From coast to peak: Exploring Eastern Eyre Peninsula, South Australia

Amelia Mansell and Amelia King — 21 September 2023
There’s no need to choose between scenic mountain views and beachside walks when you visit South Australia’s beautiful Eyre Peninsula.

Located a 1.5-hour drive south of the vibrant regional city of Whyalla, the Eyre Peninsula is a must visit for anyone travelling through South Australia and is home to the three charming and diverse towns of Arno Bay, Cleve and Darke Peak. One of the best ways to truly appreciate this beautiful part of Australia is by exploring the many scenic walks and hikes that wind through each of the region’s varied landscapes. There are plenty of caravan-friendly accommodation options to be found throughout Eastern Eyre, ensuring you can set up camp and enjoy a holiday of outdoor experiences. 

So, get your walking shoes ready, hitch up the van and prepare to embark on a trailblazing adventure through the captivating wonders of Eastern Eyre Peninsula.

Arno Bay: Coastal charms

Where to stay

Arno Bay is a tiny coastal town nestled on the serene Spencer Gulf and offers a picturesque escape for nature enthusiasts. If you’re travelling with a self-contained caravan or RV, there is a budget-friendly, off-grid RV site located behind Hotel Arno. This is the perfect place to set up your base camp, with everything you need within walking distance. The nearby Turnbull Park is a great spot for a shady picnic, and if you’ve got kids with you, they can run wild and play on the bouncy pillow and playground. 

If you’re after a location with power, then head over to the Arno Bay Caravan Park on the foreshore. From here, you can start your day with a breathtaking sunrise over the ocean at Arno Bay Jetty before heading to the award-winning Mangrove Boardwalk — a true marvel of this coastal paradise. 

Walks and hikes

Mangrove Boardwalk

The Mangrove Boardwalk has won a number of awards for its outstanding design, which offers an immersive experience into the diverse and pristine beauty of the Arno Bay estuary. The boardwalk winds through the dense mangroves, mudflats and samphire, allowing visitors to witness the delicate ecosystems that thrive in these coastal habitats. As you stroll along the elevated walkway, you’ll be captivated by the chorus of birdlife and the tranquil ambiance that surrounds you. During the summer months, the Arno Bay estuary becomes a hotspot for outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking and swimming, so be sure to bring your gear along.

The Mangrove Boardwalk is fully accessible and wheelchair-friendly and offers a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle, allowing you to connect with nature and unwind in the peaceful surroundings. The boardwalk is a 2.9km return trip — allow 20–60 minutes. 

Coastal Boardwalk

For breathtaking views of the coastline surrounding Arno Bay, take a walk, run or bike ride on the newly constructed Coastal Boardwalk. The boardwalk is wheelchair accessible, and dogs are allowed. This 1.2km track starts at the boat ramp and ends at Turnbulls Beach, rewarding you with sweeping vistas of the ocean as you stroll along. Birdwatching enthusiasts will be particularly thrilled to spot a variety of migratory birds, including the endangered eastern osprey, which nests nearby. Visitors should abide by all rules and not approach the birds or nests. 

Beach Walking: Turnbulls Beach to Red Banks Beach

After a peaceful walk along the coastal boardwalk, why not get your feet on the sand and enjoy the beautiful beach stroll that connects Turnbulls Beach to Red Banks beach. This coastal walk stretches along the stunning shoreline, offering walkers a chance to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and turquoise waters of the Spencer Gulf. One of the highlights of this beach walk is reaching Red Banks Beach, known for its stunning red and orange cliffs that create a truly unique and awe-inspiring sight. Enjoy the stunning views or go for a swim in the pristine water. You can also park at the Red Banks Beach car park should you choose to start your beach stroll from there. 

