The Yorke Peninsula is a handsome expanse of sandy beaches and turquoise waters, set upon a sun-soaked horizon. About two hours’ drive from Adelaide, the region encompasses the townships of Wallaroo, Moonta and Kadina at the top, with Marion Bay, Inneston and Point Turton another two hours south. This southerly nook is also home to the resplendent Innes National Park. Whether you’re planning an intimate couple’s retreat or a raucous family holiday, the Yorke Peninsula has a place for all tastes and budgets. Here are our top ten spots.
Wallaroo North Beach Tourist Park, Wallaroo
One of the most highly regarded of the Peninsula’s caravan and cabin parks, North Beach is hailed for its prime position as well as managers who are as friendly as they are efficient.
Book early for a powered site, a Sea View Cabin or any of the newly renovated units and you’ll wake to the sight and sounds of beautiful Wallaroo Bay.
Family cabins sleep four to six; two new spa units up to four; and the units can sleep up to six.
Local waters are sheltered and safe, perfect for the small ones and ideal for bigger ones wanting to paddle-board or kayak.
On-site distractions include satellite TV (in units), one of those giant inflatable pillows that adults reliably do their knees on, and free wifi.
Sites from: $28 per night; cabins from $150 for two (two-night minimum in peak season).
Ideal for: Van-atics and those who are feverish about cabins.
Not good if: Happy kids make you grumpy.
Marion Bay Motel, Marion Bay
This thoughtful little motel has five studio-style rooms.
It immediately endears itself with a veranda supported by lovely old sea-weathered timbers; within, however, rooms are furnished in bright, contemporary style and sleep up to three.
Nice touches include the Sugar Shack Soap (from Clare Valley), big-screen LCD TVs and gourmet picnic hampers for those who want to get away and guzzle. The Marion Bay Tavern is right next door, serving excellent wood-fired pizzas.
Rooms from: $130 per night (for up to three).
Ideal for: Couples wanting access to dramatic beaches (including a sheltered swimming beach), Innes National Park and views across to Kangaroo Island.
Not good if: You want to self-cater; tea and coffee making is about the limit.
Hillock’s Ocean Pod, Marion Bay
Hillock’s Drive has homestead and tent-site accommodation, but it has gained some publicity for its unusual and spectacularly located Ocean Pod on a headland near beautiful Butler’s Beach.
This pre-fabricated unit resembles a kooky caravan on the outside and a luxury boat from within – indeed anyone familiar with the bespoke design and compromised space of a motor cruiser will feel right at home.
The nautical ambience will be heightened when the rugged surf hits home, since your pod has a ringside seat of the waves, the beach and the rugged rocks.
The pod can accommodate up to four, it has a shower, eco toilet, fridge and a small kitchen. Friends are welcome to park their caravan or pitch a tent next door.
Pod from: $150 per night.
Ideal for: Anyone with an eye for the unusual.
Not good if: The sound of surf keeps you awake.
Inneston Heritage Accommodation, Inneston
From 1913 to 1930, some 150 people lived in the isolated town of Inneston.
Perfectly self-sufficient, the community existed to mine gypsum until the company pulled out and the settlement became a ghost town.
Today Inneston is a series of beguiling ruins among the dunes and low mallee scrub of Innes National Park. Seven of the buildings however have been converted to comfortable accommodation: the old Post Office for instance sleeps two in cheerful contemporary style; the Engineers and Managers Lodges sleeps 10 and both have verandahs enjoying views over a salt lake; and the Gatehouse is a cosy retreat for six that’s especially evocative in winter. All are self-contained (provisions and the tavern of Marion Bay are 10km away) though guests need to bring their own bedding and linen.
Rooms from: $110 (minimum two nights)
Ideal for: Anyone seeking the sounds of silence in Innes National Park.
Not good if: You’re spooked by the term ‘ghost town’.
Yorke272, Point Turton
One of hundreds of self-catering retreats on the Peninsula, Yorke272 occupies the more luxurious end of the market.
This stylish newly-renovated four-bedroom house sleeps up to eight and has complete water frontage plus a large deck to enjoy it.
Sheltered Hardwicke Bay is great for swimming and barely a stone-skim from the deck but there’s always the heated pool if you prefer your water sans salt. Other lifestyle luxuries include a pool table, outdoor kitchen, wood-fired pizza oven and requisite fish-cleaning table when you bring home the big one.
