How to spend a day in SA’s Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park

How to spend a day in SA’s Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park

Want to make the most of your vis­it to this icon­ic park? We’ve got you cov­ered with this one-day itinerary.

South Australia’s Dhil­ba Guu­ran­da-Innes Nation­al Park is one of those spe­cial places where there real­ly is some­thing for every­one – it’s no won­der that it’s been a favourite for generations.

Locat­ed on the foot of the Yorke Penin­su­la, a 4‑hour dri­ve from Ade­laide, the park is famous for its rugged and spec­tac­u­lar coast­line, pris­tine white sandy beach­es, his­toric ship­wrecks, abun­dant wildlife and activ­i­ties such as camp­ing, bush­walk­ing, bird­watch­ing, surf­ing and fishing.

It’s ful­ly acces­si­ble to two-wheel-dri­ve vehi­cles, so every­one is able to enjoy what this amaz­ing park has to offer.

To help you plan your vis­it, here are some ideas on how to spend a day in the park:

Before you go

Before you head into the park to start your day of adven­ture, buy your vehi­cle entry pass either online or from one of the book­ing agents on your way.

It’s also a good idea to down­load park and camp­ground maps on your phone while you still have inter­net recep­tion. Anoth­er option is to get the Aven­za PDF Maps app and down­load the park map. When you’re in the park, the app will use your phone’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time loca­tion onto a map – even when you don’t have inter­net reception.

The park tru­ly is a rugged wilder­ness, and that also means there’s lim­it­ed facil­i­ties avail­able, so you’ll need to come prepared.

Make sure you pack enough drink­ing water and food as there are no shops locat­ed with­in the park. It’s also a good idea to pack sun pro­tec­tion (a hat, sun­glass­es and sun­screen) and insect repel­lent. If you’re plan­ning on hik­ing, it’s also essen­tial you wear suit­able footwear and cloth­ing, such as long pants.

When you get there


When you are all pre­pared and ready to go, trav­el towards the small coastal town­ship of Mar­i­on Bay, which is the gate­way to the park. Con­tin­ue along the Yorke High­way, which leads to the park entrance and vis­i­tor infor­ma­tion cen­tre, where the friend­ly park staff can pro­vide you with a map of the park and any tips and information.

As you head deep­er into the park, keep your eyes focussed on the road as the abun­dant wildlife may make an appear­ance. It’s best to be a lit­tle cau­tious and keep to the set speed lim­its – for your safe­ty and the safe­ty of wildlife.

Gulawul­gawi Ngun­da Nhagu — Cape Spencer lookout

Make sure you vis­it the new Gulawul­gawi Ngun­da Nhagu — Cape Spencer look­out, locat­ed at the south­ern edge of the park. The look­out offers unri­valled views of the sweep­ing coast­line below along with safe off road park­ing. Be pre­pared for a brief walk to reach the look­out and enjoy the mul­ti­ple view­ing plat­forms, where you will spot Inves­ti­ga­tor Strait, Althor­pe Island Con­ser­va­tion Park and Kan­ga­roo Island in the distance. 

Top tip: This stun­ning view is def­i­nite­ly Ins­ta-wor­thy’ – use the hash­tags #innes­na­tion­al­park #yesnpws­sa when you share your photos.

How to spend a day in SA’s Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park

Cape Spencer Lighthouse

Get back in the car and con­tin­ue along Pon­dalowie Bay Road. Turn left at the sign­post­ed inter­sec­tion and head towards the Cape Spencer Lighthouse.

From the carpark, there is a short 300-metre walk that will take you to the light­house and look­out, which offers a near­ly 360-degree coastal view of the spec­tac­u­lar cliffs, as well as across Inves­ti­ga­tor Strait to Althor­pe Island.

Top tip: If you look care­ful­ly, on the hori­zon you’ll be able to spot the Althor­pe Island Light­house and cot­tages that housed the res­i­dent light­house keep­ers from 1879 to 1991.

How to spend a day in SA’s Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park


Head back towards Pon­dalowie Bay Road and turn left. About 2 kilo­me­tres down the road turn right and head into the his­toric aban­doned town­ship of Inneston.

