Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is a small region at the tip of the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, but it’s packed with beauty.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Narangga Nation, the traditional Country of the Narangga people who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


Take a trip to explore this magical destination of dramatic coastlines and sparkling blue water. To experience this unique and stunning National Park is to share in thousands of years of history and the culture of the Narangga People. This in-depth guide will show you the unmissable highlights of the park.


  • Watching cliffs lit with a fiery glow as the sun sinks
  • Swimming in chilly blue water without another soul in sight
  • Exploring and rock-hopping to secret rock-pools
  • Hiking to lookouts overlooking rugged sections of coast
  • Being pummelled by large waves

Pondalowie Bay Bush Campground

We based ourselves at the Pondalowie Bay Bush Campground. This campground is nestled in native coastal shrubs and provides a sense of isolation and connection with nature, away from larger caravans.



Sit amongst the trees and put your feet up in your own secluded site or stroll around the campground watching the stars flicker overhead. Staying in such a central location, you’ll be right at the heart of all the action that the park has to offer.

Know Before You Go: Some sites are quite exposed to the sun and wind, while others are more sheltered, and you can pick what is best suited to you when booking online. Expect visits from the locals, so don’t be surprised if you share the area with kangaroos or emus! Kangaroo ticks are common at the campsite and are harmless but pesky, so bring tweezers to remove them if necessary.

You may also encounter some feral bees, and Parks SA instructs campers not to leave exposed water around the campsite. To deter them, leave some water at a distance from the campsites.


  • Drop toilet
  • Barbecue
  • Shelter
  • Water tank that needs to be treated, but is often empty, so be sure to bring your own supply of water!
  • Mallet – the ground in most of the sites is hard packed dirt, so you may struggle with tent pegs. 
  • Patchy to non-existent phone signal

Other Great Campgrounds in Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park

There are many other brilliant options for camping. Here is a complete list of all the campsites in the national park, in order of their proximity to Marion Bay:

  1. Stenhouse Bay Campground
  2. Cable Bay Campground
  3. Pondalowie Bay Bush Campground
  4. Pondalowie Caravans and Trailers Campground
  5. Casuarina Campground
  6. Shell Beach Campground
  7. Browns Beach Campground
  8. Gyms Beach Campground (only accessible by Gym Beach Road)

Visit the National Parks website for the map and more info.

Pondalowie Surf Break

The famed Pondalowie Surf Break is a few minutes’ drive away from camp, with a stunning boardwalk through coastal vegetation all the way to the beach (we saw some emus having dinner on the walk!). The beautiful beach stretched out before us, offering the perfect combination of isolation and accessibility.

Once in the water, we got the wave pummelling that we were craving. When the conditions are pumping, the powerful swell makes for a surfer’s paradise that’s also perfect for general frolicking if you’re a comfortable swimmer. Walking further up the beach there is a cool shipwreck covered in graffiti.

Know Before You Go: Access is via a 15-minute boardwalk. Depending on when you go, waves and currents here can be very strong. Check swell and tides before going.

Read More: Surfing at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park


Chinamans Hat

One of the first sights that greets your eyes as you drive into the park from Marion Bay is Chinamans Hat. This beautiful rock formation is just off the coast and can be appreciated by stopping your car in a small pull-in, or from the official signed lookouts.

With our car by the side of the road, we clambered down a path to some stunning beaches and coves with not a single other person in sight. The views and the seclusion were amazing! The official lookouts provide an even closer encounter with the unique landmark.

Know Before You Go: It can be easily viewed from lookouts. Scrambling down to some bays can be more challenging. Stick to paths and avoid trampling vegetation.


Pondalowie Cliffs

Follow the road past the Pondalowie Campgrounds to the car park at its end. From here, we took an easy trail that led us through shrubbery along the edge of the cliffs, offering 360-degree panoramic views, with a turbulent and raging ocean beneath our feet, shaping the dramatic cliffs with each swell. 

We soaked up the incredible views while waiting for the sun to drop. And wow, talk about golden hour! The cliff face was painted vibrant shades of orange by the sun’s last rays. It was an unforgettable sight!

Know before you go: Be careful around the cliff tops and be wary of possible overhanging and unstable rocks.


Swimming at Shell Beach

Early in the morning we visited the still blue waters of Shell Beach, hoping to find a famous rock pool on the right side. Unfortunately, when we arrived the swell was powerful, and we didn’t want to tempt the ocean with the possibility of smashing us on some rocks. We really enjoyed observing the wildlife that made its home in the crystal-clear water of some of the smaller rockpools, including some bright orange crabs.

Back on the sand, we had the beach all to ourselves, and decided to risk a quick topless dip. The chilly water left us breathless after we dived in, surfacing cleansed and refreshed. Floating in the pristine water in the wilderness made me feel like the ocean and I were a single entity, living and breathing together as one.

Know before you go: This is a sheltered bay, so waters are normally calm. The rock pool is best visited at low tide.


Exploring Dolphin Beach

We made our way down some stairs to the incredible Dolphin Beach, where we, as rock-lovers, were immediately drawn to the call of the smooth granite boulders on the left side of the beach. Barefoot, we made our way along the coast, revelling in the enjoyment of scrambling over rocks, and feeling the different textures beneath our feet.

