Road Tripping to Innes National Park

A spur of the moment decision saw us packing the car for a road trip. In went the tent, some bedding, the camera – and, well, that was about it! This unheard of spontaneity culminated in a visit to the stunning Innes National Park.

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We hit the road heading north from Adelaide, and then decided we will go towards the Yorke Peninsula, a popular weekend destination. Many Adelaidians have holiday houses over here, or as we affectionately call them, “shacks”! The term “shack” conjures up great childhood memories of little more than tin sheds right on the beach front kitted out with not much more than some beds and an outdoor shower. I spent many summers at the beach in places like this and always had the best times. The reality is a bit different now, these are proper houses. Luxury two storey lodgings overlooking pristine beaches with boats and jet skis stashed in the garage.

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Horse and plough in Ardrossan
Ardrossan silos behind the jetty

This was not to be our accommodation though. We spent the day driving down the coast, calling into the small towns along the way to admire the views. The tides were low, and this eastern side of the peninsula is well known for how far the water recedes. By early evening we had almost reached the toe of the peninsula and finally a plan was forming. We were going to spend the night at the Marion Bay Caravan Park, then head into the Innes National Park first thing in the morning for some walking.

Refueling at Port Vincent
Relaxing in the shade of a Moreton Bay Fig in Stansbury. The tide is still out.

I need to provide a bit of background information. A tent was mentioned above. I have not slept in a tent for at least 20 years. Not so much because I wouldn’t, but Simon is so not a camping kind of guy! We used to joke that the only camping he would do would be at a five star hotel with cable tv!

He has relented a little over the last few years, with our first backpacking trips (it was either that or stay home!) and stays in budget accomodation. The tent belongs to Simon’s Dad and we had borrowed it in the past to put up in the backyard for kids’ sleepovers. Thanks to those sleepovers we at least knew how to put up the tent, so it was done painlessly and in only a short time.

The tent is up!

We ate at the Marion Bay Tavern enjoying our dinner with a view of the sea. The food was surprisingly good for small town fare, with plenty of options. We walked back along the beach and then up to Penguin Point to watch the sunset. As our visit is just outside the busy summer school holidays, we were all alone.

Sunset over the scrub

On arrival back at our tent, our camping inexperience had us muttering “we should have brought some sort of light with us!” With little else to do in the dark, it was an early night!

Marion Bay jetty just after sunrise
We saw two of these great signs in different towns. Just perfect for Instagram.


Innes National Park

And an early morning! By 7:30am the tent was down and so we were heading into the Innes National Park. I had done the briefest of Google searches and knew we had to pay a park fee to enter. We could do this on the National Parks website and for us it was $10AUD.

Visitors can pay the fee at the Visitor Information Centre, where they have an external computer that can be used to pay at any time of the day or night. Throughout the park there are various camping and caravan facilities and they can also be paid for in the same way. The money collected is used for park maintenance, and rangers do travel throughout the park checking that visitors have paid.

Innes National Park Visitor Information Centre

The Visitor Information Centre can help out with maps and other information, but it is only open from 10am to 4pm. We were there before opening time so could not grab any maps, but a photograph of the big map outside did the job beautifully throughout our visit. This is also a perfect time to use the bathroom facilities, as they are scarce within the park, and, well, lets say very rustic!

Map from the wall of visitor information centre

We had only been driving for a few minutes into the park – before we even reached the information centre – when we had our first sighting of emus. This group was an adult emu with some babies, or more accurately, teenagers! We saw many such groups throughout the day, getting within a few metres of them in the car if we moved slowly towards and then past them. A couple of times we had to slow down to avoid them on the roads, and there are many signs around reminding drivers to slow down and watch out for the wildlife.

Daddy emu and his teenagers
Common road sign in the park

It also wasn’t long before we came across a kangaroo, again sitting only metres from the road, with a baby not far from her. We edged along in the car, and watched the kangaroo happily chomping away on the shrubs. The wildlife here appear to be used to seeing people and are therefore not so scared. While I don’t think I could have gotten out of the car (and there is no way I wanted to!), so long as we were quiet and slow, they just seemed to watch. We saw a few more kangaroos throughout the day, but nowhere near the amount of emus.

My kangaroo friend

The coastline throughout the park is absolutely spectacular. We stopped multiple times just to admire the view. The waves pounding up against the cliffs creates this amazing roaring sound that reverberates through my bones. The power of the sea is just awesome, and the Innes National Park coast shows it in all it’s glory.

The views are stunning
We just had to stop at the top of this hill and photograph the view
Those storm clouds were starting to be a worry

We visited two different lighthouses, one at Cape Spencer, and the other at West Cape. Both have been built in recent years, so lack the romance of the old-style lighthouses we are all more familiar with. Each of them requires a short walk, a little further to West Cape, but well worth it for the views.

