Pooginook Conservation Park and Chowilla Game Reserve
Closure of Pooginook Conservation Park and the Border Cliffs section only of Chowilla Game Reserve for feral animal control program. The parks will be closed from 20 March to 28 March 2021.
- Campfires permitted
- Caravan sites
- Picnic areas
- Bird watching
- Dogs on lead
- Walking trails
Explore Chowilla Game Reserve and the great stands of the majestic river red gum and the hardy black box providing habitat for the diverse wildlife of the park. Discover the peaceful waterways of the Murray River and its anabranches by canoe while observing the array of birdlife. Due to its remote nature, Chowilla provides great opportunities for secluded bush camping and disconnecting from the world ﴾with limited phone reception﴿.
The game reserve is an integral part of the Riverland Biosphere Reserve, comprising 18,000 hectares of floodplains and wetlands. Chowilla is an important refuge for waterbird populations. It is recognised as a Riverland Wetland of International Importance declared under the Ramsar convention, and one of the six The Living Murray icon sites in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger. The park may also be closed during high rainfall events when roads and campsites become slippery and boggy, as well as times when there are high water levels in the wetlands. Please contact us if you are unsure.
Listen to the local area radio station for the latest daily weather updates and information on fire safety.
- CFS website
- CFS Hotline: 1300 362 361
Visitor information, bookings and park management:
National Parks Wildlife Service South Australia Berri office
Phone: (+61 8) 8580 1800
Booking enquiries please email
Medical, fire (including bushfire) and police emergency situations
Phone: Triple Zero (000)
Phone: 131 444 for non-urgent police assistance
Within the park
Please contact National Parks Wildlife Service South Australia Berri office on (08) 8580 1800
Outside of the park
Please contact a local wildlife rescue group
Chowilla Game Reserve is located 305km northeast of Adelaide. Access is via Old Wentworth Road north of Renmark ﴾48km﴿. Please take care driving on the Old Wentworth road as there are many kangaroos and the road surface may have loose gravel or pot holes.
Border Cliff campground
The Border Cliffs Campground is located 294km northeast of Adelaide via Murtho Road, or 30.5km northeast of Paringa.
Dogs allowed (on lead in designated areas)
You and your dog can enjoy the Chowilla Game Reserve with the exception of the Border Cliffs campground area where dogs are not permitted.
Please ensure you:
- Keep your dog under control and on a lead no more than two metres in length.
- Stick to designated walking trails.
- Bring disposable bags to clean up your dog’s faeces (please be aware there are no bins in national parks).
Dogs are not permitted in other areas of the park.
Assistance dogs are permitted in most public places and are therefore welcome in South Australia’s parks and reserves. Assistance dogs must be appropriately restrained on a lead and remain under your effective control at all times while in a park or reserve.
As per the dogs in parks and reserves policy, if the dog is not an accredited assistance dog, they must be trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate that disability and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for a dog in a public place. However, refusal may be given if the person with the disability is unable to produce evidence the dog is an assistance dog with the appropriate training.
Before taking your assistance dog into a park that does not normally allow dogs, it is highly recommended that you contact us so we can provide you with the latest information on any potential hazards within specific parks that may affect your dog. Please contact the park via the contact details provided under the contact tab or contact the visitor service centre via email or on Facebook, or you can live chat with a customer service representative on the website Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
There are picnic areas, caravan and camp sites available in this park. Toilets are only located at the Border Cliffs campground.
- The Living Murray Chowilla Floodplain Icon Site
- Camping safety
- Parks management plans
- Trails SA
- SA Marine Parks
- Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for many animals and is essential for adding nutrients to the soil for other native plants when rotting down
- Mobile phone coverage can be patchy and unreliable in this park, especially if you are in low‐lying areas
Plants and animals
Chowilla Game Reserve contains flood plain and wetland environments, and is one of the last areas of the lower Murray that has kept much of its natural character. It contains the largest remaining natural river red gum forest in the lower Murray.
