Innes National Park: The Beach Dweller
January 1, 1970
Imagine you are stranded on a deserted island, soaking up long, peaceful days away from your busy routine. Now, surround yourself with your favourite people, beaches that make your jaw drop and beautiful landscapes. Is there any more you could possibly ask for on a weekend getaway? I didn’t think so.
Innes National Park is an untouched heaven where you can experience the perfect coastal escape. It is located on the southwest tip of the Yorke Peninsula and only a short 3-hour drive west from Adelaide, South Australia. Innes National Park is famous for its crystal clear water, breathtaking cliffs, historic shipwrecks, world-class surf beaches and striking lighthouses surrounding the area. If you enjoy all of the above, let me share my experiences of this magical place with you.
After packing up the four-wheel drive, cameras and swag, we then embarked on our memorable journey. I was excited and exhilarated, just like a child would be in a candy shop. I made my own itinerary just so I could experience every piece of this stunning region.
This was base camp. We awoke to a warm sunrise on our faces and the sound of the sea. Before setting off, it was obliged to grab a famous ‘Jimmy Burger’ for breakfast from the local deli in town. After driving a short journey into the National Park, we arrived at our first stop.
As we walked down the limestone cliffs, it felt like we were stepping back in time. There were mining sites still standing and hanging over the beach from 1913. We took a short walk down the lonesome jetty whilst dabbling our fishing lines in the fluorescent green waters and taking the view in.
Chinaman’s Hat Island
We drove over the first hill that has views over all the national park where we saw the wild cliffs and ocean for the first time. We decided to pause the moment and park the car. We grabbed out our long boards and cruised down a small part of this famous road. The feeling of the sea breeze and adrenalin rush was surreal.
Visiting the historic Inneston village and exploring the ruins of abandoned building was a remarkable walk back in time. It was once home to around 200 people; Inneston was completely self-sufficient, having its own school, post office, bakery, and general store.
Cape Spencer Lighthouse
We took a short walk to admire the still operating lighthouse on the point of Cape Spencer. On either side of the path to get there we would look down steep cliff faces with beaming blue waves crashing at the bottom. It was quite a significant sight.
As we watched the surfers ride the huge waves, along came a pod of dolphins to join them too. Ethel Wreck that came to grief in 1904 still lies on the shore of this surf beach. It is the most famous of the many wrecks in Innes. Over the years, the sand has kept the majority of the wreck hidden, however there were still rusty metal parts poking out which gave a picturesque scene.
We entered through the fishing village, where we passed colourful hand-crafted shacks each with their own story to tell. The beach was filled with fisherman setting off on day trips or preparing their fish to take home for dinner. It was a new meaning of seafood!
To the right of the Bay was another wreck of a small boat that had graffiti all over it, which contrasted really lovely against the blue water and white sand. This is where we bumped into some friends from home and they invited us on their boat to go fishing for Snapper and Flatheads.
This was truly one magical place. We had the beach all to ourselves, we were swimming in the most clearest waters until this local ‘surfer dude’ and his dog ‘boyzie’ in a little yellow boat arrived in the secluded bay and asked us if we wanted a short cruise along the coastline of Innes National Park. Without even thinking, we jumped onboard. He showed us secret caves and coves and described how simple his life was, collecting driftwood to build a house, surfing, fishing, snorkeling all in this beautiful backyard.
We walked through bush shrub and sand dunes to find the pristine waters of Shell Beach. It was like a dream. As we walked down the beach we collected shells and basked in the sun.
We found a few rock pools at the end of the cove and decided to climb up and down these to see what else we could find. After a bit of climbing and very sore feet, we discovered a deep enough rockpool that we could jump into. It was a tropical paradise for snorkelling and cliff jumping. It was well hidden from the crashing waves from the coastline.
Along the drive from beach to beach, we spotted a couple of salt lakes. We decided to stop at one and take a walk across it. The water was so fresh and warm to run and wade in. After some laughs, we decided to taste some of the water, it was very salty!
This was a nice rocky cove where the view from the car and a snack was all we needed after a long day of adventuring.
Daly Head could not be accessed through the National Park, so we drove back through Marion bay and up to the west side of the Yorke Peninsula. We drove down dirt roads and through country towns that were right on the waterfront. It was such a scenic and relaxing drive to pass time. Daly Head was a huge beach with kilometres of sand dunes and towering waves. This is a world-class surf beach but we only bought boogie boards, so boogying it was!
Innes National Park will definitely be my favourite place to unwind, make sweet memories and soak up the South Australian sun in.