Travels // Marion Bay & Innes National Park, South Australia
There's something about knocking off from work, getting through the Christmas festivities, loading the car and hitting the road, leaving the city and the 9 to 5 behind. We love a good road trip and we especially love the Yorke Peninsula, having just returned from 10 nights in Marion Bay.
This is the second year in a row we've spent the summer as a family down at Yorkes, as it's affectionately known. Hubby spent a lot of his twenties surfing in Innes National Park and I'd been here previously on a couple of camping trips. The last two years we've found Marion Bay and Innes National Park to be an awesome spot for our little family to unwind, recharge and relax.
Marion Bay is located just outside Innes National Park, which is on the tip of the Yorke Peninsula. This area ticks off a lot of boxes for us as a family which is why we keep going back. Here's the lowdown!
Marion Bay is an easy 5 minute drive from Innes National Park and being the last little town before Innes it's quite isolated. That only adds to the charm, no crowds, just a chilled vibe and whilst there's heaps to do depending on what floats your boat, there's also not a huge amount to do...which is what holidays are all about in my opinion. Forced R&R.
Being isolated also means a lack of access to a supermarket, the closest one is at Warooka, a 35 minute drive away. We stayed 10 nights and we ran out of fresh fruit and vegetables so next time I know what I'm packing more of! The general store has minimal vegetables and next to no fruit (we scored 3 bananas at $1 a pop one day (!!) and I've never been so happy to see a banana in my life LOL). The general store is handy for petrol, the paper, fish and chips, bait, ice, non perishable essentials, meat , ice creams, bread and milk (they ran out of bread and milk numerous times so stock up...3 families with 6 kids in total and we all found ourselves without any milk on one given day. Oops!).
We stayed at the Marion Bay Seaside Apartments with a balcony that overlooked Marion Bay beach and jetty (there are 3 x 2 bedroom apartments right next to each other, our friends hired the other two apartments). Sean, the owner, is quite the character! There's a carpark and a boat ramp in front of the apartments where boats are moored into the water so it's not oceanfront but the view was still lovely. Our apartment had 2 bedrooms with a fully functioning kitchen, air con, bathroom with shower (no bath) and lounge with TV (including Foxtel). We didn't bring our pooch but they're pet friendly (note that dogs are not allowed in the national park). You access the apartments with stairs as they're elevated to take advantage of the views so keep in mind if you have kids or mobility issues.
On our previous visit the year before we stayed in a cabin at the Marion Bay Caravan Park. The cabin was much smaller than the apartment but I love a caravan park for the memories made with kids making new friends and having a playground and bouncy pillow-thing keeps the kids happy for hours. Happy kids = happy parents! Pets are allowed, but on sites only.
Hubby is a mad kite-surfer and my son loves to fish. We're not sure where his obsession comes from (certainly not his Dad!) but we love it, and we're happy to encourage any form of recreational activity that involves being active + being outside. Marion Bay offers a great spot for kite surfing on Marion Bay beach and fishing right off Marion Bay jetty. The boys were lucky enough to do some serious fishing on a boat from Pondalowie Bay (in Innes National Park) out to Althorpe Island. My son said it was the best day of his holiday, maybe even his life !! (obsessed much?).
Fishing - head straight to Marion Jetty or do a fishing charter
Beaches - Penguin Point is great for little kids with shallow water and small rock pools
Pelican and bird spotting if that's your thing. Don't forget to look up at the light posts, that's where the pelicans love to watch the world go by
Kite surfing, kayaking and paddle boarding off Marion Bay Beach
Good food at Marion Bay Tavern and the Beach Break (try their veggie burger! Best meal I had on our trip! Well, besides the freshly cooked cray we were kindly gifted by Sean).
Innes National Park
This spectacular and secluded national park is the jewel in the Yorke Peninsula crown. Breathtaking coastal scenery, wide sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters, wildlife, shipwrecks, and surfing reserves. The wild and rugged coastal scenery in Innes is pretty spectacular. Single entry into the park is $10 or $40 for a holiday pass lasts two months which is what we opted for so we could travel in and out of the park without the hassle of having to get a single day pass every single visit.
