I was making my way from Melbourne to Adelaide, via the magnificent Great Ocean Road and Grampians National Park, and one of my last stops before reaching South Australia’s capital was Coorong National Park. Now, you may not have heard about this national park, but that’s okay. I hadn’t either.
An Introduction to Coorong National Park, South Australia
, South Australia is not like other national parks in Australia. It doesn’t consist of desert, coastal cliffs, alpine vegetation, rugged mountains or rainforest. Instead, it is made up of beaches, lagoons, sand dunes and estuaries.
This protected area is no less than 130 kilometers long and lies about 150 kilometers southwest of Adelaide. It consists of the Younghusband Peninsula and the Coorong Lagoons. Coorong comes from the Aboriginal word karangk (long neck, after the shape of the lagoon) or coorang (sand dunes).
The combination of salty seawater, freshwater from the Murray River that flows into the sea there, groundwater and rainwater creates a unique habitat for many birds and estuarine species. You can see more than 200 different bird species in Coorong National Park.
is an area where you can wander around in complete solitude, only surrounded by sand dunes and sea birds. It definitely lies off the beaten tourist path and I loved it for that. Long strolls on the beach help clear one’s mind, while bushwalks and off-road driving tracks offer opportunities to the more adventurous minded. The national park is popular destination among fishermen, boaters, hikers, photographers, campers and, of course, birders.
Jacks Points, where you can see the largest colony of Australian pelicans in the country, is definitely a highlight. Chinamans Well is where the Chinese used to live during the gold rush and is now a series of house ruins and quarries. The best place for bird watching is probably Pelican Point, which is where Lake Alexandrina flows into the Coorong.
The 13-kilometer Coorong Scenic Drive is an unpaved road that is signposted as ‘Seven Mile Road’ and runs through beautiful coastal landscapes made up of fishing shacks, bird colonies, shallow lagoons and wildlife such as emus and wallabies.
Ninety Mile Beach is arguably the best fishing and surfing spot in the Coorong and can be accessed along an unpaved road. It can be reached by 2WD, but 4WD is suggested. There are a few pleasant walking trails through the dunes that offer great views of the Southern Ocean.
If you’re renting a car or renting a motorhome and are exploring the Great Ocean Road, you may as well continue west for a bit and take in one of Australia’s most tranquil and peaceful coastal scenery as well.