Next to nature
Feet first on South Australia’s jagged Yorke Peninsula
As we navigate our way down a rocky path, a vast expanse of ocean on the horizon, we feel a pair of eyes on us. A short distance away, staring intently, is a large kangaroo watching our every move. From another direction, two emus dart.
These quintessential Australian animals provide a welcome interaction with nature for my children, aged nine and 11, as we trek the 7km from South Australia’s Marion Bay to Stenhouse Bay under a clear blue sky in early February. We are blessed with classic Yorke Peninsula weather. Boats dot the calm waters. Fishermen have long been lured to the region, upgraded modern ramp facilities installed along the coast adding to the area’s popularity as a holiday destination for fishing enthusiasts from Adelaide. “Yorkes”, as the locals call it, is a boot-shaped land mass separated from Adelaide to the east by Gulf St Vincent and from Port Lincoln to the west by Spencer Gulf. To the south is Kangaroo Island.
The grain-producing region is full of rich farmland, but also magnificent white sandy beaches wondrously free of crowds; there are jagged shorelines, cliffs, surfing breaks and an abundance of fresh, clean seafood.
The distances are vast, so most people drive to sightsee. But the terrain is relatively flat and offers lots of diverse options to experience its beauty by foot. Ramblers have long been attracted here due to the existing natural-surfaced tracks. Now there are walkers galore, lured by the establishment of 500km of trails winding from Port Wakefield down and up the peninsula to Moonta Bay. This network combines existing tracks with newly formed gravelled sections, as well as beach access.
The Walk the Yorke experience, years in the making since a concept plan was released in 2009, was launched in December and has proved a hit. There are brightyellow trail markers, signs, seating, shelters and water tanks at regular intervals. It is a pleasing result for those who have pursued the vision over the years, including Yorke Peninsula Council’s operations manager Stephen Goldsworthy.
It appears to be a case of “build it and they will come”. Hashtags such as #walktheyorke have cropped up and a flood of inquiries has boosted confidence for increased visitor numbers. You can choose short walks of up to 90 minutes or more challenging day walks, multi-day itineraries or bike-riding options.
For my family, it is a great opportunity to revisit the peninsula and connect with nature for a few days. We stay at the tiny town of Marion Bay, a three-hour drive from Adelaide, on the edge of stunning Innes National Park, which fills in the entire southwest tip of the peninsula. It is a remote spot with a well-equipped caravan park and direct beach access. The Marion Bay Tavern has a surprisingly wide-ranging menu and its wood-fired pizza oven is on duty all day.
We take the more adventurous path for our first walk, starting on the cliffs overlooking Marion Bay. We traverse clifftop paths, walk along secluded beaches, explore dune paths and marvel at the native animals as we enter the national park. Crisp, white-sand beaches with calm