My research tells me that the original inhabitants of the Yankalilla area were the Ramindjeri people who occasionally met here with Kaurna people for trade and exchange. A traditional myth credits the formation of the gorge, and other Fleurieu Peninsula landforms, to the travels of Tjilbruke as he grieved, carrying the body of his nephew, from the Sturt River to Cape Jervis.
I also read the account of the remains of Diprotodon, Maesopus (a giant kangaroo) and Thylacoleo (a marsupial lion) being discovered in the 1890s, in a swamp near Yankalilla, suggesting the possibility that these animals were hunted by the Ramindjerl people.
Entrance to the Great (Big) Gorge Walk, Yankalilla
In more recent times, Colonel William Light made his first landing on South Australian mainland soil in 1836, at nearby Rapid Bay. He declared the area "rich beyond expectation" which prompted small communities and farms to spring up in the area. Information boards along the walking trail share some of the Colonel's exploration stories.
The surrounding cliffs are majestic and the gorge is home to the Yankalilla river. It is a modest water system, but apparently permanent, so it's easy to understand why the Ramindjeri, and later settlers, stayed nearby.
Parts of the trail pass across farmland. Although we didn't spot any sheep during our walk, apparently they are there and some of them are in the family way. As a consequence visiting dogs must be kept on a leash.
There are ruins at around two-thirds along the path. The information board explains that they are popularly known as 'The Two-storey Inn' or 'The Gorge Hotel' although there are no formal records of a hotel ever being built or licensed here. One of many local mysteries, I'm sure.