Your Ultimate Guide to the Yorke Peninsula
1st August 2022
The Yorke Peninsula in a nutshell
Located between the Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent in South Australia, the beautiful Yorke Peninsula boasts a whopping 700 kilometres of pristine coastline. Accessible from Adelaide within just over an hour, the boot shaped peninsula is known for its laidback coastal scenes and staggering national park – Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park. Aside from its natural gems, the Yorke Peninsula is renowned for its laidback seaside towns, including its most populous, Kadina, as well as Wallaroo, Moonta Bay, Edithburg, Androssan and Port Victoria. It’s safe to say, there are endless things to do in the Yorke Peninsula.
Prior to European settlement of the area (before 1840) Yorke Peninsula was the home to the Narungga people, the traditional owners of the land. They were comprised of four clans; the Kurnara in the north, Dilpa in the south, Wari in the west and Windarra in the east. The descendants of these people still live on the Yorke Peninsula today. In the mid 1850s, Matthew Flinders and Charles Philip Yorke named the peninsula (after the latter).
Today, the Yorke Peninsula is not only home to many, but it is also a popular tourist destination for Adelaideans looking for weekend getaways. Blessed by incredible coastal scenes, beautiful beaches, sweet coastal towns and historic mining villages, it’s a great place to visit with family or friends.
Strewn with shipwrecks, scuba divers also love this region for its potential to witness some amazing underwater sights. Meanwhile, some of Australia’s very best surfing beaches are found here, too. Of particular note, the Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park is a sight you won’t soon forget, with its amazing wildlife and rolling waves which pound against dramatic cliff faces. Taking a coastal walk here comes highly recommended.
Visiting in winter? There are plenty of things to do in the Yorke Peninsula during the colder months, too. Distilleries, wineries and breweries as well as a number of great lunch spots and local pubs help you get to know the regions tastes and foodie crafts.
Things to do in the Yorke Peninsula
In this Ultimate Guide to the Yorke Peninsula, we take you on a journey through some of the best parts of this incredible region. By sharing with you the best bits – where to go, what to see, what to eat and much more – we help you craft the perfect Weekend Escape.
Spend a day at Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park
A trip to the Yorke Peninsula really isn’t complete without a visit to Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park. Placed right at the tip of the peninsula, it will take you a couple of hours to drive down here from the top. But don’t think twice, it’s absolutely worth the trip. Surrounded on all sides by incredible coastal views and rocky cliffs, you’re almost guaranteed to spot some wildlife (for example dolphins, sea lions and emus). Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park does have a visitor centre, and so you’re able to simply rock up and ask some questions. However, we’ll tell you a few things we think are well worth doing.
Bushwalking is definitely the best way to discover the park, with trails ranging from 30-minute strolls to four-hour treks. So, don’t forget to pack some comfortable shoes. Make sure to visit one of the lighthouses, where you can photograph some breathtaking sea views.
As a favourite destination for fishing and surfing, if you’re a fan of the water, make sure you bring everything you need for a great beach day. Those who prefer spending their time by the sea simply chilling out and taking dips are more than catered for.
Finally, during your trip to Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, make some time to wander through the historic Inneston; an abandoned township surrounded by bushland.
Scuba Dive at Zanoni Wreck
Those who like to scuba dive will adore the Yorke Peninsula for its potential for underwater adventures. In particular, Zanoni Wreck is worth a visit. Built in Liverpool in 1865, Zanoni was intended for the East India trade. In 1867, the Zanoni set off on a return journey to Port Adelaide to obtain clearance to London, with 4025 bags of wheat on board. Unfortunately, while crossing the Gulf off of Yorke Peninsula the boat was hit by a gust. It tragically capsized and sank within five minutes, whilst all sixteen on board were rescued.
Zanoni’s shipwreck site was only discovered in 1983 by divers. It’s one of the most complete remains of a vessel around in South Australia and possibly even in Australia! During your visit, head over to the site to find the wreck under 18 metres of water. An array of colourful fish now use the boat as their own homes, and the boat itself is actually covered in sponges.
Take the guided walking tour of historic Wallaroo
The historic coastal town of Wallaroo is a great place to base yourself during a tip to the Yorke Peninsula. It is also home to a number of heritage sites. Book onto a walking tour through the Wallaroo Heritage and Nautical Museum and learn about the history of the town as well as the region. Visiting heritage sites such as the old Post Office, Cornucopia Hotel, Wallaroo Town Hall, Railway Station and more, you’ll uncover the stories behind the place and leave with some great local knowledge.
Visit some Yorke Peninsula wineries
You’re in South Australia, so there are bound to be wineries. Surprisingly though, across the Yorke Peninsula there aren’t as many wineries as you might expect. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of opportunity for a tasting.
Firstly, visit Barley Stacks Wines. Located south of Maitland, this winery has been producing wine since 1996. Producing table wines such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Viognier, they’re well known locally and you’ll love the passion they work with. Drop into their cellar door for a free tasting within a beautifully rustic barn.
Located just outside of Ardrossan, Emoyeni Wines is a small and passionate business which produces amazing Shiraz and Riesling. The winery opened in 2000 and has been loved by locals ever since. Emoyeni has a great area for kids to play whilst you enjoy some wine tasting.
Walk the Yorke
When we tell you to Walk the Yorke, we don’t mean you have to walk it all. However, there is a path on the Yorke Peninsula which follows the entire coastline. At 500-kilometres long, it’s really only for those looking for a big project. You could however, choose a small portion and spend a day walking by the sea. Accessible for both cyclists and walkers, Walk the Yorke follows the coastline from Port Wakefield to Moonta Bay. With towns dotted throughout and diverse environments found along the way, there’s plenty of variety to choose from for your day of exercise. Find out more here.