Check out Ethel Wreck, a ship wreck on the shore at Ethel Beach, the kids will love it (Max became obsessed with shipwrecks and the story behind each shipwreck...now he knows all about the Titanic haha). But, you'll need to walk a few steps to get there! Or do what I did, leave that to the boys and admire the blue ocean from up top (second photo below) and maybe you'll also be rewarded with a pod of dolphins catching some waves close to the shoreline. I was the crazy lady shouting down to the boys to "look at the dolphins"!! That was a real highlight. There were at least 8 to 10 dolphins loving themselves sick at Ethel Wreck beach!
Drive onto Pondalowie (known as 'Pondie') Bay with your car and set up camp on the beach for the day. Walk along the shoreline and you'll discover another ship wreck. I've since seen some pretty cool photos on Instagram of people jumping off this ship wreck and now kicking myself I didn't get hubby to jump off it! (Because, really, if you didn't Instagram it, were you even actually there?!). Ha ;-)
If you're into surfing head to the Pondie Surf Break but I reckon if you're reading this and you're into surfing then you already know all about the surfing hot spots at Innes. Watch out for rips and sharks! eeeeeeekkkk.
Look for rock pools at Shell Beach. There were some pretty amazing rock pools that we couldn't go to as it would have been too dangerous to take our little ones. Access to the rock pools meant climbing and navigating over some steep and pretty serious looking rocks. The kids had fun playing in the smaller rock pools and searching for star fish and collecting shells.
Dolphin Beach (also known as Dolphin Bay) is a must do if you love your beaches. The bluest of blue water with little rockpools that are safe for the kids to splash in. It's probably my favourite beach ever and it's a must do on my list when we visit Innes. There's no surf here, it's a calm beach with next to no waves (which is why I love it).
There's more to do in Innes, I've just mentioned the things we did on this trip. You could visit the historic town of Inneston. Just be aware of 'march flies' because as our friends learnt, when they bite it hurts and they hunt in packs. ARGH! There's the Stenhouse Bay Jetty and the Cape Spencer Lighthouse. And don't forget the local wildlife. It's not unusual to share the road with emus and kangaroos, and try and spot some friendly dolphins.
A little bit further afield...
Just outside Innes is the Corny Point lighthouse worth a look as well as the rugged cliffs that surround it.
In Corny Point, the Howling Dog pub does standard pub grub fare.
Daly Head surf reserve is one of 16 national surfing reserves in the country, and the first on the southern coastline. On a calm day, dust hole is a magnificent beach. If you have the energy or the inclination to walk up and down the staircase to get to it, it's worth it. Just maybe not on a 42c degree day as I discovered!
Gleeson's Landing is another lovely beach accessible by 4WD and only a short drive from Daly Head.
You can expect the same weather as Adelaide except a couple of degrees cooler. With probably one exception, it's much windier! We've always found it to be perfect beach weather, hot and dry. This year it was much cooler than we hoped so we didn't get as many beach days in but still, who cares when you're on holidays!
I've touched on the accommodation we've stayed in but there are loads of options including heaps of camping spots within Innes. You can also hire shelters/huts within Innes which are basic (small and quite old) stone cottages dotted around the park. Obviously you'll find a bunch of holiday homes and apartments available for hire. We booked direct with the caravan park and with the apartment owner on our stays. It means you can usually get a bit of a cheaper deal this way and it cuts out the middle man. We love camping but the idea of camping with kids during the height of summer where it can reach up to and beyond 40c puts us right off! Praise the Lord for air conditioning!
Marion Bay is about a 3.5 hour drive from Adelaide (283 kms). It takes a little longer with kids depending on how many stops you make. Depending which route you take, the following towns are good for stop overs and for last minute food and booze shops - Minlaton, Maitland, Yorketown and Warooka.
The Yorke Peninsula has so much to offer and I've really only just hit the tip of the iceberg. If you have any questions or want to know more hit me up with a comment below and I'll do my best to help!