Local cuisine and dining

Don’t leave Arno Bay without indulging in its fresh seafood offerings and delightful dining options. Head over to Arno Bay Jetty Cafe, a charming waterfront eatery. The cafe’s ‘Arnormous Burger’ is a local favourite and a must-try for burger enthusiasts. Packed with flavour and generously sized, this mouthwatering creation will satisfy even the heartiest of appetites. The cafe has plenty of takeaway options (perfect for a beachside picnic), or simply sit back and enjoy a lovely coffee and one of the cafe’s delightful homemade sweets. 

For a taste of local hospitality, visit Hotel Arno, where you can enjoy delicious dishes and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. While exploring the menu, make sure to try the signature Squid Schnitzel. This delightful twist on the classic schnitzel features tender calamari, lightly breaded and fried to perfection, leaving your taste buds delighted and creating a lasting memory of Arno Bay’s unique coastal flavours. 

Cleve: The heart of the Eyre Peninsula

Where to stay 

Cleve is the largest and most centrally located of the three towns, and it has plenty to keep travellers of all ages and interests busy. For somewhere to set up camp, head over to the Cleve Showgrounds RV Park, which is conveniently located within walking distance to town amenities and facilities. The park boasts 30 powered sites, which are paid for via an honesty box system. A powered site costs $15 per night, or if you’re off-grid ready you can choose an unpowered site for $10 per night. All the essential facilities are provided, including toilets, coin-operated showers and a camp kitchen, allowing you to rest and relax before heading out to explore the town and surrounding area.

Across the road you’ll find the Cleve Centenary Park, complete with a playground for the little ones. Or if you’re a golfing enthusiast, the neighbouring golf course offers an opportunity to tee off amid the stunning natural surroundings. 

If you’re looking for a campsite where you can immerse yourself in the scenery of central Eyre Peninsula, head over to the campsite at Yeldulknie Weir, just outside of Cleve. From here you can explore the bush track around the weir or the 5km trail leading back to Cleve. The campsite is van-friendly and has barbecue and picnic facilities, and public toilets. A $10 per night donation is appreciated for the upkeep of the site. 

Walks and hikes

Cleve to Yeldulknie Weir Walk

Embark on a 5km trail from Cleve to the Yeldulknie Weir, perfect for walking, running or bike riding. Winding alongside fields of colourful crops, this trail allows you to enjoy the picturesque scenery and take in the natural beauty of the region. For a fun local community experience, join the park run held every Saturday morning at 8am.

Yeldulknie Weir Walk around the weir

For a relaxing bush walk, take the 3.1km trail around the Yeldulknie Weir and along the riverbed. Graded as easy, this peaceful walk is ideal for birdwatching enthusiasts and photographers, and there’s even a dedicated birdwatching shelter to observe the diverse birdlife. And if you want to extend the experience even longer, enjoy a barbecue at the picnic site, or even set up camp for a night or more. 

Yeldulknie Conservation Park and Hiking Trail

Known locally as the ‘Waterfall Walk,’ the Yeldulknie Conservation Park Hiking Trail is an approximately 4km return trip, departing from the car park on Mangalo Road. There are various trails available for different fitness levels, with a handy sign to help you choose which one to explore first. Experience encounters with the native flora and fauna, while relishing the natural beauty of the creek bed and waterfall — especially after good rain.

Cleve Heritage Walk

History enthusiasts can delve into Cleve’s past with the self-guided Heritage Walk. Learn about the town’s founding and historical significance as you stroll through the charming township, visiting local attractions such as the National Trust Building. The trail is wheelchair accessible and runs for approximately 3km. Allow an hour or two to complete the loop so that you have time to stop and appreciate the sites along the way. The Council office on 10 Main Street provides printed copies of the tour, or you can access the digital self-guided tour on the official website

Local cuisine and dining

Cleve offers a range of dining options to satisfy your taste buds. From the delicious dishes at Cleve Hotel Motel to the freshly baked goods at the Cleve Bakery, you’re sure to find delightful treats during your stay. For a unique experience, visit MAEVE, Cleve’s resident newsagent and cafe, where you can enjoy a coffee while browsing gifts and local produce or purchase the local newspaper. If you’re looking for specialty coffee and healthy treats, The Pink Door Co. is only a stone’s throw from the Cleve Showgrounds RV Park. 