Top tip: you could pair your walk with a pub lunch in one of the Yorke Peninsula’s quaint towns.
Drop by Wallaroo Heritage and Nautical Museum
Set within an 1865 limestone building – also known as Wallaroo’s first post office – the Wallaroo Heritage and Nautical Museum is a National Trust-run museum which showcases various historical displays. These displays include those relating to: copper smelting, postal & telephone history, religious and civic affairs, industry, sport, entertainment, extensive nautical, and general local history of the Yorke Peninsula.
During your visit to Wallaroo, drop into the museum and learn a little about the region. The kids will love the ‘George the Giant Squid’ exhibit which tells the story of a deep ocean dwelling squid, obtained from the stomach of a whale. There’s also material here relating to Miss Evelyn Marsden, the only surviving female passenger on the fateful Titanic. Following the tragic event, her and her husband worked here for a short period.
Pop in and gather some local information whilst you’re in Wallaroo. You can also book walking tours from this spot.
Take the kids to Moonta Bay foreshore
Picture-perfect Moonta Bay foreshore is an incredible stretch of beach front, where you and your family could most likely spend hours on end. Home to expanses of white sandy beaches and brilliant-turquoise water, locals and tourists alike gather here during the summer months for weekends of relaxation. At this dreamy spot, you could explore tidal pools, enjoy a kayaking or paddle boarding session, simply relax, or walk along the L-shaped jetty and admire the views.
You might also like to know that the ‘Walk the Yorke’ starts (or finishes) at Moonta Bay. As a result, you could spend a morning walking from here, returning a few hours later for a refreshing dip.
Visit Sailing Club Beach in Wallaroo
Looking for another beach in the area? The Sailing Club Beach in Wallaroo is a great spot for families and boasts white sands and enticing blue water. There is lots of space for all kinds of activities here; you could set up for the entire day. Beach volleyball nets have been set up at the back of the beach, in case you fancy some competitive sports with family or friends! Located just in front of the local sailing club, there are plenty of facilities.
Admire Pink Lake (or any of the Yorke Peninsula’s pink lakes)
There are a number of pink lakes across South Australia. Some of these are located in the Yorke Peninsula, with one – Pink Lake – definitely worth a visit. Pink Lakes in South Australia occur due to a rare combination of bacteria and algae which produces beta-carotene, a red pigment which gives the water its pink hue. Found just outside of Yorketown, Pink Lake is a wonderful spot to stop for a break and take some photos. This small but vibrantly coloured lake is nothing less than beautiful and the salt crystals add to the ethereal scenery, making beautiful patterns along the lake’s shore.
Pop into some Yorke Peninsula breweries or distilleries
The Yorke Peninsula is an up and coming producer of beverages, so you better enjoy some local craft during your trip. Watsacowie (Yorke Peninsula’s first independently owned microbrewery) is a destination for lovers of craft beer and good times! Located only moments from some of the region’s most incredible beaches, this wonderful spot will invite you in and keep you for hours. Live music, food and cold beer keep it buzzing throughout the year.
If a distillery is what you’re looking for, Sunny Hill Distillery is an excellent choice and one you won’t soon forget. Sunny Hill Farm was settled in 1872 by the Colliver family and has remained in that name until this day. Today, part of the farm’s grain is used for distilling and to make amazing craft spirits. Drop in to taste some spirits in the tasting room, or choose to enjoy the drink of your choice on the fabulous lawn or on the sheltered terrace. Gin, Whisky, Vodka, Rum – the choice is yours!
Cafes in the Yorke Peninsula
During your Weekend Escape, you’ll definitely be after some coffee and you might be after a breakfast, brunch or light lunch. Check out the following cafes in the York Peninsula for some caffeine inspiration!
Wafflin’ On Cafe
Wafflin On Cafe is the place to be – it’s a favourite with the locals! Located on Owen Terrace in Wallaroo, this cosy spot has a large menu with breakfast and lunch menus available. There are plenty of things to choose from, but their waffles are (naturally) renowned.
Also in Wallaroo, The Smelter is a great place for a cosy coffee. This place’s modern setting and endlessly tasty menu will have you coming back the next day.
Nook & Nourish
Found in Moonta, Nook & Nourish is great at enticing you in and even better at serving amazing food. Its coffee shouldn’t be missed either. With a cool cafe aesthetic we can’t get enough of, and a menu to write home about, you can’t go wrong.
Restaurants in the Yorke Peninsula
North Beach Kitchen
North Beach Kitchen is located on the beachfront of North Beach in Wallaroo. Here you’ll find a menu of great brunches, barista coffee and tasty fish and chips. You won’t get many views better than this around town! Local food and South Australian produce is prevalent throughout the menu, plus there’s a beachfront gin & wine bar.
Wallaroo’s Bond Store comes highly recommended, and it’s no surprise. You’ll find literally everything you need here and in many ways it’s pretty unexpected for a regional town on the Yorke Peninsula. A huge multi-level property, Bond Store has a restaurant serving the tastiest food and a distillery and microbrewery downstairs. Don’t miss out. You could spend a whole afternoon here, and you should!
SA Weekend Escapes Top Hotel Pick!
Wyndham Wallaroo Resort – available for booking from December 2022 – is an exciting new 4-star resort on Yorke Peninsula’s stunning west coast. Comprised of 100 villas, with both one and two bedrooms, the resort will offer incredible facilities including beach access, pool, tennis courts