Sitting right at the bottom of the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, Innes National Park is not to be missed when planning a trip to this region. This small little park is packed with beautiful beaches, rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean, great fishing and camping spots, and heaps of native Australian wildlife.
Innes National Park is a great place to take a few days to relax by the ocean and unwind, the ultimate get back to nature. Spend your days beach hopping through the park and watching the emus claiming their territory in the beach that was named after them – Little Emu Beach.
We’ve put together everything you need to know to plan your Innes National Park camping trip, including all the best places you can’t miss on your visit.
Planning your trip to Innes National Park
Where is Innes National Park
From Adelaide the drive to Innes National Park takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Drive north to Port Wakefield from Adelaide, before continuing to Ardrossan down into the Yorke Peninsula and then following the signs to Marion Bay, the last tiny little town before Innes National Park.
If you’re flying in to Adelaide, pick up your rental car from the airport to explore more of the park on your own. The park has proper roads everywhere, so there’s no issue with bringing rental cars down here.
Innes Natural Resources Centre
For everything you need to plan your visit to Innes National Park, you can stop in to the Nature Resources Centre when you arrive in the park. Open seven days a week, from 10am to 3pm, you can’t miss the centre coming into the park, and it has all the information and travel advice you might want to plan your visit.
Vehicle entry fees apply within Innes National Park.
A day entry permit costs $11 per vehicle per day and gives you access to the entire park during your stay. If you’re only planning to visit Innes on your travels, this is the easiest permit to purchase for your trip. You can purchase your day entry for Innes National Park only via this link on the National Parks and Wildlife Services SA website.
If you’re planning to visit a few different National Parks during your time in South Australia you can purchase a multi park pass – either for 2 months for $44 or 12 months for $99. Use this link to purchase a multiple entry parks pass for either 2 or 12 months.
The multi park pass gives you unlimited vehicle entry into the following SA parks: Belair National Park, Bool Lagoon Game Reserve, Coffin Bay National Park, Deep Creek Conservation Park, Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, Gawler Ranges National Park, Innes National Park, Lincoln National Park (including Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area), Mount Remarkable National Park, Ngarkat Conservation Park and Para Wirra Conservation Park.
When to visit
The summer months from December to March as well as the shoulder season months on either side of summer is definitely the best time to visit Innes National Park. With the warmer weather you can take advantage of all the beaches along this beautiful coastline.
If you’re visiting for bush walking, the autumn season is considered the best time to visit. The cooler weather provides better conditions for hiking and the park is all kinds of beautiful colours as the wildflowers bloom.
Innes National Park Camping
There are quiet a few different campgrounds that are located around Innes National Park that are run by the SA National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Booking your campsite
The campsites in these grounds need to be booked, and can be booked up to 12 months in advance. You can book your campsite at Innes National Park here.
The NPWS website states that you need to book your campsite prior to your arrive. But we like to check out the campgrounds and see if we actually want to stay there before we book things in advance. So what we have been doing is checking out the different campsites first and choosing the one we want to stay in. Then we go onto the Parks SA website, make sure that it’s available for our stay (since they can be booked out in advance you need to check that someone isn’t coming to check in later on). Then we book it on the spot before we start setting up and settling in.
Campsites cost $16 per night, as well as the park entry fee we mentioned earlier.
While we were in Innes National Park we chose to stay at the Stenhouse Bay Campgrounds. There was plenty of Telstra reception there, so we had no problem booking our stay right on the spot.
Campsites around Innes National Park
There are a number of different campgrounds around the park. The main two campgrounds are:
Stenhouse Bay Campground – suitable for caravans, camper vans, camper trailers and tents, there are 25 large campsites here, right next to the beach, with toilet facilities and the Stenhouse Bay Jetty just a short walk down the road. There are always resident emus wandering around here and it’s a great place to base yourself for your stay.
Pondalowie Campground – there are two separate campgrounds here, one for caravans and trailers and one for tent campers only. Located right near Pondalowie Bay, there are toilets at both sites with plenty of sites available in both sections. Fires are not permitted here at any time of the year.
There are also a handful of smaller campgrounds as well, including:
Browns Beach Campground – 11 camp sites, suitable for tents only. Browns Beach is famous for Australian salmon fishing.
Cable Bay Beach Campground – 9 camp sites, suitable for caravans, camper vans, camper trailers and tents.
Casuarina Campground – 10 camp sites, suitable for tents and camper trailers only.
Gym Beach Campground – only 6 camp sites, suitable for caravans, camper vans, camper trailers and tents.
Shell Beach Campground – 8 camp sites, suitable for only tents and camper trailers.
Can’t miss spots around Innes National Parks
Innes National Parks is the go-to destination on the Yorke Peninsula for beautiful beaches and an abundance of wildlife. There are so many emus wandering along the beach and kangaroos hopping around the sand dunes.
Some of our favourite spots around the park include:
Stenhouse Bay – this little bay was one of our favourite spots. It was our home for three nights and we shared our beach front back yard with a family of emus, including 9 babies! The bay is so beautiful, with reef lining the shore, and a little spot free of anything in the water that makes the perfect place to swim.
Cape Spencer Lighthouse – beautiful views over beaches with bright turquoise water and rocky cliff faces dropping into a sparkly ocean. This is such a pretty spot, and if you visit during dawn or dusk you’re likely to share your picnic spot with the local kangaroos.
Inneston Village – the ruins of the abandoned historic Inneston village is a very unique look at the history of the park. It was once home to more than 200 people, when Inneston was completely self-sufficient, even operating it’s own school, post office, general store and bakery.
Ethel Shipwreck – there are actually more than 40 shipwrecks along the coastlines of Innes National Park, but Ethel is one of the biggest and most visible from the land. It was wrecked all the way back in 1904 during a severe storm, and washed up on the beach as a result. It’s not always viable throughout the year, it does depend on the sand movements when you visit.
Pondalowie Surf Break – one of the top spots around the park if you’re looking for a great surf break, Pondalowie is the place to go. Take a walk along the boardwalk that offers stunning views over the beach, before enjoying the waves for yourself.
Gym Beach – you actually have to leave the national park to reach Gym Beach, but it’s such a cute little spot, with large rocks creating the perfect little bay beach. The campgrounds overlook the ocean and if you book in advance, choose camp site number 2 for your stay – ultimate ocean and beach views to wake up to.