South Australia and it’s capital, Adelaide, are somewhat forgotten regions on the tourist’s map. However, this southern State, the driest on the continent, offers the traveler some spectacular and secluded locations.
Innes National Park lies at the foot of the Yorke Peninsula, about 300 kilometers by road from Adelaide. Declared a National Park in 1970, it offers the adventurous visitor stunning scenery, hiking, surfing, fishing, camping and the opportunity to see the local wildlife close up.
The small township of Stenhouse Bay lies at the entrance to the park. The settlement consists of nothing more than a general store and a tavern. Rhino’s Head Tavern (named after a local landmark) attracts every surfer and fisherman within twenty kilometers, so on a good night it will be packed with about thirty people. Entrance fees are payable here at a self registration station, but the rates are quite reasonable.
Once inside the park, it’s a matter of following the main road and turning off to the sign, which posts places of interest. Free maps of the park are available at the registration station, so it’s impossible to get lost. There is only one road in and the same one out again. The roads branching off are just as easy to follow.
There are numerous, well marked camping areas. Pick of the spots would be Browns Beach, Shell Beach, and Pondalowie Bay. All camping areas have toilets, but only Pondalowie has showers. I probably should mention that the toilets are the “long drop” variety, so no flushing needed.
Surfing is popular here with Chinamans and Pondalowie having the best waves. Chinamans breaks from left to right as you look at it from the beach, and the bottom here is shallow reef. Pondalowie is a wave breaking over a sandy seabed, offering a more sedate experience. Both breaks work well on about a six foot swell. Other more secretive breaks are there for the thrill seekers, but the waters here are very, very sharky.
If visitors are prepared, just about anywhere is good for fishing. Browns Beach is a very well known Australian Salmon fishing spot. The fish move into the two lagoons on high tides, bringing them within casting distance of the fisherman on the beach. The are fast moving, high flying fish and you will certainly know when you’ve caught one.
The wildlife, being in a National Park, is prolific and at sunset kangaroos are regular visitors to the Browns Beach and Shell Beach camping grounds. Emus are frequently seen in the more open areas and on the coastal dunes. Snakes are common and nearly all species venomous, so it’s probably wise to steer clear of them.
Walking trails offer spectacular views and wind through untouched bush land. None of the hikes are particularly taxing and all take less than a day.
The scenery, as mentioned is a major draw card. The coast is diverse, with secluded bays and sheltered beaches around Shell Beach and Dolphin Bay, and roaring surf and rugged cliffs around West Cape and Cable Bay. There are also numerous offshore reefs and islands.
Innes National Park is just the spot to head for if seclusion and exploration are your thing. During off peak times, the camping grounds will be all but deserted. It’s a uniquely Australian landscape and well worth a visit. It costs $8(AU) to get in and $4.50(AU) a night to camp.
Two day and single day tours are available from Adelaide.
Written and Photographed by Steven Pike