Yorke Peninsula can get overlooked in favour of more popular destinations on either side. But the boot-shaped headland is the ideal road trip destination for a charming weekender. Closer than Eyre Peninsula and more serene and secluded than the Fleurieu, it’s a striking mix of sandy white beaches, pristine coastlines, historic towns and untouched wilderness. Plus the region’s famous specialty – Cornish pasties – can help fuel the drive. We’ve mapped out an itinerary to help you make the most of it, with plenty of coffee breaks and scenic stops along the way.

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Day one

First thing's first: get caffeinated

There’s nothing worse than being mid-drive and realising you need a coffee when there isn’t anything around. Avoid this by pulling into Coffee in Common, one of Adelaide’s best roasteries. In a sprawling warehouse just a 10-minute drive from the airport, choose between espresso, batch-brew and V60 made with single-origin and blended beans roasted on-site. Pair your coffee with a fluffy house-made doughnut (topped with raspberry and dark chocolate, matcha or Simpsons-style sprinkles and pink icing) or wrap your hands around the breakfast brioche with maple-glazed bacon, a fried egg, hash brown and coffee-and-onion relish.

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Detour for dolphins

Veer west to the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, just beyond Port Adelaide, where the resident bottlenose dolphins frolic beside a 10,000-year-old mangrove forest. Keep your eyes peeled – you might even spot sea lions and long-nosed fur seals. Or take a longer detour up north (past Port Wakefield) to the small township of Lochiel, where the bubblegum-pink Lake Bambunga regularly draws crowds (among them film crews and modelling shoots) for its otherworldly view. Spring is the best time to catch the lake looking pink, when there’s still water in there. Otherwise you can walk the salty flats and keep a look out for the “Loch-Eel Monster” jutting out of the shallow lake.

Stop for lunch and tour an oyster farm

The coastal town of Stansbury is a 90-minute drive from Lochiel, down the east side of the Yorke Peninsula and bordered by the St Vincent Gulf. Pause here for a lazy lunch at the Dalrymple Hotel, situated on the foreshore overlooking the calm waters of Oyster Bay. The award-winning bar and restaurant serves seafood-focused small plates like fish tacos, prawn and ginger dumplings and lobster sliders alongside heartier pub grub like eggplant parmies, crumbed pork cutlets and sticky pork belly.

Make the most of the arvo – and the bayside setting – by booking a hands-on Deckie for a Day tour at nearby Pacific Estate Oyster Farm to sample the area’s creamy, plump Pacific oysters and native angasi plucked fresh from the water. After learning how they’re farmed and a lesson in shucking, take the moreish molluscs home to enjoy that night.

Drop anchor at Marion Bay

Travel on to the idyllic coastal town of Marion Bay on the southern tip of the peninsula and rest your head at My Sister & the Sea, a 1950s weatherboard cottage with Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park practically at its doorstep. The house was made over by sisters and stylists Sarah Hall and Emma Read, who also run chic pink beach shack Love and Mutiny a bit further up the coast.

Day two

Explore the remote wilderness of Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park

Wake up early and trek through the incredible and largely untouched Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, a favourite spot for camping, fishing and surfing with hiking trails and bushwalks, an abundance of wildlife, a famous shipwreck, a deserted ghost town, and some of the region’s best beaches, including Shell Beach, where a dip at this secluded rock pool will have you feeling like you’re on your own private island.

Refuel in Moonta Bay before the drive home

Head two hours up north where Nook & Nourish is serving healthy brunches like sweet potato and kimchi fritters, caramelised banana oats, and veggie- and grain-packed brekkie bowls, plus organic coffee, herbal teas, seasonal juices and vegan smoothies. Or for a more traditional taste of Moonta – part of the historic Copper Triangle (with Kadina and Wallaroo) where Cornish miners flocked during the 19th century – pull into The Cornish Kitchen, which is still making several hundred Cornish pasties from scratch every day.

If it’s a heartier lunch you’re after, chow down at the Bond Store in Wallaroo, a restaurant, microbrewery and distillery in a restored 1865 building with a menu centred on the parilla charcoal grill. After lunch, it’s time to get back to the city. Every Avis rental car has cruise control, so you can enjoy a relaxed and hassle-free two-hour drive back to Adelaide.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Avis. Make your next car rental smoother and speedier by checking in digitally with Avis PreCheck before you travel. Find out more.