Safe and sound: Your guide to exploring SA’s national parks for the first time
Our best advice for first-time visitors? Start your journey well before you step foot in a park and find out more about the area you’re visiting.
You may need to pay camping, accommodation or vehicle entry fees online before you arrive.
And most importantly, take direction from park rangers when you arrive; they have the greatest knowledge of local conditions.
Here’s how you can stay safe on your first visit:
Pack like a pro
- Hydration is key! Our national parks might be stunning, but they’re also, well, national parks – vast and untamed. Carrying enough water (one litre per hour of activity is a good rule of thumb) is as essential as your sense of adventure.
- Sun protection is non-negotiable. A wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are your best friends.
- Choose the right gear for your parks experience. If bushwalking, wear protective clothing and footwear and prepare for weather changes. Carry insect repellent and first aid supplies.
Check weather and park conditions
- Before you depart, make a habit of checking the Bureau of Meteorology for weather forecasts and warnings.
- A quick glance at the parks closures and alerts list can save you the disappointment of arriving at a closed trail or park section. Remember, these closures are there for your safety.
- For those venturing into the more remote Flinders Ranges or Outback, check out the desert parks bulletin, which will guide you through campground conditions and access routes. During summer many outback parks will be closed. For a first timer visiting in summer we’d suggest beach side parks and being careful about water safety.
Set up your campsite safely
New to camping?
South Australia has some wonderful bush camping, with campgrounds in more than 40 of our national parks and reserves.
Whether you’re looking for a simple, back-to-basics experience or a site with toilets and hot showers, there’s something for everyone. However, setting up the perfect campsite requires some thought.
Check out our blog on Everything you need to know for your first camping trip in a national park to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep under the stars.
Stick to the path. It’s tempting to go off-trail, but remember, these areas are closed for reasons like unstable surfaces or fire risks. Respecting these boundaries means respecting your safety. Let wildlife be wild. Respect, appreciate and keep your distance from native animals.
Know where you’re going
You can print park maps or download maps on to your phone before you get to a park.
Download the free Avenza Map App and have our national parks at your fingertips. This handy app taps into your device’s built-in GPS, mapping out your real-time location within the park. And the best part? You can use it offline and parks maps are free.
Understand phone coverage gaps
Mobile phone coverage is not reliable in all our parks, particularly in remote areas and where there is steep terrain.
Know your limits
We suggest avoiding remote areas or undertaking challenging activities on your first visit. Work your way up to these activities once you are more familiar with parks experiences and safety protocols.
Check your vehicle and road conditions. Remember, unsealed roads and nature aren’t always a smooth combination.
Some campgrounds within national parks are only accessible via 4WD. Ensure you check the details before you book. Information such as suitability for tents/caravans and trailers will also be included.
Wildlife is most active at dawn and dusk. Drive slowly and keep an eye out for our furry friends trying to cross the road.
Get on the water safely
For all things boating touch base with Marine Safety SA.
Respect seasonal fire restrictions
Many national parks do not allow solid fuel fires (wood and charcoal) at any time, however there are also many that do allow them at certain times of the year. To find out which parks allow campfires use our find a park tool and check the box for‘Campfires (seasonal restrictions apply)’ in the filters; this will display all the parks which allow campfires. You can also check out this full list of park fire restrictions.
Know emergency contacts
In case of emergencies, dial 000. Our Regional Duty Officers are also there to assist with various emergencies in the parks.
National parks are for all to enjoy and with these top tips we’re sure you’ll have an incredible adventure that will be the first of many!