Top Spots to Camp in South Australia

We have completed our time in South Australia for now, and we know we have probably missed so much, and for that reason we will definitely be back in the near future.

But for this trip, however, we would love to share a few places that we loved visiting and camping at.

Mt Gambier

Wow!!! What a town with so much to see and do. Our photos we have from this magical place have been shared by a few people now. I wish we could go back and take more, actually I think it is one town that we all said we could live in. The town just had a really good vibe to us.

We camped at the showgrounds, as this was a great open space for us. There are powered and unpowered sites, a herb/veggie garden attended to by the caretakers and a huge area for the kids to run around and play in.

What is there to see and experience:

1. The Blue Lake – all I can say is that I felt at peace when visiting this huge expanse of water. Knowing it is the town drinking water, and very precious, makes it seem even more awe-inspiring.

2. Umpherston Sink Hole - What a magical garden inside a sink hole, with so much history surrounding the sink hole and its magical gardens. To think that only a few short years ago this garden was in ruin and was seen as a rubbish tip by the locals. Sitting within the gardens lead one to believe that anything in life is possible. It is a peaceful and tranquil place and gives you a sense of magic. I was expecting to find a little fairy garden amongst all the plants. We did find a very busy bee hive, which means that the gardens are doing their job in helping the local fauna and flora to thrive.

3. The Cave Garden in the centre of the city of Mount Gambier is wonderfull, and the light show at night helps to bring the gardens alive. It is amazing to think that there are tunnels, all filled with water, running under the city.

4. The Art Gallery – situated at the Cave Garden – has an interesting movie about the history of the sink holes and volcanic acitivty that helped to form the sink holes and the mountains around Mount Gambier and other areas with South Australia and Victoria. A great learning experience for the kids and us adults. They also tie in the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories about the volcanos. A very well presented, and educational tool, and worth the time to stop and check out.

5. Lady Nelson Visitor’s Centre has an impressive fossil display, as well as being a tribute to the Lady Nelson, the first ship to sail the coast of South Australia. The sailing ship was restored as a local initiative and is now used to help explain the history of South Australia shipping routes and its ship wrecks.

6. Little Blue Lake - is a bit out of town, and while not blue while we were there, it makes a great swimming hole for the locals and visitors alike. Take your swimmers, jump off the little jetty and have a paddle. We did see a few of the local teens jumping in from greater heights, but we were not that brave.

7. Valley Lake is next door to Blue Lake and is well worth the drive in to visit. We took lunch and had that by the lake in the picnic area, and the kids could let off some steam in the playground. It is very popular boating and water skiing area as well, so if you have a boat, it is worth taking it down there.

The best thing about the above activities is that they are all free. It is not often that you can fill in a week with free activities and experiences for the kids.

Lipson Cove – Eyre Peninsula

If you have not heard of Lipson cove, and you have the ability to camp without the need to hook up to power and water, then you have to visit this awesome beach location.

You camp just beside the beach, you can drive on the beach, have a swim and a picnic. Walks along the beach at low tide means walking around a head land into an excluded beach, and if you are lucky, you may even see the odd dolphin pod swimming by. We did a bit of fishing and caught some King George Whiting off the beach, which made for a delicious dinner.

Now, when camping here the less wind the better as you are right on the beach, however, for Lipson Cove there is a wonderful natural nature phenomenon that occurred on dusk and we found that the more wind,at dusk, the better. You see, the Starlings come in to roost at night, on a rocky island just off shore. The more wind, the better the bird show. They fly in patterns and swoop the island in the thousands and it is a sight to see and experience. Nature’s free exhibition.

Rapid Bay – Fleurieu Peninsula

Who doesn’t like a beach camp, and while the fishing was a non-event, you can be rest assured that the swimming, beach and mountain walks and the odd cave kept us all well amused for the week. We all walked away nicely tanned and refreshed from our time here, and we had the good fortune of being able to celebrate Australia Day there with a whole lot of others from South Australia.

Now, again, this camp spot requires you to have your own water and power, but when you can camp right next to the beach, swim in the clearest of water and just chill out, why wouldn’t you make the effort.

Moonta Bay

We stayed at the Moonta Bay Tourist Park. It is Top Parks affiliated, so if you have membership you get your little discount.

The park has a couple of levels, and we were lucky enough to score what we thought was the best spot in the park – last spot along the waterfront (opposite end to the water park), but don’t tell anyone.

There is a water park that council own and run, but it is right beside the caravan park, and of course free entry. The park operates from about 7 am in the mornings, and the water crashing to the ground can be noisy, add in kids squealing and there is no such thing as a sleep in if camped near by.

The tide goes a fair way out, and you can go raking for the yummy blue swimmer crabs, or wait for the tide to come in and go crabbing with nets off the jetty. Squidding was also popular while we were there, and this was an eye opener for someone who had never caught a squid before. Watch their ink, it will go everywhere.

The town has an old railway line that runs a couple of days a week, and was mainly used for transport to and from the mining fields back in the day. There is also the largest church outside of the Adelaide area, and has big ties to the history of the Danish people who mined the area. A lot of ruins to explore and imagine the times gone by. If only they old buildings could talk, a tale they would tell.

Phildappa Rock

South Australia’s answer to Wave Rock!!

Did you know you had a big rock, in middle of nowhere, that is similar in formation to wave rock. It is situated near the township of Minnipa, with easy access to the Gawler Ranges.

The rock is another place that required self-sufficiency to camp there – however there are BBQ’s and a toilet. While there is not a lot out there, but flies and a bloody big rock, you can easily entertain yourself with climbing the rock and walking around it.

The rock has an eco-system all of its own, with when looked at closely, you can see the plumping that nature installed to ensure that water is collected, pooled and the rest runs off in naturally formed run offs from the top to the base. You get a magical view from the top too, with views as far as the eye can see over the surrounding farming landscape.

We met a local while there, and he informed us that it is believed that the Aboriginals of the area used the rock to collect their water, as well as for shelter. Once exploring it, I can understand how this rock acted like a magnet to the surrounding tribes in the area.

It’s a place worth a look that’s off the track and not the usual traveller destination.

There are many, many more places, so don't be surprised is there is another top camps spots in South Australia article soon!!

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