Innes National Park

Innes National Park, Neale Winter / South Australian Tourism Commission
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Innes National Park, at the south-western extremity of the Yorke Peninsula, comprises a coastal environment of saline lakes, salt flats, mallee woodlands, drooping she-oak groves and dense heathlands. High cliffs rise from stretches of sandy beach, which are fringed by rocky headlands of ancient granite. There are great places to surf, swim, dive, fish, take a walk or explore a historic site.

Fact file


From Adelaide via Port Wakefield, Ardrossan and Warooka

Best season

All year


280 km south-west of Adelaide; 192 km south-west of Port Wakefield

Park information

  • Parks SA (08) 8204 1910
  • Parks SA Stenhouse Bay (08) 8854 3200


Camping permit required


9415 ha

Visitor information

Minlaton (08) 8853 2600, 1800 202 445

Featured Activities in the National Park

  • Check out the surf break at Pondalowie Bay

    Listen for western whipbirds in the mallee woodlands

    Walk along the cliffs to Cape Spencer Lighthouse

    View the wrecks of the Ethel and SS Ferret in Ethel Bay

    Take in the panoramic vista from The Gap lookout

See Also

A look at the past

Matthew Flinders charted this coastline in 1802 but for the next hundred years the south-western tip of the peninsula was left almost untouched while the northern and central sections were cleared for farmland. In 1900 the Waratah Gypsum Company built a town at Stenhouse Bay. Soon after, William Innes established Inneston and began mining gypsum; ruins and mining relics are still visible here.

In 1965 a relict population of the rare western whipbird was found surviving in the area’s woodland thickets. This led to the protection of the last remaining piece of intact vegetation on the peninsula in 1970. Stenhouse Bay became the headquarters of the national park.

Aboriginal culture

The Yorke Peninsula is the land of the Narangga nation and the southernmost band, the Dilpa, cared for the land around the present-day Innes National Park. The Narangga traded with the neighbouring Kaurna people to the north. Around the coast and lakes of Innes there are old campsites and shell middens, reminders of where the Dilpa people lived and fished. The Narangga retain an ongoing connection with the park.

Natural features

Tall weathered cliffs face the swirling mass of the Southern Ocean as it breaks over reefs, and in places there are picturesque bays backed by dunes. Over 100 salt lakes, some little more than salt-encrusted swamps, dot the terrain, particularly on the park’s eastern borders. At the western end of Marion Lake (excluded from the national park) there are living stromatolites.

Native plants and wildlife

Near the coast the heathlands are ablaze with colour in September and October. Away from the coast the undulating hills are covered in low scrub – tea-tree and dense mallee woodlands – the last refuge for native plant species that have disappeared elsewhere on the peninsula. The mallee thickets provide a habitat for malleefowl and the rare western whipbird. The nocturnal western pygmy-possum feeds on insects and nectar from native flowers in the mallee heathlands. Emus and western grey kangaroos are a common sight. In winter, southern right whales are often seen offshore.

Beach and bushwalking

Around the perimeter of the park an interpretive trail highlights the tragic maritime history of this treacherous coast where there are no less than 40 shipwrecks. There are other cliff-top walks at The Gap, West Cape Lighthouse and Cape Spencer Lighthouse, and trails leading through different coastal habitats at Browns Beach and Royston Head. Historic trails are located at Inneston and Stenhouse Bay.


There is excellent fishing and catches of Australian salmon, garfish, tommy ruff, mullet, King George whiting and mulloway can be expected. The jetty at Stenhouse Bay is a great place to start.

Scenic views

The Gap lookout is a short walk from the carpark and has fantastic views along the cliffs from Reef Head to Cape Spencer Lighthouse. You can look down into the chasm from behind a safety fence. The lookout at Ethel Beach is reached from the turn-off at Deep Lake. The 1904 wreck of the Ethel lies on the sandy beach below; nearby is the 1920 wreck of the SS Ferret.


Pondalowie Bay, known as Pondy, and Chinamans Hat beach are among the state’s top surfing locations. West Cape is another spot to try.


Browns Beach camping area

These 10 sites hunkered among the dunes and scrub close to a renowned salmon-fishing beach are found in the northern sector of the park, 26 km north-west of Marion Bay.... Find out more

Cable Bay camping area

It’s an easy walk to the beach from this camping area. Weather permitting, there’s great snorkelling here and rockpools to explore. Being south-facing, the bay also has fine views of the offshore islands.... Find out more

Casuarina camping area

At busy times this secluded site, 20 km to the west of Marion Bay, is a more peaceful alternative for enjoying Pondalowie Bay. It’s a short walk to the beach and the wave action at Surfers is just up the road.... Find out more

Gym Beach camping area

Hidden away on the far northern outskirts of the park, 14 km north-west of Marion Bay, this small site offers solitude and easy access to the water. A 6 km bushwalking trail among dunes and mallee vegetation links this... Find out more

Jollys Beach camping area

There is basic seaside camping close to Willyama Bay at Jollys, 6 km south of Marion Bay. As the only east-facing site in the park, it offers shelter from the winter westerlies. Pick up a permit from the... Find out more

Pondalowie camping area

With close to 50 sites scattered among the coastal mallee vegetation, this is the biggest of the park’s campgrounds. Pondalowie Bay is a famed surfing spot and home to an active lobster-fishing fleet. Tent-based... Find out more

Shell Beach camping area

This great unspoilt location tucked among the vegetation on the park’s elevated north shores is a short walk to beautiful Shell Beach. Neighbouring Dolphin Beach is equally delightful, and the historic Shepherds... Find out more

Stenhouse Bay camping area

This is the park’s gateway site, close to the visitor centre, shops and tavern. The beach and the historic jetty, a favoured fishing haunt, are also just a short stroll away. The camping area is 6 km south of... Find out more

Surfers camping area

Campers who love to surf target this camping area, 20 km west from Marion Bay. To get here, follow the signs from Pondalowie Bay Rd.... Find out more

See Also

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