Favourite Place #5 – Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula, SA

Stenhouse Bay Jetty, Innes National Park, South Australia

Stenhouse Bay Jetty, Innes National Park, South Australia

It’s a mystery to me why Innes National Park (INP) isn’t on any Top 10 Australian National Parks lists. At the south-western tip of Yorke Peninsula’s ‘toe’ (you’ll see what I mean on the map) its wild and remote beauty is unique.

Old Gypsum Mine, Innes National Park, South Australia

Old Gypsum Mine, Innes National Park, South Australia

BUT … perhaps the unparalleled coastal scenery, historic buildings, walking trails, shipwreck sites, deserted beaches, fishing, lighthouses, wildlife and stunning wildflowers in season in the park just don’t stack up against the nations’ finest. Maybe I’ve got it wrong.

So is this place REALLY awesome? Or is it just me?? Take my tour of the highlights, and decide for yourself!

Above is  the old gypsum mine loading facility at the Stenhouse Bay jetty. And here’s the jetty itself. Can you imagine a better spot for a day’s fishing? There’s a walk to the lookout at the top of the hill if you want an even more panoramic vista.

Entrance to Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

Entrance to Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

And here’s the view towards Chinaman’s Hat Island and Cable Bay camp ground as you head into the park towards the Cape Spencer lighthouse. The short walk to the lighthouse gives magnificent views on either side of the ridge top, and ahead to the islands.

Inneston Lake, Innes National Park, South Australia

Inneston Lake, Innes National Park, South Australia

But don’t just take my word for it … the picture at the end of the post shows it all clearly!

The Inneston ruins and lake are where the gypsum mine operated in the early 1900’s. The Thomson-Pfitzner walking track follows the old wooden railway line used to transport gypsum to Stenhouse bay and the jetty. It’s 4km each way – but luckily you can have lunch at the Rhino’s Head tavern at the half way mark!

Historic buildings at Inneston, Innes National Park

Historic buildings at Inneston, Innes National Park

Here’s Inneston, and the INP birdwatcher’s trifecta – Emu, Mallee Fowl and Western Whipbird – MAY be spotted on the walking track. Although Western Whipbird is the reason for INP’s proclamation, it remains elusive. BUT … we’ve sighted Australian Shelduck with young on the lake, and Southern Scrub Robin on the track. It’s not all ruins – people live here, and some of the cottages are available for rent if you’re looking for a place to stay.

Below is the Ethel wreck, one of several in the area. Depending on tidal, storm and/or sand activity you may see more or less than this! Get right down to the beach for a closer look.

Ethel Wreck, Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

Ethel Wreck, Innes National Park, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

The recently renovated rest area (how’s that for alliteration?!?!) at West Cape Lighthouse has arguably one of the most spectacular coastal views in INP, even more so from the short walk to the lighthouse. But be warned!

The ocean at Browns Beach, Innes National Park

The ocean at Browns Beach, Innes National Park

The winds can be fierce – luckily there’s a sign in case you hadn’t noticed …

The north western section of the park includes beaches to rival the tropics. Don’t believe me?

Here’s Brown’s Beach (left) – popular for fishing, surfing and hiking, this area of the park has several camp grounds and some serious walking tracks.

Try the 11 km return trip through to Gym Beach at the northernmost limit of the park.

And if you can get down to the Cape Spencer Beach below the lighthouse, that’s pretty amazing too!

Beach from Lighthouse, South Cape, Innes National Park

Beach from Lighthouse, Cape Spencer, Innes National Park

And I haven’t even mentioned the spring wildflowers! My personal favourite, Templetonia retusa – more imaginatively known as ‘Cockies tongue’ – almost overshadows the orchids, wattles, eucalypts and pea flowers.

Cliffs at Cape Spencer, Innes National Park

Cliffs at Cape Spencer, Innes National Park

If any other selling points are needed, it’s not that far from another favourite place – Troubridge Island and Lighthouse!

SO … did I get it wrong, or are these delights enough to make the Top 10?

OK, left is another scenic coastline shot to help you decide!!

And below is the lighthouse shot I referred to above!

Later edit:  I’ve visited Innes National Park many times since these photos were taken and this post written!  If you’d like a more up to date perspective, then have a look at these more recent posts:

Cape Spencer Lighthouse, Innes National Park, South Australia

Cape Spencer Lighthouse, Innes National Park, South Australia

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