|Homestead and Store.|
The site is fairly remote, on the bottom of the Yorke Peninusula, South Australia, and requires driving down 19 kilometres of extremely bumpy dirt road once you leave the bitumen.
There is also no mobile phone reception so if you're not used to being 'unplugged' from the 'Matrix' (i.e. internet) then this is a great place to discover all those other features your phone has - like the camera.
|The less bumpy dirt road from|
Hillock Drive to Marion Bay.
What you get is a camping ground on the top of the plateau that drops down hill to an extremely pretty fishing spot known as Butler's beach.
If you want the premium experience you can book to stay in the homestead as a house guest (we didn't so I can't really comment on this) but the real experience of Hillocks Drive is fishing and for that you need to be on the camping ground near the beach. However being close to the homestead means you're right next to the homestead's shop where you can buy bait, tackle, ice etc.
For the budget experience you can book a camp site and bring your own tent or van. The sites are fairly well protected from the wind by the trees and the hillside. You'll be walking distance from a single Eco toilet (or drop toilet as they're sometimes called) and a short drive away from the four hot showers, sinks and flush toilet amenities back at the homestead - be prepared to queue for these if the grounds are busy.
|Our van - The Hill Top Hilton.|
Photo by Enigma.
Most of the caravans look liked they were dragged into place after they went out of style in the 1970's and their owners upgraded. Ever since then they've had patch up after patch up just to make sure they hold together. I think the only thing in our caravan close to new was the mattress on the double bed (which I have to say was pretty firm but comfortable).
Many of the windows on our van wouldn't shut properly and the screens were either missing or pushed out (which explains how the spider got in - more on that later).
As mentioned there's no power but you do get a gas stove and running water in the sink as well as a single solar powered light - so if you do forget torches you at least won't be sitting in the dark.
Now if these vans sound terrible remember, I said it's all a matter of perception. I didn't have any expectations other than I knew there was going to be no power. For me, while the van was the Hilton in name only, it was far more comfortable than staying in a tent - especially on the second night which was quite windy.
Enigma's disappointment was not eased by the van not having any sheets and - whilst we bought pillows we hadn't packed sheets. Fortunately a quick trip back to the shop and the homestead's owners, Pam and Lisa, were extremely accommodating and rounded up a set of sheets for us that would normally be used by house guests.
|Our dog Oscar munching on|
a piece of cuttlefish,
Another couple of hits to Enigma's initial disappointment...
The presence of a mouse on our first day - which I only saw once as it made a high speed dash between the side of the bed. We heard it again later but made sure there was no food within easy reach. Never heard or saw anything from it after that.
|Oscar's impression of the big, hairy Huntsman |
Spider I caught in our van.
Photo by Enigma.
Enigma mentioned these incidents to Pam and Lisa who were aware of the Huntsman spider in the van and were quite happy to hear that I didn't kill it (I'm surprised they hadn't named it) but caught it with a glass and put it outside away from the van.
As for the mouse they said the traps they set had been empty when they checked them before our arrival.
Both of these things didn't really phase me at all. By this point I'd come to realize Hillocks Drive is firmly targeted at people who like to fish from a beach and generally, aren't too fussy about accommodation. Me, I'm just happy to try to make the best of whatever situation arises. I didn't think we'd be spending that much time in the van so the fact that it wasn't actually the Hilton wasn't that big a concern.
If part of your holiday experience is about how good the accommodation is then you might want to book a room in the Homestead rather than one of the vans.
|Yes I know, another picture |
of Oscar. Marion Bay, SA
Aside from Butler's Beach we also went down the coast a bit to Marion Bay, where there is a small township, jetty, boat ramp and a very calm beach. There wasn't too much to do here if you don't have a boat and you've got your pet dog with you but we had a nice time walking along the beach and Oscar got some swimming lessons followed by vigorous rolling in seaweed (which he loves to do).
If you don't have pets with you (and Hillocks Drive has a very shady and spacious pen to look after your dog if you need to leave it behind) you can visit the sights at Innes National Park. The park is strictly no pets so we had to turn back.
|Enigma at Meehan Hill Lookout.|
A great photo opportunity!
On our way back to Butler's Beach we stopped at Meehan Hill Lookout which overlooks a private beach and lengthy stretch of coast line. The sign suggests you're welcome to walk down to the beach but strictly prohibits the use of motorbikes or four wheel drives on the beach.
Butler's Beach Again
|Butler's Beach view from just|
outside the Hill Top Hilton.
Photo by Enigma.
I'm not sure how good the fishing is but I did see one family catch a small fish. The mum 'screamed like a girl' trying to pick up the catch and I thought to myself - that's exactly what I'd do too. I'm definitely not a fisherman!
You can actually swim at Butler's Beach but be warned it gets deep fairly fast and the waves have a very strong pull - as Enigma discovered with this freakishly big wave in the photo below. One minute she was siting in the wash up that was covering just above her waist, the next she copped a wave in the face!
|Enigma getting an unexpectedly large wave very close to shore and|
nearly being pulled into the surf by it.
By the time we left I think Enigma was mostly happy with how the holiday went and would've stayed an extra day or so - but neither of us could be bothered to queue for the showers after not having a shower for our whole stay. We kind of wanted to get home to get clean again.
|Port Vincent from the beach in front of the|
caravan park looking back towards the Yacht Club.
Unlike Marion Bay the beach and coastline have been developed a little more to create a very pleasant foreshore with parkland, barbeques and a very calm swimming beach. Enigma and I contemplated possibly spending a future holiday here - perhaps in the caravan park right on the beach (with power and self contained units). Dare to dream.
|Oscar and I at Butler's Beach.|
Both of us were too chicken
to go swimming.
Photo by Enigma.
I know Oscar would be there in a second. He didn't seem to be that much of a beach fan when we took him to our local beaches but he really took to Butler's Beach despite the strong swell and windy conditions. He's definitely a beach dog now!