Sunday, 30 September 2018

Port Pirie - Exploring South Australia

It is a blessing when you can tag along with hubby on his work trip. My trip to Port Pirie was such a lucky one. Ahsan brought Travel Photographer Society 2018's exhibition to Port Pirie. As he was curating it as well, the regional council of Port Pirie invited us to stay there for 5 days to be able to do all the things in time. He had his meetings and was busy with setting up the exhibition so our mornings were occupied but, we had time in afternoons and evenings in most days to roam around and explore Port Pirie.

Port Pirie is a small city of approximately 15,000 people (According to Wikipedia) in South Australia. It takes 2.5 - 3 hours to drive from Adelaide to reach the city. You will cross a few salt lakes on your way. Australia is famous for being home to the world's 6 best salt lakes that turn pink due to the concentration of salt. Though this was not one of those six, it was still an absolute treat for the eyes to find a small pink patch between greens and blues.

As soon as you enter Port Pirie, you are greeted by large grain silos which is one of the two biggest industries in the region. The tallest structure the city owns is the stack, a lead smelter of Nyrstar - the biggest employer of the city and thus metal smelting is the other big industry.

Port Pirie is called City of Friendly People. You will feel that in the atmosphere immediately. Passing by locals will greet you and would love to have a conversation with you. They will take geniuine interest in where you are from would take no time in telling you all about them. Customer service is amazing and leaves a lasting impression! 

Ellen Hotel, where we stayed, was right in the heart of the city. A beautiful and comfortable hotel that we enjoyed thoroughly. Everything was easily accessible, in fact, everything was at a walking distance.

Chilling at the hotel lobby 
The first evening we walked around the city and got ourselves some snacks and cereals for breakfast which we planned to have in the room. We had our first dinner at good old Oporto where I made a list of all the halal restaurants that we could go to and places that we could visit in this short trip.

Port Germein was the first sightseeing that we did. It was at a 20 minutes drive from Port Pirie and it is one of the most beautiful drives I have seen. All you could see was green fields and mountains.

Port Germein is a small seaside town of only 200 people! The 1.5 km jetty which is the main attraction for tourists used to be the longest jetty at one time and it still is the longest in the southern hemisphere. It was built to export grain from Europe in 1881. It has been damaged by wild waves and high tides but, today it stands as a State Heritage and National Trust and is open for the public to enjoy a beautiful walk where you can witness a breathtaking sunset. You can also talk to people who come to the jetty for fishing and crabbing.

We visited Weerona Island the next day which is between Port Pirie and Port Germein. To reach Weerona, you cross a 300m long way with mangroves on both sides. You have to see it yourself to understand what a beauty it was. Once at Weeroona, we stepped out to find very strong and cold winds. So strong that I had to hold on it everything very tightly. It was a gorgeous view with water all around you. All that was missing was a good cup of tea. I really wish I had taken some food there to eat and could have stayed longer to enjoy the view. But, hunger pangs got us back to the city very soon. 

From here begins the food adventure: On top of my list was Safavi Cafe where we had lunch twice during our stay. Safavi is one the most famous restaurants in Port Pirie that serves halal continental food. You need to inform at the counter that you prefer halal food and they ensure that your food is cooked separately. The owner of the place is the winner of the regional barista championship for consecutive 3 years and thus you know that the coffee is a must-have. 

Creamy Chicken Pasta at Safavi
Barnacle Bill Family Seafood Restaurant was recommended by almost everyone. Ahsan had fried fish which is why we went there. But, Barnacle Bill also has this tempting salad bar where you can eat as much as you like and as many times as you like! I just had to try all the salads that night! It brought back many memories of salad bars at Pizza Hut (I am sure my Pakistani friends would know what I am talking about)

Fish and Chips at Barnacle Bill

Of all the places, I had not imagined eating a steak in Port Pirie; a halal steak. Food at Angus & Co, John Pirie is halal and it was such a treat to be invited there by a very sweet couple for dinner. Followed by tea and dessert at their home. 

Fat potato chips from Happy Birds were strongly recommended and thus we made sure we have them to tick off another 'Must Do' thing in the city. And these were fresh and delicious. Chicken at Happy Birds is also halal but, it is a takeaway bar. 

Saturday was the big opening night of the exhibition. We got all dressed up for the night. Delighted to have friends coming all the way from Adelaide to attend the event. The guest of honour was the mayor of Port Pirie and he was impressed with all the photographs. This was the first international exhibition that had come to a regional area. I was feeling very proud of Ahsan for being the brains behind the project. You can see the photographs of the night here.

You would think that the trip ended here but, no... ending has a surprise. 

A friend recommended that we must try Hickory Run Olive Grove. On our way back to Adelaide we made a stop at a town called Laura where this little gem is located. Not really a stop, it was a full diversion, to be honest. 40 mins drive to have brunch at a small cafe on a huge olive farm. Though the place does not offer halal options, you can always try the vegetarian and seafood from the menu. We ordered coffee, scones and spinach and cheese frittata while enjoying the beautiful and serene surroundings. 

After food, we just strolled around the farm to breathe in some fresh air and then started our drive back to Adelaide... 

Finally got the photographer in front of the camera
Just to let you know that we only managed to do half of the things recommended to us by the locals and friends who stay there. I was thinking that I will be bored in 5 days and had taken some books to read and work to do but, five days, in the end, were not enough! 

I will be back, Port Pirie!  


  1. I love it when food takes centerpiece in a travelling adventure! Port Pirie looks stunning, especially that jetty. Would love to visit there someday. Thanks for sharing this.

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