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Published November 6th 2015
Is this SA's most scenic tourist drive ?
Only 85kms in length, yet packed full with opportunities to see some of the Fleurieu's natural wonders, and as up close and personal as you would like to be. With lush farming lands, rolling hills, pristine valleys, pine forests, and unforgettable seascapes, this drive is a must for everyone visiting the western Fleurieu Peninsula.
The Hills and Seascape Discovery Drive, or Tourist Drive 52, starts from the Yankalilla Visitor Information Centre on the Normanville Road and heads east past the curio and antique shops in Yankalilla, Mary MacKillop's Cottage and along the sleepy Inman Valley Road.
The Scenic Drive has extensive route 52 signage throughout and the first major turn takes us away from the Bald Hills and along the valley road through the small township of Torrens Vale and in to cattle country. The Torrens Vale lookout is the first of many along the drive with some extensive views across the valley, the lands and plenty of absent minded cattle.
A quick wind up the hill to another small rural town of Parawa before we pass the turnoff to the beautiful Ingalalla Waterfalls, a great picnic spot with the falls flowing most of the year. Back on to the drive, and the route 52 signage directs us on to an unsealed road as we head towards the Deep Creek Conservation Park.
Deep Creek is one of SA's most scenic Conservation Parks with wildlife, birdlife, flora, natural landscapes and views that are second to none. Blowhole Beach is also an attractor, as are the views across to Kangaroo Island from Tapanappa Lookout. Note however that there is a small entrance fee to enter the park. The fee can be paid online, but phone coverage is particularly patchy in this area, so it is best to pay when on the main road or back in one of the towns.
The former Talisker Silver Mine is the next place along the Tourist Drive that demands a visit. A short 3km walk around the former mine gives an insight in to early life in Australia. The Drive then heads down the hill to the 'town at the bottom' known as Cape Jervis. Cape Jervis is famous for being the departure point of the Kangaroo Island Ferry, and also the commencement point of SA's own long distance Heysen Trail.
Departing Cape Jervis, and the allure of the leisurely Fishery Beach and Morgan's Beach, the massive Starfish Hill Wind Farm looms large on the horizon, and is only a short detour from the main drive back towards Normanville. Returning to the Main Road, the tourist drive passes the beautiful seaside villages and resorts of Rapid Bay, Second Valley and Wirrina Cove. Each of these villages are a few kilometres detour from the main road, but all are worth a visit in their own right.
Rounding the hills and back along the coast at sea level, the Drive passes the popular diving spot where the HMAS Hobart was scuttled many years back with a memorial plaque to remind us of the history of this ship. Before long the tall pine trees that are known locally as the 'Lady Bay Road' take us past Lady Bay and in to Normanville, and it is not long before we are back at our starting point in Yankalilla.
Brochures for the Hills and Seascape Discovery Drive, or Tourist Drive 52, are available from the Information Centre, albeit brochures are not a necessity as the route is extremely well sign posted throughout. Total distance is 85km which includes 22km on good solid unsealed roads around Deep Creek. The distance may be shortish, but after allowing for photo time, coffee, exploring, lunch, leisure and general sightseeing, the time disappears quickly on what I believe to be SA's most scenic tourist drive.