30 park adventures

30 park adventures

30 must do adven­tures in South Australia’s nation­al parks

1. Dive with great white sharks

An expe­ri­ence like no oth­er. Get up close and per­son­al with an apex preda­tor – the great white shark – from the safe­ty of a pro­tec­tive cage in the Nep­tune Islands Con­ser­va­tion Park. Watch them tran­quil­ly glide past in what is a pre­mier eth­i­cal wildlife experience.

Image courtesy of South Australia Tourism Commission and Adventure Bay Charters

2. Spend a night on the edge of the world

Perched high on the cliffs on the east­ern­most point of Kan­ga­roo Island, Cape Willough­by Light­house stands guard watch­ing over Back­stairs Pas­sage and the vast South­ern Ocean. For a tru­ly unique expe­ri­ence, stay in one of the cot­tages that were once home to the light­house keep­ers that oper­at­ed SA’s old­est light­house. The ren­o­vat­ed cot­tages offer very com­fort­able accom­mo­da­tion, sleep­ing up to nine peo­ple. You’ll also get to enjoy the stun­ning views of Back­stairs Pas­sage and the South­ern Ocean and in win­ter you might be lucky to see south­ern right whales as they pass by.

View from Cape Willoughby Lighthouse

3. Get close up with a koala

See why this reg­u­lar­ly tops the must do expe­ri­ences for our inter­na­tion­al vis­i­tors. Cle­land Wildlife Park is one of the few places in Aus­tralia where you can hold a koala. There is also plen­ty of oth­er Aus­tralian wildlife favourites at the park mak­ing it a great day out for the whole family.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

4. Drop in on an under­wa­ter disco

Every win­ter in the waters north of Whyal­la in the Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park, thou­sands of giant Aus­tralian cut­tle­fish gath­er to mate. Watch as male cut­tle­fish put on incred­i­ble colour shows pul­sat­ing through all the colours of the rain­bow at the blink of an eye.

Image courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission

5. Explore Wilpe­na Pound

Wilpe­na Pound in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park is one of South Australia’s icon­ic des­ti­na­tions. This ancient and rugged land­scape can be explored from the ground with numer­ous walk­ing trails, but for a tru­ly breath­tak­ing expe­ri­ence, book a scenic flight and see it from the air.

Image courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission

6. Walk amongst Aus­tralian sea lions

Step onto the beach at Seal Bay which is home to Australia’s third largest colony of Aus­tralian sea lions. An expe­ri­enced guide will teach you all about these ani­mals dur­ing a 45 minute tour. This is a tru­ly excep­tion­al wildlife expe­ri­ence not to be missed if you are vis­it­ing Kan­ga­roo Island.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

7. Have a whale of a time

Every year from mid-May to late-Octo­ber, south­ern right whales migrate to the Aus­tralian coast to mate and give birth. The rugged and spec­tac­u­lar Bun­da Cliffs in Nullar­bor Nation­al Park offer per­fect van­tage points to see these gen­tle giants and at the height of the sea­son in July and August over 100 whales can be in the area at the same time.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

8. Go under­ground and explore World Her­itage List­ed Caves

Vis­it South Australia’s only World Her­itage site. The Nara­coorte Caves for­mer­ly act­ed as a pit­fall, trap­ping and col­lect­ing ani­mals for at least 500,000 years. The caves pre­serve the most com­plete fos­sil record of this time peri­od includ­ing Australia’s icon­ic megafau­na species.

Image courtesy of Margaret Smith

9. Take a dip in nature’s swim­ming pool

The rugged coast of Dhil­ba Guu­ran­da-Innes Nation­al Park offers plen­ty of white sandy coves nes­tled amongst the cliffs. Slip into the tran­quil waters of The Blue Pool, a stun­ning nat­ur­al rock pool can be found near Shell Beach. Also check out Dol­phin Beach near­by which is a favourite amongst vis­i­tors. Plan your vis­it in spring or sum­mer to get the most out of your beach experience.

Image courtesy of Emma Smith

10. Unwind and camp on the riv­er banks of the mighty Murray

Noth­ing com­pares to camp­ing on the banks of the mighty Riv­er Mur­ray. Chow­illa Game Reserve, Loch Luna and Moorook Game Reserves, Mor­gan Con­ser­va­tion Park and Mur­ray Riv­er Nation­al Park all offer oppor­tu­ni­ties for bush camp­ing by the water’s edge with ample oppor­tu­ni­ties for activ­i­ties such as walk­ing, canoe­ing, bird watch­ing and fish­ing. In the cool­er months (out­side of fire dan­ger sea­son), noth­ing beats sit­ting around a camp­fire on a star­ry night toast­ing marsh­mal­lows. Just remem­ber to bring your own fire­wood and book your camp­site in advance.

