How to spend a day in South Australia’s Ngarkat Conservation Park

How to spend a day in South Australia’s Ngarkat Conservation Park

Want to make the most of your vis­it to this icon­ic park? We’ve got you cov­ered with these itineraries.

Ngarkat Con­ser­va­tion Park is locat­ed in the Mur­ray­lands region of South Aus­tralia, 34 km south of Pinnaroo.

Known for its peace­ful sur­round­ings, the park is home to a sec­tion of the Bor­der Track that brings vis­i­tors from all over Australia.

Ngarkat Con­ser­va­tion Park thrives in wildlife. Look out for west­ern grey kan­ga­roos and emus, and the more than 120 species of birds that call this park home. You might even spot a rare malleefowl walk­ing slow­ly among the trees.

Due to the park’s vast 270,000 hectares on offer, before you head out you’ll need to decide on what kind of trip you’ll want to do. Here’s a guide based on the type of car you have:

I have a two-wheel dri­ve (2WD) vehicle

You can still have a great 2WD expe­ri­ence of Ngarkat Con­ser­va­tion Park, you’ll just need to stick to the sealed Ngarkat Highway.

A great spot to vis­it is Per­ten­di Hut, which is locat­ed on the east­ern side of this road and is acces­si­ble by 2WD. The his­toric hut was restored by the Friends of the South­ern Mallee Parks in 1997.

From here, explore more of the park by tak­ing the short walk­ing track that takes you through the sur­round­ing mallee.

It’s also a great spot to stop for lunch – you can enjoy a BBQ pic­nic under the shady trees, with toi­let facil­i­ties close by.

Top tip: If you’ve got a bit more time, stay the night in one of the park’s camp­sites that are acces­si­ble by 2WD.

How to spend a day in South Australia’s Ngarkat Conservation Park

I have a four-wheel dri­ve (4WD) vehicle

If you have a 4WD and a day to spend in the park, there’s a cou­ple of great one-day itin­er­aries for you:

Option 1

Start your adven­ture in the north of the park, with a stop at Pine Hut Soak.

To get there, fol­low Rosy Pine Road south from the Mallee High­way for 15 km, and then just inside the park is Pine Hut Soak.

Here you can explore the net­work of walk­ing trails that start oppo­site the campground.

You can enjoy a short one-hour walk to the his­toric Nanam Well, or for those with lots of ener­gy, the 17 km return hike to Scor­pi­on Springs.

Make use of the shady pic­nic facil­i­ties at Pine Hut Soak when you get back.

After lunch, you could ven­ture along Pine Hut Soak Hike, where you’ll pass some amaz­ing look­outs on the way to Fish­ponds Hike, which is a great spot for wildlife spotting.

From here you can ven­ture back to your vehi­cle pass­ing the aban­doned Cox Wind­mill, which gives an inter­est­ing insight into the his­to­ry of the area.

Option 2

To start your adven­ture in the south, trav­el south-east along the Dukes High­way for 22 km. Turn north onto Snozwells Road and fol­low the road until you reach the park.

Head along the Mount Res­cue loop and make your first stop at Tyms Look­out, which is a great place to take in the views.

Here you’ll real­ly get to expe­ri­ence the untouched beau­ty of the Ngarkat land­scape – from as far as you can see in one direc­tion through to where it meets the pad­docks of the neigh­bour­ing farm­land in the oth­er direction.

When you’re ready to keep mov­ing, trav­el to Bucks Camp ruins (camp­ing area) and head north towards the Res­cue Track, then dri­ve east along Res­cue Track to Mount Res­cue lookout.

From here, a short hike will give you mag­nif­i­cent views of the mallee from the top of the dune. Be sure to keep an eye in the under­growth as sev­er­al native orchids can be found in the area.

Once you’ve tak­en in the views out into the dis­tance, from the look­out con­tin­ue east. When you reach Baan Hill, turn right and trav­el until you reach the park’s south­ern boundary.

