Essential Eyre Peninsula 4WD Camping Guide
South Australia is renowned for its iconic outback regions such as the Flinders Ranges and Simpson Desert. But there is more to SA as it has some spectacular coastal areas such as the Eyre Peninsula which has some of the best camping and coastal scenery anywhere in Australia.
Port Augusta, the gateway to the west and Eyre Peninsula is also the
last major centre before heading west. Top up your fuel tanks, grab any food and beverage supplies needed and then head west.
A great option for an overnight stay is the Fitzgerald Bay area just north of Whyalla. Here the camps are free, fires are allowed, and you will most likely get a campsite all to yourself. More details on this area can be found on the various free camping South Australia websites.
Port Lincoln – Gateway to the National Parks
Port Lincoln is a good place to stock up with all the major supermarkets represented, plenty of fuel outlets, and even 4WD accessories available if something has been forgotten. The Port Lincoln Tourist Information Centre has all the relevant brochures and information about the nearby national parks, and can book the relevant campsites in the park so this should be your first port of call.
A good tip when planning a trip to this area is to pre-book your stay in Memory Cove and add on a few days at the beginning or end within the Lincoln National. This way you only have to pay for one park entry and thus maximize your time (and save some money). The access key for
Memory Cove is collected from the Port Lincoln Tourist Info Centre.
Put some fuel in the 4WD, grab the grocery shopping, and then head to the first National Park in the area which is just out of town – Lincoln National Park.
Lincoln National Park – Eyre Peninsula
The entrance to Lincoln National Park is 11km south of Port Lincoln, so it’s not long until you’re away from civilization. Lincoln National Park has more than 10 designated camping areas, most with toilets and fire rings. If travelling outside the fire danger period make sure you bring some
wood and choose one of the campsites that allow fires such as September Beach.
Some campgrounds (such as Memory Cove) have a year round ban on fires, so make sure the gas cooker is also right to go. With our gas cooker in the Trayon able to be used inside and outside we had all bases covered for our trip to Lincoln National Park.
Stamford Hill – Lincoln National Park
To gain your bearings and take in the scenery, a short hike up Stamford Hill to the Flinders Monument is worthwhile. There are spectacular views across Boston Bay, Port Lincoln and Lincoln National Park.
The monument commemorates Matthew Flinders voyage of discovery to this area in 1802. Flinders himself climbed Stamford Hill and named the area Port Lincoln after his native province in England. There are other walks heading off from here – there are more
than 20 designated walks in the Lincoln National Park which are detailed in a brochure available from the Port Lincoln Visitors Centre (or online).
Cape Donington – Lincoln National Park
Cape Donington is the most southern section of Lincoln National Park, and there are great coastline views here. There is a lighthouse at the point, with the sheltered campsites at September Beach campground just around the corner. This campground with its fantastic beach and sheltered campsites with fire pits makes it one of the better camping areas in the Lincoln NP. Make sure you choose one of the sites bordering the beach – we parked our Trayon at campsite 8 which was great.
This area has an early rural history that includes woodcutting, grazing and guano (seabird manure) mining, and records its first grain crop in 1875. There are reminders of this period in the form of abandoned farm machinery, cleared land and a cottage. If a break from camping is on the agenda, then this cottage is available for rent.
Memory Cove Wilderness Area – Lincoln National Park
Within the Lincoln National Park is the Memory Cove Wilderness Area. Unlike wilderness protection areas in the eastern states, Memory Cove is open to four wheel drivers and visitors are actively encouraged. It takes a little bit of planning and organising to gain access to this area but this pay up in spades as IMO this is a major highlight of the trip to this area.
Caravan’s and camper trailers are not permitted into Memory Cove so this area is just perfect for slide on campers such as the Trayon. With all the features that the Trayon has such as onboard water, auxiliary battery, hot water, 100 litre fridge and plenty of storage for food etc it makes the trip to Memory Cove that much more enjoyable.
Journey into Memory Cove
The access gate to Memory Cove Wilderness area is about 20km from the Park entrance, and its 4WD access only from here. Time to unlock the gate, drive in and engage 4WD! Generally the track is pretty good to start with so 4WD is not immediately necessary, but if you have manual hubs then lock them in ready. From the gate the Memory Cove camping area is 19km, with plenty to see on the way in. Going straight to Memory Cove will take about 1 hour, longer if you stop for photos or take a few of the side tracks on the way in. It took us nearly three hours to drive in!
The drive into Memory Cove covers a range of different vegetation. It starts with a fairly dense mix of eucalypt and sheoak woodland consisting of coastal white mallee, tea-tree, and sheoak. It quickly changes to rugged granite and limestone headlands, then more tea-tree and mallee sections.
Early into the drive there is a cliff top section that offers great views out to the nearby islands. The track then heads inland to an open plain commonly stocked with emu’s and kangaroos. This area was grazed and cropped from 1840 until 1957, with stock watered from springs and soaks
from the granite outcrops along the cliff tops. The flat was ploughed by teams of bullocks and harvests of barley were bagged and shipped out from Memory Cove.
