Safe and sound: Your guide to exploring SA's national parks for the first time

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.

Safe and sound: Your guide to exploring SA's national parks for the first time

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.

Nav­i­gate nature

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.

Dri­ve safely

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.

Safe and sound: Your guide to exploring SA's national parks for the first time

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! 

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living