Just 44km southeast of Ceduna, Smoky Bay is a small coastal town off the Flinders Highway. It’s located on the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula on a sheltered bay of the Great Australian Bight. The town was a former port and is now a popular fishing and seafood hub. It’s most well-known for its aquaculture industry with a tour of a working oyster farm being one of the highlights of the area.
It’s a popular stop on the drive from Ceduna to Port Lincoln, or as a side trip off the Eyre Highway. If you’re a fishing or seafood enthusiast, then this guide will outline everything that you need to know about Smoky Bay, including the best things to do in and around the town.
About Smoky Bay
Smoky Bay is a small town on the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula. It has a population of under 300 people but is a popular destination for travellers looking for a quiet fishing spot or place to sample some of South Australia’s best oysters. During the high tourist season of summer, the population of the town often expands up to two or three times, maybe more. However, located just off the main highway, it’s much quieter than some other popular coastal towns on the Eyre Peninsula.
The town is just off the Flinders Highway southeast of Ceduna and is commonly visited on when travelling from Ceduna to Port Lincoln. It’s a popular fishing town, with the chance of catching King George whiting, garfish, tommies, salmon, trout, squid and blue swimmer crabs when in season in the bay, and for the lover of oysters, this little town is big in the oyster growing industry.
Travelling to Smoky Bay
Most people reach Smoky Bay from Ceduna via the Flinders Highway, which travels right near the town. Being just 44km from Ceduna and the Eyre Highway, it’s a common side trip for many adventures on the Far West Coast. The trip along the Eyre Highway is considered one of the greatest road trips in the country, and Smoky Bay offers a quiet alternative for a night’s stop or a nice day trip from Ceduna.
The Flinders Highway which passes by the town continues south to Port Lincoln. Many travellers wanting to explore more of the Eyre Peninsula take the road from Ceduna to Port Lincoln, stopping at some of these coastal towns on the way.
The nearest airport is at Ceduna, meaning that the only way to reach the town is by road.
History of Smoky Bay
The coastline of the Great Australian Bight was first mapped by British navigator Matthew Flinders in 1802, who named the area Smoky Bay after the amount of smoke from fires lit by the local Aboriginal people in the area. Whalers were the first Europeans to inhabit the area around Smoky Bay, until pastoralists arrived in the 1860s. A sheep grazing property was established in the area and was named Wallanippie Station after the Aboriginal word for waterhole. The town wasn’t properly developed until the 1900s, with a post office built-in 1911. The town was surveyed as Wallanippie, until the name was officially changed to Smoky Bay in 1940 after locals had continued to use that name instead.
A railway line was extended across the Eyre Peninsula to reach the jetty in Smoky Bay and the town was used as a port for a short while. The growing of oysters was established in the bay in 1988, which proved to be a new economic opportunity for the town. Since then, the aquaculture area has been increased, and the oysters from Smoky Bay being considered some of the best in the country.
Nearby attractions and things to do in Smoky Bay
Whether you’re visiting for the day or opting to stay for a night, or several, Smoky Bay has plenty of things to keep you busy in and around town. Here are some of the best things to do in Smoky Bay.
Fishing, swimming and snorkelling
Fishing is certainly one of the top activities in Smoky Bay. You can throw a line in off the jetty in town or use the boat ramp to explore the waters further out in the bay. The calm waters in town are also popular for swimming and snorkelling. There is a large safe swimming area with a shark-proof cage at the jetty for the whole family to enjoy.
Self-Drive Seafood Trail
If you’re a real foodie, then you can head off on a self-driving tour along the Seafood Frontier Trail around the Eyre Peninsula. The trail takes you from Whyalla to Ceduna with stops at coastal towns along the way from where you can taste some delicious seafood. Smoky Bay is an important stop on the trail, with the oyster farm tours offering one of the most unique experiences on the peninsula.
Laura Bay Conservation Park
The Laura Bay Conservation Park is a protected area of the Eyre Peninsula’s western coastline. It’s a sheltered bay just 24km north of Smoky Bay towards Ceduna. The protected bay is home to fragile vegetation including mangroves that provide feeding grounds for sea birds, which migrate to the area from the northern hemisphere every year.
Swimming, fishing and walking are popular activities in the bay area. There is a nice footpath that takes you around the sandy cove and allows you to discover the animals and birds of the area. There is also a bush camping area which must be booked in advance.
St. Mary’s Surf Beach
St. Mary’s was once a hidden gem of a destination on the Eyre Peninsula, but it’s no longer just the playground of the locals and those in the know. The St Mary’s Bay is an open west facing 2km long bay bordered by Point Brown and Point Dillon. There are two beaches in the bay, backed by active sand dunes. It’s a popular place when the swell is good, with reef breaks off the coast getting up to 1m or more. It can be accessed via Point Brown Road 28km south of Smoky Bay.
Slightly further south from Smoky Bay, you’ll find Streaky Bay on the next bay over. The Flinders Highway runs right through this picturesque town which is a common stopover for travellers. It’s home to stunning white sand beaches and plenty of activities including snorkelling, swimming and fishing.
Ceduna is a major town on the northwest corner of the Eyre Peninsula. It’s the biggest town near Smoky Bay and is located just 44km away. Located right on the Eyre Highway, Ceduna is a popular place for travellers to pass through or stop for a few days as part of a longer trip across the Nullarbor Plain. It’s the last major town before heading west across the semi-arid plain and is a common town to use as a base to explore the surrounding area, including Smoky Bay.
Smoky Bay Facilities
The town of Smoky Bay has a variety of facilities for travellers and locals alike. There are public BBQ areas, playgrounds, 18-hole golf course, jetty and boat ramp available.