We’re not sure what was on our minds as we left the Fleurieu, heading for Marion Bay at the tip of the Yorke Peninsula. We assume we must have been thinking of Sydney – that urban paradise where supermarkets sprout on every street corner and wouldn’t dream of closing until at least 8pm. Indeed, we were most unpleasantly jerked back into regional South Australian reality when we remembered that we had no food and realised that our current trajectory offered no prospect of buying any. Time for a late afternoon u-turn.
It was sometime during the 160 extra kilometres added to our trip that we first pinpointed the phenomenon we now call the “drive-by wave”. It seems that in South Australia, where you can motor along for looooooong stretches without seeing another vehicle, drivers seek to remedy the solitude with a friendly one-fingered acknowledgement. We have embraced this interaction with much enthusiasm, hereby noting its difference to the one-fingered gesture so favoured by irate Sydney drivers.
When we did eventually arrive at Marion Bay we found it a pleasant, though very quiet place. Apart from Innes National Park, the rest of the area – comprising the caravan park, a scattering of houses, one very expensive general store and lots of lovely coastline – was Neddy-friendly. This was a relief seeing as it was Neddy’s second birthday and he would never have forgiven us if he wasn’t allowed to run around like the mad thing he is.
Unfortunately a large section of the Innes was closed for road upgrades but we explored the remainder of it over two part days. The park boasts some well-known surf breaks, which was why we had come a-visiting. To our disappointment the winds weren’t right and so there wasn’t much happening. We did get to see the washed up skeleton of a shipwreck, the Stenhouse Bay Jetty (a photo we took of this landmark was our second to be featured on the Tourism Australia Instagram account – yay) and two rather lovely lighthouses, one of which looked like it was straight out of a storybook.
From Marion Bay we ventured up the west coast of the Yorke Peninsula. On the suggestion of two Instagram friends we’ve never even met (thank you @dubstamatic and @southaustralianbeaches), we stopped at Corny Point. Despite getting ourselves bogged on the way in, we really loved this place. Uninterrupted by any signs of civilisation and somewhat protected from the strong westerly winds, our isolated camp spot looked out over calm azure waters. To top it off we were treated to daily visits from dolphins and seals.
Then, things got even better. Sydney friends, Connan and Niki, had a few weeks leave and were planning to drive to Fraser Island. However, after a conversation with us the day before their scheduled departure, they got psyched for South Australia instead. We assume there must have been a quick repack during which tropical attire was replaced with warm clothes and then the two of them and their dog, Domino, bee-lined straight to us. Two nights later we watched as their headlights drove slowly towards our campsite, where we had a bonfire roaring. It was a great moment.
We spent another few days at Corny Point, now even better with visitors, before overnighting at the nearby Formby Bay. Connan and Niki took a day trip to Innes before all six of us set out on a 4wding adventure to Cape Elizabeth, leaving Claude on his own at Balgowan Caravan Park. Even after the awesome-ness that was Corny Point, Cape Elizabeth didn’t disappoint. We set up camp right at the water’s edge, looking directly into the beautiful sunsets. Team kayaking and SUP-ing was enjoyed, as well as some spectacularly unsuccessful fishing.
Our time with Connan, Niki and Domino came to an end much too quickly. In an attempt to hide their sadness the boys (that is, the dogs) had a teeth-baring, snarling fight right before Domino jumped into the ute for the return trip. We humans felt pretty deflated about the parting, too. Some of us had to go back to work while others had returned to their caravan to find their mattresses covered in mould, their lights flickering, the water pump malfunctioning (again!) and broken hinges on one of the outside storage compartment doors.
After the high of sharing awesome adventures as a group, we were now back to ‘reality’. In the middle of nowhere with no friends, not much food, malfunctioning electrics and an extremely uncomfortable bed, it was probably the bleakest time we’ve had on the trip. We’ll admit that we spent a couple of days indulgently sulk-marinating before the hangover lifted. Unfortunately marination didn’t help to soften the plywood we were now sleeping on so we determined that we’d head to the Flinders Ranges, making a quick stop in Adelaide beforehand. Mattress-purchasing and caravan repairs were at the top of the to-do list.