Strictly for the adventurous and explorers among us, Innes national park sits at the end of a very long rainbow in the furthermost southern tip of the Yorke Peninsula.
This tiny national park hidden at the end of South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula is full of beautiful beaches, best of the best surf breaks on the coast, a thriving wildlife population and an historic township situated next to a salt lake bed.
Whilst Innes national park is a little further out of the way on your road trip, it is certainly worth the 2 hour drive down.
Of all the things to do on the yorke peninsula we loved coming here the most.
We have created this guide to help showcase the most interesting and picture worthy spots anywhere along the coast, as well as where to go to surf with Dolphins!
READ MORE: Check out our ultimate guide to travel to South Australia
Traditional custodians of Dhilba-Guuranda Innes National Park
Up until recently, this national park held the name of Innes National Park; in fact it was only last November in 2020 that to our surprise that the park was renamed to Dhilba Guuranda- Innes.
An agreement between the South Australia Government and the traditional custodians of the land, the Narungga first nations people of the Indigenous Australians.
The Narungga people have lived here for thousands of years prior to European settlement – however there are 4 clans that have lived here previously; the Kurnara, Windera, Wari and the Dilpa clans.
Where is Dhilba-Guuranda Innes national park
Dhilba-Guuranda Innes national park sits at the very bottom tip of the Yorke Peninsula in a land area of only 94sq km.
From the western and eastern sides of the island, it’s possible to see both the Fleurieu Peninsula to the East, and the Eyre Peninsula to the West on a clear, sunny day.
How to get to Dhilba-Guuranda Innes national park
Like many roads in South Australia, the Yorke Peninsula has but a few main road options on your drive down south; but we suggest taking Yorke Highway (B86) all the way down.
All of Dhilba-Guuranda Innes’ roads are sealed so Pre-book your Australian road trip and get a 30% discount” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener nofollow” class=”rank-math-link”>driving your rental car down into the national park won’t be an issue at all.
Where to get a good meal?
Head to the one and literally ONLY restaurant this far south of the Yorke Peninsula at the Marion Bay tavern, which is coincidentally right next door to the Marion Bay general store where you can pick up knick knacks and daily essentials like bread, milk, playing cards & fishing gear.
Park information centre
There is a wonderful little visitor information centre right inside the park on Stenhouse Bay Road where park rangers are eager and keen to assist with any camping enquiries, fire-bans or anything else you need.
You can also pick up your park map from the visitor centre, but we do recommend having the map saved to your phone instead; it’s just another way we can reduce unnecessary paper waste on our travels.
The centre is open 7 days a week from 10am till 3pm
When to visit Dhilba-Guuranda Innes
The weather is almost always sunny and bright in South Australia, but anytime you travel the coast the weather always drops a bit as offshore winds pick up salt and moisture from the ocean and cool the weather down.
It also gets windier on the coast so make sure you have a windbreaker or similar with you.
As a general rule of thumb, December through to Feb-March are the summer months in Australia’s Southern coastline, but it is also the school holiday period, so try for the shoulder seasons between Feb and March and the crowds will have died down before long.
Dhilba-Guuranda Innes national park accommodation
If you travel the Yorke Peninsula like we did in our campervan then you will understand that campsites (most) don’t offer power or water, so you’ll need somewhere to plug into and get rid of waste and fill up the tanks.
Marion Bay Caravan Park just outside the national park is the only powered site for a while.
Here you can plug into 240V, refill water, empty grey and black water tanks and take the stress out of free camping.
The staff here were very welcoming and generous, they even let us fill up water before we head into the park for a few nights for free.
This Yorke Peninsula caravan park was most definitely our personal favourite for the entire trip.
Their ammenities include cabins, patio-ensuites, BBQ area, fish cleaning sites, a camp kitchen and a play area for the kiddies.
Reception is open daily form 830am until 6pm.
