2014 has been my best year for road trips in Australia. I went on four solo driving adventures. Two in Tropical Queensland, one three-day road trip to Jervis Bay along the South East Coast. Last week I had a wonderful road trip around the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.
In a three-day trip, I drove travelled for hundreds of kilometres through golden fields of wheat, barley, beans, lupins and more grain-grown areas. I had unique wildlife encounters with emus, lizards and baby alpacas, I walked along the rugged coastline and soaked up the impressive landscape of Innes National Park. I went crabbing on a boat in Ardrossan and enjoyed the serenity of a fertile land blessed by nature and surrounded by sea.
Located only two and a half drive from Adelaide, the Yorke Peninsula is home to jetty-and-shipwrecks-strewn beautiful beaches on 700 km of dramatic rugged coastline. The peninsula is steeped in fascinating pioneering history from mining to fertile farmland. It's a fantastic region for camping and outdoor activities and a famous region for families and kids during school holidays. There are many walking trails embracing the coastline, as well as historical walking trails in inland covering the mining and farming history.
The proper way to explore the Yorke Peninsula is to rent a car in Adelaide and explore the region at your own pace. The drive is easy on sealed highways to reach all main towns and villages.
I hired a car in Adelaide and headed north on the Highway One to Port Wakefield and further west to Moonta, on Yorke Peninsula's western coast.
Yorke Peninsula Road Trip – Driving through the golden farmland
End of October, early November is harvest time on the Yorke Peninsula. I was lucky to be there at the right time and drive through sweeping golden fields for 130 kilometres between Moonta down to Maitland and further south to the townships of Minlaton and Wooroka. Not many people know (myself included) that Minlaton is the Barley Capital of the World, producing the highest quality of barley malt used for brewing beer all over the world. And the Yorke Peninsula produces alone an annual total of 1.3 millions of cereals.
It was very relaxing to drive through this stretch of golden farmland and stopping along the way, shades of yellow, brown and green painted a beautiful canvas of picture-perfect crops! 🙂
Exploring the rugged coastline at Innes National Park
The Innes National Park is the highlight of Yorke Peninsula. South Australians, as well as interstate travellers, flock to the Yorke Peninsula to visit this unique heritage listed National Park. The rugged coastline and the orange-striped limestone cliffs create a stunning contrast with the deep blue sea and the breaking waves. The Innes National Park stretches for about 20 km along the coast offering seven main walking trails, breathtaking lookouts, ten different camping sites, a couple of salt lakes and the Inneston Historic Township where you walk through the settlement remnants and if you stay overnight at the historic lodges too.
While it took me half days to visit Innes National Park – only did the short walks – I would recommend plan a whole day and get there as early as you can. Get there early in the morning, as it gets hot towards midday and there are no shelters to rest from the sunshine. Moreover, beware that to enter Innes National Park there is a 10 AUD fee, and you must book your ticket online. For more info click here.
Don't miss out on the Minlaton Visitor Centre
Minlaton Visitor Centre is a must-do pitstop when touring the Yorke Peninsula. I stopped there on my way to Wooroka and Corny Point. I enjoyed reading the handouts about the farming on the Yorke Peninsula region. I got various brochures and several detailed maps of each part. I also enjoyed their lovely shop with a variety of locally grown products and produced, from olive oil to conserves, jam/jelly, herbs/spices, honey, cookies and cakes.
If you are not crossing internal borders and not facing Quarantine issues, you can purchase these products there as I haven't seen them anywhere else on the Peninsula. Check out their website at Visit Yorke Peninsula for more information.
Visit Ardrossan – The home of the Blue Swimmer Crabs
Ardrossan was the last stop of my road trip on the Yorke Peninsula, on the way back to Adelaide from Corny Point. I didn't know that Ardrossan is famous for crabbing. Nor I knew that is a thriving seaport and agriculture centre as well as a shipping port for the locally mined dolomite. The grain facility can store up to 420 thousands tonnes of grain! Can you imagine! Ardrossan is located on top of massive red cliffs making this coastal town to a very photogenic place for taking photos at sunset or sunrise with shades of bright ochre.
I had less than 24 hours to spend in Ardrossan, definitely too short to do justice to this fantastic place. In the afternoon I went on a boat tour with a lovely local who took me out on the sea for crabbing. We couldn't go raking as this is something you can only do with low tide, but used the nets from the boat instead. It was fun and learnt about the rules for catching the Blue Swimmer Crabs. Only 20 pieces are allowed per person on one day, and they must measure at least 11 cm in width. The blue crabs are delicious when cooked and a real delicacy of South Australia!
I have been road tripping the Yorke Peninsula on three days, but I found time a bit tight for visiting it all. I would highly recommend at least four days if you want to make the most of your time.
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