With age, river red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) form hollows or holes in their trunks or branches. These hollows provide shelter and nesting sites for a great variety of animals including parrots, bats, possums, snakes and insects. The nationally vulnerable regent parrot (Polytelis anthopeplus) will only breed in hollows in river red gums along the Murray River, so these trees are highly significant for the regent parrot’s survival.
Flora and fauna species lists
To download flora (plants) and fauna (animals) species lists for this park, use the 'Create Simple Species List' tab under 'Flora Tools' or 'Fauna Tools' in NatureMaps.
Aboriginal peoples have occupied, enjoyed and managed the lands and waters of this State for thousands of generations. For Aboriginal first nations, creation ancestors laid down the laws of the Country and bestowed a range of customary rights and obligations to the many Aboriginal Nations across our state.
There are many places across the State that have great spiritual significance to Aboriginal first nations. At some of these places Aboriginal cultural protocols, such as restricted access, are promoted and visitors are asked to respect the wishes of Traditional Owners.
In places where protocols are not promoted visitors are asked to show respect by not touching or removing anything, and make sure you take all your rubbish with you when you leave.
Aboriginal peoples continue to play an active role in caring for their Country, including in parks across South Australia.
When to visit
Climatically and scenically, autumn and spring are the best times to visit Riverland parks. However, the climate of the Riverland makes it suitable for visiting parks most of the year. The summer months of January and February can be hot.
Roads along the flood plain are generally unsuitable for driving on immediately after heavy rains. This, and other hazards such as bush fire, can force the temporary closure of some sections of the park. Keep your eye on this website for up to date information.
Stay in the park
Wake up to peaceful sounds of the River Murray and its water birds.
There are two campgrounds in Chowilla Game Reserve available, check the book before you go links for more information on each site.
Border Cliffs Campground
Lace monitors have been sighted around Chowilla campgrounds. The closer than normal human contact may be due to the drought conditions and the lace monitors having to search harder to find food.All native animals in national and conservation parks are wild and should be observed from a distance. Please do not feed the lace monitors
Canoeing and kayaking
Exploring the waterways with a canoe or small boat is a great way to take in the sights of the floodplain. Meander down the quiet waters of Chowilla, Monoman and Punkah Creeks under the shade of mighty river red gums and black box trees.
Bushwalking is a fantastic way to connect with nature, keep fit and spend time with family and friends.
South Australia's national parks feature a range of trails that let you experience a diversity of landscapes. Our trails cater for all levels of fitness and adventure and our classification system makes it easy to select an experience suitable for you.
- Walk, hike or trek - what's the difference?
- Bushwalking safety
- Bushwalking minimum impact code
- Park maps
Border Cliffs Customs House Walking Trail (1 hours 30 mins return, 4km)
Located at the northern end of the Border Cliffs campground. Enjoy a one-and-a-half hour return walk from the car park and discover this special wetland system. Take the 350 metre detour to the lagoon and observe a variety of native birds including great egrets, superb fairy-wrens and white-faced herons. Return to the main path and take-in excellent views of the Murray River sandstone cliffs in the distance.
Along the way, watch for parrots, bats, possums, kookaburras, kangaroos, lizards and other wildlife.
You can ride your bike along any public access road within the park. There are no specifically designated cycling tracks in this park.
Duck hunting (seasonal)
Duck hunting is permitted in South Australian Game Reserves during declared duck hunting open seasons. Please refer to Game Reserves opening times and exclusions for information about duck hunting in Chowilla Game Reserve.
The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) is working together with Conservation and Hunting Alliance of South Australia (CHASA) to promote ethical and responsible hunting. Each year an assessment is conducted using data from the Bureau of Meteorology, the annual DEW wetland and waterfowl survey, CSIRO ‘Pastures from Space’ landscape modelling, PIRSA agronomic data and the Eastern Australian Aerial Waterbird Survey (EAAWS) to determine the abundance of waterfowl.
The duration, bird species and daily bag limit varies from season to season based on the annual assessment, so it is important to keep up to date through the Duck & Quail Open Season webpage.
