While the location suggests a bay full of deadly animals and the name suggests you may leave in a casket, don’t let it deter you from this incredible national park on the tip of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.
A Bit of History
I was actually really interested in finding out how Coffin Bay got its name (I was picturing a shipwreck leading to a need for lots of coffins!), but after asking at the friendly visitor centre staff in the nearby town of Port Lincoln, it turns out it was named by the explorer Matthew Flinders after a friend ‘Sir Isaac Coffin’… I know, boring compared to my imagination of its namesake.
But boring is definitely not a word used to describe this place. Pristine aqua coastline, colossal sand dunes, windswept cliffs and a vast diversity of wildlife are more along the lines of what you will find as you enter Coffin Bay National Park.
A Bit of Info
The national park is situated in the Coffin Bay Peninsula, and is accessible from the town Coffin Bay (make sure you try their oysters!) You will need a permit to enter the park, which you can get from the information centre in Port Lincoln, or online if you have access.
If you are going to be spending some time in South Australia and want to visit other national parks, then I recommend getting the two month Parks Pass for $40 as opposed to the $12 per day entry fee.
South Australia, and increasingly other states, have now set up an online site for camping, and this is separate to the Parks Pass. As we hadn’t been here before, we decided to enter with our pass, and book the camping later on once we had found a spot we liked.
The Southern End: surf, fishing and beautiful bays
The park starts off accessible for all vehicles along a sealed road that takes you to the south of the peninsula. Here you can access Yangie Bay, an ideal place for a day trip and overnighter if you’re in a two-wheel drive looking to camp. Bring your canoe, fishing rod and drink of choice to admire the surroundings.
Point Avoid is actually a spot you shouldn’t avoid, Anxious Bay (I think someone is having a laugh) is like a place out of a magazine for perfect beaches, and Golden Island lookout (finally a fitting name!) should also be added to this list of gorgeous spots – I hope you have a pen and paper and are writing these down for your next adventure!
If you brought a 4WD then you can access Gunyah Beach and Almonta Beach, both known for their fishing hot spots and surf breaks. For us girls who don’t enjoy either sport, you can bring your book and relax on the sand – everyone’s a winner here.
The Middle Section: hikes, birds and tracks
The remainder of the park is only accessible by high-clearance 4WDs. Lucky we gave our Troopcarrier Tracy a “facelift” before we left on our trip around Australia.
While we don’t have a convoy, it is recommended that you invite some friends (preferably ones that have a winch), and definitely your own recovery gear – travelling across Australia, compared to a short camping expedition, means a lot of extra weight.
Make sure to lower your tyre pressure on any sand as it does get soft, and the lower tyre pressure means you won’t ‘cut up’ the tracks for others. Don’t forget to check tide times when traversing beaches.
As you leave Yangie Bay, and the majority of other people behind you, you will come across some amazing hikes, including the Black Rocks Hike and the Black Springs Hike. There are amazing wildlife photography chances to be had along these walks. Keep an eye out for seabirds, bush birds, kangaroos, goannas and snakes. Make sure to register your sighting of a goanna on the National Parks website if you see one!
We were really impressed with the abundance of native flora and fauna within the park, and often had to stop the car to let emus and their chicks go past.
The North Section: bush camping, wildlife, and more wildlife
A favourite destination for anglers, surfers and bush campers, this remote area offers a glimpse at unspoiled coastline and allows visitors to experience the Australian bush in full force. Within one day in the park, we had taken a thousand photos, had made use of the recovery tracks after getting bogged, and had seen some amazing wildlife and scenery.
For the adventurous folks, we highly recommend driving to Point Sir Isaacs at the tip of the peninsula. From the park entrance, this is a six-hour return journey, and has been a highlight of our Australian trip so far. Now that’s saying something!
Along the way there are five different campsites, all with plenty of room, beach access, and varying facilities. Remember to book your site when in phone reception as there isn’t much around. There is no water or rubbish bins in the park, so make sure to bring your own and keep your campsite clean.
We stayed at the Black Springs Campground (avoid here if allergic to bees). I thought we must have accidently set up camp in a nature enclosure, with David Attenborough secretly filming from behind a bush, because we had the craziest wildlife show.
A group of kangaroos joined us for lunch, we watched seals playing in the shallows, and had a swarm of bees take over our water tap. There was no-one else around to witness these events, so you will have to take our word for it. We were definitely ready to unwind by our campsite, and watch the sunset from the beach (with a wine, after dealing with the bees). The kangaroos decided to join us for that, too.
Get out there
The Coffin Bay National Park is one to add to your adventure list. While the northern end is only accessible to 4WD, don’t let that stop you from bringing your Mercedes convertible to the southern end. It is a truly unique national park, with a rich diversity of attractions and activities. From taking the kids for a ride down the sand dunes, taking the wife to see emus cooling down in the ocean, or taking your best friend for a surf/fishing trip, you will be constantly spoilt with native wildlife and perfect beaches.
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