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Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and Wilderness Protection Area

Alerts 2

Trail closure

The Timber Creek Walk at Murray Lagoon is closed due to damage from significant flooding.
Details >

The Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek is closed annually from 6:00 AM on 1 May until 6:00 PM on 31 December.
Details >

  • Picnic Areas
  • Caravan Sites
  • Toilets
  • Camping
  • Disabled Toilets
  • Scuba / Snorkelling
  • Rock Climbing
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Walking Trails
  • Bird Watching
  • Boating

About

Vast areas of wilderness, the Island's largest lagoon and coastal scenery provide a spectacular backdrop to Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and adjoining Wilderness Protection Area on the south coast of Kangaroo Island. This large area of pristine coastal environment is important for biodiversity and provides a continuous block of vegetation adjoining Seal Bay Conservation Park, a critical corridor and habitat for a range of rare and threatened species.

The park has plenty of walking opportunities, including the unmarked Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek (experienced hikers only), established trails at Murray Lagoon (may be subject to flooding in the winter months), and short walks at D’Estrees Bay.

Murray Lagoon supports wetland habitat for abundant birdlife, while D'Estrees Bay has beautiful beaches for recreation. This bay is a historic site connected to the island's early whaling industry.

The self-guided drive along D'Estrees Bay Road allows the visitor to discover the natural and cultural significance of the area. Designated points of interest along the 8km drive are marked with a silhouette of an osprey bird.

Access to Southern Kangaroo Island Marine Park is also available from this park.

Opening hours

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Closures and safety

This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may also be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.

You can determine the current fire danger rating by checking the Fire Ban District map on the CFS website.

Check the CFS website or call the CFS Bushfire Information Hotline 1800 362 361 for:

Listen to your local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety.

Contact details

Natural Resource Centre - Kingscote

Phone: (+61 8) 8553 4444

For booking enquiries please email:

DEW.KIWTAdmin@sa.gov.au

Getting there

Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park is located 40km south west of Kingscote, on Kangaroo Island. Access is via Birchmore Road for the Murray Lagoon section and Elsegood Road or D'Estrees Bay Road for the coastal section of the park.

You can get to Kangaroo Island from mainland South Australia on the SeaLink ferry. This vehicle and passenger ferry operates daily (except Christmas Day) between Cape Jervis (two hours south of Adelaide) and Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island. The journey takes 45 minutes for the 16km crossing.

Visit the SeaLink website for more information and bookings.

Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are permitted in most public places and are therefore welcome in South Australia’s parks and reserves. Assistance dogs must be appropriately restrained on a lead and remain under your effective control at all times while in a park or reserve.

As per the dogs in parks and reserves policy, if the dog is not an accredited assistance dog, they must be trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate that disability and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for a dog in a public place. However, refusal may be given if the person with the disability is unable to produce evidence the dog is an assistance dog with the appropriate training.

Before taking your assistance dog into a park that does not normally allow dogs, it is highly recommended that you contact us so we can provide you with the latest information on any potential hazards within specific parks that may affect your dog. Please contact the park via the contact details provided under the contact tab or call the information line on (+61 8) 8204 1910.

Dogs not allowed

Dogs are not permitted in this park.

Discover which parks you can walk your dog in on our find a park tool or read 12 dog-friendly walks in Adelaide Parks by Good Living for inspiration.

Facilities

There are picnic areas, caravan sites, toilets, disabled toilets and campground located in this park.

Plants and animals

Along the beaches of D’Estrees Bay you will see large deposits of seagrass washed ashore. Extensive seagrass meadows flourish in D'Estrees Bay due to the low wave energy and shallow, sunlit waters of the bay.

Seagrass meadows play a vital role in the food chain of near shore marine ecosystems, providing a home for many animals including fish, crabs, sponges, sea snails and octopus. Many fish also use the meadows as areas in which to breed.

Australia's temperate waters contain some of the largest and most diverse seagrass beds in the world. Often described as the lungs of the ocean, these meadows are vulnerable. Many thousands of hectares of seagrasses have died over the last century, smothered by the increased loads of sediments and nutrients entering our oceans, which reduce the intensity of light reaching the grasses. Once damaged, the dominant temperate seagrass posidonia may take hundreds of years to regrow and recolonise.

