Established in 1966, the Coorong National Park is a spectacular saline lagoon stretching 140km. It is separated from the Southern Ocean by sand dunes of the Younghusband Peninsula, and is internationally significant under the Ramsar agreement as a migratory wader and waterfowl refuge.
Derived from an Aboriginal word ‘karangk’ meaning narrow neck, it is one of the most breathtaking national parks in Australia. You will also be a guest of the Ngarrindjeri people, the traditional custodians of these lands and waters for thousands of years. It is a place of Aboriginal significance.
The Coorong is ideal for birdwatching and photography with its distinctive landscape in an important breeding area for the Australian pelican and a refuge for ducks, swans, cormorants, terns, grebes and over 230 migratory birds that travel annually from Siberia, Alaska, Japan and China.
The park can be explored by the various walking trails, paddling along waterways by kayak, or 4 wheel driving along designated tracks and the beach. Scenic campgrounds are located on both sides of the lagoon. A permit is needed for camping. All attractions are accessible by walking tracks, bush trails or 4WD marked tracks.
Meningie is the perfect base to spend a few days and investigate the long, narrow lagoon that runs parallel with the coastal dunes for 140km. Explore this vast wetland ecosystem that consists of ocean beach, freshwater lakes, estuaries, saline lagoon and the Murray River mouth. Feel stillness and isolation expressed in dry ephemeral salt lakes and carbonate lakes.
The Coorong is a place of tranquillity, solitude and wonderment. A place that calms the mind, soothes the soul and appeases the senses. Venture into a timeless, untamed wilderness and marvel at the diversity nature has provided. Windswept beaches and secluded inland bays make it truly unforgettable.
There are 278 species of plants in the Coorong and the small shrubby vegetation on coastal dunes is a very fragile component of the environment. It is easily destroyed by off-road vehicles, sandboarding and removal of vegetation for firewood. This damage allows sands to shift and eventually destabilises the dunes. ‘Blow outs’ caused by strong onshore winds erode large swales in the dune system.
Some areas of the Coorong Park are accessible only by four-wheel drive. When travelling please observe all advisory and regulatory signs indicating track closures and restrictions. Drive only on existing marked tracks.
The coastal dune systems are dynamic and constantly changing – be aware of soft, shifting sands and blowouts. Adverse weather conditions such as high tides and storms may cause sections of the beach to become hazardous.
If you drive on the beach, it is best to travel at low tide. You will find it easier to drive on sand with tyres deflated to around 105 kPa (15 psi). Please remember to reinflate your tyres prior to leaving the park. When parking, avoid shell grit beds as these can be very soft and deep. Leave your vehicle facing the ocean – this may help when you set off again. Please consider other drivers by not restricting traffic flow.
Some basic guidelines – do not panic – further reduce the pressure in your tyres – ensure the framework of your vehicle is clear of sand – try reversing over your wheel marks – keep your wheels in a straight line – a constant steady acceleration will be more effective.
Trails offer visitors an opportunity to delight in the many wonders of the natural world of the Coorong.
Some basic guidelines – Wear sturdy shoes, hat and sunscreen – carry sufficient drinking water – Keep to the defined walking trail and follow the markers – inform a responsible person of your proposed route and expected time of return – weather conditions can change quickly, ensure you have appropriate wet weather clothing.
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More information visit: National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia