South Australia is often overlooked as a travel destination. However, this stunning state has some of the best beach adventures out there, across its three peninsulas: the Yorke, the Fleurieu, and the largest of the lot, the Eyre.
While the Fleurieu and Yorke are only a hop, skip and a jump from Adelaide, the Eyre is by far the most untouched and wild. Which is why our family adventure starts right here, where Aussie bush meets the pristine white sands of the coast before venturing upwards into the deeper red sands of the Googs Track.
EAST EYRE PENINSULA
Our family took the big leap, selling our house in the sleepy town of Balaklava, packing the troopy and camper trailer full to the brim, and leaving a trail of dust behind us.
An epic adventure was sure to follow. We knew that travelling as a family was going to bring some challenges, but it was also bound to bring us closer and make the trip much more special, because we’d be able to experience it together. And while it was going to be hard for the whole lot of us to sleep in a 12 foot tent, we could cope with it so long as Australia was our backyard.
Our trip started in the Munyaroo Conservation Park. This beautiful spot, 50km south of Whyalla, is perfect for 4WDers, with both beach and bush campsites to choose from. Some parts of the park make for challenging driving, which may test your recovery skills, especially if it’s been raining over the last few days – as we found out the hard way, getting bogged on the second day of our big lap. On top of the 4WDing, Munyaroo is full of native wildlife; my little sister and I loved getting up close with the kangaroos and leaning out the side of the troopy to take pictures of brown snakes.
Further south along the coast is the well-known Lincoln National Park, only 30km from the Port Lincoln township. With shaded campsites just metres from the water, this place was perfect and had heaps of space for setting up the camper trailer, awning and all, allowing us to spend a few nights relaxing and enjoying some quality family time. One of these sites is the Spalding Cove campground, a quiet spot away from the crowds. As with any national park in South Australia, you have to pay camping fees and have a pass, but it’s all worth it.
A short drive to some of the absolutely stunning sand dunes at the other side of the park puts these small expenditures into perspective. These dunes are the perfect place to test out your 4WD skills, so long as you lower your tyre pressures. Inevitably some of them can’t be conquered by vehicle, in which case it’s time to crack out the old skateboards with no wheels and a bit of candle wax on the bottom. I’m talking about sandboarding, of course – a great way to get the whole family involved in some fun. Make sure you’ve got the camera ready to capture those epic stacks!
On top of this, there are plenty of other things to do here as a family, including bush walking, mountain bike riding, fishing, and whale watching (between May and October). The good news is, should you happen to break or forget something, it’s just a quick drive into the township to pick up parts or more fishing lures.
WEST EYRE PENINSULA
If you manage to drag yourself away from Port Lincoln National Park and into Coffin Bay National Park, which we found rather difficult, you won’t believe your eyes. There are so many sensational camp spots here that we struggled to pick one, before eventually settling for one of the best.
Black Springs Campground has campsites just metres away from the dolphins that swim in the calm bay; it’s a safe place for young kids to play and you can easily lose time relaxing with a cold drink. Our family loved swimming in the cool water and meeting new friends in this peaceful spot.
Coffin Bay National Park has some incredible beaches, including Sensation Beach, which you’ll breeze through if you have sand driving experience; just make sure that you drop your tyre pressures to a suitable level so you don’t destroy the tracks. The park is a bit more secluded than Port Lincoln National Park, which was just what we loved about it, along with the peaceful bush walks, beach fishing and incredible lookouts.
Once you find the courage to leave, there are still some awesome things to see along the peninsula’s west coast. Sheringa Beach is a nice place to spend the night and try your luck at some beach fishing. Just below Streaky Bay is a little spot on the map called Murphy’s Haystacks, a group of natural rock formations in the middle of a paddock. My little sister Emily and I had a ball exploring these haystack look-alikes and spotting all the wildlife in nearby areas.
Head west all the way to the coast from Murphy’s Haystacks, and you’ll come across Point Labatt, which is home to a sea lion colony down on the rocks. You’re allowed to camp here overnight, but it can get super windy up on the cliffs, so we decided to continue on and look for a spot where our camper trailer wouldn’t be blown away during the night. Fortunately there are a lot of places to camp around here, including the free but still somewhat windy campsite at Ruby’s Beach.
The Eyre Peninsula was definitely a huge highlight for us on this trip. It was the first leg of our epic adventure, and there’s no forgetting where it all started. After our experiences, I truly believe that all families need to travel, whether it be for a month, six months, or a year. Our family can’t recommend it highly enough, as it brought us all closer and formed some incredible memories that we’ll have for life.
Our next move was to the seaside town of Ceduna, where we spent the day exploring the sights and sounds. Soon, though, it was right back into adventure, as we made our way north and discovered the Googs Track.
This track starts along the dog fence north of Ceduna, which was designed to keep dingoes out of parts of SA. Many people are unable to travel to the remote Simpson Desert, but why do you need to when you’ve got the red sands of the Googs Track right at your doorstep?
There are over 300 dunes in 200km, which will give both your 4WD and offroad camper trailer a good work out. While there are some easy sections, there are also some soft, oddly shaped dunes that can catch you out, as we discovered. On a few occasions, we had to make multiple attempts at getting the heavy trailer and equally as heavy troopy up.
As a safety measure, it’s highly recommended you travel from south to north, because of the shape of some of the dunes. Also make sure to bring along recovery gear and lower your tyre pressures, to ensure you make it to one of the sensational campsites along the track. We stayed at Googs Lake, which had plenty of areas and level sites to set up the camper. The salt lake is massive and makes for a good walk out to some of the smaller islands on its huge expanse.
There’s history everywhere, including the memorials for Goog and Dinger who blazed the track back in the day, in hopes of it becoming a highway. Our family loves Australian history, so we made sure to head off the beaten path to find some of it that not a lot of people get to see. We were also lucky enough to spot two tiny Thorny Devils on the track. These little Aussie natives may look tough, but are actually harmless, unless you’re an ant, of course.
Another great spot to stop is Mt Finke. This mountain stands at the northern end of the track and is worth the hard slog to the top to capture that perfect view and write a little something about your own journey in the visitor book under the old trig station. With 360 degree views, we sat for hours and looked out over the vast Aussie landscape.
If you’re taking your time on this track, as we did, then it’ll take you about two days to drive. However, you could easily spend a week exploring everything. Regardless of how long you take, the curious wildlife, spectacular scenery, and epic 4WDing will make the Googs Track yet another unforgettable highlight.
TIME TO GATHER THE TROOPS
Whether you love the beach or want to explore where a lot of people don’t go, this is the trip for you.
What are you waiting for? Pack the 4WD, hook up the camper trailer, and go, because it’ll be the best thing you and your family ever do!