There are a lot of great places around Adelaide to experience nature, but a visit to Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is an opportunity to rejuvenate the soul.
Located just over three hours from the city on the tip of the Yorke Peninsula, Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park (formerly known as Innes National Park) offers visitors awe-inspiring coastal and inland scenery that feels vast and remote. The views are accessible to visitors via a series of walking trails, beach access paths, and the park’s sole two-lane road.
The road cuts around the outer edge of the park from the entrance to Brown’s Beach. After the Inneston car park, it curves close to the coast offering sweeping views of Spencer Gulf and several offshore islands. The bright blue ocean water and pale blue sky make for a dramatic contrast to the green and brown of the peninsula’s landscape and tall cliffs. If it weren’t for the islands, it would feel like the edge of the world.
The views from the road are fantastic, but it is safer to see them after parking at one of the park’s many lookouts. There are car parks at the lookouts for Chinaman’s Hat Island and Chinaman’s Beach that offer views of offshore islands and the surf break. Car parks are also right at the lookout for Ethel Beach; the lookout sits at the top of the cliffs that tower over the beach and shipwreck below.
Some views require a short walk from the car park. A short walk from the car to Cape Spencer Lighthouse provides views of the cape’s neighbouring cliffs and several islands including Althorpe Island and Kangaroo Island, which is 80km away. On a clear day there are views all the to the Eyre Peninsula 100km away.
The West Cape Headland Hike is a moderate 30-minute walk from the car park around the West Cape Lighthouse with 360 views over the Spencer Gulf to both Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula, and the rolling hills of the inner parklands. Further into the park is the short boardwalk to Pondalowie Bay Beach. The Pondalowie Surf Break car park is near the end of the bitumen portion of the park’s road. Walkers are rewarded with views of the long, sweeping beach and clear water crashing on to the shore.
Inland views at the park are less dramatic but just as rewarding. From the moment visitors enter the park, they are surrounded by short trees and low-lying vegetation, which get shorter nearer to the ocean. The park is home to 333 native plants which cast a bushy green hue over its rolling hills, surround its inland lakes, and protect its coastal sand dunes.
There are several large lakes in the park; most are inaccessible to visitors but can be seen from the coastal lookout points which have views back over the park. The salt lakes are home to some of the world’s only living stromatolites. Inneston Lake is small when compared to others in the park but is accessible and can be viewed from its shore while walking around the historic village of Inneston. The blue, salt lake has a sandy shore and is surrounded by trees, except where the Inneston Historic Walk passes between the lake and the ghost town’s cricket pitch.
At night, a whole different kind of scenery comes out. The park’s remoteness makes it an excellent spot for star gazing. On a clear night, well-known constellations can be hard to spot amid the millions of other stars and the Milky Way, which cuts a clear path across the sky.
With so much nature and easily accessible beautiful scenery, a stay in South Australia’s Innes National Park allows visitors a chance to slow down, relax and take it all in.
Other posts in the Innes National Park Series:
Innes is located on the south-western tip – or toe – of Yorke Peninsula. It is about 300km, or a three-hour drive, from the City of Adelaide.
Driving is really the only way to get to Innes.
From Adelaide, head north towards Port Wakefield via the Northern Connector (M2) and the Port Wakefield Highway (A1). Keep left past Port Wakefield to take the Copper Coast Highway (B85) for a few kilometres before turning left at the roundabout onto the Yorke Highway (B86).
Continue to follow the Yorke Highway as it heads inland after James Well. Pass through Minlaton and Warooka, following the signs to Marion Bay.
Alternatively, follow the east coast of the peninsula for a bit longer, staying left after James Well to take the St Vincent Highway (B88). After Stansbury, follow the signs to Yorketown then head towards Warooka and Marion Bay.
After Marion Bay, the Yorke Highway heads straight into the national park.
There are plenty of excellent small towns on the Yorke Peninsula. However, even if you plan to head straight to Innes, with a three-hour drive you are probably still going to need to stop for fuel, food or the bathroom.
- Port Wakefield: A popular spot to stop, it gets very busy on a long weekend as it is the jumping off point for several destinations. Port Wakefield has several petrol stations and a few bakeries. Follow the long lines for the good ones.
- Ardrossan: Has a good bakery and a Foodland.
- Minlaton: Home to Watsacowie Brewing Company
- Port Vincent: Has a good fish and chips shop on the coast and a small IGA for essentials.
- Marion Bay: The last fuel stop before the park. There is also a pub.
Opening Hours and Fees
The park is open daily, except on Catastrophic Fire Danger days. It may be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.
The Visitor Information Centre is open daily from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Vehicle entry fees apply per day.
Regular: $11 per vehicle
Concession: $9 per vehicle
Campers only need to pay the entry fee once for the duration of their stay.
Food & Beverage
There are picnic areas and BBQ facilities available. However, as a national park, visitors to Innes should leave no trace. There is no water or food available to purchase in the park, and there are no bins – visitors are expected to take their rubbish with them.
Innes is quite remote. Mobile phone coverage gets spotty in areas.