More information about specific plants which can be spotted in this park can be found at the end of the Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park D'Estrees Bay self-guided drive brochure

Flora and fauna species lists

To download flora (plants) and fauna (animals) species lists for this park, use the 'Create Simple Species List' tab under 'Flora Tools' or 'Fauna Tools'  in NatureMaps

Useful information

  • Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for animals and adding nutrients to the soil.

Traditional owners

Aboriginal peoples have occupied, enjoyed and managed the lands and waters of this State for thousands of generations. For Aboriginal first nations, creation ancestors laid down the laws of the Country and bestowed a range of customary rights and obligations to the many Aboriginal Nations across our state. 

There are many places across the State that have great spiritual significance to Aboriginal first nations.  At some of these places Aboriginal cultural protocols, such as restricted access, are promoted and visitors are asked to respect the wishes of Traditional Owners.

In places where protocols are not promoted visitors are asked to show respect by not touching or removing anything, and make sure you take all your rubbish with you when you leave.

Aboriginal peoples continue to play an active role in caring for their Country, including in parks across South Australia. 

European history

In 1803 the French explorer Nicolas Baudin circumnavigated Kangaroo Island. He named this long, sweeping bay after Jacques D’Estrees (1660–1737), a French author, Marshall of France, Vice-Admiral and Minister of State.

Further detailed information about the history of Cape Gantheaume Conservation park can be found in the Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park D'Estrees Bay Self-guided Drive brochure.

See and do

Bushwalking

Bushwalking is a fantastic way to connect with nature, keep fit and spend time with family and friends. South Australia's national parks feature a range of trails that let you experience a diversity of landscapes.

Treks

  • Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek

    This trek is suitable for experienced walkers only. If you're planning an overnight walk or longer, you must discuss your plans with a ranger.

    The trek begins at the Sewer car park at D’Estrees Bay. From this point follow the old vehicle track to Cape Gantheaume where you will find an isolated pristine beach dotted with New Zealand fur-seals. (Warning: Cape Gantheaume beach has strong rips and is unsafe for swimming).

    From Cape Gantheaume, the trek is unmarked and trekkers need to find their own path through the coastal vegetation until they reach the Bales Bay car park.

    Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek - Trekking Information Sheet

    Natural Resource Centre - Kingscote

    Phone: (+61 8) 8553 4444

Stay in the park

Fees apply to camp in this park. It is mandatory to pay for vehicle entry and camping prior to arrival as self registration stations are no longer available in this park.

Enjoy the peacefulness and vast wilderness of the park by camping under the stars at these secluded campgrounds.

Murray Lagoon Campground (5 sites)

This basic campground has only one site and is accessible to caravans. Toilet facilities are available and water provided.

D'Estrees Bay Campgrounds

  • Big Sand Dune Campground (1 site)
  • Tea Trees Campground (2 sites)
  • Wheatons Beach Campground (1 site)
  • Wreckers Beach Campground (1 site)

D'Estrees Bay self-guided drive

This self-guided nature drive on Kangaroo Island begins at the second boat ramp, seven kilometres from the junction of Elsegood Road and D’Estrees Bay Road.

It will take you to the end of D’Estrees Bay Road adjacent to Sewer Beach. The drive is approximately eight kilometres in length.

Follow the map in the guide to explore and gain a greater understanding of the natural and cultural history of D’Estrees Bay in Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park. The trail symbol of an Osprey and stop numbers mark designated stops at points of interest along the drive.

The Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park D'Estrees Bay self-guided drive brochure will take visitors along to discover the interesting history and environment of D'Estrees Bay.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is currently not permitted in this park. 

Fishing

Fishing is actively managed in South Australia by the Department of Primary Industries and Resources SA.
Check out these useful links before embarking on your fishing adventure:

 

Whale watching

Between mid-May and late October whales migrate from sub-Antarctic water to the comparatively warmer waters of the South Australian coast to calve and mate.  While our whale visitors are mostly southern right whales, we also have sightings of sperm whales, humpbacks, blue whales and the occasional orca. 

The Point Tinline lookout within Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park is an ideal vantage point to see these majestic creatures, so if you are visiting during whale season, keep an extra keen eye on the ocean.

