Located on the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula, Lincoln National Park overlooks the largest natural harbour in Australia, Boston Bay. It is brimming with sandy beaches, granite headlands, wind-sculpted sand dunes and is a popular South Australia destination for hiking, bird watching, fishing, and more.
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The park was originally established as a flora and fauna reserve back in the 1940s. Now, unique wildlife continues to flourish amid mallee eucalypts and coastal shrubs.
The park is home to Memory Cove Protected Wilderness Area, a magical secluded bay with amazing 4WD camping. We recently visited this South Australia park and had a great time exploring the area’s natural history and wild coastal scenery.
In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about visiting Lincoln National Park with highlights of our stay and the best things to do.
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Lincoln National Park Location
Lincoln National Park is located on the south eastern tip of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. The park makes up most of the Jussieu Peninsula, which is bordered by the Spencer Gulf and Southern Ocean. It’s 15 minutes away from the town of Port Lincoln and a 7.5 hour drive from the state capital of Adelaide.
How to Get There
The entrance to Lincoln National Park is 15 minutes (13 km) south of Port Lincoln along Proper Bay Road. If you’re coming from Adelaide, the drive via Port Augusta is a bit of a haul at 664 km and takes about 7.5 hours.
Following the same route from Adelaide, there is a Stateliner bus service that costs $125.40 and takes just over 10 hours. Keep in mind that this drops you off in Port Lincoln where you’ll then need to taxi to the park entrance.
To shorten your drive, you can take the ferry from Wallaroo to Lucky Bay, near Cowell. The ferry runs once a day and takes 2-2.5 hours to cross the gulf. It’ll shave about 1 hour off of your drive and costs $237 for a vehicle and 2 passengers each way.
For the shortest route, you can fly direct with Rex or QantasLink from Adelaide to Port Lincoln in 45 minutes. This journey may be the fastest, but we really enjoyed our road trip down the Eyre Peninsula and definitely recommend it!
READ NEXT: 5 Best Road Trips In Australia
Entrance to the park costs $12 per car or $10 with a valid concession. Note that camping fees are in addition to your park entrance fee.
Do I need a 4WD for Lincoln National Park?
4WD is not a necessary requirement to enjoy Lincoln National Park. There are a number of campgrounds, beaches and walks that are easily accessible with a 2WD vehicle. The biggest benefit of a 4WD vehicle in Lincoln National Park is the ability to visit Memory Cove.
Are dogs allowed in Lincoln National Park?
Unfortunately, no. Dogs are not allowed in Lincoln National Park so furry friends should stay home.
Can you fish in Lincoln National Park?
Yes, there are lots of great fishing spots around Lincoln National Park. You can cast your line from almost any bay or cove in the park, and if you have a 4WD you can try your luck at fishing for Australian salmon at Millers Hole or Salmon Hole along the Sleaford-Wanna Track.
Things to do in Lincoln National Park, South Australia
You could easily spend a week exploring all the beaches and scenic granite coastline that surround the park. To help plan your visit, we’ve rounded up the best things to do from hikes to worthy 4WD touring routes. Hikes
Bushwalks are plentiful in Lincoln National Park thanks to its extensive network of scenic walking trails. Trek through native woodland and along sandy beaches while keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife.
Stamford Hill Hike (1.6 km)
This 45 minute out-and-back hike ventures up to Stamford Hill to Flinders Monument where you’ll be treated to spectacular views of Boston Bay and Port Lincoln. There are some steep inclines but the trail is well-groomed and was definitely our favourite hike in the park. The views of rugged offshore islands are beautiful and can’t be missed! Access to the hike begins at the Stamford Hill car park.
If you’re keen on a longer hike, try the Stamford Hill Loop Hike that links up with the Investigator Trail. The loop is 5.7 km and takes about 2 hours to complete.
Surfleet Cove to Spalding Cove (2.4 km)
This easy coastal walk takes just 1 hour to complete and offers gorgeous views of the granite headlands. Journey along the sheltered rocky coastline to soak in views of Spalding Cove. The scenic walk begins at Surfleet Cove Campground, just down the road from Stamford Hill.
Donington Loop Hike (6.2 km)
This 2 hour hike boasts panoramic views of scenic offshore islands along the coastal heath of the Donington Peninsula. The trail passes sandy beaches and granite outcrops and offers great opportunities for wildlife viewing. Look out for Australian sea lions and long-nosed fur seals near Donington Island. You can access the trail from the Cape Donington lighthouse or from September Beach Campground.
