Located 91km south of Adelaide and 7km south west of Victor Harbor, is the protected area of the Newland Head Conservation Park.
A popular place for surfing, fishing and hiking, the Newland Conservation Park, located on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, protects two beaches, Waitpinga and Parsons, Newland Head and the Waitpinga Cliffs coastal reserve. Within the reserve are a number of social and cultural sites belonging to the Ramindjeri people, one of the 18 clans making up the Ngarrindjeri Nation.
For walking enthusiasts the walking trails along the hills, cliffs and beaches provide panoramic views of the Waitpinga Creek, Encounter Bay, the Pages, Backstairs Passage and Kangaroo Island. Walking trails range from relaxing beach strolls to short bush walks, with the opportunity to encounter native flowers, birds and animals, and longer hikes including the Newland Head Nature Hike, which follows a section of the 1200 km Heysen Trail, and the Heysen Trail itself.
Waitpinga Beach, a popular unpatrolled surf beach, is renowned for consistent hard breaking waves and rips, which can be dangerous for all but the most experienced swimmers and surfers. Fishermen can cast a line from the shore hoping to catch the salmon, salmon trout and mullet that visit these waters. The rocky headlands can be dangerous for fishing due to the wild surf and freak waves prevalent in the area.
The walks begin from the eastern end of the Waitpinga Beach Campground. The campground has 15 unpowered sheltered sites, toilets, a shelter hut, and barbecue and picnic facilities and is situated behind the sand dunes and vegetation, which separate the beach from the car park and campground. Camping in the grounds requires a permit from Parks SA.Map detail can be found on the information board at the Waitpinga campground. A short 750-metre walk to the beach will get you started on your walk.
The Ridgeway Hill Loop hiking trail crosses the open mallee scrub on a flat track as it heads toward the ocean. Walking on sandy terrain, which makes up most of the beginning section of the 6.25 km trail, can be very tiring. Banksia and Correa flowers provide a colourful contrast to the emerald green trees and golden sand paths. As the ocean comes in sight, the deep blue enhances the view. The trail begins turning inland to return to the campground.
The Coastal Cliffs Loop is an easy flat trail to the cliffs of Newland Head. Walkers are rewarded with spectacular views of the Newland Head cliffs, Southern Ocean and Kangaroo Island. Southern Right Whales can often be seen in the winter months. The 7.5km loop trail travels through the sand dunes and coastal vegetation and along the cliff tops. Walking along the cliff tops provides amazing photo opportunities across Waitpinga and Parsons Beaches to Kangaroo Island. Looking back toward Victor Harbor, Rosetta Head, commonly known as The Bluff, and Granite Island can be seen.
The linear walking trail from Waitpinga to Parsons Beach starts from the Waitpinga Beach car park, following the wooden staircase down to the sand. The trail travels 2km along the sandy beach with the thunderous noise of the waves crashing on the beach, before climbing a moderate incline to the summit of the 40m metre high Waitpinga Hill and the Parsons Beach lookout, which separate Waitpinga Beach from Parsons Beach. Kangaroos can often be seen in the scrubland in this area.
The Parsons Beach lookout offers stunning views of the coastline, and can be a welcome resting place after the hill climb. Parsons Beach, also known as Pareena Beach, shares a cliff top car park with Waitpinga Beach, which can be reached by the gravel Parsons Beach Road.
Descending the steep timber stairway to Parsons Beach, the beach walk continues along the coarse quartz sand for 1.2km. The granite rock formations on the beach are carved with deep grooves and glacial sediments. It has been suggested that the deep channel of Backstairs Passage between Cape Jervis and Kangaroo Island was carved by the action of glaciers over 250 million years ago. Fishing in the channels formed by the huge surf can yield a satisfying catch for fishers. The walk will take about 90 minutes one way before returning to Waitpinga along the beach.
The Newland Head nature Trail, a 15km one-way ramble from Newland Head to Rosetta Head, involves some bushwalking through scrublands and sections of scrambling up and down the rocks. Leaving from the Waitpinga Beach car park, this walk follows the cliffs with views of Granite Island and Victor Harbor before finishing at the Rosetta Head car park. Part of the Heritage trail, from Kings Head to Rosetta Head is incorporated in this walk.
For those needing more of a challenge, 12.25km of the famous 1200 km Heysen Trail is located within the Newland Head Conservation Park. The Balquidder to Waitpinga section, is a challenging walk through rolling hills toward the sea, along Parsons Beach and Waitpinga Beach concluding in the sand dunes toward the Waitpinga Campground. The views are spectacular; the hill climbs are strenuous but the reward of walking the Heysen Trail is experiencing the beauty of South Australia on foot, meeting kangaroos and other wildlife and the satisfaction of challenging yourself and succeeding.
Facilities are limited along the walking trails including mobile phone coverage, which is intermittent throughout these walks. The weather can change quickly so wearing appropriate apparel and carrying extra clothing for the cold, windy weather is essential. Water is vital on every walk and for a longer hike; food is needed, as there are no kiosks on the trails.