If you've been following me on the gram for a little while, you would know that Deep Creek Conservation Park is an absolute favourite of mine and Aythan's for camping, hiking, beach hangs, and those amazing panoramic views.
The first time we went to Deep Creek was our first camping trip together. We both love to get away from the big smoke, so we decided camping for a couple of nights in the conservation park would be a pretty nice way to kick off our camping adventures together.
While our days were filled with sunshine, hiking and seeking out hidden coves, our nights were spent staring at the millions of stars you can't see from the city, sitting around the campfire with a glass of local wine, a couple of beers and some home-made pasta. We fell in love with the incredible views, diverse hikes and beaches that seem to go on forever... so we've been back twice since.
If you have a few days off, or are travelling through South Australia, a trip to Deep Creek Conservation Park is an absolute must. Plus, it's only 1.5 hours out of the city, which means you can even make the trip down on a Friday after work, something we've done a couple of times for a cheeky weekend away. Days seem to slow right down when you're unplugged from technology and the city lifestyle. The landscape is so untouched and apart from your camping neighbours, there's really no-one around, which makes escaping that city life even sweeter! The kangaroos seem to love it as much as we do too, 'cos there's always so many of them hopping around nearby.
There are a few campsites throughout Deep Creek, but the two we have camped at are Stringybark and Tapanappa. Both are pretty beautiful, but so different from one another.
If you're looking for beautiful big trees surrounding your camp, a hot shower of a morning and a toilet that flushes, Stringybark is where you wanna be. It's surrounded by Australian wildlife, with plenty of kangaroos hopping around the campsite. Last time we were there, we even had some snags stolen by a couple of cheeky kookaburras. He had a good laugh to himself after he ate them whole.
On the contrary, Tapanappa is a little more desolate, but if you pick the right campsite, it can also be a little more private. Last time we were there we felt like we had our own shaded sanctuary, it was bliss! You feel like you're really in nature with this one, because there are no showers and the toilet is a long drop... not the most glamorous, but the closeness to the coast is definitely a plus. The campsites at Tapanappa are surrounded by native wildflowers, which is one of my favourite parts.
1. Take in the view with a hilltop picnic
The view from the Tapanappa lookout seems to take my breath away every time we perch ourselves down to admire it. In the distance the rolling hills meet the ocean, there's kangaroos hopping around you everywhere, and the landscape is scattered with wild flora and fauna. It's a place where sitting back with a glass of wine, some cheese and your loved one can be pretty special. The photos never do it justice, it's that damn good.
2. Go on a hike
There are some amazing hikes at Deep Creek, with incredible views all round, there's just so many to choose from. Two of our favourites are the Deep Creek Waterfall and Deep Creek Cove hikes.
Deep Creek Waterfall
We usually drive up to Tapanappa lookout, although you can walk up pretty easily from Tapanappa campground. From there, you can take the waterfall hike through the wilderness and end at a massive waterfall. The first time we did this was in summer, and there was some not so lovely stagnant water sitting at the bottom of the waterfall, but when we went in winter it was bloody amazing.
On our most recent trip, we knew the waterfall would be gushing, so we packed a backpack full of picnic goodies, to treat ourselves with once we arrived. We sat back among the rocks, took in the peaceful sounds of the water, ate our cheese, dip and just blissed right out. Aythan climbed the waterfall, which was apparently the best view. If only I wasn't so clumsy I would have joined him! (I would have ended in the waterfall, not on it.)
Distance: 4km return
Difficulty: easy - moderate
Leave from: Tapanappa lookout
Time: 3 hrs return
Deep Creek Cove
Where you begin the waterfall hike, you can also take the Deep Creek Cove hike, which is definitely worth it for the views alone. On the way down it's a breeze, not only cos it's all downhill - I kept reminding myself, whatever we climb down, I'm going to have to drag my butt back up. Once we got to the cove, we climbed the rocks, and kicked back for a little bit to take in the view. You're right at the tip of the coastline, so when you look out to the ocean with no-one around it feels like you're the only people on the planet. The way back up is very steep, a lot steeper than I imagined it would be when coming down, so keep that in mind!
Distance: 3.5 km return
Difficulty: moderate - hard
Leave from: Tapanappa lookout
Time: 2 hrs return
3. Go for a drive
Just because you're in Deep Creek, that doesn't mean you can't check out the surrounding towns and beaches! We often head down to Second Valley for a walk, Normanville for a coffee, or to Yankalilla for a pub meal. All along the coast there are some cute towns you can go and see while you're camping at Deep Creek, plus the beaches are just as beautiful.
4. Take a four-wheel drive for a spin
If you have a four-wheel drive, there are some amazing coves and beaches to be found down the dusty dirt roads. Blowhole beach is an absolute pearler - the views are next level, there are rock-pools to swim in and you can walk around the whole cove, where there's a different view from every angle. If you don't have a four-wheel drive, you can walk to Blowhole Beach from Tapanappa look out, it's actually just over the hill from Deep Creek Cove. (When I say just over, it's quite a long walk, but not too far!)
We also decided to drive down a random track we came across on our adventures, where we ended up finding another hidden beach we would never have found otherwise. Hot tip: if you have a four-wheel drive, don't go past the dirt tracks made for you.
5. Take in the sunset from Lady Bay or Normanville.
To unwind with a perfect end to the day, take a short drive down to Lady Bay or Normanville and soak in that sunset. The sky from these beaches lights up in all shades of pink and orange - a sight we wish we could sit back and admire much more often.
There's so many other things to do at Deep Creek, it's just hard to choose what. All I can say is the days feel longer when you're camping down there. One of my favourite things to do is take time to live a little slower, and take in as much nature as possible - Deep Creek is the perf place to do just that.
Keep an eye on the blogosphere for the next South Australian Travel Diary: Barossa Valley.