- Map of Chowilla Game Reserve - Hunting exclusion zones
- Duck and quail open season
- Duck hunting open season information
- Game Reserves opening times and exclusions
Know before you go:
- Please respect all users of the area.
- Hunting on Game Reserves is managed to be sustainable.
- Hunters, through CHASA, contribute money and volunteer time to maintain habitat for all wetland birds.
- Behave and hunt in a responsible manner.
- Obey all laws and regulations.
- Carry a current hunting permit.
- Hunt only in the designated hunting area.
- Do not set up within 100m of another hunter without consent.
- Leave no litter and pick up spent cartridges and wads.
- Dress your game away from camping areas.
- Keep camping areas clean.
- Remember to fill in your season bag survey forms and send them to CHASA.
Fishing is actively managed in South Australia by the Department of Primary Industries and Resources SA.
Check out these useful links before embarking on your fishing adventure:
Large numbers of waterbirds, bush birds and native fauna can be seen in Chowilla Game Reserve making this the perfect destination for bird watchers and nature photographers.
Bird watching basics:
If you’ve already spotted a bird on your walk, then congratulations, you’re a birdwatcher! Here are few tips for being a better birdwatcher:
- Remove (or turn inside out) any brightly coloured jackets
- Move quietly and calmly into a comfortable sitting or standing position
- Keep noise and movement to a minimum
- Look at different levels – on the ground, in the reeds, on tree trunks and branches, and in the treetops.
- Bring binoculars and a field guide for your next visit.
Want to help?
To find out how you can help in this park or nearby, please visit Natural Resources South Australian Murray-Darling Basin – Volunteering.
Want to join others and become a Park Friend?
To find out more about Friends of Parks groups please visit Friends of Parks South Australia.
You could join others to help look after a park. You can take part in working bees, training and other events.
Become a campground host
Combine your love of camping with doing a good deed by becoming a volunteer campground host in this park.
A campground host is a volunteer who stays at the park either for a specific peak period, like the Easter break or a long weekend, or an extended period of time ﴾up to a few months﴿ to support park rangers.
If you are passionate about the environment, a keen camper, like to meet people from all around the world, and are a happy to help, then hosting could be right up your alley.
The international Trail Users Code of Conduct is to show respect and courtesy towards other trail users at all times. Ensure that you:
- keep to defined walking trails and follow the trail markers for your own safety, and prevent the spread of declared weeds to other areas in the park
- wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen
- please be respectful of others at all times
- carry sufficient drinking water
- be aware of weather conditions and avoid walking during the hottest part of the day
- inform a responsible person of your proposed route and expected time of return, take appropriate maps
- ensure you have appropriate wet weather clothing as weather conditions can change quickly.
- Walk, hike or trek ‐ what's the difference?
- Bushwalking Minimum Impact Code
- Never camp directly under large gum trees, especially river red gum and black box gum species. These trees are susceptible to dropping large branches at any time, especially during extended dry periods. These limbs can be extremely large and may endanger your safety or life should they fall on your campsite.
- Always let someone responsible know your travel plans, especially when travelling in remote areas. It's a good idea to let them know when you expect to return.
- Check the weather forecast before you leave, including overnight temperatures on the Bureau of Meteorology. Even during very mild weather, the nights can get very cold.
- The quality and quantity of water cannot be guaranteed within parks. Please bring plenty of water and food to be self‐sufficient.
- Always camp in designated sites. It's also a good idea to check that there are no insect nests nearby.
- Check to make sure you're not camping in a natural waterway.
- If camp fires are permitted, you must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for many animals and is essential for adding nutrients to the soil for other native plants when rotting down. Extinguish your camp fire with water ﴾not sand or dirt﴿ until the hissing sound stops.
- Lace monitors have been sighted around Lyrup Flats and Chowilla campgrounds. The closer than normal human contact may be due to the drought conditions and the lace monitors having to search harder to find food.All native animals in national and conservation parks are wild and should be observed from a distance. Please do not feed the lace monitors.
- Ensure that you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park, as they differ from fire restriction dates set by the CFS.
