Camping can mean a lot of things – caravans, powered campground sites, bush camping, backpacking, even glamping – but they all offer a casual simplicity that is different from our day-to-day lives. Camping is a big calming breath that slows your pace and helps you focus, before diving back into hectic work schedules, city commutes, and being constantly plugged in.
My family never went camping when I was a kid, so it has been an enjoyable discovery as an adult.
So far, my camping experience has been in campgrounds with facilities. While this type of camping isn’t exactly ‘roughing it’, sleeping in a tent and socialising under the sky with your campground neighbours is a refreshing change from the norm.
Campgrounds and caravan parks are a safe way for camping newbies to test out the experience. Caravan parks have toilets and hot showers, there are usually shared kitchen facilities and playgrounds, and many sites have power. Australia has an abundance of these very accessible parks, which are often at popular tourist locations.
Camping Without Power or Running Water
However, sometimes the location requires a slightly more adventurous camping experience. Many of Australia’s national parks allow camping but offer only minimal facilities. For example, the campgrounds at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park in South Australia have designated camping sites and drop toilets but no running water or power and campers are required to remove their own rubbish from the park. Some of the campgrounds have fire pits and barbeques.
When we decided to camp at Innes National Park’s Casuarina campground, I was excited to try camping with a few less creature comforts. It turns out that it is pretty easy when you can make your own power from the sun.
With a rechargeable battery, battery box (which has sockets and USB ports to plug in various electronic devices) and portable camping solar panels, we were able to power a portable refrigerator, lights for the campsite and a hand-held shower for the whole weekend. To shower, we heated water in solar-heated bladders and emptied them into a bucket that we put in an ensuite tent. The hand-held shower head is attached to a hose with a pump at the other end, which went into the bucket.
In addition to the solar power, we also had to supply our own water, which we brought from home in several large jerry cans. We did need to refill the water half-way through the trip, which we were able to do just outside the park at Marion Bay.
Casuarina Campground – Innes National Park
We stayed at Casuarina Campground, one of Innes National Park’s eight campgrounds. Each campground has between six and 26 campsites, which all need to be booked online prior to arrival.
Casuarina Campground has 10 campsites suitable for tents or camper trailers. The only facilities at are drop toilets in the middle of the campground. Despite what we had read prior to our visit, the toilets were clean and bug free. They did start to smell a little as the day heated up and there was a feral beehive at the toilet block, but neither of these things caused any problems.
Casuarina is surrounded by coastal bush, and a large sand dune separates the campground from Pondalowie Bay. The dune, which looks more like a small hill, provides protection from the costal winds coming off the bay. At night, it sounds like the ocean is crashing on the beach on the other side of the hill, but it is actually a 10-minute walk from the campground to Pondalowie Bay beach, which offers spectacular views.
The campground is nearly 20km from the nearest town, making it secluded, quiet and an excellent place for star gazing. That seclusion and the adventure of camping without power or running water makes Innes National Park is one of the best places in South Australia to recharge in nature on a long weekend.
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.