Ranger tips: Deep Creek National Park

Ranger tips: Deep Creek National Park

Get insid­er tips on the best places to vis­it and must do’ activ­i­ties from Ranger Simon Oster.

Less than 2 hours’ dri­ve from Ade­laide is Deep Creek Nation­al Park. It’s a great place to spot kan­ga­roos, echid­nas and dol­phins and it boasts spec­tac­u­lar views out to Kan­ga­roo Island.

After work­ing in the park for 8 years, ranger Simon Oster knows the place like the back of his hand.

Here are his tips on the best places to vis­it and must do’ activities.

Who goes to Deep Creek Nation­al Park?

We get young peo­ple, fam­i­lies, walk­ing and hik­ing groups, local and inter­na­tion­al tourists and stu­dents, and first-time campers who may be ven­tur­ing into the Aus­tralian out­doors to expe­ri­ence camp­ing with­in close reach of Ade­laide. The park is also a step-off point to Kan­ga­roo Island, so lots of vis­i­tors stop here on the way. 

When is a great time to visit?


I think sum­mer is a good time to vis­it. It can be hot, which makes it more chal­leng­ing for walk­ing, but the cli­mate here is a bit cool­er than in Ade­laide because of the prox­im­i­ty to the ocean. We’re at the end of the Fleurieu Penin­su­la and so there’s a cool­ing influ­ence in the sea­wa­ter and the ele­va­tion of the park. We’re at about a 300 metre ele­va­tion above sea lev­el, so we can actu­al­ly get fogged in even when the tem­per­a­ture is in the mid-20s. Some­times we’ve even had peo­ple mis­take the fog for thick smoke and report it as a bushfire.


This is the most pop­u­lar time of year in the park. Peo­ple love that first autumn week­end when you can have a camp­fire – they real­ly look for­ward to the expe­ri­ence and so the park’s camp­grounds are always full at that time. Remem­ber that camp­fires are allowed in the park from Wednes­day 1 May to around the end of Octo­ber and that you’ll need to check our web­site before you go for cur­rent infor­ma­tion on campfires.

Ranger tips: Deep Creek National Park


I love win­ter in Deep Creek – it’s my favourite time of year. The water­falls and creeks are flow­ing, the moss­es and lichens are right out, and the colour and for­ma­tions of the fun­gi is incred­i­ble. It’s all vis­i­ble along the for­est walks and it’s nice and cool for walk­ing. I find the for­est most attrac­tive when it’s wet and the light is also fan­tas­tic at this time. Sun­set and sun­rise through the stringy­bark for­est is beautiful. 

Ranger tips: Deep Creek National Park


This time of year is like autumn – it’s very pop­u­lar. There are lots of young birds, every­thing is hav­ing babies and it’s cute to see them. The change of sea­son can be quite dramatic.

What’s Deep Creek Nation­al Park’s best kept secret?

The dol­phins at Boat Har­bour Beach are amaz­ing. You’re quite like­ly to see them when­ev­er you vis­it, but you have to make the effort to get there.

You can get there by dri­ving (two-wheel dri­ve is fine) down the unsealed road to the Pages Look­out. From there you have to walk along the Hey­sen Trail for about an hour. If you’re a keen hik­er you can con­tin­ue along the Hey­sen Trail to Tunkalil­la Beach.

The oth­er option is to dri­ve a 4WD down the unsealed road to the carpark at Boat Har­bour Beach and walk 15 min­utes down to the water. It’s a bit of a heart-stop­per on the way back up and could take up to 30 min­utes depend­ing on your lev­el of fitness.

Just be pre­pared and remem­ber that you’ll prob­a­bly have to car­ry or sup­port young chil­dren on the way back, so you’ll need a good lev­el of fit­ness if you’re walk­ing with them.

You can’t see the dol­phins if you just dri­ve to the carpark, you have to put in some effort.

What ani­mals can be seen in the park?

The park pre­serves the largest por­tion of rem­nant nat­ur­al veg­e­ta­tion on the Fleurieu Penin­su­la, so it’s home to kan­ga­roos, echid­nas and about 100 bird species.

At night time you’ll hear the boo­book owls and in the morn­ing kook­abur­ras and mag­pies will come to you. You’ll hear red wat­tle birds but you might not see them. The superb blue wrens will come to vis­it you.

In the park’s camp­sites, ring­tail pos­sums will be around and you’ll see them if you head out with a torch­light at night. If you take a short walk around the out­skirts of the camp­sites you’ll see echid­nas and there are also micro­bats at night.

My favourite are the boo­book owls at night-time. They move around the for­est, so you have to keep a close ear out for them call­ing from dif­fer­ent directions.

What is the park’s most impres­sive nat­ur­al feature?

The old growth stringy­bark for­est is very spe­cial. It’s the largest por­tion of remain­ing nat­ur­al veg­e­ta­tion on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Ranger tips: Deep Creek National Park

What’s the most mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence you’ve had in the park?

Only a cou­ple of weeks ago, I saw a school of Port Jack­son sharks at Blow­hole Beach. They were clear­ly vis­i­ble and pret­ty awe­some to look at. 

We could see them very clear­ly from the carpark and then we went down to the rock shore to see them scour­ing the sand bed look­ing for crustaceans.

They’re all part of the mix of the healthy ecosys­tem that we have with this con­ser­va­tion park that bor­ders on to Encounter Bay Marine Park.

Ranger tips: Deep Creek National Park

What are you real­ly proud of in the park?

I’m proud of the way that peo­ple inter­act with the park. We most­ly get peo­ple who respect the place and don’t dam­age it or leave lit­ter, so I’m proud that we’ve had a pos­i­tive influ­ence on people’s behav­iour and the respect that they have for the environment.

There are also good things hap­pen­ing in the park for peo­ple of vary­ing abil­i­ties. You can now hire a Trail­Rid­er all-ter­rain wheel­chair for free from the Yankallila Vis­i­tor Cen­tre that allows peo­ple with lim­it­ed mobil­i­ty to explore the diverse trails in the park. Book­ings are essential.

South­ern Ocean Retreats also offers pri­vate­ly-run accom­mo­da­tion in the park and they’ve just had one of their Retreats reviewed by Push Adven­tures and The Good Scout Trav­el Co as offer­ing good access”. This Retreat has open-plan kitchen liv­ing, an acces­si­ble wet­room includ­ing grab rails around the toi­let and show­er, a move­able show­er rose and safe­ty mats across exter­nal entries.

Park of the Month

Through­out June, Deep Creek Nation­al Park is being cel­e­brat­ed as Nation­al Parks South Australia’s Park of the Month. Join a guid­ed walk with the ranger, or explore this spec­tac­u­lar park in your own time. Check the web­site for all the details. 

Won­der­ing which oth­er nation­al parks to vis­it in SA? Get inspired with our list of parks with bril­liant views or breath-tak­ing nat­ur­al won­ders.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living