The last barley was shipped out in 1912 prior to a devastating bushfire.
Further into the drive another side track leads off to a great cliff top view. The open ocean swells crashes on the rocks below, sending salt spray into the air.
There is a walking track that follows an old vehicle track around the point that provides great views and is worth checking out.
If you have plenty of time you can explore this track further as it leads right around the cliff line to West Point.
Just prior to heading down into Memory Cove, there is a scenic lookout that provides spectacular views to Cape Catastrophe, Thistle Island and the bay below. The lookout is known locally as ‘Ivy’s Leap’ after a local tour operators’ vehicle plunged off the cliff here when the handbrake failed.
Fortunately no one was in the car at the time.
In winter month’s whales can often be seen from the various cliff top lookouts so keep an eye out if traveling to Memory Cove during this time.
Memory Cove Campground
Memory Cove is a shady and sheltered campground just back from the beach. Our campsite had its own track leading the few metres to the brilliant white sands of Memory Cove. Vivid crystal clear blue waters make up the spectacular scene – what a fantastic place!
You can fish right off the beach here and we managed to catch a nice feed of Salmon one afternoon.
The campground has well-maintained male and female pit toilets that were clean and smell free.
There was also a small rainwater tank but don’t rely on this – bring in sufficient water for your stay.
The park contains a variety of wildlife. We saw several Western Grey Kangaroos on the way in, along with Emus and a blue-tongue lizard that had taken up residence in the middle of the track and needed a little prompting to move on.
While camped at Memory Cove we saw several large seabirds, pelicans and a lone seal that appeared to be lost.
There is a marked walking track at the right hand end of the beach that leads to the ocean coastline. This is a great place to watch the passing boats, look out to the nearby islands, and throw in a line for a feed of fish. About half way along this track, mobile phone service is possible.
At the end of the track there is another great place to throw in a line and perhaps catch a feed of fish for dinner. While we were there some cheeky seals chased away all the fish so no fish for us!
Memory Cove is a great place to relax and unwind. We spent three fantastic days here and really enjoyed this time. Such a spectacular location with limited camping spots & access it is a definite must-do when in the area.
Sleaford-Wanna 4WD Track – Lincoln National Park
A major highlight of a trip to Lincoln National Park is the scenery and 4WDing along the Sleaford Bay coastline. Massive wind-sculpted sand dunes, pounding surf and spectacular limestone cliffs await the visitor to this area.
The Sleaford-Wanna 4WD track is only about 14km long, but there is a lot to take in and plenty of side tracks to explore. The track can be traversed in a few hours, or a whole day could be easily spent having fun in the dunes and on the beach. There are several good fishing areas along the beach, including Miller Hole and Salmon Hole.
There are markers and signs along the track to guide the way, but still plenty of track options at times. Like other 4WD tracks, there are hard routes and easier routes to choose.
The track contains a range of conditions, from soft dunes, tight sections through vegetation, to slow rocky treks over limestone sections. The ever changing conditions and scenery adds to the appeal for the area – never sure what is coming up next. There is almost too much to take in –
cresting a dune or rounding a corner brings another great scene.
There are several beach access points, so if the tide is right a run along the beach could be in order. The access points do vary in difficulty so check before venturing onto the beach.
Quite a lot the Sleaford-Wanna Dunes track consists of narrow sections and vehicles may be coming the other way so caution is needed. Also a sand flag is a good idea to advertise your presence – much easier to spot and be spotted in the narrow parts and when cresting dunes.
Cape Tournefort – Lincoln National Park
Another excellent 4WD track heads from Wanna out to Cape Tournefort. This track is generally sandy as it meanders through coastal tea-tree and comes out at the cape.
From the end of the track there are great views of the nearby Curta Rocks, rugged cliffs and pounding surf onto the
After a pleasant few days exploring Lincoln National Park it’s time to move on and explore another fabulous nearby region – Coffin Bay and Coffin Bay National Park.
Coffin Bay Township – Eyre Peninsula
Coffin Bay is a small and picturesque town on the shores of Kellidie Bay.
Coffin Bay is famous for its oysters which are sold all over Australia and overseas, and you can pick up some directly from the oyster farmers straight of the boat. Doesn’t get any fresher that
that! The Coffin Bay general store is a good place to pick up any last minute supplies needed, including fuel if required.
Now the bay and area got its name from Matthew Flinders who explored this area in 1802 and named Coffin Bay after his British Navy friend Sir Isaac Coffin. The name has nothing to do with fatal shipwrecks, wooden boxes or a funny shaped rock that looks like a coffin!
The Coffin Bay Township is great but there is a bigger and better attraction right on its doorstep – Coffin Bay National Park.
