By John Pedler
Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2020
South Australia’s coastline stretches for more than 5000km, so there are plenty of beaches, bays, bluffs and seaside towns to explore.
The open waters of the Limestone Coast and the west coasts of Eyre and Yorke Peninsula are all about big surf, dramatic scenery and whopping fish. The more sheltered waters of the gulfs and northern Kangaroo Island offer safe swimming beaches and jetty fishing for the likes of whiting and squid.
Here are 3 different ways to explore the magical place where the land meets the sea.
1. Motorhome – everything and the kitchen sink
Whether you’re scooting down to Port Elliot for the weekend or heading to the Eyre Peninsula to catch an Elliston sunset, it’s nice to know you have the comforts of home on board.
En-route to seaside bliss, you can pull over anywhere for an impromptu lunchtime cook-up, or even hit the sack for a 20-minute refresher nap. Once you reach your destination, simply park and play.
From Port MacDonnell in the south-east to Fowlers Bay on the far west coast, there are plenty of caravan parks to choose from. If you’re looking for family-friendly swimming beaches, set up the camper at Long Beach in Robe, Port Vincent on the Yorke Peninsula, or picture-perfect Second Valley.
Fisherfolk can catch a few mullet at Kingston, wrestle salmon around Venus Bay, or hang a crab net off the Port Hughes jetty, just a short stroll from the caravan park.
For superb coastal views right outside your camper door, it’s hard to go past the orange cliffs of Balgowan on the Yorke Peninsula or glorious Streaky Bay.
A motorhome also gives you the versatility to stay in campgrounds with limited facilities, like those sprinkled along the Yorke Peninsula coastline. There are several in Innes National Park, plus a handful run by the local council outside the park.
Although basic, a lot of them sit on prime seaside real estate, and a toilet-equipped motorhome is perfect for those who’ve yet to embrace the charms of the bush camp long-drop.
To book a council-operated campsite, visit the Yorke Peninsula Council website. If you’re hiring a motorhome, check the rental company’s terms and conditions before heading off the bitumen, and enquire locally about road conditions.
2. 4WD – off-road adventure
A high clearance 4WD with low range can get you right down onto the beach. To reach the surf beach at Canunda National Park on the Limestone Coast, head south-west from Millicent and cross the sand hills.
There’s also a marked trail through the dunes all the way to Carpenter Rocks. Along the way there’s a campsite at Number Two Rocks, just back from the rocky shoreline that bookends a picturesque lagoon.
Before tackling Canunda, be sure you’re fully equipped and skilled for sand driving. It’s crucial to keep an eye on the tides so your pride and joy isn’t gobbled up by the sea.
Another good spot to play in the sand is Coffin Bay National Park on the Eyre Peninsula. Crossing the vast Gunyah dunefield is an exciting way to reach the crunchy sands of Gunyah Beach.
If you plan on hauling your rig to the western reaches of the park, your trek across clay, sand, limestone and the odd dune will be well rewarded. This is a place of secluded campsites, remote beaches and stunning views across Coffin Bay towards Mount Greenly.
3. Kayak – up-close and personal
Kayaks are a handy craft for exploring all the coastal nooks and crannies. They’re best suited for calmer waters, and it doesn’t get much calmer than Chapman River on Kangaroo Island.
Although the navigable section of the river is only a couple of kilometres long, it still feels like a true wilderness experience among the flora and fauna of Lashmar Conservation Park.
Adding to the thrill, the river mouth opens out to the sparkling white sands and clear blue waters of Antechamber Bay.
If anywhere was made for kayaking, it’s the Coorong. Flanked by white dunes and thick with birdlife, you could spend a lifetime exploring this internationally recognised wetland.
Enthusiastic paddlers with a taste for rough camping can head for Godfrey’s Landing for a night beside the dunes. Keep in mind that bad weather can quickly turn the waters of the Coorong into a turbulent soup, so always check the forecast before heading off.
Paddling among the Port River dolphins in the waters off Garden Island is a special wildlife encounter. If they’re feeling chipper, you’ll see tail-slapping and acrobatic flips, and they might even pop up right beside your kayak.
On the other side of the island, check out the rusting hulks in the Ships’ Graveyard before they’re completely consumed by sea and salt.
For information on national park entry fees and campsite bookings, visit parks.sa.gov.au.