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11 national parks in South Australia to camp in these Christmas holidays

Still need to plan your Christmas camping trip? Try these quieter national parks for a more chilled out getaway.

Another busy year is coming to a close, so it’s almost time to relax, unwind and get ready to reload for 2020.

If you’re an avid camper and you’ve left your Christmas holiday planning until the last minute, don’t stress. There are still campsites available in many of South Australia’s national parks over the December/January holiday period.

Before you start thinking that planning a camping trip is just one more thing to add to your growing ‘to do’ list, think again.

We’ve done the hard work for you and picked 11 lesser-known national parks that are perfect for a quiet getaway.

Here’s where:

Within a 3-hour drive of Adelaide

1. Tolderol Game Reserve

Located on the shores of Lake Alexandrina, just south of Langhorne Creek, Tolderol Game Reserve is a fantastic park if you’re an avid birdwatcher.

With only six campsites in the park, which are all flat and grassy, this park’s a great choice if you want something away from the hustle and bustle. Just make sure you book your spot before you go, and be prepared to be self-sufficient, as there are no facilities onsite.

Wetlands in Tolderol Game Reserve

2. Karte Conservation Park

If you’re looking for solitude, this is the park for you. Located north-east of Lameroo, Karte Conservation Park protects a vast area of mallee scrub, which provides an important habitat for more than 40 species of birds, including the threatened malleefowl.

The campground has three campsites, a toilet and picnic tables, and you’ll need to book before you go.

Karte Conservation Park Hike

3. Loch Luna and Moorook Game Reserves

Explore the network of wetlands, creeks, lagoons and flood plains that make up the Loch Luna and Moorook Game Reserves in the Riverland. These parks are great for river-based activities and camping.

Campsites are well-spaced and can be found along the main river channel, Chambers Creek and Loch Luna Lagoon. There are limited facilities here, so be prepared. And don’t forget to book online before you go.

Moorook Game Reserve

4. Mount Monster Conservation Park

Despite the name, there’s nothing scary about Mount Monster Conservation Park. Located just south of Keith in the state’s south-east, this park boasts many special features including an unusual granite outcrop found in only one other location in South Australia.

There’s two hiking trails through the natural bushland, which are excellent for wildflower and wildlife watching.

Good news: it’s free to camp at this park, but bad news: there are no onsite facilities, so make sure you’re self-sufficient.

Mount Monster Conservation Park

3 to 5-hours’ drive from Adelaide

5. Lashmar Conservation Park

Nestled on the peaceful northern coast of Kangaroo Island, just east of Penneshaw, Lashmar Conservation Park is only a 3-hour drive plus a ferry trip from Adelaide. The park is an ideal location for swimming, fishing and birdwatching and is just a short drive from Cape Willoughby lightstation.

There are two campgrounds in the park, located either side of the Chapman River. It’s a great spot to visit, so don’t miss out – book your campsite now.

Chapman River, Lashmar Conservation Park – photo by Quentin Chester

6. Beachport Conservation Park

White sandy beaches, coastal flora and extensive birdlife make Beachport Conservation Park an ideal spot for a camping holiday.

The 3 Mile Bend Campground on the shores of Lake George has seven campsites, so there won’t be too many neighbours. The sheltered campground is suitable for small to medium size caravans, camper trailers and tents. Just make sure you book your site online before you go.

Fishing at Beachport Conservation Park

7. Little Dip Conservation Park

Located just south of Robe, Little Dip Conservation Park conserves a number of small lakes plus a ruggedly beautiful coastline and sand dunes. The lakes are a haven for birdwatchers and the beaches provide good opportunities for beachcombing and surf fishing.

It’s a gem of a park, and it has four secluded campgrounds that you can book a site at.

Old Man Lake, Little Dip Conservation Park

8. Bool Lagoon Game Reserve

Wake up to the sounds of the birdlife that call this Ramsar-listed wetlands home. Bool Lagoon Game Reserve conserves one of the largest and most important fresh water lagoon systems in southern Australia. Up to 150 bird species are known to visit the area, making it a haven for bird-watchers.

The campground has toilets, a picnic area with gas barbecue, and running water (non-drinkable), and sites need to be booked online in advance.

Bool Lagoon Game Reserve

9. Chowilla Game Reserve

The peaceful waterways and majestic river red gums at Chowilla Game Reserve make this a wonderful place to disconnect.

The remote nature of the park will put you out of range of pesky phone calls as you relax to the sounds of nature. Try your hand at canoeing, fishing and birdwatching.

With plenty of space, you will be sure to find a secluded camp site. Just remember to book before you go.

Chowilla Game Reserve

10. Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and Wilderness Protection Area

Located on the wild south coast of Kangaroo Island, the vast wilderness of Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and Wilderness Protection Area will provide a spectacular backdrop to your Christmas getaway. It’s a great spot for bushwalking, birdwatching, kayaking, snorkelling and fishing.

There are five campsites dotted along beautiful D’Estrees Bay, plus another five campsites at Murray Lagoon, an idyllic spot with its abundant birdlife. Don’t forget to book before you go.

Cape Gantheaume – photo by Quentin Chester

A bit more of a road trip…

11. Laura Bay Conservation Park

Laura Bay Conservation Park lies just south of Ceduna on the west cost of the Eyre Peninsula. The sheltered bay, with its tidal samphire flats and mangroves, is an ideal feeding ground for sea birds, many of which migrate from the northern hemisphere each year. Popular activities to do here include swimming, fishing and exploring the beach and rock pools.

The campground has three campsites to book, but bear in mind you’ll need to be a self-sufficient camper as there are no onsite facilities here.

Laura Bay Conservation Park

This story was originally posted in November 2018 and has been updated as necessary.
First time camping? Check out these stories: camping essentials, camping dos and don’ts, and tips for beginners.

Main image: Camping on the River Murray


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