Wildlife

Between May and October you could be ‘in the right place at the right time’ and glimpse the tail of a southern right whale rising from the ocean’s surface, before splashing to the depths below. These whales migrate from the Antarctic to the warmer southern Australian coastal waters to give birth and mate. During this season they fast, and feed again on krill, when they return south.

Keep a watch for osprey plunging feet first into the sea to catch fish. Ospreys are coastal raptors that hunt close to the shore – along cliff lines, in sheltered bays and river estuaries. Each year two to four eggs are laid in September - October in a bulky nest constructed of sticks, on the cliff-top close to here.

The osprey is listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species. In spring and summer both eggs and chicks are at threat from inquisitive people. Eggs can die in the cold air if the incubating parent is forced to leave the nest. Once hatched, chicks are less likely to be fed if the parents or nest are disturbed.

There are many other birds which frequent this area, keep an eye out for the rock parrot, ruddy turnstone, sooty oystercatcher, australasian gannet, hooded plover and the crested tern.

Here are some of the other animals you may also encounter on Kangaroo Island:

Kangaroo Island kangaroo
This kangaroo is smaller, darker and longer furred than its closest mainland relative. During the day they often rest under vegetation, coming out to graze in the early morning and late afternoon. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:

  • At Black Swamp at Flinders Chase National Park
  • At Grassdale in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Park at the gate on the South Coast Road and follow the 2 km track to an open area near an old cottage.
  • Lathami Conservation Park and surrounding paddocks. Enter the park through the double gates around 3 km south east of the Stokes Bay Café along the North Coast Road.
  • On the Hog Bay Road from Prospect Hill to Baudin Beach. Take care when parking. Ensure your car is completely off the road when parked.

Tammar wallaby
These wallabies are nocturnal and are best seen at dawn and dusk. During the day Tammar wallabies rest in dense, low vegetation. They move through tunnels in the vegetation from their daytime shelters to grassed areas to feed in the evening. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:

  • At Grassdale in Flinders Chase National Park. Park at the gate on the South Coast Road and follow the 2 km track to an open area near an old cottage.
  • Around the campsites and down towards the jetty at Vivonne Bay.
  • Along the D’Estrees Bay Road up to Wheatons Beach in Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park.
  • In the township at Nepean Bay, via Western Cove Road.
  • In Baudin Conservation Park. Access to the carpark is along Frenchmans Terrace and south along Binneys Track.

Short-beaked echidna
Echidnas are found across Kangaroo Island in all types of habitat.  Short-beaked echidnas are generally solitary, but during the breeding season from May–September male echidnas form trains behind females. Echidnas can be seen throughout Kangaroo Island, across all types of habitat.

Australian sea-lion
The Australian sea-lion is one of the rarest seals in the world. Seal Bay Conservation Park is home to the world’s third largest breeding colony. 
Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations: Seal Bay Conservation Park on a guided tour.

Long-nosed fur seals
Long-nosed fur seals live along rocky shores around Kangaroo Island where they rest and breed in colonies. 
Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations: Admirals Arch in Flinders Chase National Park.

Glossy black-cockatoo
Glossy black-cockatoos feed during the day returning to their nests at dusk. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:

Koala
Koalas were not on Kangaroo Island at the time of European settlement. In the 1920s conservationists released 18 koalas in Flinders Chase National Park to save their declining mainland population.  The population quickly established and their numbers rapidly increased and koalas moved across the island.  Koalas spends most of the day resting in a tree fork, usually climbing into the canopy around dusk to feed. Look for their ball-shape high in the canopy, or as they move between branches. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:

  • Grassdale in Kelly Hill Conservation Park. Park at the gate on the South Coast Road and follow the 2 km track to an open area near an old cottage.
  • The Heritage Walk that starts at the Flinders Chase National Park Visitor Centre.
  • The scenic walking trail along Cygnet River at Duck Lagoon, accessed via Kookaburra Road.

Heath goanna
Heath goannas are active during the day and are often seen basking in the sun. Spot one here or at these alternative locations

Cape Barren goose
Cape Barren geese can be seen on Kangaroo Island from autumn through to early spring. Spot one in this park or at these alternative locations:

  • The grassy areas near the entrance of Flinders Chase National Park, where they breed.

Whales

There has been 29 different types of whales recorded in South Australia. The most common are the southern right whale, humpback whale, sperm whale, blue whale and orca whale (killer whale).  Of these you are most likely to spot a southern right whale along the South Australian coast.