Check in for sites 2pm onwards and departure 10am
You can visit the Marion Bay caravan park for more information or call 0439845015
Dhilba Guuranda- Innes National Park camping
You will need to book online before staying a night at any of these campsites:
Stenhouse Bay – 25 campsites with toilets, caravans, campervans, camper trails and tents
Pondalowie Caravan – 9 large sites, 16 smaller sites , toilets, public phone, caravans, campervans, camper trails and tents
Pondalowie Bay Bush – 26 sites for tents only, toilets, fires
Browns beach – 7 campsites for tents only, toilets and fire allowed
Cable bay– 9 campsites for caravans, campervans, camper trails and tents, with toilets
Casuarina- 6 tents, camper trailers, toilets
Gym Beach – 6 small, with toilets, caravans, campervans, camper trails and tents
Shell beach – 8 tents and camper trailers, with toilets
Entry Fees into Innes National Park
Parks SA website allows for a few different options when it comes to park passes, but the one that applied to us the most was the 2 month multiple parks pass for $44 per vehicle.
This got us entry into Innes national park and many other national parks in south australia without having to pay individual prices every time.
If you plan on being in South Australia for more than 6 months, then we suggest purchasing the 12 month multiple parks entry pass for $99.
Incredible Guide to Dhilba-Guuranda Innes National Park
Stenhouse Bay Jetty
An unremarkably beautiful pier on the eastern coast of the park, Stenhouse bay jetty shines bright in the daylight sun showing off her turquoise blue waters and limestone cliff faces that have seen many shipwrecks over the years.
The Investigator Strait is the body of water that lies between Kangaroo island and the Yorke Peninsula, and has 26 vessels sunk here over a period of 150 years which now provide ecologically important habitats for the marine life that live in this part of the coast.
Check out our Kangaroo Island Travel Guide for the best places to visit
A small lookout off Pondalowie Bay road west of Stenhouse Bay jetty is a tiny rocky offshore called Chinamans; easily accessible from a car-park off the same road
Inneston historic township
A small historic township in the heart of Innes national park that used to house 200 people and even ran its own school when the park used to be self-sufficient.
All that’s left today are well preserved houses and infrastructure of a town in days gone by.
One of our favourite things to do in Innes national park was take a walk down to the beach at Ethel Beach. Dhilba-Guuranda Innes national park is actually home to over 40 shipwrecks, most not visible to people but here is the only place you can see Ethel up close.
Sunk during a severe storm in 1904, it is not always visible to visitors, depending on the tide and wind but a glimpse into the past.
West Cape lighthouse station
One of only two lighthouses in the park, West Cape requires a bit of a hike down and up the hill to get to, but at sunset, the light turns a shade of pink and purple hue and Dhilba-Guuranda Innes national park lights up a fantastic display, with the local wildlife venturing out to feed.
Pondalowie Bay boardwalk & surf break
If you love surfing, dolphins and epic beach views then Pondalowie surf break is the place to be at in Dhilba-Guuranda – Innes national park.
The best surf break in the park, Laura and I spent a couple hours here just watching the surf and to our surprise were greeted by a rather long sighting of bottlenose dolphins, swimming through the surfers and catching their own waves!
Visiting Pondalowie was probably one of one best things to do on the Yorke Peninsula, outside of Stenhouse bay and the lighthouse.
Come for the beach, stay for the rockpools. The best thing to do in Dhilba-Guuranda Innes national park was to visit this beautiful rock-pool visited by many a intagrammer and social media-lite!
An incredibly unique oval shaped rockpool that receives its water current from the Spencer Gulf, protects itself by a large rockwall on the northern side.
Laura and I spent 2 hours down here and even saw a single dolphin come by to check us out.
To get here you continue straight along Browns Beach road and take the 1st exit at the roundabout towards Shell Beach campground.
From here just walk right, along the beach to the end until you come across a set of rocks to traverse, and on the other side right at the end will be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Other places to visit in Dhilba-Guuranda Innes national park
A really beautiful stretch fo white sand surrounded by large red boulders on the foreshore giving it a style not dissimilar to Tasmania’s bay of fire.
There may not be too many dolphins around this part of the island, despite the name but it was still gorgeous to be at.
You cannot access gym beach via car, so you will be walking from the end of Browns bay road. However if you plan on staying at the gym beach campground, your best bet is to leave the national park via Marion Bay road heading North, and take Gym beach Road towards the campground.
What did you think of Dhilba-Guuranda Innes National park?
Would you go travelling here? Let us know in the comments below
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Chris and Laura Travels acknowledges Aboriginal people as the First Peoples and Nations of the lands and waters we live and work upon and we pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge and respect the deep spiritual connection and the relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to Country.
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