Ranger tips: Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and Wilderness Protection Area

Ranger tips: Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and Wilderness Protection Area

Get insid­er tips on the best places to vis­it and must-do activ­i­ties from Park Ranger Matt Angrave.

Locat­ed on the east­ern end of South Australia’s Kan­ga­roo Island, 40 km south-west of Kingscote, is the pris­tine Cape Gantheaume Con­ser­va­tion Park and Wilder­ness Pro­tec­tion Area.

The park boasts a wide range of walk­ing trails, new­ly upgrad­ed camp­grounds and some great spots to drop a line to try and catch your dinner.

With so much to explore in the park, we’ve asked ranger Matt Angrave for some insid­er tips. Here’s what he had to say:

What are the options for camp­ing in the park?

Cape Gantheaume Con­ser­va­tion Park offers some great camp­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, with its two camp­grounds being recent­ly upgrad­ed.

The camp­grounds are great spots to base your­self for some fish­ing and bush­walk­ing in the park, and are cen­tral­ly locat­ed to oth­er attrac­tions on the east­ern end of Kan­ga­roo Island.

1. Mur­ray Lagoon Campground

Mur­ray Lagoon Camp­ground on the north­ern bor­der of the park is the per­fect spot for fam­i­lies to stay the night, with toi­lets, a BBQ shel­ter, com­mu­nal fire pits (only to be used out­side of the fire dan­ger sea­son, of course!) and gen­er­ous-sized campsites.

There’s plen­ty of space for the kids to play a game of crick­et, or to kick the footy around on the grassed areas, and there are lots of great areas to explore.

Anoth­er huge bonus is the campground’s close prox­im­i­ty to walk­ing trails, with the Tim­ber Creek Walk, Bald Hill Walk and Cur­ley Creek Hike all start­ing a short dri­ve up the road.

Mur­ray Lagoon Camp­ground fea­tures 8 camp­sites, includ­ing one large group site that can fit up to 30 peo­ple and 8 vehi­cles, mak­ing it per­fect for large fam­i­ly groups and schools. The camp­ground is suit­able for tents, camper trail­ers and car­a­vans.

2. D’Estrees Bay Campground

D’Estrees Bay Camp­ground on the south coast has toi­lets and pic­nic shel­ters, and all of the sites have access to the bay – so you can expect to be wak­ing up to beau­ti­ful ocean views.

The camp­ground is made up of 8 camp­sites dot­ted along the coast­line, with options for tents, car­a­vans and campervans.

If you’d like to trade off easy access to facil­i­ties for a lit­tle more pri­va­cy, check out the Big Sand Dune camp­site. The site is only suit­able for tents, but you’ll get great pro­tec­tion from the south-east­er­ly winds.

Where are the best spots to go fish­ing in the park?

Wreck­ers and Wheaton’s beach­es are both great for fish­ing. At Wreck­ers Beach you’ll find a BBQ shel­ter and toi­lets, and at Wheaton’s Beach a new toi­let block is under construction.

Autumn is one of the best times to go fish­ing in the park. There are plen­ty of mul­let to catch at this time of year, and you might also reel in King George whit­ing, treval­ly and flat­head from these sandy beaches.

What’s the best walk­ing trail in the park?

The park is filled with so many great walk­ing trails, it’s hard just to pick one! So here are 3 of my favourites:

1. Tim­ber Creek and Cur­ley Creek walks

The Tim­ber Creek and Cur­ley Creek walks near Mur­ray Lagoon offer great oppor­tu­ni­ties to see shore­birds and water­fowl, espe­cial­ly from the look­outs at Bald Hill and along Cur­ley Creek.

Both of these trails are well-main­tained and have wide paths that accom­mo­date young families.

Take cau­tion if you’re vis­it­ing the park in win­ter, as some sec­tions of the trails can become flooded.

2. Tad­pole Cove Walk

If you’re after a short walk, the Tad­pole Cove Walk just south of Wreck­ers Beach is per­fect for the whole family.

On your way, you’ll walk among coastal heath and will be able to spot plen­ty of birdlife amongst the shrubs.

The trail mean­ders through regen­er­at­ing veg­e­ta­tion to a look­out at Tad­pole Cove – have a look along the coast­line and see if you can work out why it’s called Tad­pole Cove.

As you walk, take notice of the old stone thresh­ing floor where crops were threshed man­u­al­ly, or with a horse if you were lucky! It’s a great reminder of the hard­ship of ear­ly farm­ing years in the area.

3. Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek

For the more adven­tur­ous and expe­ri­enced walk­er, the Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek is your best bet – it starts the Sew­er car park at D’Estrees Bay and goes all the way through to Bales Bay.

Walk­ers will trav­el through the Cape Gantheaume Wilder­ness Pro­tec­tion Area and will see spec­tac­u­lar coastal scenery and tracts of undis­turbed native bush­land, and will have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to observe abun­dant and diverse wildlife, includ­ing long-nosed fur seals.

This mul­ti-day trek is unmarked and is more than 30 km long, and is only suit­able for expe­ri­enced walkers.

It’s only open from 1 Jan­u­ary through to 30 April each year. The trail is closed for the remain­der of the year to pro­tect nest­ing sites of the endan­gered white-bel­lied sea eagle in the area. Fresh water and food aren’t avail­able on the trek, so it’s very impor­tant to plan ahead and to dis­cuss your plans with a ranger before you head out.

What wildlife can you see in the park?

The park has some fan­tas­tic wildlife view­ing opportunities.

For the best bird­watch­ing expe­ri­ence, time your vis­it to be in the ear­ly morn­ing or late after­noon. There are many passer­ine wood­land birds, large rap­tors – includ­ing east­ern osprey – and many dif­fer­ent beach-nest­ing shore­birds to be seen.

Kan­ga­roos, wal­la­bies and echid­nas are also fre­quent­ly sight­ed through­out the park – the Cur­ley Creek Hike is one of the best spots to spot an echid­na going about its day.

How can I learn more about the his­to­ry of the area?

If you’re inter­est­ed in the ear­ly Euro­pean his­to­ry in the area, then the self-guid­ed tour of D’Estrees Bay would be per­fect for you.

The 8 km inter­pre­tive self-dri­ve tour was devel­oped by the Friends of Cape Gantheaume Con­ser­va­tion Park and show­cas­es the nat­ur­al and cul­tur­al his­to­ry of the area, and demon­strates the strug­gles of the ear­ly farm­ing days on Kan­ga­roo Island.

Check out the self-dri­ve brochure on the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice web­site.

Park of the Month

Through­out Decem­ber, the parks of east­ern Kan­ga­roo Island are being cel­e­brat­ed as Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Service’s Parks of the Month. Join rangers on beach ram­bles, dri­ving tours and walks in the park – check the web­site for all the details. 

Look­ing for more to see and do on your next vis­it to Kan­ga­roo Island? Why not go and check out the island’smost famous light­hous­es.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living