Southern right whale
Every year, between May to October, southern right whales gather along the southern coastline of Australia to mate and calve, before returning to sub-Antarctic waters to feed.

The southern right whale is a large whale which can grow up to 17.5 metres and weigh over 80 tons.  The vast majority of southern right whales are black in colour with distinctive white patterns on their heads that are calluses formed by small crustaceans known as 'whale lice'.  The patterns are visible at birth and are unique to each whale allowing researchers to identify individual whales. 

Volunteering

Want to help?

To find out how you can help in this park or nearby, please visit Natural Resources Kangaroo Island – Volunteering.

Want to join others and become a Park Friend?

To find out more about Friends of Parks groups please visit Friends of Parks South Australia.

You could join others to help look after a park. You can take part in working bees, training and other events.

Safety

Bushwalking

Kangaroo Island's rugged coastline offers keen bushwalkers spectacular coastal scenery, pristine rivers, tracts of undisturbed native vegetation and opportunities to observe abundant and diverse wildlife. Most of the coast is very isolated and provides trekkers with a true wilderness experience. However, this isolation also means that good planning is essential to ensure that your trek is as enjoyable and safe as possible. Some parks are closed seasonally to protect threatened species during their breeding season. We recommend discussing any trekking plans with a Park Ranger. 

Essential trip preparation includes:

  • Sufficient water for the conditions
  • Protective clothing and footwear suitable for the activity and the season
  • Sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat
  • Food for the duration of the trip PLUS emergency rations and snacks
  • Nominating an emergency contact person
  • First-aid kit
  • Map, compass, torch, mirror

Be sure to familiarise yourself with any fire restrictions or park closures.

Remember to establish a point of contact. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. In the case of longer walks, write down your route and leave it with a responsible contact person. 

Provide as much information as possible to your designated responsible contact person. This includes:

  • List of participants
  • Dates
  • Daily trip log (start & finish points)
  • Planned route
  • Vehicle make, model, colour, registration
  • Knowledge of any pre-existing medical conditions of the participants
  • Communication / safety plan. Nominate how best they can contact you (mobile/satellite phone, radio, GPS, EPERB) and who they contact in case of your not returning.

Your responsible contact person can raise the alarm if you have not returned and/or contacted them by the time specified by you.

Camping

When camping in a National Park, it's important to remember the following:

  • Always let someone responsible know your travel plans, especially when travelling in remote areas. It's a good idea to let them know when you expect to return.
  • Check the weather forecast before you leave, including overnight temperatures on the Bureau of Meteorology. Even during very mild weather, the nights can get very cold. 
  • The quality and quantity of water cannot be guaranteed within parks. Please bring plenty of water and food to be self-sufficient.
  • Always camp in designated sites (where applicable) - do not camp beneath trees with overhanging branches, as they can drop without warning. It's also a good idea to check that there no insect nests nearby.
  • Check to make sure you're not camping in a natural waterway, flash floods can happen anytime.
  • If camp fires are permitted, you must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Extinguish your camp fire with water (not sand or dirt) until the hissing sound stops.
  • Ensure that you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Whale watching

Maintaining the legal distance from marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals is important, both for our safety and that of the animals.

The animals may be seriously injured if they are struck by a vessel or frightened young may become separated from their mothers. Even if there is no contact, coming too close can disrupt feeding, breeding and migratory behaviours.

Regular water users should make themselves familiar with all the rules for interacting with marine mammals by viewing the National Parks and Wildlife (Protected Animals – Marine Mammals) Regulations 2010.

In the Water

  • Prescribed vessels (high-powered craft such as jet-skis, hydrofoils and boats used for water skiing or paragliding): Never closer than 300m.
  • Other vessels (for example, cabin cruisers, yachts, ‘tinnies’, inflatables, kayaks, wind surfers and kite surfers): No closer than 100m.
  • Other vessels within 300m of a whale: No anchoring; maximum speed 4 knots; maximum time 60 minutes.
  • Swimmers (including surfers and boogie boarders): No closer than 30m.

