One of the first things you’ll notice when visiting the regional town of Cleve, on South Australia’s Eastern Eyre Peninsula, is its rich agricultural surrounds. In every direction are fields of wheat, barley, canola and peas with a likely pasture of sheep grazing the day away in the shadow of the impressive wind farm at Mt Millar.
But Cleve is anything but sleepy. And if you’re a foodie, particularly a sea-foodie, you’ll be in your element with its proximity to Arno Bay. Popular with anglers all year round and offering fishing charters, it is home to Australian snapper, king fish, flathead and squid.
Cleve’s diverse landscape, from the Arno Bay coastline and its pristine beaches, to the ranges in and around Darke Peak offer plenty of other activities too - perfect for hiking, four-wheel driving, wildlife and bird watching.
During spring and summer the area surges with festivities including the bi-annual Eyre Peninsula Field Days in August, Cleve Show in September, Christmas Pageant and Arno Bay New Year’s Day, while cooler months offer plenty of wildlife spotting along the hiking trails, such as the Yeldulknie Conservation Park Hiking Trail, the Darke Ranges, Carappee Hill Hiking Trail, Federation Lookout and the self-guided Cleve Heritage Walk.
History buffs will enjoy the rich agricultural history of the town dating back to the 1850s, when Scottish brothers Donald, James and Peter McKechnie established Wangaraleednie station, meaning ‘hill of the west wind’. A few years later, Governor Jervois gave it the name Cleve in 1879 in honour of his cousin’s county seat in Devon, England.
Observation Hill, or the adorably locally named ‘Ticklebelly Hill’, offers views over Cleve and its farmlands. Here, history enthusiasts can also access the towering 7m ‘Big Cross’, erected in 2000 and dedicated to the forefathers of the district. Pioneers, local families and community groups are also commemorated in the heritage pavers.
At Arno Bay, the locally known ‘Super Shed’ in Turnbull Park offers insight into the town’s busy seaport days.
In town, you’ll find nods to the region’s abundant farming heritage everywhere from large wall murals to outdoor artworks. You’ll even spot a memorial for much-loved children’s author May Gibbs known for her classic characters inspired by the Australian bushland, Snugglepot & Cuddlepie. The memorial commemorates her youth, spent growing up in Cleve. While there are historic homesteads such as Sims Farm as well as the modern Mt Millard Wind Farm with its 35 turbines.
With a simple donation to the local Cleve Lions Club, you can pull into Yeldulknie Weir & Reservoir, 5km from town. Here you’re surrounded by abundant wildlife and the state’s heritage-listed wheelhouse built in 1912 to supply water to the Arno Bay and Cowell districts. There’s also picnic facilities, a barbecue, gazebo and toilets.
The Cleve District has three RV friendly sites, two caravan parks and RV dumpsites.
There’s also a visitor voucher program which gives visitors access to discounted shopping at participating businesses in the district which you can grab from the local Visitor Information Centres.
For more information: www.cleve.sa.gov.au/tourism