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A hot weekend at Gleeson’s Landing in the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia was our first bush camping trip together. We will never forget such an amazing experience – especially the surprise swim with a dolphin in the beautiful protected waters of the sheltered bay.
Gleeson’s Landing is located on the south-west part of Yorke Peninsula. Named after the shipping site for ‘Gleesons’ from 1917 to 1938, it is now a popular spot for fishing, camping and it’s stunning beach. Whilst it’s an unpatrolled beach, it’s perfect for swimming – find out more at the Beachsafe website.
This campground is part of the 19 bush camping locations across the entire Yorke Peninsula coastline. Take a look at this map for locations.
Permits are required and are $10 per night, per vehicle (discount rates for stays 4 weeks and over). They are available online or at the Council offices at Maitland, Minlaton and Yorketown. Permits for these council campgrounds are recorded centrally by vehicle registration details and there are no designated sites, it works on a first in, best dressed.
Gleeson’s Landing is just over 280km from Adelaide CBD, taking around 3.5 hours driving time. As with most of Yorke Peninsula, it is really only accessible by road. It is almost due west of Adelaide CBD, over the waters of the Gulf St. Vincent and to the west of the Yorke Peninsula ‘foot’.
The nearest towns are Warooka (50km – 45 minutes drive), Yorketown (75km – 1 hour drive) and Minlaton (85km – just over an hour drive) which is the major town in the Yorke Peninsula and centrally located to the area.
The Gleeson’s Landing signpost along White Hut Road, the main road running east to east, along the top of the southerly part of the peninsula will take you off along Gleeson’s Road. This is a short cut but involves driving approx. 30km along a corrugated road. This is fine for 2WD and caravans but if you prefer to stay on the bitumen, continue north on the main road, round past Corny Point and back down to Gleeson’s. This will take you onto Marion Bay Road and would take an additional 30 minutes or so.
The road from Marion Bay Road to Gleeson’s Landing campground is corrugated for 12km but is fine if taken slowly.
When you see the Gleeson’s Landing campground sign, you can head into the campground here, or keep going south along the road where you will find a number of different areas.
Gleeson’s Landing campground is ideally situated alongside a picture perfect white sandy beach. And it’s gorgeous. I had no idea that beaches like this existed in South Australia. This was the start of my (Gill’s) adventures outside of Adelaide and I was absolutely loving it.
The sand dunes do prevent much of the view but give shelter against the wind. There are plenty of shady spots – some ideal for smaller tents and trailers whilst others are bigger and more open, ideal for bigger rigs. These are all within minutes walk to the beach.
Yorke Peninsula campgrounds do not have many sheltered and shaded campgrounds so this really is a special treat, and it’s easy to see why it is so popular.
It’s quite a large area to explore to find your ideal spot. The track down to the beach does seem to have some permanent travellers pitched at the bottom which prevents its use, but there is enough space to turn around once you get down there. Although the beach looks ideal to 4WD drive on, it is not recommended without the use of a tractor.
There is a small lay-by on the beach track that we have seen photos of campers in – ideal view, but not a lot of room and it would be pretty windy!
Sara had previously been to this campground many, many (and many!) years ago with sports team out on their social gatherings. She was amazed at how different and overgrown the campground was, but it meant more protection from the elements and better privacy from others.
Further south, there are some larger sites where groups could easily join together. Just note that the beach to the south of the beach track and boat ramp is a lot more rugged than the northern section.
Gleeson’s Landing bush camping has toilet facilities (short drop) and a water pump for the use of bathing and washing. This water is not fit for drinking.
Recycling bins are provided for use and you are permitted to light open campfires with your own wood, providing there is a 4metre clearance around the campfire prior to lighting. Many areas have already been set up by previous campers (the photo below probably isn’t the best example of this!). Check for total fire ban days and firewood collection is prohibited from council reserves.
As our first camping experience together, we couldn’t have picked a better day than a blistering 38 degree day to set up camp in the bush, using all new gear! We even had to borrow a friend’s Holden Commodore because the air con in our Captiva had packed up! And there was no way we were doing this trip without it.