Rounding a corner with not another soul in sight, we stumbled across a glittering turquoise rock pool poised delicately between the ocean and small rocky cliffs – a true oasis. We named it Mermaid Pool, because it looked like something that belonged in a fantasy world. We tried to imagine how the Narangga People would have felt to find the same pool thousands of years earlier. I think that nature’s beauty evokes something in everyone, and they would have been struck by the same awe and wonder as us.



Once we returned to the sand, we went for a refreshing dip to cool off after breaking a sweat. I have also been snorkelling at this beach on the left side and exploring the unique and fascinating ecosystems submerged beneath the surface was well worth braving the cold!

Know before you go: Like Shell Beach, it’s also a sheltered bay, great for swimmers and snorkelers alike. The rocks are perfect for a picnic or a sunbake.

Read more: Staying Safe on Coastal Rock Platforms


Stenhouse Bay Lookout Walk and Jetty

We started off by doing the Stenhouse Bay Lookout Walk, which climbed high above the water through native scrub, to numerous lookouts that presented incredible views back down to Stenhouse Bay and to the wild and rugged coast in the other direction.

On the hike, there were signs to inform walkers about native wildlife and the colonial history of the area. We were shocked to see that the colonial rubbish dumps had been preserved. Despite its educational potential, it was a blemish on the natural beauty of the walk and could wash into the ocean. It definitely made an impression on us.



Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

After the walk, we headed down to the jetty. I was amazed with all the different shades of blue that we’d seen on our trip, with each beach and each pool of water carrying a unique hue. The water below the jetty didn’t disappoint, boasting a rich emerald colour. We descended the ladder and jumped into the deep water. While in the water we grabbed a floaty plastic bag, doing our part as environmental warriors!

Know Before You Go: The trail is 2.2km long and takes approximately 1 hour to complete. It’s easy and family friendly, but is exposed to the elements, including high winds.


Cape Spencer Lighthouse

The walk to Cape Spencer is short but doesn’t disappoint, providing beautiful views of golden-sand beaches and cliffs, and out to islands in the distant ocean. The lighthouse sits at the end of the cape, commanding your attention. Steep slopes and cliffs tumbled down on all sides, and the dramatic views can be seen by venturing along small side trails. The waves were crashing against rocks below, and the informative signposts were rich with history.

Know Before You Go: It’s a short, easy, wide path, taking about 5-10 minutes to reach the lighthouses. Small side trails offer great cliff views but be careful and don’t approach the edge!


Ethel Beach and Shipwreck

From the car park on the cliffs above, we could see the crescent strip of beach, and the shipwreck was tiny below us, but the thundering of the waves was still loud, even from so high up.  We descended the stairs to have a closer look at the wreck; nestled below the towering cliffs, the skeletal remains of the Ethel and the Ferret shipwrecks were a reminder of the raw and uncontrollable power of the ocean, telling a story of those who were overwhelmed by its strength.

We waded into the water up until about knee-deep, but the pull-back was so strong that we didn’t dare go out any further. The waves were some of the biggest I’ve ever seen, crashing with a roar of huge force, white horses surging towards us at high speed. There are also some cool caves on the far right of the beach. It was definitely worthwhile to make the trek down and back up the 133 stairs!

Know Before You Go: Be careful around the wreck, as sharp metal pieces may be hiding beneath the sand. I’d suggest wearing shoes in the area around the wreck as a precaution. Powerful swells and strong currents mean that swimming or surfing at this beach should be saved for the pros! Take care around the caves, being wary of the tides and possible rockfalls.


Hike to West Cape Lighthouse

The 30-minute return walk to the West Cape Lighthouse is another great sunset excursion, and a fantastic location to examine the tenacious coastal plants carpeting the floor. The walk pleasantly winds along the cape on a sandy track. We had the place mostly to ourselves, save for some kangaroos.

A small metal plate on the way has arrows pointing in the directions of significant landmarks, allowing us to identify and name all of the interesting places we had seen throughout our trip. The metal lighthouse stood tall, reflecting the sun’s light.

Know Before You Go: The walk is 1.2km, taking 30 minutes on an easy path. Stick to the paths and avoid trampling vegetation.


Surfing Berry Bay on the Drive Home

Outside of the national park, the Yorke Peninsula holds many other gems. On the way back to Adelaide, we stopped off for a surf at Berry Bay. Walking across the cliffs above the beach, we spied some dolphins in the water and hastily scrambled down and paddled out into the cool, powerful waves. Well worth the stop!

How To Get There 

Situated only a 4-hour drive from Adelaide, it is a very accessible location, with a big bang for your buck. The road in the park is mostly paved, but after passing the Pondalowie Surf Break, it turns to gravel, and this is the only route to access Shell and Dolphin Beach, however it’s drivable for 2WD. 

There‘s a $12 entrance fee to the park that can be paid online or at the visitor centre. Once you enter the park, views will take your breath away and you’ll encounter emus and kangaroos living in the coastal scrub, so keep your eyes open. The visitor centre provides some interesting information on wildlife and the Indigenous history of the land.

Essential Gear

  • Bathers (wetsuit if you hate the cold!)
  • Hiking boots
  • Day pack
  • Hat and sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Water
  • Stove and food (only gas fires allowed in the park during fire ban season)
  • Tent/swag, sleeping bag, sleeping mat
  • Surfboard
  • Snorkel, mask, and fins
  • Towel
  • First aid kit