The Yorke Peninsula is full of beaches with crystal clear water, amazing coastlines and great camp sites, and none does it better than the Innes National Park. We’d been long looking forward to getting into the National Park, and when a gap in the windy weather presented itself made the drive right to the bottom, and booked a couple of nights at Gym Beach to start.
In this post, we cover the Innes National Park camping options, and give our thoughts on each spot.
Where is Innes National Park?
This national park is right at the bottom of the Yorke Peninsula, where the toes would be if you imagined it as a foot. It’s just over 3 hours drive from Adelaide, and is bitumen all the way.
Ticks, ticks, ticks
Now, I want to make a point of having this as high up on the article as possible, as it deserves more attention than what it gets given. There are a lot of ticks in the Innes National Park, and despite reading a comment a few days prior to us arriving, I just expected it to be like other places we’d been; you might get one or two on a group of people over a few days, and it was a risk worth taking.
When we arrived at Pondalowie Bay, camp site number 8 on the trailer loop, it took all of a minute to find and kill two big ones, and then in the hours that followed I pulled a huge one off my youngest sons head, and then killed 2 more running around on the floor of camp.
These are kangaroo ticks, and according to the information that is stuck in the toilets (as you won’t read or hear about it elsewhere), they are basically harmless, and you should just remove them carefully if they bite you.
I’m no medical practitioner, but I’m going to say that the risk of getting bitten by a tick might be a bit higher than that, and its something you want to avoid if at all possible.
Unfortunately we only realised how bad they were after booking 3 nights and arriving, but we were careful to check our bodies each day, to spray feet that were exposed and to kill any of them that we saw.
In our 3 night stay, we saw about 10 ticks in total, and managed to get away without anyone picking any up imbedded, which was pretty amazing.
Should this put you off staying? No, but you should make an educated decision about it, and understand the risks. We still stayed the 3 nights, but it was deterring, and annoying at the least.
Innes National Park Camping
There are quite a number of Innes National Park Camping options, depending on what you are staying in. If you have a caravan or RV your options go down considerably, but we’ll cover each camp ground below, starting from the North and working our way down:
Now that we’ve stayed, I like to think of Gym Beach as the adopted child. It’s in the Innes National Park, but to get to it you have to drive all the way out (or it’s the first camping option if you come from the north), and it’s a bit isolated from the rest.
This was our favourite camp site by a country mile; its only got 6 camp sites that are all decent sized, you can take all types of rigs in, the beach is stunning and its nice and quiet. There’s two drop toilets, and that is it.
Walking to the two main beaches takes a couple of minutes (depending on where you camp), but they are stunning, and it’s a truly amazing place.
If you are going to camp, I’d pick 1 or 2 if the weather is going to be amazing and you want ocean views. If you want guaranteed shade and protection from the wind though, camp site 5 is unbeatable, and we had 2 amazing nights here.
Shell Beach itself is absolutely stunning. The camp site though, is tiny, with camp sites that are really only suitable for tents, and give you very limited room for a vehicle. There’s a toilet, but this has to be one of the smallest camp sites I’ve ever seen on my travels.
Casuarina is also only suitable for tents, although you might squeeze a small camper or caravan in if you really wanted to. When we drove around though, you were literally a metre away from peoples swags in places, and there were cars everywhere.
The Pondalowie Bay camp ground is split in two. The first one is set up for tents and other campers, and has reasonable sites (although they are weirdly fenced off), and then you drive out, and go into a different loop that is set up for caravans, camper trailers and normal trailers. They’ve duplicated the numbers though, so if you book number 2 at the Pondalowie tent camp ground, don’t expect to be able to use the trailer one. Apparently this is a common problem here.
We spent 3 nights camped at Pondalowie Bay trailer camp site, and thought it was really good. It’s a short walk (maybe 200 metres) through the fishing village to a beautiful beach, or you can drive short distances to a heap of other places.
The area around Pondalowie Beach is stunning and there’s quite a few places you can head to get out of the wind. We certainly thought this was the pick of the bunch of camp sites, although Stenhouse Bay would be nice if the weather was kind!
Cable Bay has a decent size camp ground, with a few places that you’d fit larger rigs. The coastline here isn’t as nice as Pondalowie, but we did consider staying a night or two.
Stenhouse Bay is a stunning place, but the camp ground is really open and quite barren, and we decided not to stay here. Interestingly, this was the one camp ground that was not heavily booked out either, so perhaps others also have the same opinion.
Marion Bay Caravan Park
Whilst this isn’t in the Innes National Park, if you want to camp somewhere nearby it might be a good option for you.
Innes National Park 4WD tracks
Unfortunately, there are zero 4WD tracks in the Innes National Park. We thought this was a bit of a shame, but its been developed with a bitumen road throughout the majority of it, and there are no places you’d be able to lock the hubs and head out.
What did we think of the Innes National Park?
Like every other place we’ve been to in South Australia, we arrive with no expectations. Some of the beaches and coastline in the Innes National Park is about as good as it gets, and we thoroughly enjoyed them.
I thought a number of their camp sites were really average though, and would not want to stay there. We absolutely hated the ticks, and found them to be very frustrating and invasive.
I was sad that there are no 4WD tracks in the park, but we had a great time exploring the many attractions, and would happily go back again.
Dare I say that we thought the Eyre Peninsula was better though, overall?!