Coorong National Park. Coast in Australia, Oceania

Coorong National Park

Coast in Australia, Oceania

The Coorong Wetlands Photo © Rene Kisselbach

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Coorong National Park

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Coorong National Park is a 130-kilometer-long protected area in South Australia. It lies approximately 150 kilometers from Adelaide, the state’s capital city. Most of the national park consists of saltwater lagoons, wetlands, estuaries, sand dunes, beaches, and the mouth of the Murray River. The Coorong is an incredibly important cultural and environmental area. Coorong National Park is made up of the Coorong lagoons and the Younghusband Peninsula (Wikipedia Article), which separates the lagoons from Encounter Bay.

The combination of seawater and freshwater from the Murray River, and ground- and rainwater along its entire length is the main reason why the Coorong is such an important area. The local fauna is supported by the river’s freshwater, and the salty seawater provides a habitat for more than 200 bird species. The lagoon ecosystem provides an important breeding area for the Australian pelican. Other water birds such as Swans, Cormorants, Terns, and Ducks can also be spotted there. It is also a significant stopping ground for migratory birds that travel there from as far as Japan, Alaska, and Siberia. Its coastal dunes and salt pans are home to typical coastal vegetation.

The town of Meningie offers the best base to explore the area. Established as a small port in 1886, the town lies on the shore of Lake Albert. Another – even smaller – town in the area is Salt Creek, located in the southern part of the lagoon. The Coorong is an area that offers visitors solitude, tranquility, and calmness. Walks along windswept beaches and sand dunes clear the mind, while bushwalks or off-road driving offer excitement to outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers.

History

The name ‘Coorong’ is derived from the Aboriginal words ‘karangk’, meaning “long neck” after the lagoon’s shape, and ‘coorang’, meaning “sand dunes”. The Ngarrindjeri (Wikipedia
	Article) people have been living in the area for thousands of years, as is shown by ancient mounds of shells that were deposited after fishing. These old Aboriginal campsites make the Coorong an area of major archaeological importance. Many of the Ngarrindjeri people still live in the area now.

In 1966, a national park was established as a refuge for numerous species of birds, mammals, fish and other animals. It provides a safe place for many species during those tough spells of drought Australia is known for.

The popular Australian film Storm Boy was filmed in the Coorong prior to its release in 1977.

Things To Do

The Coorong National Park is a popular destination among boaters, fishermen, 4-wheel drivers, hikers, photographers, campers, kayakers, and bird-watchers. There are several designated 4WD tracks and many lookouts offers great views of the park’s lagoons, sand dunes, and wildlife.
The 13-kilometer-long, unpaved Coorong Scenic Drive (Seven Mile Road on road signs) starts about ten kilometers southwest of Meningie and runs through a landscape of fishing shacks, shallow lagoons, pelicans, and emus. This excellent short drive ends up on the Princes Highway, south of Meningie.

If you have a four-wheel drive car, you can get to Ninety Mile Beach. This popular surfing and fishing spot is best accessed at 68 kilometers Crossing, on the Princes Highway, 19 kilometers south of Salt Creek. It is possible to get there with a two-wheel drive, but a four-wheel drive is recommended. At Ninety Mile Beach, pleasant walking trails through the dunes offer fabulous views of the Southern Ocean.

Campgrounds can be found on both sides of the Coorong lagoon, but a permit is needed to camp. You can get pretty much everywhere in the national park by hiking or 4WD. The Coorong’s longest hiking trail is 27 kilometers long and starts in Salt Creek. It runs south the 68 kilometers Crossing and past beautiful scenery, high sand dunes and huge numbers of wildlife. There are campsites on the Loop Road nearby.

Places To Go

Pelican Point is arguably one of the national park’s best spots for birdwatching. This is where Lake Alexandrina flows into the Coorong, and a variety of birds can be seen at all times.
The largest breeding colony of Australian pelicans can be found at Jacks Point. Jacks Point Observatory allows birders to watch pelicans fly around and fish.

Chinamans Well consists of a series of house ruins and quarries that were used by the Chinese during the Gold Rush. This area gives visitors a deeper insight into the area’s history.
Other suggested places to go are Godfreys Landing, Parnka Point, and Long Point.

Getting There

Located southeast of Adelaide, Coorong National Park can be reached off Highway 1 at Salt Creek, Meningie, and Goolwa (Wikipedia Article). Coming from the south, visitors can get to the national park through Kingston.

Similar Landmarks

Neighboring important, natural areas are the Encounter Marine Park and Upper South East Marine Park. Other coastal national and/or marine parks in Australia worth visiting are the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Ningaloo Reef Marine Park, Shark Bay, Wilsons Promontory National Park and Freycinet National Park.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Apr 30, 2015

Pictures of Coorong National Park

Pelicans at the Coorong, South Australia - Coorong National Park
Pelicans at the Coorong, South Australia - Coorong National Park. Photo by Greens MPs

Coorong National Park
Coorong National Park. Photo by Tammy-Jo Sutton

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