MacLaren Point to Taylor’s Landing (8.5 km)
Enjoy an afternoon exploring the eastern shores of Lincoln National Park on this 3-hour trek. The trail follows rocky cliff tops around secluded beaches with endless coastal views. Look out for bottle-nose dolphins and seals in the water or fish for salmon off the rocky headland. The coastal walk is especially beautiful in the spring when wildflowers are in full bloom. You can access the trail from MacLaren Point if you have 4WD or from Taylor’s Landing Campground otherwise.
Enjoy the Beaches
Lincoln National Park has some gorgeous secluded beaches where you can swim in the Southern Ocean and hangout for the day. The most pristine beaches are tucked away and only reachable by 4WD track, but the 2WD beaches are still pretty lovely.
September Beach is at the northeast tip of the park on the Donington Peninsula. It’s the perfect place to sink your toes in the soft sand with a picnic as dolphins swim by. Or, head to Stamford Beach and relax under picnic shelters before cooling off in the water.
If you have a 4WD vehicle, journey to MacLaren Point to enjoy spectacular coastal views on the eastern coast of the park. There are secluded beaches along either side of the point that make up part of the Investigator Trail. Further south, there is a boat ramp at Taylor’s Landing where you can set sail into Spencer Gulf and explore nearby islands.
And if you’re feeling adventurous, 4WD sand dune driving along the Sleaford-Wanna track is some of the best on the Eyre Peninsula. Wind through wind-carved sand dunes and low coastal limestone cliffs while the pounding surf hits the southern coastline. The Sleaford-Wanna Dune System borders the Sleaford Bay Sanctuary Zone, where you can drop a line and fish from the shore.
Visit Memory Cove
Exploring Memory Cove is one of the top reasons to visit Lincoln National Park. While it does require a 4WD vehicle, the area is so beautiful that it is well worth the effort. The ride to Memory Cove is a slow and bumpy one with sandy patches and rough rocky passes. So a 4WD vehicle with high clearance is essential for this trip.
Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area encompasses a magnificent and secluded bay enveloped by lush leafy headlands. The namesake pure white sandy beach has even been ranked one of the top 10 beaches in the world for its picturesque wilderness. Surrounding eucalypt and sheoak woodlands are home to over 130 species of birds and rare wildlife. While the drive in is rough, the bumpy pothole-ridden track certainly adds to the adventure.
This protected area is very special to South Australia and is heavily monitored to preserve its natural beauty. Because of this, only 15 vehicles per day are allowed to enter Memory Cove and require a gate key to access. You can visit for the day or spend the night camping as long as you book your reservation ahead of time.
You’ll need to collect the key from the Port Lincoln Visitor Centre so we recommend picking it up the day before and dropping it off the day after. This way, you can spend time exploring other parts of the park without having to leave to get the key.
Campgrounds in Lincoln National Park
There are 16 campgrounds in Lincoln National Park, ranging from secluded wilderness to developed sites for caravans. We highly recommend camping in the park to get the full bush experience. Wake up next to peaceful beaches and listen to the sounds of birds and woodland creatures.
Memory Cove Campground
Camping in the Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area is the ultimate way to experience Lincoln National Park. It was our favourite campground in the park and one that we definitely recommend to others.
There are 5 designated campsites accessible with 4WD ONLY. The sites overlook the calm bay with views of rugged offshore islands and inland mallee woodland. There are drop toilets near the day-use car park but no other facilities. Camping is limited to 3-nights and costs $22 per night with a required reservation.
Surfleet Cove Campground
This sheltered campground has 19 campsites suitable for tents, 2WD caravans, and campers. The grounds are surrounded by eucalypt and tea-tree woodland overlooking Boston Bay and Spalding Cove. During our stay, we were lucky to spot a few kangaroos at the campsite as well.
The campground has access to the sheltered walk around the Surfleet Cove Loop Hike and a lovely calm beach. There are toilets and non-potable water but campfires are not permitted on-site. Camping is $13 per night and can be booked online.
September Beach Campground
On the Donington Peninsula, September Beach Campground offers 12 campsites suitable for tents, 2WD caravans, and campers. This is the most developed of the park’s designated campgrounds with toilets, non-potable water, fire pits, and picnic facilities. The sites are within walking distance to beautiful September Beach where you can swim, snorkel, or link up with various hiking trails. Camping is $13 per night and can be booked online.
READ NEXT: Things to do in Port Lincoln
How Many Days Do I Need in Lincoln National Park?
Ideally, 3-4 nights is a good time frame to explore the different corners of the park and enjoy all it has to offer. Anything less than that and it feels rushed—there’s a lot to see! You could easily spend a week here but because facilities are minimal, keep in mind that you’ll need to be self-contained to camp. Totally doable but requires a bit more preparation.