Parks in South Australia

A number of times recently I have been asked about what parks qualify for the VK5 National and Conservation Parks award? and how parks become Conservation Parks in the first place?  So, I am hoping that this blog will be of some interest and answer some questions on South Australia’s parks system.

It has certainly shed some light on the system for me, and has also revealed that the Region and District system has changed since the inception of the VK5 Parks Award in April last year.  Yes, that means another spreadsheet to come out.  But it has helped me in the formulative stages of the proposed new award certificate ‘Worked All VK5 Park Regions’.

Firstly, just how big is South Australia?

South Australia (S.A.) has a land area of 984,221 square km, of which about 4,600 square km are located on islands.  South Australia has a coastline of 5,067 km which consists of 3,816 km of mainland coastline and 1,251 km of island coastline.  South Australia’s land area is 12.7% of Australia’s total, with the state being the fourth largest of all the Australian States and Territories.  The state’s coastal waters cover about 60,032 square km.

To put that into perspective, South Australia is larger than any country in Europe, excluding Russia.  Ukraine comes the closest at 603,700 km², then France 547,030 km², and then Spain at 505,992 km².  Italy could be placed into South Australia, more than three times over, whilst the whole of the United Kingdom could be placed into South Australia four times over. Although I couldn’t find an overlay map of South Australia, here is one of Australia showing how big Australia is compared to most of mainland Europe…..


Image courtesy of

Mount Woodroofe is South Australia’s highest peak at 1,435 metres above sea level.  It is a big 10 pointer for the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program, too by the way.  South Australia is a relatively flat place, with more than 80% of South Australia being less than 300 metres above sea level.  The lowest place is Lake Eyre at 15 metres below sea level.  It is in this vicinity that South Australia receives its lowest rainfall.  About 52,786 square km is occupied by agriculture, which equates to 53.6% of the State. South Australia’s parks and reserves are managed by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR).

DEWNR was created on 1st July 2012 to bring together environment and natural resources management in South Australia.  The new Department was created by amalgamating the Department for Water, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  DEWNR are responsible for establishing and managing South Australia’s parks.  There are a total of 350 parks and reserves covering an area of 21,087,984 hectares, which equates to 21.5% of South Australia.  The map below shows the extent of South Australia’s vegetation. Screenshot 2014-06-18 19.24.41

Map courtesy of

DEWNR has three groups within its structure:

  • Strategy and Advice.
  • Partnerships and Stewardship
  • Customer and Corporate Services.

Below is an organisation structure chart of DEWNR, as of 30th June, 2013.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 10.20.06 In South Australia, National Parks and Conservation Parks (protected areas) are proclaimed under the National Parks Wildlife Act 1972, and the Wilderness Protection Act 1992.  The term ‘protected area‘ is used internationally to embrace a wide variety of types of parks and reserves.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) describes a protected area as:

‘A clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values’ (Dudley 2008).

DEWNR are in partnership with the Natural Resources Management Council (NRM) which was established in 2004.  This comes under the DEWNR’s umbrella of ‘Partnerships & Stewardships Group’. Additionally, there is the National Parks and Wildlife Council which was established in 1996 under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.  One of the main items of business for this Council is reviewing park management plans.  ‘Conserving Nature 2012-2020‘ is a strategy for establishing a system of protected areas in South Australia.  It is a big document, but it is worth a read and contains some very interesting information.  The Conserving Nature document, advised that about 28.6% of the state of South Australia was under some form of ‘protected‘ status.

Screenshot 2014-06-18 19.25.22

Map courtesy of

There are eight types of parks in South Australia’s Protected Area system.  They are:

National Park

Land that is of national significance by reason of its wildlife or natural features.

There are 21 of these in S.A. that include an area of 3,995,444 hectares (4.1% of the State).


Conservation Park

Land that is protected or preserved for conserving wildlife or natural or historic features.

There are 268 of these in S.A. that cover an area of 5,859,256 hectares (6.0% of the State).


Recreation Park

Land that is conserved and managed for public recreation and enjoyment.

There are a total of 14 recreation parks, covering an area of 3,204 hectares (<0.1% of the State).  Some examples of this type of Park are the Para Wirra Recreation Park, and Granite Island Recreation Park.


Game Reserve

Land that is preserved for the conservation of wildlife and management of game.

There are 10 of these covering an area of about 25,888 hectares (<0.1% of the State).  A few examples of this type of park are Tolderol Game Reserve and Currency Creek Game Reserve.  Duck open season applies to these Reserves.

For more information on Game Reserves, have a look at…..

Regional Reserve

Land that is protected or preserved for conserving wildlife or natural or historic features while, at the same time, permitting the utilisation of natural resources.

There are 7 of these covering an area of 9,342,641 hectares (9.5% of the State).  An example of this is the Chowilla Regional Reserve near Renmark which comprises 75,036 hectares.

For more information on Regional Reserves, please have a look at…..

Wilderness Protection Area

Land that is protected to conserve ecosystems that have not been affected, or have been affected to only a minor extent, by modern technology; and ecosystems that have not been seriously affected by modern exotic animals or plants or other exotic organisms.

There are 14 of these, covering an area of 1,842,071 hectares (1.9 % of the State).  An example of this type of park is the Billiatt Wilderness Protection Area, which was decimated by fire last Summer.

For more information on Wilderness Protection Areas, please have a look at…..


Conservation Reserve

Crown land that is specifically managed for conservation by the Government.

There are 16 of these covering an area of 19,480 hectares(<0.1% of the State).  An example of this type of park is the Mutton Cove Conservation Park on the Le Fevre Peninsula.  Which by the way, I activated earlier in the year, believing it was a Conservation park.  Not so!