Cape Spencer lighthouse
West Cape lighthouse

At West Cape we climbed down the stairs to the beach and watched in awe the huge waves roll in. The beach is over 2km long and empty apart from us and four surfers further along the beach. The surfers didn’t seem to be having much success, but I am no expert so maybe that’s just how it is here.

The beach at West Cape
The waves rolling in
Those dark clouds coming in over the beach

In the park is the historic settlement of Inneston so we did a short walk through the area. It is possible to book and then stay in one of the refurbished buildings here. We walked past the cricket ground, and made our way towards the main settlement, commenting on the quiet solitude.

I was taking some photos, and then hear a shout of “I hope I’m not in that!” On looking up I see a woman who was clearly staying in one of the buildings. She was sitting on the front porch, in her pj’s enjoying the view and drinking wine – at 10:30 in the morning! I experienced a few moments of jealousy since that seems like a great way to spend a peaceful break!

Inneston Lake is a pretty blue salt lake
The Inneston cricket pitch nearly 100 years after the last game
Inneston Historical Village
Galahs checking us out as we passed

It was interesting to discover that the chalk I remember being used in our schools when I was in primary school was all made in a tiny factory here in Inneston. The colours remain visible on the ground in front of the doors.

Bellco Chalk Factory

We continued to drive and stop at various locations, making our way around to Pondalowie Bay. Soon the ominous grey clouds convinced us it was time to retrace our steps and start making our way home. While all the roads are considered okay for a 2wd car, I was not keen to test out driving on dirt roads in the rain. We had known bad weather was coming from the forecast, but had initially hoped to get a full day in with some longer walks.

When the dark clouds and thunder initially started mid morning, we decided it was short walks only. There are well signposted walking trails all over the Yorke Peninsula, and the main Walk the Yorke trail goes for 500km around the area. Walkers can do sections of the trail as shorter day walks.

We had a great couple of days playing tourist on Yorke Peninsula. We had been over there numerous times before, but usually to one town and we just sat on the beach. This time we looked at it with different eyes, and ventured into the Innes National Park for the first time. I don’t think it will be the last!

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16 thoughts on “Road Tripping to Innes National Park”

  1. I hope Simon was not too distraught at the basic facilities!

    Must admit it’s been a while since I slept in a tent, though of course in my old uni regiment days I’d think nothing of scraping a hole for my hip and just dossing down on the ground under a tiny flysheet.

    The spectacular coastal scenery helps ease the pain, I dare say.

    • Simon coped! In fact, I think he slept better than me because I heard every sound! Doing it all again next weekend (weather permitting). You will have to stay turned for the next location!

  2. Weather permitting. It’s pretty torrid down your way, I hear. Might want to camp out in the shopping centre’s airconditioning.

    • Not so great where you are either! Could be the hottest day ever recorded today according to something saw this morning.

  3. South Australia is so beautiful. I love that you were able to get so close to the local wildlife! I think I’d want to be that woman sipping on wine at ten in the morning – sounds like she knows how to have a good time, hehe.

    • Thanks LC. Yes, getting that close was pretty cool. I grew up in the county so seeing kangaroos and emus is no real surprise to me, but I have never been able to get so close in the wild. I guess they are used to seeing people, and in the National park they can’t be hunted so there is no reason to fear!

  4. I just got back from Australia. We went to three states, and I wish I could have gone to SA. I love national parks. I will have to put this on the list next time I go back in May!

    • Thanks Susanna. There are many National Parks in South Australia. Also look at Kangaroo Island, visiting a wine region (The Barossa, McLaren Vale & Adelaide Hills are all within an hour of the city), and if you are feeling reeeaallllly adventurous, you can cage dive with great white sharks at Port Lincoln (I haven’t done it yet!). I hope you make it here ?

    • Thanks Jasmin. With such a small population (1.5million for the whole state) there is a lot of untouched beauty around.

  5. Hi. Have been going to Marion Bay since I was a teenager. I am now 63. Is a truly beautiful part of the world. Pssssst. Don’t tell everyone.:) By the way it is interesting that you mention mama Emu and the chicks. An interesting fact is that it is the male Emu who builds the nest, incubates the eggs and raises the chicks. Hope you had a great time. Cheers Dave.

    • Thanks Dave ? Doh – I do actually know that males looked after the chicks, but completely forgot when I was writing the post! It’s just so normal to think it’s the mum and chicks! I will correct it.

  6. Most interesting trip. Don’t think I have even been anywhere that region.
    Was astonished by the photograph of Ardrossan Silos. Did you notice them otherwise than as a photo subject. What were such things doing so far from home? And why? Did they catch your attention?
    I have ancestors from that part of Scotland and don’t think I saw any silos there many years ago.
    No plans for that sort of travel but it was certainly a place worth exploring – preferably not in a tent though! Thank you.

    • Hmm, I think I may have confused you – I probably need to make it clearer. This was in Australia not Scotland.

      Ardrossan is a port town. Much of the grain that is grown on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia is exported directly from there, hence the silos to store it all in before export.

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