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A hot weekend at Gleesons Landing campground 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.
Gleesons Landing campground 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 about beach safety with our BeachSafe post.
This campground is part of the 19 Yorke Peninsula bush camping locations around the coastline. Take a look at this map for locations.
Gleeson Landings camping permits are required and are $20 per night, per vehicle (discount rates for stays 6 nights 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.
Gleesons Landing, SA 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’.
Here is a map of where to find Gleesons Landing:
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 Gleesons 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 Gleesons Road. This is a shortcut 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 Gleesons. This will take you onto Marion Bay Road and would take an additional 30 minutes or so.
The road from Marion Bay Road to Gleesons Landing campground is corrugated for 12km but is fine if taken slowly.
Gleesons Landing Campground
When you see the Gleesons Landing campground sign, you can head into the campground here, or keep going south along the road where you will find several different areas.
Gleesons Landing camping 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 adventure 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 minute’s 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!
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.
Gleesons Landing Amenities
Gleesons Landing bush camping has toilet facilities (short drop) and a water pump for 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 4 metre clearance around the campfire before lighting. 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 of borrowing the Commodore is that we can testify that if this car can make it to Gleesons 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 scorching. 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 Yorke Peninsula bush camping Ranger come 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 waves rolling in – enough to send anyone into a deep sleep. Being the first night bush camping, it’s always a lighter sleep than the following nights to come. Getting familiar with 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 Gleesons 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 but is worth the walk for a swim!
From there, we drove along the west coast; some of the scenery is amazing. I had no idea that the Yorke Peninsula was keeping this a secret! Well… to me anyway!
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 to the list.
Gleesons 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 as 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 we 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 quite cool. But the best and one of the most memorable experiences was the dolphin rounding these fish up swimming no less than 2 metres from us. It was a definite goosebump moment that took us completely by surprise. Thankfully we worked out the fin was a dolphin fin quickly, instead of getting freaked out by the more dangerous type of fin!
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 unique.
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 undoubtedly far from annoying! Sometimes it’s good to know that some other people are around when you are bush camping!
And the colours of the sunset of the campground – simply incredible! No filter needed on these shots…
Things to do near Gleesons Landing
Gleesons 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 on the Top 10 things to do in Yorke Peninsula.
Would we recommend it?
Absolutely! And especially as a first bush camping experience.
Being so close to the beach is fantastic. It makes it place hard to leave! Gleesons Landing SA is one of the best bush campgrounds in the State! And some of the best camping in the Yorke Peninsula.
We’ll be back for sure!
Just don’t forget your Yorke Peninsula bush camping permit!
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