Fishing around Ceduna
Ceduna has a reputation as a superb fishing location. Apart from jetty fishing there is also surf fishing, rock fishing and the waters of Murat Bay are safe for small vessels. The waters abound with fish and it is common to catch silver whiting, leatherjackets, snook, garfish, tommy ruffs, King George whiting, salmon, trevally, mullet, silver drummer, mulloway, sweep and a range of sharks including school shark, bronze whalers, hammerheads, gummy sharks and world record white pointers.
OTC Ceduna Station
37 km to the north of the town is the OTC (Overseas Telecommunications Commission) Ceduna station which handles all international telecommunications from Europe, Japan and the Middle East. It is open to the public with guided tours occurring at 10.00 a.m., 11.00 a.m., 2.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. Regardless of the visit the sight of the two huge discs (Ceduna 1 was built in 1969 and is 32.8 m high, weighs 300 tonnes and has a diameter of 29.6 m while Ceduna 2 was completed in 1980 and is 35.2 m high, weighs 260 tonnes and is 32 m in diameter) against the sky is a strange and inspiring experience. The whole operation is designed to send and receive microwave signals from satellites located above the Indian Ocean.
Kongwirra Repeater Station
Closer to town (11 km east and just off the Eyre Highway) is the Kongwirra Repeater Station which monitors communications throughout Australia as well as being a vital link for the nearby OTC satellite dishes. The Repeater Station is run on wind power - with a diesel engine taking over on windless days. It is open for inspection. Contact (08) 8678 2006
The Ceduna Museum, which was the town's first school (it was built in 1912), is now a National Trust Building surrounded by extensive exhibits of local farming equipment and housing much of the equipment used during the 1950s when atomic testing was going on at Maralinga. The museum is a typical folk memorabilia collection with lots of old photographs, a room devoted to the medical history of the region, good displays of domestic utensils, and a specific policy to store and display the 'commonplace' rather than the exceptional. The museum grounds also include a number of other old school classrooms (including one which was used by Edith Lee in 1918 - she subsequently married and gave birth to Robert James Lee Hawke) as well as the first Ceduna gaol, the Denial Bay gaol, a blacksmiths shop, a large shed for horse drawn vehicles, and a large farm machinery shed.
The murder of Mary Hattam
One of the saddest moments in Ceduna's history occurred on 20 December 1958 when Mary Hattam, the nine year old daughter of a Ceduna butcher, was raped and murdered on the beach between Ceduna and Thevenard. Of itself the case was brutal and ugly. However over the next year it became one of the most celebrated and controversial murder cases in Australian legal history. It became known as the Rupert Maxwell Stuart case after the Aborigine accused of the murder. In his book The Stuart Affair Sir Roderick Chamberlain, who was the counsel for the prosecution, sums up the public's fascination with the case: 'In every State of the Commonwealth, the newspapers covered each step of the case with breathless furore. In South Australia, the streets were plastered with newspaper posters in flaming red...As the press campaign continued, Rupert Stuart became little more than a pawn in the game. The attack was turned against the Liberal Government of the State and its Premier, Thomas Playford and South Australia was said to be a 'hanging State' dominated by bloodthirsty country-folk. Many reputations suffered in one way or another. A newspaper editor was placed on trial for seditious libel. A Royal Commission was established to enquire into allegations that new evidence had been found and that this would prove the conviction to be wrong. One of the appeals was carried as far as the Privy Council, and heard by the Law Lords of the United Kingdom. The case was discussed in many parts of the world, and the campaign eventually succeeded in having South Australians condemned by Asian countries as persecutors of coloured people.' In the end Rupert Maxwell Stuart was found guilty of the crime and convicted to death. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. Today there are still people in Ceduna who will swear that Stuart was definitely innocent or guilty.
The town still has sad reminders of the crime. The gates to the Ceduna Cemetery have the initials MH on them. They were paid for by public subscription after the murder of Mary Hattam. Mary Hattam's grave is on the left just four rows in from the gates.
Only a few hundred metres from the cemetery, on the road out to Thevenard, are the 'cliffs' where Mary Hattam's body was found. They are really no more than an embankment between the road and the beach.
Laura Bay Conservation Park
To the south of Ceduna and Thevenard lies the Laura Bay Conservation Park an area of 251 ha which was proclaimed a conservation park in 1973. It is a rare opportunity to see a section of natural coastline which offers an insight into what the area was like before the arrival of Europeans as well as having remnants of the water gathering and transportation techniques which were used in the area at the turn of the century.
Laura Bay itself protects a flooded forest. Mangroves grow in tidal mud and twice a day the tide floods their roots. To survive mangroves have upright root extensions that act like snorkels. Decaying leaves provide food for a host of small marine creatures that in turn become meals for fish and sea birds. The bay is surrounded by a number of interesting coastal flora communities and there are good stands of coastal mallee which once covered large areas of the northern Eyre Peninsula.
In 1911 a timber platform was constructed on the Laura Bay headland to load bagged grain onto ketches. The grain had been hauled in from nearby farms on horsedrawn drays. Although the platform has been removed it is still possible to find the sight from the cuttings in the limestone.
On the road out to the headland is a large stone water storage tank and gutters which was built in 1914 to collect runoff for local farmers in times of drought. The water storage tank is capable of holding nearly 1 million litres of water. The house nearby predates the Conservation Park. The residents persuaded the Government to allow them to stay on and since 1973 they have worked to maintain the area.
Smoky Bay, which boasts a permanent population of about 100 people, is located about 48 km southeast of Ceduna. It was named by Matthew Flinders who, observing a haze over the area which may have been result of fires lit by the local Aborigines, wrote 'The number of smokes arising from the shore of this wide, open place, induced me to give it the name Smoky Bay.'