Inneston was once a bustling gyp­sum min­ing town that was home to about 200 peo­ple in the ear­ly 1900s. Min­ing oper­a­tions ceased dur­ing the Great Depres­sion and by 1970 it was com­plete­ly abandoned.

The Inneston Her­itage Walk, com­plete with inter­pre­ta­tive signs, pro­vides an insight into the min­ing era as you wan­der around the his­toric build­ings that include a school house, bak­ery, gen­er­al store, post office, man­agers and work­ers cot­tages, plas­ter fac­to­ry and sta­bles. There’s even an old crick­et pitch and ten­nis courts used by the for­mer residents.

Top tip: Some of the town­ship build­ings have since been ren­o­vat­ed and are avail­able to book as her­itage accom­mo­da­tion cottages.

How to spend a day in SA’s Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park


By now you’ve prob­a­bly worked up an appetite. Make use of the pic­nic shel­ters and tables at West Cape Light House, where you can take in the stun­ning view. This spot’s per­fect for a pit-stop as there are toi­let facil­i­ties con­ve­nient­ly locat­ed near the carpark.

Top tip: After you’ve fin­ished your lunch, set out on the West Cape Head­land Hike (30-minute loop, 1 km). You’ll be reward­ed with exhil­a­rat­ing views of the high-ener­gy coastline.

How to spend a day in SA’s Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park


Spend the after­noon explor­ing the beach­es of Pon­dalowie Bay, Dol­phin Beach and Shell Beach.

Pon­dalowie Bay is famous for surf­ing and is home to one of the state’s most pres­ti­gious pro-am surf­ing events, The Yorkes Clas­sic, attract­ing some of the nation’s best surfers.

You can access the beach using the trail and board­walk that leads from the Pon­dalowie Surf Break carpark. Chill on the beach and watch the surfers, or have a dip if the weath­er is calm. Be mind­ful that strong cur­rents and rips can make swim­ming dan­ger­ous, so be care­ful and always swim with a buddy.

Top tip: If you feel like a swim, head for nature’s own swim­ming pool! The Blue Pool is a nat­ur­al rock pool and can be found at the north end of Shell Beach.

How to spend a day in SA’s Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park

Ethel Wreck

Once you have fin­ished explor­ing and relax­ing on the stun­ning sandy beach­es, head back towards the park entrance. Oppo­site Deep Lake, take the access road towards the coast and the Ethel Wreck.

The Ethel was a 711-tonne, three-mast­ed, iron ship that ran aground dur­ing a storm in 1904 while on route to South Africa. The storm drove the ship onto the beach, where it remained intact for many years.

In the mid-1980s the hull final­ly col­lapsed, but there’s still plen­ty to see with many large pieces of rust­ed iron jut­ting from the sand. The twist­ed wreck now makes for fas­ci­nat­ing pho­tos and is worth the walk down to the beach.

How to spend a day in SA’s Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park

After dark

If you’re lucky enough to be in the park as dusk approach­es, keep an eye out for Tam­mar wal­la­bies, which were rein­tro­duced to the park in 2004.

They were once wide­spread across Yorke Penin­su­la, but became extinct on the Aus­tralian main­land in the 1920s.

The park now hosts a thriv­ing pop­u­la­tion of Tam­mar wal­la­bies and the best time to see them is at dusk and after dark when they come out to feed. Look for them on the Inneston His­toric Walk, and remem­ber to bring a torch.

How to spend a day in SA’s Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park

There’s plen­ty more to see at Dhil­ba Guu­ran­da-Innes Nation­al Park, so if you’re not in a rush and you pre­fer to explore the park at a cruisi­er pace why not pack your camp­ing gear and stay a few nights? There are sev­en camp­grounds dot­ted through­out the park to choose from.

Park of the Month

Through­out Jan­u­ary, Dhil­ba Guu­ran­da-Innes Nation­al Park is being cel­e­brat­ed as Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Service’s Park of the Month. Join in on the fun, with ranger-guid­ed night walks, fam­i­ly art activ­i­ties, stand-up pad­dle-board­ing and much more! Check the web­site for all the details.

Main image: Ethel Beach Look­out cour­tesy of @lindaaskestadInsta­gram.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living