Property from: $360 per night (minimum two- or five-night stay depending on season).
Ideal for: Large groups looking to live large.
Not good if: There’s only two of you – it’s an all-or-nothing rental.
Marina Apartments, Wallaroo
The five-storey Marina Apartments complex is the biggest development of its kind on the Peninsula (and was quite a big deal when it opened in 2008).
Located on the waterfront of the Wallaroo Marina with North Beach and the jetty within walking distance, all 25 apartments enjoy good views of coast and surrounding country from private balconies. Suites and executive apartments sleep up to four.
Wallaroo is a sizable, attractive town and good for food and drinks – though the Coopers Alehouse, just a few doors up from the apartments, serves a lively pint.
Rooms from: $149
Ideal for: Visitors who like a by-the-book apartment-style hotel enjoying a prominent location.
Not good if: You’re looking for a bit of character. But, once again, the Cooper’s Alehouse is just a few doors up.
Port Vincent’s caravan parks,Port Vincent
The Port Vincent Foreshore Caravan Park is a big, bonny beach favourite of many years standing, but its prime location and continued popularity has seen almost continuous upgrades.
The caravan park has not one but two beachfronts – the sheltered, family-friendly Front Beach and the somewhat wilder back beach loved by those armed with crab rakes.
This year saw the arrival of an inflatable jumping pillow, hard on the heels of a new office complex. At risk of causing confusion, the Port Vincent Caravan Park and Seaside Cabins are further along the Back Beach: it lacks the centrality of PVFCP, but it has eight pleasant cabins starting from a budget-pleasing $55.
Rates (PVFCP/PVCP&SC): powered sites from $31/$25; cabins from $108/$55.
Ideal for: Budget family fun.
Not good if: You’re easily confused by caravan parks with very similar names.
Yondah Beach House, Foul Bay
Yondah is something of a rarity on the Peninsula and for three reasons: firstly it’s deluxe accommodation (relatively thin on the ground in these parts); secondly it’s the winner of a 2014 Gold Tourism Award; and thirdly you can take your dog!
The beach house comes with a distinct curved roof, three decks and 300 acres of wild headlands and sands; it’s located between Butler’s Beach and Foul Bay (don’t worry, the latter is much nicer than it sounds).
The house sleeps up to eight and the style is country meets beach-house chic. It’s a stunning property that deserves to be better known.
Property from: $280 per night (one bedroom) up to $480 for all bedrooms (minimum four nights).
Ideal for: Two families or cashed-up couples seeking a sleek retreat.
Not good if: You haven’t brought your own food. It’s a 22km drive to the nearest town.
The ‘shacks’ of Black Point,Black Point
Once upon a time there was a beautiful sweeping beach that went for two kilometres out to a point. The farmers of the region saw how lovely the place was and bought up small blocks of scrub on the shoreline: the blocks cost peanuts and the farmers knocked together crude shacks from whatever materials they had so they could spend their weekends fishing and hanging out.
Today, the sweeping beach is as beautiful as it ever was – though the blocks have long changed hands for considerable sums of money and the ‘shacks’ are now a long line of two-storey architected retreats. Black Point is not only millionaires’ row (clearly visible when you’re heading south down the Vincent Highway), it’s the place to rent a well-furnished beach house that quite literally has sand as its front yard.
Rooms from: Expect to pay from $250 per night for more upmarket properties.
Ideal for: Families and friends wanting a bit of fashionable beach fantasy.
Not good if: You’re trying to get away from cheek-by-jowl McMansions.
Redwing Farmstay, Moonta
This beautiful working farm offers a real-deal country experience not far from the Cornish heritage of the Copper Coast.
The Farmstay comprises two accommodations – Redwing Bed and Breakfast (sleeping four in a heritage stone building) and Redwing Barn (sleeping five in a striking 1950s structure) – both loaded with charm and both featuring a two-person spa.
Redwing makes a point of getting guests to feel part of the property, with plenty of opportunity to meet the ducks, donkeys, sheep, pigs, miniature cows, dogs et cetera. You can also do walks and help with feeding time – or you can simply kick back outside your residence and watch the paddock action through the bottom of a well-chilled wine glass.
Retreats from: $165 per night. Includes breakfast provisions.
Ideal for: Couples, families with kids, animal lovers and anyone who ever dreamt of running a farm.
Not good if: You need some sand-action. That said, the nearest beach is only a 15 minute drive.