Yorke Peninsula: South Australia

Yorke Peninsula: South Australia

The name isn’t one to win awards or even attract many campers, but ‘Mozzie Flat’, tucked up in a small depression among sand dunes, just back from the beach, is a little beauty for a couple of campers and their vehicles.

We stumbled upon it as we’d wandered west of Edithburgh along the ‘instep’ of the coast of Yorke Peninsula. The dirt road having first taken us south from Edithburgh along the coast, past Wattle Point and Sheoak Beach, to Troubridge Point and its nearby tall, red-brick lighthouse.

There are lots of cliff-lined bays and soft sandy beaches along this stretch of coast and, while you can launch a boat off many of the beaches, driving much farther along the sand is tricky and fraught with danger. I checked out a number of beaches and, noticing banks of weed hidden under a fine covering of sand, decided it would be a braver man than I who would take up the challenge.

Browns beachThere’s some good beach fishing, though, to be had here and if you have a small boat or kayak, even better hauls of fish can be expected, with big red snapper being one of the prizes among mixed bags of whiting, snook, sweep and flathead. Most of this coast from north of Edithburgh to Point Davenport is protected in a marine park, but recreational fishing is allowed everywhere, apart from the sanctuary zone around Point Davenport.

There are more than 80 shipwrecks scattered along the Yorke Peninsula coast and among the many reminders of the seafaring days you’ll find in nearly every town around the peninsula’s coast are reminders of those who were lost at sea. 

SS Clan Ranald memorialIf you are into history and/or diving, then a good place to start your travels is on the Investigator Strait Shipwreck Trail, which includes 26 shipwreck sites stretching along the southern coast from Edithburgh to West Cape in Innes National Park.

Probably the most famous of these wrecks is the 108-metre-long schooner-rigged SS Clan Ranald, which met its end west of Troubridge Point in 1909, with the loss of 40 lives, making it one of the worst shipping disasters in South Australian history. In Edithburgh’s historic cemetery are the graves of those whose bodies were recovered, while the wreck itself is in 20m of water and makes for a great dive.

West of Troubridge Hill a good dirt road keeps heading along the coast, while a number of 4WD tracks head across the cliffs to fishing spots, small camps and access to the beaches below.

Cliff dirt roadsJust off our Mozzie Flat campsite is the wreck of the Yatala Reef, a 26-metre-long, single-mast cutter that sank in 1981, with the loss of its four crew members. Again, it’s a good dive.

East of Marion Bay and its small village of holiday shacks and a caravan park there is fabulous camping available at Hillocks Drive, which stretches along the best of the south coast for more than 7km. Many small protected bays, wild exposed reefs and rocky headlands along with stretches of surf-pounded beach make this a spot enjoyed by many.

Over the school holidays and the like you’ll need to book, but the rest of the time you’ll be able to easily find a spot for yourself. The Hillocks homestead, where you get your camping permit, has a small store where hot showers and rainwater for drinking is available.

Campsite on the mozzie flatWest of Marion Bay the rugged headlands and high cliffs of the south-western tip of the peninsula are protected in Innes National Park.

We’ve been coming to this place since I was a young lad and, while park regulations may be a little more restrictive nowadays than in earlier times, the place is a delight with many camping areas just a stone’s throw from a protected beach, a rocky headland ideal for fishing or diving, or a top surf spot.

Once again, a marine park protects most of the coast here, but recreational fishing is allowed in all areas apart from the immediate area around the distinctive Chinamans Hat Island.

Scuba diving the shipwrecksAgain, there is some top diving around here, and there are also the wrecks of the Hougoumont at Stenhouse Bay, the Marion at Chinamans Hat and the Willyama, just west of Marion Bay – all in less than 9m of water, so all can be explored by snorkelling.

Our journey along the sole of Yorke Peninsula is over, but we’ll be back – nothing can keep us away!


View towards Cape SpencerWhere
Yorke Peninsula, SA.

Various sites along coast.

Shelter sheds at some campsites. No other facilities.
Hillocks Drive camping area has showers and toilets.

Trip standard
Easy except on soft sandy beaches.

Maps and guides
Carto Graphics map, Yorke Peninsula.

Restrictions and permits
No restrictions; camping permits required for Innes NP.

Contacts and information
Hillocks Drive Camping: www.hillocksdrive.com
Ph: (08) 8854 4002
Innes NP: www.environment.sa.gov.au


Hillocks Drive at Marion BayEdithburgh has everything a traveller requires. Only Marion Bay has a general store and fuel, although towns inland (never far away) can provide the essentials.

There’s some interesting information on the Shipwreck Trail and the wrecks, and also details and camping permits for Innes NP at: www.environment.sa.gov.au.

For more info on Hillocks drive and the excellent camping there, check out: www.hillocksdrive.com.

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