Here, a right-hand turn will take you along the South­ern Bound­ary Track, past Rab­bit Island Soak and back to Snozwells Road cor­ner and Tintinara.

Top tip: Don’t for­get to down­load the park map before you go to help you nav­i­gate along the way.

How to spend a day in South Australia’s Ngarkat Conservation Park

Want to make a week­end of it?

If you real­ly want to enjoy Ngarkat Con­ser­va­tion Park and all that it has to offer, then spend a few days in the park and take on the Ngarkat loop.

This is a pop­u­lar route by almost all vis­i­tors, as it takes you to most spots in the park.

From Pin­na­roo, head to Pine Hut Soak trav­el­ling south via the Cen­tre Track, which joins up to the south­ern half of the Bor­der Track.

Camp the night before head­ing south along Cen­tre Track. Fol­low the Cen­tre Track through native pine habi­tat and then through the mallee heath, before it then heads east and joins onto the south­ern half of the Bor­der Track.

This sec­tion of the trip is chal­leng­ing and requires a rea­son­able lev­el of 4WD expe­ri­ence, and it is rec­om­mend­ed that you trav­el with more than one vehicle.

Fol­low the Bor­der Track past Dog­gers Hut Camp­ground, a quite spot to rest and have lunch, and then turn right (west) and fol­low­ing Mount Shaugh Track to Ngarkat Highway.

Trav­el south on the bitu­men (Ngarkat High­way) for approx­i­mate­ly 15 km to reach the South Bound­ary Track. Trav­el west along this track, which will then turn into Gosse Hill Track. Keep head­ing west past Rab­bit Island Soak Camp­ground – it’s a peace­ful spot to camp the night before pro­ceed­ing to Bucks Camp the next day.

Once at Bucks Camp, stroll around and view the old well and ruin left behind from the pas­toral era. When you’re ready, head north along Jimmy’s Well Track until you get to Box Flat. Stop for a small stroll around the soak before head­ing out to Baan Hill Track and north to the Mallee Hwy.

The next day, head out for a walk on the Tyms Look­out Hike or Mount Res­cue Hike, where you’ll get to see the sen­sa­tion­al views of Ngarkat’s ever-chang­ing land­scapes that seem to go on forever.

Time for lunch? Head north to Box Flat where you can either check out the ruins or just sit back in the shade of the euca­lypt trees watch­ing the birds in the tree tops or watch emus and kan­ga­roos for­ag­ing and graz­ing in the open soak areas next to the camp grounds.

When it’s time to head home, you can trav­el back along the Baan Hill Road to Lameroo or Mallee High­way west toward Tailem Bend.

Top tip: Ngarkat has lim­it­ed or no phone recep­tion. Pur­chase your entry camp­ing per­mit online before enter­ing the park. 

Things to pre­pare before you go

Before you head into the park to start your adven­ture, buy your vehi­cle entry pass either online or from one of the book­ing agents on your way.

It’s also a good idea to down­load park and camp­ground maps on your phone while you still have inter­net reception.

Anoth­er option is to get the Aven­za Maps app and down­load the park maps. When you’re in the park, the app will use your phone’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time loca­tion onto a map – even when you don’t have inter­net reception.

The park tru­ly is a rugged wilder­ness, and that also means there’s lim­it­ed facil­i­ties avail­able, so you’ll need to come prepared.

Make sure you pack enough drink­ing water and food as there are no shops locat­ed with­in the park.

It’s also a good idea to pack sun pro­tec­tion (a hat, sun­glass­es and sun­screen), insect repel­lent and a shov­el and toi­let paper for when nature calls.

If you’re plan­ning on hik­ing, it’s also essen­tial you wear suit­able footwear and cloth­ing, such as long pants.

There are no bins in nation­al parks, so you’ll also have to think about how you can take your rub­bish home.

Want some extra tips for your next vis­it? Find out what park rangerRyan Hamood rec­om­mends.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living