Adelaide is clean, accessible, and interesting enough, but I have always maintained that the best parts of the state are on day trips away from the city. My boyfriend and I usually both work five days a week, and so we try to take day trips along the coast when we can. Last weekend, I was lucky enough to have a few days off work and so we arranged a short camping trip to Deep Creek Conservation Park. The most popular campsite is Stringybark, but I baulked at the $26 a night price for bush camping. Instead I chose Tapanappa campground, which is more isolated and half the price.
Deep Creek Conservation Park
Situated only 90 minutes from Adelaide, Deep Creek is highly accessible and a completely gorgeous part of the Fleurieu peninsula. The entrance to the park leads you on a gravel road through rolling pastures and herds of cows that stare at you as you drive past. As you hit the dirt roads that make up the main thoroughfare of the national park, you can spy the startlingly blue ocean peeking up at you from over the horizon.
Within Deep Creek Conservation Park, you can explore a variety of landscapes. Dirt tracks cut into the interior, where you can hike between eucalyptus and other native fauna in the company of stray kangaroos and a huge variety of birds. Along the coast, cliffs plunge dramatically into the ocean, and you can marvel at the way that the clear blue skies melt seamlessly into the sea.
I chose Tapanappa campground because it was one of the cheapest in the park and because it sounded like an ideal location. I’m really glad that I made this decision because the campground was beautiful and secluded.
The entire campground has eighteen campsites which stretch around a strip of trees in a horseshoe shape. We only had three other people in the campground at any given time, and because our site was surrounded by trees, it felt like we were completely alone. The surrounding trees cast constant shade across the campsite, which was essential for the hot weather. These trees were often filled with tiny finches that hopped from branch to branch, and occasionally a giant crow who took it upon himself to steal our bread! It definitely feels like you are alone among nature when you stay at the Tapanappa campground.
The campground has a couple of drop toilets, which are pretty stinky but very preferable to building a trench. There are also a couple of rainwater tanks, but they were running very low on water so I would highly recommend bringing all the water that you need.
Hiking near Tapanappa campground
The campground is ideally located because you can access two lookout points over the coast, as well as a few different hikes within Deep Creek Conservation Park.
Turning left out of the campground, if you walk for around ten minutes you will come upon a lookout point over the coast. It’s also the starting point for a very strenuous four to five hour hike around the coast, which we didn’t even kid ourselves into thinking we could attempt.
If you turn right from the campground, it’s a 1.5km hike to the next lookout, which is also the starting point for hiking trails down to the bay and to the Deep Creek waterfall. We chose the 4km bay hike, which is completely downhill at the beginning. I immediately dreaded our return journey once I realised how steep the descent was. We had to climb down cliffs to make it to the rocky beach, which was beautiful but not very accessible unless you have a medium level of fitness.
The return hike was extremely strenuous, particularly in 33 degree weather, and I had to internally motivate myself a lot to keep going. I would recommend taking at least 2L of water with you and coating your entire body in sunscreen. The hike is beautiful but definitely not a walk in the park.
Logistics of Tapanappa campground
How to get there: 90 minutes from Adelaide, it’s easiest to take the Southern Expressway out of the city and then follow country roads to the campground.
Price: $15 per night, you need to pre-book your campsite here.
Facilities: drop toilets and rainwater tanks. Basic campsites with fire pits. The closest town for supplies is half an hour away in Yankalilla. There is no phone reception or internet coverage in Tapanappa campground.