If you like great coastal camp sites with everything you need for a bargain price, we’ve got another camp site in South Australia that was really good; Balgowan Campground. As it turns out, we stumbled across this purely by chance, and nearly didn’t stay at it because of my (incorrect) first impressions.
We’d left late from Alford Recreation Park after getting chatting to another travelling family, and headed into Wallaroo to have a look around, and maybe flick a crab pot off the jetty. We gave up on that idea fairly quickly, as you can’t use anything but seafood for bait (and we had almost none), and Cooper was really cranky still, from his sore knee.
Sarah had picked out Tiparra Rocks as our best option for camping, and we were both pretty excited at staying right next to the beach in a nice spot again. Our hopes were smashed to smithereens upon arrival though, with a wind blowing huge white caps and swell onto the beach, and two other campers who’d taken a tiny portion of the massive sites. We wouldn’t have stayed as it was blowing that bad, and both jumped back on Wikicamps to look for an alternative.
As a next best option, Sarah suggested we head 4km away to a place called Balgowan Campground. Despite the fact that it was a caravan park, I agreed and we chugged down the road to plan B. When we arrived I wasn’t too convinced about the prospect of being jammed in with other caravans, but after a bit of a discussion and walk around I changed tunes, and we left the following day rating it as one of the better places we’ve stumbled across.
Where is Balgowan Campground?
Balgowan is roughly 40 minutes drive from Wallaroo, or 15 minutes from Maitland. It’s almost half way between Moonta and Port Victoria, and is another great piece of the South Australian coastline.
What is Balgowan Campground?
I suppose technically Balgowan Campground is a Caravan Park, but its so small, quiet and informal that it hardly qualifies. There are 8 powered camp sites, and 4 unpowered ones, in a small area (but the sites are decent enough sized).
It’s almost like a shire run camp in one of the best locations of town, and we really enjoyed it. In actual fact, the park is owned by the council, and leased back with all of the profits going back into the town of Balgowan.
What amenities do they have at Balgowan Campground?
Balgowan Campground is next to the public toilet block, which is what gets used. They have key access to male and female showers, a small but reasonable kids playground, some BBQ’s, picnic tables, shelter and a couple of nice, grassy areas. There’s a laundry, and you can stay at powered sites if you want them.
How much does it cost to stay?
The pricing here is fantastic, and we were really impressed. For a couple on a powered site, you are looking at $30 a night. If you stay on an unpowered site though, its only $20, and kids under 16 are completely free. Over 16 additions are $10 extra a night, and you can stay as a single person for $25 for power or $15 for unpowered.
I’m going to say this is probably the cheapest Caravan Park that we’ve ever stayed at, and when you consider what you get for that money (including amazing views), its absolutely unreal.
What’s even more ludicrous is that the cost to camp on an unpowered site is the same as the council camps on the rest of the Yorke Peninsula, which often have zero amenities!
Balgowan vs Tiparra Rocks
Tiparra Rocks is a nice place, and I can see that when its calm, it would be really good. There’s only room for about 4 different groups of campers (and that’s if people set up nicely, and don’t block off huge sites). You can’t book, and its easily possible to arrive and not find a place.
Tiparra Rocks is closer to the beach, and more private, but $20 buys you a place to stay, and that is it. You don’t get a toilet, shelter, BBQ or even a rubbish bin, and when you compare it to Balgowan just 4.3 kilometres away, the value is not there.
We are not Caravan Park people, and would much rather the style of camping that Tiparra Rocks offers, but when you compare them together Balgowan is much better value. The beach and cliffs at Balgowan are easily as good, you get to camp on nice green grass, and you have access to flushing toilets, hot showers, rubbish bins, laundry facilities, have beach access for your 4WD and to me, its a far better place to camp.
Views and scenery nearby
The views from Balgowan Campground reminded me of James Price Point, and also Kooljaman to a certain extent. You’re literally camped on top of a nice cliff, with views of the beach and big red cliffs running down the length of the beach.
It’s a 2 minutes walk to the bottom of the beach, or you can head to the boat ramp, or into town. The Clifftop Kiosk was closed permanently a while back, but is trial opening again now with new owners, and the town of Balgowan had an awesome feel about it.
The Balgowan Campground is worth a stay
I much prefer to give publicity to nature based camp grounds (and not Caravan Parks), but Balgowan Campground really surprised me. It’s small, quiet, has great views, is extremely good value and is in a part of the world that is stunning, and I regretted ever feeling like it wouldn’t be worth a stay.
If you are coming past, stay a night or two at Balgowan Campground; its a great place. You might even get a big Blue Manna Crab, like we did!