On Land

  • No closer than 30m (or 50m if the whale is distressed, stranded or entangled)

In the air

  • Planes and remotely piloted aircrafts (drones) must be at least 300m from any whale or other marine mammal (additional Civil Aviation Safety Authority restrictions apply).
  • Helicopters and gyrocopters must be at least 500m from any whale or other marine mammal.

 Special rules exist for:

  • whale calves: all vessels and swimmers – no closer than 300m
  • distressed, stranded or entangled whales: all vessels and swimmers – no closer than 300m

Fire

Can I have a fire or barbecue?

  • Wood fires and solid fuel fires are prohibited throughout the year.
  • Gas fires and liquid fuel fires are permitted, other than on days of total fire ban.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Closures and safety

This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may also be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.

You can determine the current fire danger rating by checking the Fire Ban District map on the CFS website.

Check the CFS website or call the CFS Bushfire Information Hotline 1800 362 361 for:

Listen to your local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety.

Know before you go

Every national park is different, each has its own unique environment, it is important to be responsible while enjoying all the park has to offer.

Please ensure that you:

  • leave your pets at home
  • do not feed birds or other animals, it promotes aggressive behaviour and an unbalanced ecology
  • do not bring generators (except where permitted), chainsaws or firearms into the park
  • leave the park as you found it - place rubbish in the bins provided or take it with you
  • abide by the road rules (maintain the speed limit)
  • respect geological and heritage sites
  • do not remove native plants
  • are considerate of other park users.

  • Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for animals and adding nutrients to the soil.

Fauna

Follow these tips to optimise the experience for yourself and our precious wildlife.

Observe don’t interact

  • Always put the animals’ welfare first.
  • Move slowly and quietly and keep at least 20 m away.
  • Turn off your mobile phone.
  • Use binoculars for that close-up view.
  • Observe the animals without interacting; do not try to touch them, play with them or pursue them.
  • If the animal’ change their behaviour while you are watching them you are probably too close; retreat slowly and give them more space.
  • When photographing wildlife turn your flash off and use natural light instead to protect their eyes.

Drive safely
Wildlife is active at night. Animals are blinded by bright lights, so slow down, dip your lights and take time to observe the wildlife. During the day watch out for goannas and snakes basking on warm roads and birds and echidnas foraging along road edges.

Keep wildlife wild
Human foods can cause illness and death to wildlife so please do not feed them. Feeding wildlife also interrupts their natural patterns of behaviour, which are essential for their survival in the bush.

Snake safety
Snakes live all over South Australia and many of the world's most venomous snakes are found in Australia.  If you see a snake in the wild, always assume it is venomous and leave it alone. Snakes are not likely to chase you, so it’s best to leave them be.  When walking in national parks and reserves, stick to the trails and make a bit of noise when you walk.  For more information, visit our blog ‘What to do if you see a snake in the wild’.

Injured wildlife
To report injured wildlife phone Natural Resources Kangaroo Island on (08) 8553 4444 or notify parks staff.

Maps

Park maps

Campground maps

Maps on your mobile

If you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza PDF Map app and have interactive national park maps on hand when you need them.

The app uses your device's built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos and drop placemark pins. 

How to get it working on your device:

1. Download the Avenza PDF maps app from the app store whilst you are still in range (its free!).
2. Open up the app and click the shopping cart icon.
3. Click ‘Find’ and type the name of the national park or reserve you are looking for.
4. Click on the map you are after and install it (all our maps are free).
5. You will now find a list of your installed maps on the home page of the Avenza app.
6. Use our maps through the Avenza PDF map app while in the park and never take a wrong turn again.

Fees

Entry fees

Vehicle entry to this park is free, however camping fees must be booked and paid for online before arrival.

Camping and accommodation

Campsites need to be booked prior to arrival.

Click through to the online booking page for more details about individual campgrounds and fees.

Book online

Book online to reserve your campsite up to 12 months in advance.

FAQs about booking online

Book and pay in person

If you are unable to book and pay online you can do so, in person, at these booking agents across the state.

For online bookings enquiries please email:

DEW.KIWTAdmin@sa.gov.au

Other fees and permits

There are no other fees or permits associated with this park. 

PDF Park Brochure
Alerts 2

Trail closure

The Timber Creek Walk at Murray Lagoon is closed due to damage from significant flooding.
Details >

The Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek is closed annually from 6:00 AM on 1 May until 6:00 PM on 31 December.
Details >