- Roads along the flood plain are generally unsuitable for driving on immediately after heavy rains. Expect varying road conditions along tracks with sandy, boggy and rocky patches. Vehicles are not permitted to drive off-road to navigate around these areas.
- IMPORTANT: It is an offence regulated under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, to drive/ride/tow a vehicle in an un-authorised area (off-track). Offenders will be fined $150 for each offence.
- Take extreme care when driving in the park – be aware of blind corners, crests and narrow two‐way tracks.
- When driving on sand, deflate your tyres to 105kPa ﴾15psi﴿ – or as appropriate for your vehicle. Don’t forget to re-inflate your tyres to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure before leaving the park. Take care when lowering tyre pressure as there is risk you could roll the tyre off its rim. Also, remember that lower tyre pressure can mean a change in how the vehicle handles.
Kayaks and canoes
Can I have a fire or barbecue?
- Wood fires and solid fuel fires are prohibited between 15 November 2020 to 15 April 2021.
- You must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within national parks is prohibited.
- Gas fires and liquid fuel fires are permitted through the year, other than on days of total fire ban.
- Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.
Closures and safety
This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may also be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.
You can determine the current fire danger rating by checking the Fire Ban District map on the CFS website.
Check the CFS website or call the CFS Bushfire Information Hotline 1800 362 361 for:
- Information on fire bans and current fire conditions
- Current CFS warnings and incidents
- Information on what to do in the event of a fire.
Listen to your local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety.
Know before you go
Every national park is different, each has its own unique environment, it is important to be responsible while enjoying all the park has to offer. Please ensure that you:
- leave your pets at home. Dogs are allowed in the Chowilla section only.
- do not feed birds or other animals, it promotes aggressive behaviour and an unbalanced ecology.
- do not bring generators ﴾except where permitted﴿, chainsaws or firearms into the park.
- help keep our parks beautiful by taking all your rubbish with you when you leave. Any rubbish left in campsites is an offence regulated under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, and campers will be fined.
- abide by the road rules ﴾maintain the speed limit﴿.
- respect geological and heritage sites.
- do not remove or damage native plants.
- are considerate of other park users.
- Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for many animals and is essential for adding nutrients to the soil for other native plants when rotting down.
If your dog is off lead, it is more likely to impact on native wildlife and other visitors in a park and be at risk itself.
Risks to wildlife:
- Dogs off tracks will leave a scent in the bush that will keep wildlife away.
- Uncontrolled dogs may frighten wildlife and disrupt their natural behaviour.
- Some dogs will kill or injure wildlife.
Risks to other park visitors
- Dogs may be aggressive to other park visitors.
- Even friendly dogs can knock people over causing injury.
- Some people want to enjoy parks without dogs.
Risks to your dog
- Poison baits may be laid to control foxes. Baits can be fatal to dogs.
- Even if your dog is friendly, other dogs may not be.
- Your dog can catch parasites (such as fleas and ticks) from wildlife.
- Snake bites are a real risk in natural areas such as parks.
- Wildlife such as kangaroos and koalas will defend themselves if threatened by a dog and can cause significant injury to or the death of your dog.
Maps on your mobile
If you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza Map app and have interactive national park maps on hand when you need them.
The app uses your device's built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos and drop placemark pins.
How to get it working on your device:
1. Download the Avenza Maps app from the app store (iOS/Android) whilst you are still in range (its free!).
2. Open up the app and click the shopping cart icon.
3. Click ‘Find’ and type the name of the national park or reserve you are looking for.
4. Click on the map you are after and install it (all our maps are free).
5. You will now find a list of your installed maps on the home page of the Avenza Maps app.
6. Use our maps through the Avenza Mapa app while in the park and never take a wrong turn again.
Vehicle entry to this park is free, however fees apply for camping.
Camping and accommodation
Campsites need to be booked prior to arrival.
Click through to the online booking page for more details about individual campgrounds and fees.
Book online to reserve your campsite up to 12 months in advance.
Book and pay in person
If you are unable to book and pay online you can do so, in person, at these booking agents across the state.