The benefit from borrowing the Commodore is that we can testify that if this car can make it to Gleeson’s Landing and back again to Adelaide without rattling apart over the corrugations, any car can!
We had enough shade to keep us sane which was much needed as it took us nearly 2 hours to set up camp properly! Looking back now, it is crazy to think it took us that long, but I guess that’s what being beginners is all about. It was exciting though, like the start of a new adventure.
The beach was calling once we’d finally closed the car door. But it was still ridiculously hot. We had a walk down, watched some guys pull their boat in from the beach ramp and envied the fish they were having for dinner.
We saw the Ranger came round early evening so it was good to know we had our permit on the dashboard – although I’m pretty sure this check was done through a rego check against our permit registration.
The night cooled down thankfully, and once the wind died down, you could hear the sounds of the waves rolling in – enough to send anyone off into a deep sleep. Being the first night bush camping (well, certainly for Gill and a long time since for Sara), it’s always a lighter sleep than the following nights to come. Getting used to the different noises can take some time if you are not used to them.
The following day, we ventured to nearby Corny Point as we needed more water (first lesson learnt – we needed way more than we thought when it was that hot). Corny Point is about 20kms (25 minute drive) from Gleeson’s Landing. There isn’t a huge amount to do there but there is a small shop, fuel station, holiday park and oval. We took a look at the beach, which is 4WD only but the sweeping views were stunning. The tide stretches out quite far so it would make it difficult to be a swimming beach.
We also took a drive along the west coast and some of the scenery is amazing. I had no idea that Yorke Peninsula was keeping this a secret!
Daly Heads was certainly a prize-winning lookout and can easily see why it is one of the world’s surf reserves. There is also council camping here so we reckon we’ll add this one to the list to do.
Gleeson’s resident dolphin surprise!
After driving around for a lot of the day, it was time to cool off in the inviting turquoise, clear ocean that was just begging us to jump in. We would recommend walking as far north along the beach that you are comfortable with, to get away from some of the seaweed that hangs around the boat ramp area.
We found the perfect spot and headed in. Soooooo refreshing! We weren’t doing much more than lazing around when Sara spotted a few small fish popping their heads up. They were Tommy Ruffs (Australia Herring) or something similar!.
We began to realise they were almost 360 degrees around us, which was kinda cool. But the best and one of the most rememberable experiences was the dolphin who was rounding these fish up was swimming no less than 2 metres from us. It was a definite goosebump moment!
To be in the water at the same time as one of these magical mammals, in their own environment, doing their own thing, but so close, was truly amazing.
It was hard to leave the water once this had happened! There was also a pod of dolphins further out who were slapping their tails – stunning the fish that was surprisingly loud!
The evening followed with some chilled out time. No fire unfortunately as it was a total fire ban day, but the campground was calm and relaxing. The thick shrubs and vegetation give plenty of privacy and although we could hear a family behind us, it was certainly far from annoying! Sometimes it’s good to know that there are some other people around when you are bush camping!
And the colours of the sunset of the campground – amazing! No filter needed on these shots…
Things to do
Gleeson’s Landing is ideal for fishing, swimming, surfing at nearby beaches (check out this post for surfing locations) and boating with a sufficient vehicle to access the beach.
It is also situated on the ‘Walk The Yorke‘ walking and cycling leisure trail – covering over 500 kms of Yorke Peninsula’s stunning coastline. Just look out for the yellow signs.
If you are looking for boat trips and other water adventures, check out our post of the Top 10 things to do in Yorke Peninsula.
Would we recommend?
Absolutely! And especially as a first bush camping experience.
Being so close to the beach is amazing and makes this place hard to leave.
We’ll be back for sure!
Water loving British girl who moved to Australia and seriously caught the travel bug! Loves to explore and share destinations that inspire others to spend more time on the water and in the great outdoors. Typically, you’ll find her on a boat or next to the ocean, often in a daydream!