Image courtesy of Francesco Vicenzi

11. Tack­le the Bor­der Track

Ngarkat Con­ser­va­tion Park boasts more than 270,000ha of veg­e­tat­ed sand dunes and mallee bush­land. The leg­endary Bor­der Track tra­vers­es the South Aus­tralian and Vic­to­ri­an bor­der and offers a true wilder­ness 4WD adven­ture. The chal­leng­ing track cuts its way through dense veg­e­ta­tion and sand dunes. You will need to be well pre­pared and tim­ing is key as a sec­tion of the Bor­der Track is only open from April 1st to Octo­ber 31st

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

12. Snorkel through an under­wa­ter garden’

Explore the spec­tac­u­lar under­wa­ter world of Pic­canin­nie Ponds Con­ser­va­tion Park which is recog­nised as a wet­land of inter­na­tion­al impor­tance. The crys­tal clear water is nat­u­ral­ly fil­tered through the lime­stone pro­vid­ing incred­i­ble clar­i­ty. Snorkel through the under­wa­ter gar­dens of the First Pond before star­ing into the blue abyss of The Chasm, a sink­hole that is over 100 metres deep. Just make sure you bring a full length wet­suit as the water tem­per­a­ture is a con­stant and chilly 15 degrees. You’ll also need to book your snorkel.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

13. Go on the ulti­mate out­back adventure

Test your four-wheel dri­ving skills by Cross­ing the Simp­son’. The Simp­son Desert extends across an area of up to 500 kilo­me­tres and includes Munga-Thirri –Simp­son Desert Nation­al Park and Witji­ra Nation­al Park. The strik­ing red dunes and blue desert skies make this a stun­ning land­scape to explore. The best time to vis­it is from May to August when the tem­per­a­tures are milder.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

14. See Lake Eyre in flood

When there’s water in the lake, water­birds descend in their thou­sands to Kati Than­da-Lake Eyre Nation­al Park to feed and breed in this desert oasis. You will how­ev­er need to per­fect­ly time your vis­it as the flood waters only cov­er the lake once every eight years on aver­age and the lake has only filled to capac­i­ty three times in the last 160 years!

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

15. Walk part (or all if you dare!) of the Hey­sen Trail

The world-renowned Hey­sen Trail stretch­es 1,200 kilo­me­tres from Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Penin­su­la to Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges. While not every­one has the time to walk the entire trail, why not hit the trail for a few hours or a few days? The Hey­sen Trail pass­es through numer­ous SA nation­al parks and is in easy reach for most South Australians.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

16. Encounter a world of unique sculptures

As if the view of the giant gran­ite boul­ders against an ocean back­drop was­n’t artis­tic enough, there are now sculp­tures dot­ted around Gran­ite Island Recre­ation Park for you to enjoy. There are 10 sculp­tures dot­ted around the island, such as the pic­tured Ocean Lace’ by artist Britt Mikkelsen. As some of the sculp­tures are tem­po­rary and new ones added every six months, this is the sort of exhi­bi­tion that you can vis­it reg­u­lar­ly and keep find­ing some­thing new to enjoy.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

17. Immerse your­self in Abo­rig­i­nal culture

Ngaut Ngaut Con­ser­va­tion Park on the Riv­er Mur­ray is cul­tur­al­ly and his­tor­i­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant to its Tra­di­tion­al Own­ers, the Ngan­gu­raku peo­ple. Dis­cov­er unique insights with a guid­ed tour from the Man­num Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­ni­ty Asso­ci­a­tion. Learn about their tra­di­tions and mar­vel at the rock art engraved into the lime­stone walls of the rock shelter.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

18. Devour local oys­ters in Cof­fin Bay Nation­al Park

Vis­it a local seafood sup­pli­er and devour mouth-water­ing­ly deli­cious fresh­ly-shucked local oys­ters on the beach in Cof­fin Bay Nation­al Park. The calm, pro­tect­ed and pris­tine waters are not only per­fect for eat­ing oys­ters but also idyl­lic for swim­ming and kayak­ing. This park with its untouched wilder­ness and coast­line is a favourite amongst visitors.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

19. Soak in the ancient hot springs

The water in the Dal­housie Main Spring in Witji­ra Nation­al Park is con­stant­ly between 38 — 40 degrees, mak­ing it per­fect for a relax­ing, warm soak. The waters rise from deep below the sur­face through cracks and fis­sures after orig­i­nal­ly enter­ing the Arte­sian Basin sys­tem mil­lions of years ago.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

20. See the stars shine bright

Swan Reach Con­ser­va­tion Park forms the core site of Australia’s only Inter­na­tion­al Dark Sky Reserve. Light mea­sure­ments in the park are some of the dark­est in the world mak­ing it one of the best places any­where in the world to see the stars and planets.

