The Coorong National Park lies adjacent to the mouth of the River Murray and includes a long, shallow, saline lagoon more than 100 km in length, and covering an area of over 50 000 ha. It is separated from the Southern Ocean by the massive sand dunes of the Younghusband Peninsula. The southern end of the Coorong is fringed by a series of shallow ephemeral salt lakes and mallee scrub. The coastal and unusual aquatic habitats form a Wetland of International Importance under the RAMSAR Convention. The many wild and remote places, the great sweep of ocean beach and the profusion of wildlife continue to inspire visitors.
The name Coorong is derived from the Aboriginal word Karangh, meaning narrow neck. Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal habitation has left a rich legacy of cultural history found in the shell middens, cooking ovens, camp sites and burial sites.
Over 200 species of birds, including two rare species, have been recorded, making the area a birdwatcherÕs paradise. The Coorong has international significance as a summer habitat for migratory birds coming from as far away as Siberia, and as a drought refuge for many species of water birds. There are various fresh water soaks that are frequented by emus and other birdlife.
This section of Coorong National Park is within one and a half hours drive from Adelaide.
Recommended access points for this area are:
The boat ramp on Mundoo Creek on the eastern end of Hindmarsh Island across the bridge from Goolwa. The small town of Clayton, or Mark Point, via the Narrung and Loveday Bay roads or Long Point, which is 26 km from the Princes Highway and accessible via Meningie on a combination of sealed and 6 km of good unsealed roads.
Please consider the following while planning a trip. Conditions can change without notice
The paddling experience of your group
The time you have available
The suitability of your equipment for the conditions
The camping facilities and equipment you have access to
The time of the year
The water level of the lagoons
Emergency contacts and emergency access
Paddling speed: on smooth waters allow for a speed of 4 km/h for adults, less for young or inexperienced canoeists.
You need to bring and carry your own water on all paddling journeys. Water is not available in this region.
Reefs of calcrete (a sandstone formed with calcium carbonate as the cement, and very sharp), and sandbars extend from a number of features.
Observe the prolific birdlife from a distance. If you are planning an overnight paddling trip you need to complete a Trip Intention Form, available from Department for Environment and Heritage offices and Web sites, and forward it to the Department for Environment and Heritage office at Meningie before departure.
Up-to-date knowledge can also be sought from this agency, (08) 8575 1200. www.environment.sa.gov.au
Inexperienced canoeists should always have an experienced tour leader as their guide.
Paddling Route Suggestions
The routes outlined below are suggestions only. Use this information to plan a trip to suit your needs.
Parnka Point to Long Point
This section of the Coorong offers ideal paddling during the winter months (May – November) when water levels allow for wider exploration. The main channel has reasonable flow during the summer months. The local weather pattern can change quickly in the Coorong and surrounding waterways. Be prepared for all types of weather, especially wind. Water levels can be low in the area with limestone reefs and sandbars as obstacles. The Needles is one such area, and it can be too shallow for paddling during the summer months. You may need to walk through shallows, and perhaps portage some areas. A linear day trip can be planned throughout this section with car shuttles being required. Distances will depend on weather and the stamina of the paddler.
Parking is available at Long Point and Parnka Point. Both of these areas have camping areas and permit stations.
Coorong Wilderness Lodge provides parking, camping, cabins and meals and Aboriginal cultural interpretive tours by prior arrangement. Group accommodation is available at Camp Coorong. Overnight camping is permitted on Younghusband Peninsula, where minimal impact camping principles apply. The islands south of Parnka Point are bird breeding islands. Please remain off the islands during the summer months while the birds are breeding, and observe from a distance.
Long Point to Mundoo Channel
This section of the Coorong offers ideal paddling all year round, although the local weather pattern can change quickly. Be prepared for all types of weather, particularly wind, which tends to be strongest in spring. The main channel is navigable, but outside the channel the water level may be low. Obstacles, which can be avoided by paddling the main channel, are limestone reefs (particularly in Mundoo Channel) and sand bars. You may need to walk through shallows, and perhaps portage some areas.
A linear day trip can be planned in this section, with car shuttles. Round trips incorporating Holmes Creek/Mundoo Channel, Boundary Creek and the Mud Islands/Reedy Island area provide access to the Coorong channel, and are popular with canoeists. The barrage in Mundoo Channel must be portaged, but there is a hand operated lock on the western end of Tauwitchere Barrage. The islands between the barrage road and Clayton are privately owned (as indicated on the map by the red hatch), reedy and subject to inundation. The creeks can provide shelter in extreme conditions.
The northern entrance to Boundary Creek can be obscured by reeds. There is an unlit navigation marker near the entrance.
The area south of Long Island can be very shallow and reedy. The channel between Long and Ewe Islands may be hard to find. (Estick, Boggy and Hunters Creeks, are inaccessible due to reed growth.)
Avoid the open waters of Lake Alexandrina, as unpredictable changes in the weather can lead to large waves when winds pick up.
Parking is available at Long Point, Clayton and the Mundoo Creek boat ramp. There is a campground at Long Point and a caravan park at Clayton.
Overnight camping is permitted on Younghusband Peninsula, where minimal impact camping principles apply. There are designated campsites (with toilets) at Barkers Knoll, Godfreys Landing and Long Point. Mark Point on the eastern side has no toilet. There are self-registration stations for camping permits at these campsites. Another camping area with no facilities, and popular with canoeists, is Lousy Jacks, easily recognised from a distance by the tall Tuart gums.
At Godfrey’s Landing there is an excellent interpretive walking track to the ocean beach
Salt Creek to Parnka Point
This section of the Coorong offers ideal paddling during the winter months (May – November) when water levels allow for wider exploration. The main channel has reasonable flow during the summer months. Water levels can be low in the area, with limestone reefs and sandbars as obstacles.The local weather pattern can change quickly in the Coorong and surrounding waterways. Be prepared for all types of weather, especially wind.
If Tea Tree crossing is closed (contact the Department for Environment and Heritage) water levels should be ideal for paddling around some of the islands.
Day and extended trips as loop paddles can be planned from several access points in the area. An example is from Jack Point, which could include paddling around some of the islands, visiting the Peninsula and walks to the Southern Ocean. There is no access to the islands as they are important bird breeding sites. At Salt Creek are several walking trails. Salt Creek itself is not part of the Park, and you should not paddle in or near it if birds are breeding in the area.
Overnight camping is permitted on Younghusband Peninsula, where minimal impact camping principles apply. On the main land side camping is available at Loop Road south of Salt Creek, Parnka Point and Policeman Point Caravan Park. Coorong Wilderness Lodge, provides parking, camping, cabins, meals and Aboriginal cultural interpretive tours by prior arrangement. There is also motel accommodation at Policeman Point. Gemini Downs has a range of accommodation options available.
Limited supplies are available from Salt Creek and Policeman Point.