Where to go for a unique family getaway in South Australia’s national parks

For a family getaway with a difference, look no further than these accommodation options – not far from Adelaide.

Keen to organise an escape to spend time with family and connect with the great outdoors?

Make things interesting with a unique stay in one of South Australia’s national parks – and don’t worry, it won’t involve a tent.

From unique lighthouse cottage accommodation in Kangaroo Island to retreats and lodges in the Fleurieu and Yorke peninsulas, SA’s national parks have you covered.

If you want to go a little further away from the city lights, then the southern Flinders Ranges might be the spot for you.

Here’s everything you need to know about unique accommodation in these popular spots:

Kangaroo Island

What: Seymour Cottage and Thomas Cottage

Where: Cape Willoughby Conservation Park

What to expect: These heritage-listed cottages offer spacious self-contained accommodation with spacious verandas and scenic views of the coastal landscape and Cape Willoughby Lighthouse. Each cottage sleeps up to 9 people.

How to get there: There are two ways of getting to Kangaroo Island:

Drive – Drive about 2 hours (107km) south of Adelaide to Cape Jervis, catch a 45-minute ferry and then drive a further 30 minutes (28km) from Penneshaw to Cape Willoughby Conservation Park. The SeaLink ferry operates daily (except Christmas Day) between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw.

Fly –  Fly Qantas or Rex from Adelaide Airport to Kingscote Airport (about a 25-minute flight) and then drive about 60 minutes (67km) to Cape Willoughby Conservation Park.

How to book: Book this accommodation online, by phone on (+61 8) 8553 4410 or by email.

What you’ll need to take: Not much, besides your clothes, food and a good book. All bedding, linen and towels are supplied, and a fully equipped kitchen is also included in the self-contained cottages. If you’re planning on cooking in the kitchen, take note that the nearest supermarket is a 30-minute drive away in Penneshaw.

What you can do: Join a guided tour of the light station. Enjoy spectacular views across Backstairs Passage from the top of the lighthouse. From here you can occasionally see large schools of salmon or humpback, southern right and killer whales.

Head out along the Cape Willoughby Lightstation Heritage Hike, where you can gain an insight into the working and living conditions endured by the early light keepers in this harsh and remote environment. This is a moderate hike and will take you about an hour for the 2 km trail.  

You might also like to go for a drive to Seal Bay. Book a tour and immerse yourself in the beautiful surrounds – white sands, blue skies and unspoiled vistas – while you observe this amazing sea lion colony.

What you’ll tell your friends about it: After dark you’ll have the whole park to yourself – now that’s something you don’t get to experience every day.

More ways to get the most out of your time on Kangaroo Island:

Fleurieu Peninsula

What: Southern Ocean Retreats

Where: Deep Creek Conservation Park

What to expect: This self-contained accommodation ranges from rustic cottages to architecturally designed eco-retreats. All are set in their own unique location with different scenery, and sleep between 4 and 10 people.

How to get there: Drive about 1 hour and 45 minutes (104 km) south of Adelaide to Deep Creek Conservation Park.

How to book: Book this accommodation online or by phone on (+61 8) 8598 4169.

What you’ll need to take:  Just your usual personal gear, including food. All bedding, linen and towels are supplied and a fully equipped kitchen is also included.

What you can do: From the Cobbler Hill Picnic Area you can take in the views across the ocean of Kangaroo Island, or spend an afternoon walking the Deep Creek Waterfall Hike from Tapanappa Lookout.

Go whale watching as they migrate east during the winter months. Deep Creek Conservation Park offers great lookouts to see these magnificent creatures.

There are two 4WD tracks are available in this park, so if you have a 4WD jump in your car and you’ll be rewarded with stunning coastal views across the eastern and western sections of the park. 

What you’ll tell your friends about it: This getaway will make you feel a million miles away from Adelaide. You’ll have your own little sanctuary that’ll help you unwind and immerse yourself in nature with pristine beaches, wildlife and incredible views. You’ll quickly understand why this national park is so popular.

More ways to get the most out of your time in Deep Creek Conservation Park:

Yorke Peninsula

What: Managers Lodge

Where: Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park

What to expect: This lodge offers a warm gas fire, stunning views across Inneston Lake, beautiful timber floors and quintessentially Australian verandas. It sleeps up to 10 people.

How to get there: Drive about 3.5 hours (300km) from Adelaide via Port Wakefield, Ardrossan, Minlaton and Warooka.

How to book: Book this accommodation online or by phone on (+61 8) 8854 3200.

What you’ll need to take: Linen and bedding is not supplied so bring your own sheets, pillows, blankets, towels and tea towels. 

What you can do: There is something for everyone at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, from camping, to fishing, surfing and bushwalking.

Discover the park on walks ranging from 30-minute strolls to 4-hour treks. You’ll spot an abundance of birds and animals while you catch some of the best coastal views in SA.

All of the park is accessible by 2WD, so it’s perfect for day visits and a paradise for beach-lovers.

Take the kids to visit one of the lighthouses and the Ethel shipwreck to learn about the tumultuous maritime history of SA.

You can also explore historic Inneston, an abandoned township surrounded by bushland.

What you’ll tell your friends about it: You’ve got to visit Blue Pool beach located at the north end of Shell beach. It is a stunning place for a swim – you’ll see why it frequently appears on Instagram!

Another spot you won’t want to miss is the stunning view 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.

One more 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.

More ways to get the most out of your time in Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park:

Flinders Ranges

What: Alligator Lodge Accommodation

Where: Mount Remarkable National Park

What to expect: This three-bedroom lodge offers a rustic, ‘great outdoors’ feel that is perfect for larger groups. It sleeps up to 10 people.

How to get there: There’s a few options to choose from depending on where you’re coming from:

Drive – Drive about 4 hours (311km) north of Adelaide to Mount Remarkable National Park.

Fly – Fly Qantas or Rex from Adelaide Airport to Whyalla Airport (about a 50-minute flight), then drive 2 hours (138 km) to Mount Remarkable Conservation Park.

How to book: Book this accommodation online, or by phone on (+61 8) 8841 3400.

What you’ll need to take: Linen and bedding is not supplied so bring your own sheets, pillows, blankets, towels and tea towels. 

What you can do: Take the kids to Mambray Creek Valley. It’s easily accessible and only a short walk from the Day Visitor Area at Mambray Creek.

You’ll find yourself on a trail enclosed by rocky outcrops, native pines, gums trees and wildlife. It’s very serene and makes you feel like you’re a million miles away from everything. Here your family can immerse themselves in nature as this is a great place for quiet reflection or peaceful activities such as reading, sketching or bird watching.

Try to spot a yellow-footed wallaby in the park. They’re somewhat of an elusive animal, but your best bet to find one is along the Hidden Gorge Hike, up on the Battery Ridge, and along the Mambray Creek Valley toward Scarfes Hut.

What you’ll tell your friends about it: It’s no surprise that a must-see at Mount Remarkable National Park is Alligator Gorge. You can expect to be surrounded by colourful rock formations and narrowly-spaced cliffs. If the creek is running, and there’s water in the gorge, it makes this peaceful place extra special.

There are also some incredible views to be had. A favourite is the 960 m high Mount Remarkable Summit that presides over the Willochra Plain and looks out to the Spencer Gulf.

More ways to get the most out of your time in Mount Remarkable National Park:

For more accommodation options in national parks visit the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA website. Tell us your favourites in the comments section below. 

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