Coffin Bay National Park – Eyre Peninsula
The entrance to the national park is right on the Coffin Bay township boundary. The first 15km is sealed up to Yangie Bay, which is a popular sheltered camping spot which offers some good
There are several walks emanating from the picnic area that are worth a go if feeling energetic.
From Yangie Bay the rest (and majority) of the national park is 4WD only. The tight sandy tracks are tailor-made for a slide on camper and the Trayon is the perfect camper for the job. With all the features that the Trayon has, the camping experience in places like Coffin Bay is just about
The first part of the track is sandy but pretty straight-forward with the right tyre pressures.
It rounds Yangie Bay then head north adjacent to Port Douglas Bay. There are a couple of salt lakes passed and a few areas of the track that can be flooded by high tides, so there are bypass tracks if the tide is very high. The track then heads inland through coastal bushland, past Lake Damascus (salt) and back out to the coast at Black Springs.
Black Springs – Coffin Bay National Park
There are some great sheltered campsites and toilets at the Black Springs campground Eyre Peninsula, a great beach below and the nearby Black Springs Well. Also near Black Springs campground is the black rocks walking track which is a 6km hike to the western side of the peninsula.
From Black Springs head across the headland to seven mile beach dropping down onto the beach for great run along the sand. It’s a great drive with lovely beach views, large picturesque dunes, and many seabirds along the foreshore. The beach run is possible near high tide, but it’s much better to time your trip closer to low tide.
Head along the beach to the signposted beach exit and back onto the headland. The scene is now open rocky grasslands almost devoid of vegetation. This area is frequented by emus so keep an eye out for them. Continuing on there are more patches of sheoaks and coastal tea- tree, and closer to the coast there are paperbark trees. Across the headland there are lots of track options but I would recommend heading first to the most northerly section of the park – Point Sir Isaac.
Point Sir Isaac – Coffin Bay National Park
Point Sir Isaac was named by Matthew Flinders in 1802 after his good friend Sir Isaac Coffin. This a good spot to see whales migrating along the coast towards the head of the Great Australian Bight to mate at the right time of the year. On the protected eastern side of the point there are several small quiet beaches surrounded by mallee scrub. One such spot is ‘The Pool’ which is a designated campground with toilets, shady campsites, and a few fire pits.
Mullalong Beach – Coffin Bay National Park
From Point Sir Isaac it is worth heading to Mullalong Beach in Eyre Peninsula which is on the more exposed western coastline. Here there is great coastal scenery consisting of wide beaches, deep blue water, and rocky cliffs. The drive across the headland is also very scenic, with views of the track winding its way across and the blue sea framing the picture.
From Mittalong Beach head out to the most westerly section of the park that you can drive to which is Reef Point Lookout. This is quite a picturesque place, with limestone cliffs, blue waters and extensive reefs joining the beaches.
From Reef Point Lookout continue back inland then southwards to Sensation Beach. Having a name such as Sensation Beach you would expect something pretty special, but actually the place is named after a tuna boat called ‘Sensation’ that drifted ashore here.
The beach is very exposed but still worth a visit, and there are some basic camping areas behind the dunes but there are plenty of much better campgrounds on the sheltered eastern section of the park.
Morgan’s Landing – Coffin Bay National Park
One of the best campsites in the coffine national park is Morgan’s Landing. This is a great sheltered camping area with several spots under shady paperbark trees just back off the beach and Coffin Bay. There are toilets there, and the beach is great for an evening walk.
With Morgan’s Landing facing West it’s worth getting up early to watch the sunrise across Coffin Bay – hopefully you will get to see a fantastic sunrise as we did. From the campsite take the short cut along the beach between Morgans Landing and the exit from seven mile beach run.
Along this section of beach there are a few secluded camp areas that are not shown of the Eyre Peninsula Map or brochure of the area.
All the tracks were well signposted and marked so with the Coffin Bay National Park Brochure it is pretty easy to navigate.
Things to Take – Eyre Peninsula
Heading to the Lincoln and Coffin Bay National Parks you need to carry enough food and water for the duration of your intended stay. Mobile phone coverage is patchy but generally good enough if you need to contact friends & family, so I would suggest alternative communication
devices such as a satellite phone would not be necessary.
If you enjoy fishing then ensure you bring plenty of tackle and some bait as this area is great for fishing. Bring your camera as well as there is plenty of spectacular scenery to photograph.
Time to Travel – Eyre Peninsula
The National Parks are open all year but the weather can get pretty rough in the winter. The summer time is popular and the holiday time can see this area quite busy, so I would recommend visiting during the autumn or spring. Remember to book in advance for places such as Memory Cove as campsites are limited.
The Lincoln and Coffin Bay National Parks have plenty to offer the avid camper and 4WDriver. There are also plenty more attractions on the Eyre Peninsula so you can easily spend a week or more exploring the area. Even though the Eyre Peninsula is a long way away for most of us, it is
well worth the effort so load up the 4WD and head down – and you will not be disappointed.