltd's Central Eyre Iron Project.
Shortfalls in existing rail, power and water supply infrastructure continue to hamper new project development.
The peninsula is being marketed as the 'seafood frontier' in an attempt to showcase the peninsula's fisheries and aquaculture produce. Key products are the Southern bluefin tuna and Yellowtail kingfish, which are farmed in Port Lincoln and Arno Bay, and Pacific oysters, which are grown in Franklin Harbour and several sheltered bays of the peninsula's west coast. Other seafood offerings include abalone, mussels, prawns and blue-swimmer crabs.
Many natural heritage attractions can be found in the peninsula's three national parks, in numerous conservation parks, and along the peninsula's extensive coastline.
Ecotourism operators offer visitors opportunities to experience many of the peninsula's iconic marine species either in or on the water. From Whyalla, visitors can snorkel or dive off Point Lowly to witness the mass breeding aggregation of Giant Australian Cuttlefish which occurs there from May to August each year.
From Port Lincoln, tourists can swim in a cage with southern bluefin tuna, with a colony of Australian sea lions, or enter a shark cage to observe Great white sharks offshore near the Neptune Islands.
On the west coast, tourists can snorkel with Australian sea lions and Bottlenosed dolphins in the sheltered waters of Baird Bay, and observe southern right whales (and occasionally humpback whales) from the shore or by boat from Fowler's Bay from May to October.
Artifacts from the Peninsula's pioneer and, to a lesser extent, indigenous heritage can be seen at a network of museums operated by the National Trust of South Australia, which include the Mount Laura Homestead Museum in Whyalla, the Tumby Bay National Trust Museum and the Koppio Smithy Museum. The Whyalla Maritime Museum has a nautical theme which commemorates the former Whyalla shipyards. Its displays include the World War II corvette HMAS Whyalla, which sits in dry-dock and is visible from the Lincoln Highway.
Fishing charters are offered departing from many coastal towns, including Whyalla, Cowell, Tumby Bay and Port Lincoln.
Major population centres on the peninsula are connected by a network of highways. The Eyre Highway (Route number A1) runs east–west across the north side of the peninsula, while the Flinders Highway (Route number B100) and Lincoln Highway (Route number A100) follow the west and east coasts, meeting at Port Lincoln in the south. The Tod Highway (Route number B90) bisects the peninsula, running south–north from Port Lincoln through the town of Lock to met the Eyre Highway at Kyancutta. The Birdseye Highway (Route number B91) bisects the peninsula from Elliston on the west coast and Flinders Highway through Lock and Cleve to the Lincoln Highway near Cowell.
The peninsula is served by the isolated Eyre Peninsula Railway. Peaking at 777 kilometres in 1950 radiating out from the ports at Port Lincoln and Thevenard, today only one 60 kilometre section remains open. It is operated by Genesee & Wyoming Australia. It has always been isolated from the main network. A proposal to link it with the rest of the network at Port Augusta was rejected in the 1920s and again in the 1950s.
The BHP Whyalla Tramway operated from the iron ore mines in the Middleback Ranges to the smelter and port at Whyalla. These are also connected to the national rail network by the Whyalla railway line to Port Augusta.
Proposed future expansion of transport systems
To facilitate prospective mines, new freight corridors and ports have been proposed to export minerals via Spencer Gulf. New port proposals are in place at Port Bonython, Lucky Bay, Cape Hardy and Sheep Hill (Lipson Cove). A proposal to export iron ore from Port Lincoln by Centrex Metals Ltd was approved but abandoned after strong public opposition. Port Bonython Fuels, a future fuel distribution hub has been approved to be constructed at Port Bonython to aid the development of the mining industry. Once constructed and operational, fuel will be delivered to towns and mine sites by road tankers up to A-triple class.
Potable water is scarce on the peninsula. Presently, water is pumped several hundred kilometres from the Murray River to the town of Whyalla through the Morgan-Whyalla pipeline. Underground water resources are suffering from gradually increasing salinity. The only reliable surface flows are from the Tod River and its main tributary, Pillaworta Creek, which are captured by the Tod Reservoir. The reservoir was built to augment the groundwater supply of Port Lincoln and was constructed in the early 1920s. It was taken offline in the early 2000s due to concerns over rising salinity and contamination from agricultural chemicals. SA Water has investigated potential locations for seawater desalination plants to address future water security problems. As of January 2014, no plants are proposed to be built for domestic or agricultural supply, though one currently exists and two have been proposed to serve the mining industry exclusively. The existing plant is located at Whyalla and is operated by Arrium and plants are proposed for Point Lowly and Lipson Cove to serve BHP Billiton and Centrex Metals respectively.
Local government areas
The peninsula includes the local government areas of Ceduna, Cleve, Elliston, Franklin Harbour, Kimba, Lower Eyre Peninsula, Port Lincoln, Streaky Bay, Tumby Bay, Wudinna and Whyalla, as well as the western portion of the City of Port Augusta. The area at the northern end of the peninsula is within the Pastoral Unincorporated Area of South Australia where municipal services are provided by the Outback Communities Authority to communities, including Iron Knob.
State and federal electorates
As at 2016, the following protected areas were located within the peninsula:
- Conservation parks - Acraman Creek, Barwell, Baird Bay Islands, Bascombe Well, Calpatanna Waterhole, Cape Blanche, Caralue Bluff, Carappee Hill, Cocata, Corrobinnie Hill, Darke Range, Franklin Harbor, Gawler Ranges, Heggaton, Hincks, Ironstone Hill, Kathai, Kellidie Bay, Kulliparu, Lake Gilles, Lake Newland, Laura Bay, Lincoln, Malgra, Middlecamp Hills, Moody Tank, Mount Dutton Bay, Munyaroo, Murrunatta, Peachna, Pinkawillinie, Point Labatt, Pureba (part), Rudall, Sceale Bay, Searcy Bay, Shannon, Sheoak Hill, Sleaford Mere, The Plug Range, Tucknott Scrub, Venus Bay, Verran Tanks, Wanilla, Wanilla Land Settlement, Wharminda, Whyalla, Wittelbee and Yeldulknie.
- Conservation reserves - Buckleboo, Cortlinye, Cunyarie, Lacroma, Moongi, Mootra, Pinkawillinie Reservoir, Poolgarra and Tola.
- National parks - Coffin Bay, Lincoln and Gawler Ranges.
- Recreation parks - Caratoola.
- Wilderness protection areas - Hambridge, Hincks and Memory Cove.
In the 1920s, seven people were killed during the construction of the Tod Reservoir, north of Port Lincoln.
In January 2005, nine people were killed in the major Eyre Peninsula Bushfire.
The area is also known as the Eyre Coastal Plain, is part of the Eyre Yorke Block bioregion, and is a distinct physiographic section of the larger Eucla Basin province, which in turn is part of the larger West Australian Shield division.
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