Darke Peak: Get a natural high

Where to stay

If you’re looking for somewhere local to set up your base camp, then Darke Peake Hotel is your one-stop shop for food and accommodation. This much-loved, country pub offers a classic Aussie welcome, and has an RV site located just behind it to provide a convenient and comfortable stay for caravanners. During the cooler months, visitors can be found gathered around the firepit for a memorable evening watching the sun fall behind Darke Range. 

Walks and hikes

Carappee Hill Hiking Trail

It may be labelled as a hill, but climbing this ancient monolith will take you to the highest point on the Eyre Peninsula, at 495m above sea level. Some parts of the track take you over the unique granite outcrop making you feel like you’re in a whole other world. Allow roughly 2.5 hours for this return hike; while it is only 4.6km, the trail is graded as difficult so it’s best to have some hiking experience and make sure you bring the necessary gear, especially in the warmer months. Although the going may get tough, the rewards are certainly worth it. Don’t forget to sign the book when you reach the top to record your success. Then step back and soak in the stunning panoramas of farmland, sea and broad blue skies proving once and for all how diverse this region is. 

Darke Range Hike

Darke Range is one of the must-see gems in this part of the Eyre Peninsula and provides a beautiful backdrop for the township of Darke Peak. For experienced and prepared hikers, there is a trail along the top of the 10km range to explore either on foot or bike. Enjoy the picturesque landscapes and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region. If you’re after a shorter walk with equally impressive views of the area, then head over to the Federation Hill Lookout, an easy 260m walk from the Darke Range car park. 

Where to eat 

While staying at the Darke Peak Hotel, you can indulge in delicious meals and drinks, and don’t forget to try the pub’s house specialty ‘The Chicken Darke Peak’. The country pub’s warm hospitality ensures a pleasant dining experience during your exploration of the region’s captivating hiking trails and landscapes. 

A walker’s paradise awaits

Eastern Eyre Peninsula, with its charming towns of Arno Bay, Cleve and Darke Peak, offers a paradise for walkers, hikers and caravan enthusiasts alike. Whether you’re exploring the pristine coastlines of Arno Bay, following the Heritage Walk in Cleve or conquering the heights of Carappee Hill in Darke Peak, these experiences are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. So, add this region into your next SA road trip and find out just why people keep coming back to explore the various trails and warm hospitality to be found in the Eastern Eyre Peninsula.

For further information about the Cleve District head here


Arno Bay

Arno Bay Jetty Cafe/Visitor Information Centre
Lot 314 Creek Road
Arno Bay SA 5603
P: 08 8628 0003

Hotel Arno
Cnr Tel El Kebir Terrace and Creek Road
Arno Bay SA 5603
P: 08 8628 0001

Arno Bay Caravan Park
Corner of Creek Road and Park Lane
Arno Bay SA 5603
P: 08 8628 0157


Cleve Newsagency/Visitor Information Centre
21 Main Street
Cleve SA 5640
P: 08 8628 2183

Cleve Showgrounds RV Park
2 Rudall Road
Cleve SA 5640
P: 0428 827 749

District Council of Cleve
10 Main Street
Cleve SA 5640
P: 08 8628 2004

Cleve Hotel Motel
32 Fourth Street
Cleve SA 5640
P: 08 8628 2011

Darke Peak

Darke Peak Hotel
17/18 Darke Terrace
Darke Peak SA 5633
P: 08 8620 7009


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Eastern Eyre Peninsula South Australia Arno Bay Cleve Darke Peak Coastal charms Scenic walks Hiking trails Caravan-friendly Natural beauty Spencer Gulf Coastal boardwalk Darke Range Outdoor activities Carappee Hill