Stenhouse Bay is located in the toe of the boot shaped Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, a little over 3 hours drive from Adelaide. It’s located in Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park which was renamed in late 2020, around the 50th anniversary of its proclamation as a National Park.
It was renamed to signify the start of a new chapter and co-management agreement with the Narungga traditional owners.
A day visit to the park has an entry fee of $12 per vehicle, or you can stay in one of the campgrounds within the park for $17 per night and pay the vehicle entry fee only once. The Stenhouse Bay Campground is the first one inside the park and a place we set up camp, for 5 nights. It has 25 designated sites, each with a campfire pit and there are 2 long drop toilets for campers to use.
Other than that, there are no facilities so you have to be self sufficient with 12 volt power and your own water and firewood. The toilets are also due to be upgraded in early 2022.
Late spring is an ideal time to stay in the park, with the weather warming up, and campfires are still permitted when the evenings can be quite cold. One of the best aspects for staying in Innes is the abundance of wildlife, and at this time of year there are plenty of emus and chicks wandering through the park and even the campground.
We were also visited by kangaroos, loads of birdlife and unfortunately a lot of March flies, so come prepared with personal insect repellent.
In our touring through the park we also had to dodge quite a few lizards crossing the roads and even though it is still only spring, we saw 4 snakes, including a very lengthy brown snake. And they were only the ones we saw!
The closest town to the park is Marion Bay and there you will find a jetty, a general store and a tavern for dining in. The jetty here was a good source of squid for our group as was the Stenhouse Bay jetty and some of the rock ledges within Innes.
Amongst our camping group we were able to catch enough squid every day for a calamari entrée, without having to put in too many fishing hours. A handy tip for fishing for squid in this area is to take a crab net to help land them as some of the jetties have quite a long drop to the water so a net helps to bring them up without losing them.
Leading out of Marion Bay you can take a scenic drive to a number of beaches including Formby Bay, which is suitable for fishing and swimming and another scenic spot, Daly Head which is a National Surfing Reserve. It was dedicated as a reserve in 2013 to recognize the historical and future significance of this area to the South Australian surfing culture.
As you’d expect, the coastal scenery is just sublime and it doesn’t take long to spot pods of dolphins and seals frolicking in and around the rocky reefs. One of the beaches known as salmon holes, completely lived up to its name with a number of schools of salmon easily spotted from the clifftop viewing above.
The pristine white sand and the possibility of catching a salmon or two made the journey down the many steps worth the walk. Returning back up those steps was a good workout even without any fish to carry.
Back in Innes National Park there are yet more scenic drives to take and it all begins with a breathtaking view as you get an eyeful of the winding road you’ll be taking.
The speed limit at the beginning of this drive is 40kph and there is good reason for this with emus wandering out of the scrub and meandering across the road at any time. Kangaroos are also likely to bound out at whim so you need to keep a careful watch.
On the scenic drive through Innes make sure to stop and see Cape Spencer lighthouse, Ethel Wreck Beach, West Cape Beach and the West Cape stainless steel lighthouse and the popular surf beach of Pondalowie Bay.
Dhilba Guuranda – Innes National Park is a spectacular park to stay and play in for a while and for scenery, fishing, wildlife, and surf it’s hard to beat.
And if you’re lucky, you may just get to see an awe inspiring sunrise and enjoy some endless starry night skies around a crackling campfire.
There’s not much time left before the fire ban season starts on the 1st of November so get out there quickly to enjoy the great outdoors and a warming camp fire while you can.