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The Jewels in the Crown
Located about five and a half hours’ drive from Adelaide, the Cleve District is well known for its agricultural economy and for hosting its biannual Field Days event, but it is absolutely brimming with so many other things to see and do.
Words and Images by: Allison Watt

Yeldulknie Weir and Reservoir, Cleve, SA

If the Eyre Peninsula was South Australia’s crown, then the distinct and diverse towns of Cleve, Arno Bay and Darke Peak are three unmissable gems in this region which are just begging to be explored.

Located about five and a half hours’ drive from Adelaide, the Cleve District is well known for  its agricultural economy and for hosting its biannual Field Days event, but it is absolutely brimming with so many other things to see and do.


The largest and most centrally located town within the district, Cleve is a fully serviced town  boasting all the essentials and more. The township is booming with a lot of recent developments including a new walking trail from the town out to the Yeldulknie Weir, a playspace and pump track, and a recent upgrade to the Cleve Showgrounds RV Park.

A spectacular time to visit is from August to December when  crops are blooming. A great place to view the glowing greens and yellows is at the Cleve Hills Scenic Drive and lookout.

The picturesque Showgrounds RV Park, run by the Cleve Show Society, has a peaceful feel about it, with its beautiful backdrop of hilly farmland. Along with its scenic appeal, convenience is another reason to stay at the RV Park; located on the town’s main street and within walking distance to the local shops.

The town has plenty of services for visitors including a supermarket (Cleve Foodland), cafe (The Pink Door Co.), bakery (The Cleve Bakery), pub (The Cleve Hotel) and a petrol station (The Birdseye Roadhouse) to name a few. The 18-hole Cleve Golf Course is also a stone’s throw from the RV Park, so remember to bring your clubs for a hit.

Cleve Showgrounds RV Park

A perfect birdwatching destination is the Yeldulknie Weir and Reservoir, just a 5km walk or drive from Cleve. For those with self-contained RVs, you can park for a night or two and camp off-grid. There are toilets and a barbecue facility which are maintained by the Cleve Lions Club.

The vast body of water within the weir is home to many bird species and wildlife. There is a beautiful walking track that takes you past the heritage-listed wheelhouse, around the weir and along the creek bed. Bushwalkers also love the Yeldulknie Conservation Park Hiking Trail. Locally named the Mangalo ‘waterfall’ walk, the Yeldulknie Conservation Park Hiking Trail is another great spot to bird watch, and after a large amount of rain, water can be seen falling from the small waterfall found on the track.

Visitors can also choose to do the full walk from the Yeldulknie Conservation Park that connects down to the Yeldulknie Weir. Visitors can be found stopping and staring at Cleve’s resident bird, Reggie the Wedgie; a reclaimed metal sculpture made by talented local artist Peter Crosby. The eagle sculpture is one of two metal sculptures in the town centre, with the other being Bonnie the Horse. Both unique artworks are the main tourist attraction in town.

Reggie the Wedgie sculpture, Cleve


Arno Bay is a quaint little seaside town which is perfect for fishing, catering for all forms of angling whether from a boat, jetty, creek or beach.

The town’s jetty is the perfect place to throw a line off, and squid and small garfish are frequently caught off the jetty. For something a little bigger, chartered fishing trips are also a popular choice among both tourists and locals. Fuzzell’s Fishing Adventures and Arno Bay Fishing Adventures are both experienced fishing charter operators. You can expect to catch King George whiting and Australian salmon on these trips.

Bonnie the Horse sculpture, Cleve

For travellers with self-contained RVs, there is an offgrid RV site located next to Hotel Arno.

Along the foreshore, visitors can find Turnbull Park, a great  place for a shady picnic or to let the little ones play on the bouncy pillow and playground.

Arno Bay also offers two fantastic walking tracks. The first is an award-winning boardwalk that passes through the mangroves and its beautiful estuarine habitat. Birds can be spotted here frolicking through the mangroves and saltbush. The second is a newly constructed coastal boardwalk which starts at the Arno Bay boat ramp and winds alongside the coast, taking you down to beautiful Turnbull Beach.

Be sure to stop at Redbanks Beach, just off the Lincoln Highway. The name comes from the beautiful red cliffs that surround the beach. Its white sand and clear water are reason enough to stop and have a swim or walk along the beach. Yellowfin whiting are a popular catch when beach fishing.

Fishing off the Arno Bay Jetty


Darke Peak is the smallest of the three towns within the district, but its size belies the huge amount it has on offer.

There are two not-so-hidden gems within Darke Peak: Carappee Hill and Darke Range, both of which can be seen as you drive into the town.

Darke Range provides the picturesque backdrop for the township. You can walk or bike ride across the top of the 10km range where the Federation Hill Lookout provides 360-degree views of surrounding farmland and is the perfect spot for stargazing.

Stargazing on Federation Hill Lookout, Darke Peak

Carappee Hill is a unique mountain that is the tallest  point on the Eyre Peninsula, at 489m above sea level. You can reach this incredible height via the Carappee Hill hiking track; a two-hour return hike. You can also off-grid camp at the base of Carappee Hill (recommended for offroad campers only).

Mineral lovers won’t want to miss out on visiting Minerals on Eyre. First starting out as a hobby, Minerals on Eyre is a massive display of a life-long mineral collection, collected by mineral enthusiast Barry Schubert.

The Darke Peak Hotel offers a super-friendly, country pub atmosphere. RVs frequently stay at the RV site located behind the hotel, gathering around the warm firepit.

Hellbent Hotel, Darke Peak

Located across from the Darke Peak Hotel, the Hellbent Hotel is a preserved piece of Darke Peak’s history; a ‘pub’ built by the community on New Year’s Day in 1980 because the locals didn’t want to stop drinking when the Darke Peak Hotel closed. Staying in Darke Peak really offers a reconnection back with nature and a chance to explore the wild and unique parts of the Eyre Peninsula.

Andrew ‘Cosi’ Costello at Minerals on Eyre, Darke Peak



The Cleve Showgrounds RV Park offers powered sites, toilets, showers, and a camp kitchen. P: 0428 827 749

The Birdseye Roadhouse has caravan parking sites, and offers power, toilets, and showers. P: (08) 8628 2019

For self-contained travellers, there is a dedicated RV parking site at the Yeldulknie Weir and Reservoir. Bookings not required.

Cleve Boutique Accommodation Units offer two luxury apartments along the town’s main street. P: 0458 282 200

The Cleve Accommodation Units are suitable for couples, friends, or families looking for short term accommodation. P: (08) 8622 7505

The Cleve Hotel Motel offers motel rooms behind the pub. P: (08) 8628 2001

Arno Bay

Hotel Arno offers motel rooms at the pub and also has an RV site behind the pub (selfcontained vehicles only as no power). P: (08) 8628 0001

Arno Bay Caravan Park has RV parking sites, and offers power, toilets, and showers. P: (08) 8628 0157

Darke Peak

Darke Peak Hotel offers motel rooms at the pub and also has an RV site behind the pub with powered sites available. P: (08) 8620 7009

Where to eat:

Cleve: Cleve Hotel, The Pink Door Co., The Cleve Bakery, The Birdseye Roadhouse.

Arno Bay: Arno Bay Jetty Cafe, Hotel Arno.

Darke Peak: The Darke Peak Hotel.

For further information about the Cleve District visit

Category: Destinations
Written: Thu 01 Jun 2023
Printed: June, 2023
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