Ranger tips: Innes National Park

Get insider tips on the best places to visit and ‘must do' activities from park ranger Mark Davison.

Located on the Yorke Peninsula, about three hours’ drive from Adelaide, is the ever-popular Innes National Park.

It’s an ideal park for camping, fishing, surfing and bushwalking. You’ll spot an abundance of birds and animals while you catch some of the best coastal views in South Australia.

There really is something for everyone here. You can visit one of the lighthouses and the Ethel shipwreck to learn about the tumultuous maritime history of SA, you can base yourself in one of the restored heritage cottages dotted throughout historic Inneston, an abandoned township surrounded by bushland, or you can take a stroll from your campsite to the beach for a spot of fishing. And because all of the park is accessible by two-wheel-drive, it’s easy to get around.

Want some pointers about what to do on your next visit? We’ve asked park ranger Mark Davison for some insider tips. Here’s what he had to say:

Which campground is your favourite and why?

We have multiple campgrounds throughout the park but I would list Casuarina as my favourite. With a small number of sites (10), the campground is set amongst a beautiful natural bush setting and caters for camper trailers and tent based camping.

Just a short 10-minute walk through the dunes is the beautiful Pondalowie Bay beach, where you will find great fishing and surfing.

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Pondalowie Bay (image courtesy of SA Tourism)

What’s Innes National Park’s best kept secret?

While it’s growing in popularity, the Blue Pool located at the north end of Shell beach is a stunning place. You can see why it frequently appears on Instagram!

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The Blue Pool (image courtesy of Emma Smith)

What’s your favourite activity to enjoy in the park?

I am a surfer and I fish – need I say more!

Top tips: If you’re into surf fishing, Browns Beach is famous for big Australian salmon. You could also try your luck at any of the beaches for mullet, tommy ruffs, garfish, sweep, mulloway and whiting. The Stenhouse Bay jetty is a great spot for catching squid.

Innes is home to some of SA’s best surf breaks and hosts the Yorke’s Classic Surfing Competition. Pondalowie Bay has long and consistent waves, while Chinaman’s Beach has a powerful left-hand break and big swell, but this break is only for experienced surfers.

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Fishing at Browns Beach (image courtesty of @take_a_break_services)

Which beach is best for swimming?

Boasting a stretch of soft white sand and clear turquoise water, the reasonably protected Dolphin Bay is one of the most picturesque and safest beaches to take a dip. Remember to take care when entering the water and be aware of rips and large swells at all of the beaches throughout the park.

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Dolphin Beach (image courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission and Adam Bruzzone)

Where’s the best view in Innes National Park?

One of the most stunning views is from the top of Chinaman’s Hill, which overlooks Investigator Strait and the Althorpe Island group, and has views of Kangaroo Island in the distance.  Another great view is from the 360-degree lookout at West Cape, which offers a stunning visual of the Southern Ocean and back across the entire park.

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View from Chinamans Hill (image courtesy of SA Tourism and Adam Bruzzone)

What kind of animals can be spotted in the park?

You will see kangaroos and emus, some still with young family groups, and if you’re quiet around dusk you might also see Tammar wallabies. You might also catch a glimpse of the elusive Mallee fowl in the evenings.

On the coast you could see ospreys and white-bellied sea eagles soaring, as well as pods of dolphins playing in the surf at locations such as Ethel Beach, West Cape and Pondalowie Bay. When you’re driving in the park, please pay attention on the roads as kangaroos and emus feed on vegetation adjacent to the road verges.

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Park of the Month

Throughout January, Innes National Park is being celebrated as National Parks South Australia’s Park of the Month. Join a ranger-guided Reef Ramble event or a night Tammar wallaby walk, or explore the spectacular beaches, campgrounds and walking trails in your own time. Check the website for all the details.

Wondering which other national parks to visit in SA? Get inspired with our list of parks with brilliant views or breath-taking natural wonders.  

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