South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula is a hidden paradisaical gem just a few hours’ out of Adelaide and it’s calling your name…
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Nharangga Nation, the traditional land of the Kurnara, Windera, Wari, and Dilpa people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
A Week in Paradise
Within a two hour drive from Adelaide is everything you need for a relaxing and adventurous week in nature – secluded rock pools, empty beaches, and cheap campsites. The hardest part is picking where to go!
Here’s how we’d spend a week on the Yorke Peninsula. We explored the peninsula in an anticlockwise direction. But you can’t go wrong either way.
Relaxing, Reading & Fishing at Burners Beach
We like to get the long drive out of the way first and this epic and cheap campsite is just under three hours’ drive from Adelaide.
While you won’t find surf here, the idyllic, peaceful bay is perfect for lazing around on the beach on your well-deserved break. Time moves a little slower at Burners, so you’ll find there seems to be a few extra hours in the day to finish off that book you packed.
If you need a little action to stay sane, it’s also a great spot for kayaking, fishing, and spearfishing.
The Burners Beach campsite is run by the local council and is only $10 per night per vehicle or $50 for seven nights. This same permit can be used for any of the 19 ‘Yorke Peninsula Bush Camping’ sites.
The campsite has a bin, a drop toilet, but no running water.
Surfing & Dolphin Spotting at Berry Bay And Gravel Bay
Feeling rested? Good. Now for a bit more action.
Only 30 minutes down the road is Berry Bay. This is a great spot to get a wave, swim with wild dolphins, or simply lay on the beach. Berry Bay has a north or south entrance with a car park, toilets, and conveniently, a set of stairs to get you down the cliffs to the beach.
This is also a great spot to get a wave. There’s a good break at each end of the beach, as well as sandbar breaks depending on conditions.
There’s no camping at Berry Bay, but you can just head around one kilometre down the road to Gravel Bay which is part of the Yorke Peninsula Bush Camping.
Gravel Bay campground is perched high up on the cliffs, looking down on clear water and orange stained boulders. We ended up spending a few nights here and had it all to ourselves. The only visitors were a pod of dolphins who came into the little cove just below where we were camped multiple times a day.
If you’re planning on camping here, there are no bins, no toilets, and no running water, so you need to be fully self-contained.
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
Hidden Rock Pools & Surfing at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park
This is the only national park on the peninsula, and you’ll find it vastly different to the cleared farmland that sadly makes up most of Yorke.
The local Parks and Wildlife Service are doing some amazing work here, including an ambitious plan to fence off the peninsula’s tip from invasive pests like cats, foxes, and mice and reintroduce native flora and fauna, like the Brush-tailed Bettong.
The park was only recently renamed as the Dhilba Guuranda-Innes late last year, in recognition of the co-management with the Nharangga people, who have lived on the peninsula for thousands of years.
While there are many things to see and do in the park there are a few stand outs.
If you’re a keen surfer, the Pondalowie surf break is an awesome spot for a wave. In bigger conditions it can get a little hairy being a rocky reef break, so shred within your limits.
Hidden Rock Pools
The shell beach rock pool was once what you could call a secluded rockpool, but thanks to Instagram and Google Maps, it’s definitely becoming well-known.
Despite this, we were the only people at the pool for most of the morning. We even noticed a few people walking down the rocks further and missing it altogether, which is pretty easy to do.
To get here, walk to the far end of Shell Beach and over the first bunch of rocks.
The pool is a bit more out in the ocean than you may think. Like with any ocean pool, be careful toward the high tide and especially freak waves. This is really only a pool at low tide but is still nice to swim when the tide is higher.
Read more: Staying Safe on Coastal Rock Platforms
Where To Stay
The nearby Shell Beach campground is nice, but a bit small and pokey for our Troopy with a rooftop tent. Instead we camped at the most northerly site at Browns Beach, which is famous for salmon fishing at the right time of year.
All the campsites at the park have toilets. Bookings are required online or at the park entrance. Sites are $16.50 per night. There’s Telstra phone coverage in the park, so you can book campsites online when you find the right one.
More Hidden Rock Pools & Pristine Beaches at Hillocks Drive
We saved the best stop for last.
Hillocks Drive is a private property and former farm which is slowly being regenerated. It’s situated on the southeast side of the peninsula, just north of Marion Bay.
There’s plenty of scenic camping, lush beaches, fishing, and we discovered that it’s well-known for our new-found love of skimboarding.
The property also offers ‘ocean pods’ that generally need to be booked a few months in advance for weekends and holidays. We camped at Meteor Bay, which is one of the nicest beaches we’ve been to so far.
Once again, we had the campsite to ourselves and the beach only had the odd visitor here and there.
There are a bunch of cool hidden rock pools that you have to do a little bit of hunting to find – I’ll let you discover them for yourself. But I’d highly recommend the pools at Hillocks Point.
While this is a decent walk along the beach and then up over the cliffs and dunes, it’s well worth the effort.
All the campsites at Hillocks Drive have drop toilets and some even have BBQs and tank water. Camping prices vary between $25-$31 a night depending on the season.
- Beach umbrella
- A camera or two
- A good chilling chair, or our favourite, a big beach towel and cushions
Yorke Peninsula FAQs
How far is the Yorke Peninsula from Adelaide?
The Yorke Peninsula starts just under two hours’ drive from Adelaide. Or about four hours’ driving from Adelaide to the southern tip.
Is camping free on the Yorke Peninsula?
Camping has a small fee of $10 per night per vehicle, or $50 for seven nights. The same permit can be used for any of the 19 ‘Yorke Peninsula Bush Camping’ sites.
The national park on the far southern tip requires an entry permit and campsites require a booking.
Are the rock pools and beaches patrolled?
The beaches and rock pools are not patrolled so be careful in the water, especially on or around the rock pools. Sadly, there have been a number of recent drownings at some of the beaches. So please take care and follow the warnings.
Read more: Staying Safe on Coastal Rock Platforms