Image courtesy of @adeltritus (Instagram)

21. Kayak through a ships’ graveyard

Pad­dle through the remains of at least 40 aban­doned ves­sels hid­den with­in the Ade­laide Dol­phin Sanc­tu­ary. The Gar­den Island Ships’ Grave­yard Mar­itime Trail is the largest and most diverse ships’ grave­yard in Aus­tralia and includes a vari­ety of sail­ing, steam and motor ves­sels, barges, pon­toons and dredges. If you’re lucky you might even spot some of the res­i­dent bot­tlenose dolphins.

This photo was taken with permission from the Department for Environment and Water

22. Hang out on the cliffs

Rock climb your way up the cliff face of the Onka­paringa Gorge in Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park. The 30 metre high cliffs are pop­u­lar with both begin­ner and expe­ri­enced climbers and are locat­ed only a short walk from Pink Gum campground.

Image courtesy of Department for Environment and Water

23. Swim with the fish­es in a sanc­tu­ary zone

Explore the under­wa­ter world of the Port Noar­lun­ga Reef with­in the Encounter Marine Park. This pro­tect­ed sanc­tu­ary zone is one of the most acces­si­ble places to go snorkelling for begin­ners and fam­i­lies. The reef is home to over 50 species of fish and more than 200 marine plants and ani­mals that call this reef home. Don’t for­get to keep your eyes peeled for the under­wa­ter infor­ma­tion boards that will guide you along the under­wa­ter trail.

This photo was taken with permission from the Department for Environment and Water.

24. Go for a wheel­ie good ride

The Craig­burn Farm sec­tion of the Sturt Gorge Recre­ation Park is fast becom­ing a des­ti­na­tion for moun­tain bik­ing. With a net­work of more than 10 trails over a vari­ety of ter­rains and sur­faces, there for every skill level.

Image courtesy of @flow_mtb (Instagram)

25. Tune in to nature at the Organ Pipes

Cre­at­ed through vol­canic erup­tions over 1500 mil­lion years ago. The Organ Pipes in the Gawler Ranges Nation­al Parks are one of the world’s largest out­crops of vol­canic rhy­o­lite. The cool­ing process of the lava and mil­lions of years of ero­sion have left large sym­met­ri­cal columns resem­bling the pipes of an organ. You can find equal­ly stun­ning rocky out­crops at Yandin­ga Falls and Kolay Mir­i­ca Falls in the park.

Image courtesy of South Australian Tourism Commission

26. Watch kan­ga­roos graze at sunset

The stun­ning coastal views of the South­ern Ocean and Kan­ga­roo Island at Deep Creek Con­ser­va­tion Park are often accom­pa­nied by the large pop­u­la­tion of kan­ga­roos in the park. The kan­ga­roos are most active in the twi­light hours, so find a place to sit and watch nature at its best! Try Blow Hole Beach or Cob­bler Hill Pic­nic Ground, as they are the best places to spot kan­ga­roos in the park.

Image courtesy of @down_under_photo (Instagram)

27. Get up ear­ly for a desert sunrise

There is noth­ing like a desert sun­rise and our favourite place to see one is in the Kanku-Break­aways Con­ser­va­tion Park The Break­aways are a col­lec­tion of colour­ful hills and mounds that rise from the plains of Great Vic­to­ria Desert, just north of Coober Pedy. They come to life dur­ing sun­ris­es and sun­sets with rich reds, oranges and whites.

National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia

28. See a red knot in breed­ing plumage

Vis­it the Ade­laide Inter­na­tion­al Bird Sanc­tu­ary Nation­al Park — Winaity­i­naityi Pangkara which is home to more than 50 species and over 27,000 res­i­dent and migra­to­ry shore­birds, includ­ing red knots that fly from as far as Rus­sia. The plumage of male red knot birds changes from brown­ish-grey to chest­nut-red when breed­ing. The best time to wit­ness them in their breed­ing plumage is in ear­ly autumn, just before they make their epic jour­ney back to the north­ern hemisphere.

Image courtesy of Martin Stokes

29. Dis­cov­er new shades of blue

Mem­o­ry Cove Wilder­ness Pro­tec­tion Area adjoins Lin­coln Nation­al Park on the south­ern Eyre Penin­su­la. This pris­tine wilder­ness area with its dense coastal veg­e­ta­tion, abun­dant wildlife, white sandy beach­es and water of every shade of blue is lim­it­ed to only 15 vehi­cles a day (requires a four-wheel dri­ve vehi­cle) ensur­ing this spe­cial place remains unspoiled.

Image courtesy of @cody_ackland (Instagram)

30. Wan­der through a land­scape shaped by ice and glaciers

Hal­lett Cove Con­ser­va­tion Park is home to one of Australia’s most out­stand­ing and inter­na­tion­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant geo­log­i­cal sites. Fol­low the inter­pre­tive walk­ing trail and explore an ancient land­scape shaped by ice and glac­i­ers. The park is also a sig­nif­i­cant cul­tur­al her­itage site with over 1,700 Abo­rig­i­nal arte­facts have been found.

Image courtesy of @paulmarrano (Instagram)