Ferries McDonald Conservation Park
At around 880 hectares, Ferries McDonald Conservation Park is one of the larger Conservation Parks in the area.
The dense, predominantly mallee habitat provides a refuge for over 300 species of plants, and more than 80 species of birds. If you are lucky you may spy western grey kangaroos grazing in a neighbouring pasture, or catch a glimpse of several species of raptors floating in the sky above as they search for prey.
In spring, you can see the park alive with native orchids, flowering blossoms and all of the beautiful birds this season attracts. Encounter superb fairy-wrens, golden whistlers, rufous whistlers, yellow-rumped thornbills, mallee ringneck parrots, as well as several kinds of robin and white-browed babblers. This park is also home for the elusive and nationally endangered species, the malleefowl, which has been the subject of long-term research and monitoring in the park.
Another interesting natural feature of the park is the many sandy ridges forming part of the Murray Plains and providing evidence of its geological past, as this area was once part of the ocean bed.
Visitor information, bookings and park management:
National Parks Wildlife Service South Australia Riverland and Murraylands Regional Office
28 Vaughan Tce, Berri
Phone: (+61 8) 8595 2111
Medical, fire (including bushfire) and police emergency situations
Phone: Triple Zero (000)
Phone: 131 444 for non-urgent police assistance
National Parks and Wildlife Service SA – After-hours duty officer
Phone: 0417 192 335
Within the park
Please contact the Riverland and Murraylands Regional Office on (08) 8595 2111 or the after-hours duty officer on 0417 192 335 (outside of business hours).
Outside of the park
Please contact a local wildlife rescue group
When to visit
Visit in spring to see the park abundant with native orchids, flowering blossom and all of the beautiful birds this season attracts.
Ferries-McDonald Conservation Park is located approximately 15 min from Murray Bridge and 45 min from Adelaide.
Ferris McDonald Road bisects the park from north to south.
The car park and walking trail are accessible from Chauncey's Line Road, approximately 100m east of the intersection of Chauncey’s Line Rd and Ferries MacDonald Rd.
Dogs not allowed
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.
Please come to the park prepared to be self reliant as there is no facilities located in the park.
Plants and animals
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.
Ferries McDonald Conservation Park was part of what was once a vast area of mallee bushland during pre-industrial times, however, much of the land surrounding the current park was cleared years ago for agriculture. Fortunately, a few rocky outcrops, which were not suitable for farming, preserved fragments of the original vegetation.
The park was dedicated in two stages. The first took place on 28 July 1938 when the area was gazetted as a closed area for birds and animals, creating the first reserve specifically for mallee fauna. The area was named after Robert McDonald, the donor of much of the land. An addition to the park was made in 1953 from a bequest from James Ferries, thus creating the Ferries-McDonald Reserve. The area was previously known as Chauncey’s Line Scrub.
Ferries McDonald Loop Trail (45 min, 2km loop)
This easy walk meanders through remnant, mature mallee habitat and in spring provides the opportunity to see the park abundant with native orchids, flowering blossom and all of the beautiful birds this season attracts.
There are no designated mountain biking trails in this park.
Stay in the park
There is no camping or accommodation available within this park.
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.
The international Trail Users Code of Conduct is to show respect and courtesy towards other trail users at all times.
Ensure that you:
- when hiking, wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen
- be aware of weather conditions and avoid walking during the hottest part of the day
- make sure you have appropriate weather proof clothing
- carry enough water to be self-sufficient
- please be respectful of other users at all times
- stay on the designated trails and connector tracks for your own safety, and prevent the spread of declared weeds to other areas in the park
- ensure someone knows your approximate location and expected time of return
- take appropriate maps.
- Walk, hike or trek - what's the difference?
Can I have a fire or barbecue?
- Wood fires, solid fuel, gas fires and liquid fuel fires are prohibited throughout the year.
- 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
- 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
- leave the park as you found it - there are no bins in national parks, please come prepared to take your rubbish with you.
- abide by the road rules (maintain the speed limit)
- respect geological and heritage sites
- do not remove 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 animals and adding nutrients to the soil.
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.
Come and enjoy this park for free
Camping and accommodation
There is no camping or accommodation available within this park.
This park is not included in the park pass system.