IMGA0017 2

Native Forest Reserve

Managed for native flora and fauna conservation.

There are 61 of these, covering an area of 16,050 hectares.  Examples of this type of park are Mount Crawford Forest, Kuipto Forest and Wirrabara Forest.

Many of these parks have Adopted Management Plans, which contain relevant management issues for each specific park.  When those plans are in the preparation stage, the DEWNR provides the public and stakeholders the opportunity to become involved in the planning process.  DEWNR place advertisements in The Advertiser and in local newspapers, where they call for suggestions on issues relevant to the management of a specific park.  For more information on these plans, please have a look at…..

Remember, that ONLY National Parks and Conservation Parks qualify for the VK5 National and Conservation parks award.

New parks

Since the inception of the VK5 National and Conservation parks Award, there has been a total of 6 Conservation Parks established/gazetted.  These have been added to the VK5 Parks award list.  Some of these have been activated including the Bullock Hill Conservation Park and the Ettrick Conservation Park.  The DEWNR website records recent additions to park boundaries which is worth having a look at…..



The State of South Australia is currently divided into 8 different natural resource management regions.  They are as follows:

  1. Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges
  2. Alinytjara Wilurara
  3. Eyre Peninusla
  4. Kangaroo Island
  5. Northern and Yorke
  6. South Australian Arid Lands
  7. South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
  8. South East

This is a new group of regions which commenced in about July, 2013, after the inception of the VK5 Parks Award.  The seven old regions were as follows:

  1. Adelaide
  2. Kangaroo Island
  3. Murraylands
  4. Northern and Yorke
  5. Outback
  6. South East
  7. West


Map courtesy of

The largest region is the SA Arid Lands region which covers over half of South Australia and encompasses the state’s north-east corner to its borders with NSW, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.  It is more than 400,000 square km in size.  This is followed by Alinytjara Wiluara (meaning ‘north west’ in Pitjantjatjara) which covers the north west third of South Australia and is more than 250,000 square km in size.

In turn those Regions are broken up into Districts. The 21 National Parks and 268 Conservation Parks in South Australia re located within those regions and Districts.

Please note that the regions referred to on the National Parks website, are totally different regions as mentioned above.

See the link below….. The regions referred to at that link are geographical regions and not administrative regions.

Adelaide & Mount Lofty Ranges Region.

This region covers 6,581 sq km of land, 4,627 sq km of sea, and has 364 km of coastline.  It supports 1.2 million people which equates to 80 % of South Australia’s population.  The northern boundary of this Region incorporates the whole of the Light Regional Council, the District of Mallala and the Barossa Council.  The region stretches south to Cape Jervis on the southern tip of the Fleurieu Peninusla, from the ridge of the Mount Lofty Ranges to 35 km into Gulf St Vincent.  The coastline of this region encompasses the District Council of Mallala in the north to Middleton Beach in the south in the Distrct Council of Alexandrina.

The area is divided into the following 3 districts:

  1. Adelaide & Central Hills
  2. Northern Hills Coasts & Plains
  3. Fleurieu & Willunga Basin

This region was previously known as Adelaide region, and consisted of the Fleurieu, Northern Lofty, and Southern Lofty districts.

There are a total of 46 parks in this region, comprising of 2 National Parks, and 44 Conservation Parks.  They are as follows:

  1. Aldinga Scrub CP
  2. Angove CP
  3. Belair NP.
  4. Black Hill CP
  5. Charleston CP
  6. Cleland CP
  7. Cromer CP
  8. Cudlee Creek CP
  9. Deep Creek CP
  10. Eric Bonython CP
  11. Eurilia CP
  12. Ferguson CP
  13. Fort Glanville CP
  14. Giles CP
  15. Gum Tree Gully CP
  16. Hale CP
  17. Hallett Cove CP
  18. Horsnell Gully CP
  19. Kaisterstuhl CP
  20. Kenneth Stirling CP
  21. Marino CP
  22. Mark Oliphant CP
  23. Moana Sands CP
  24. Montacute CP
  25. Morialta CP
  26. Mount Billy CP
  27. Mount George CP
  28. Mylor CP
  29. Myponga CP
  30. Newland Head CP
  31. Nixon Skinner CP
  32. Onkaparinga River NP.
  33. Port Gawler CP
  34. Porter Scrub CP
  35. Pullen Island CP
  36. Sandy Creek CP
  37. Scott Creek CP
  38. Spring Mount CP
  39. Stipturus CP
  40. Talisker CP
  41. The Knoll CP
  42. Torrens Island CP
  43. Waitpinga CP
  44. Warren CP
  45. West Island CP
  46. Yulte CP

A total of 5 parks that previously came within this Region in the old Fleurieu district, are now located in the Ranges to River District of the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Region.  They are:

  • Bullock Hill CP
  • Finnis CP
  • Hesperilla CP
  • Mount Magnificent CP
  • Scott CP

DEWNR offices for this region exist at Eastwood, Lobethal, Gawler, Willunga, and Victor Harbour.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 10.49.53

Map courtesy of

The map below shows the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges split into its three Districts.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 14.35.00

Map courtesy of

Alinytjara Wilurara

This region (meaning north west in Pitjantjatjara) covers the north west third of South Australia and is more than 250,000 square km in size.

The region is divided into the following 9 districts:

  1. Bunda Cliffs
  2. Yalata Coast
  3. Nullabor Plain
  4. Yalata Lands
  5. Yellabinna and Yumbarra
  6. Great Victoria Desert
  7. Southern APY
  8. APY Ranges
  9. Eastern APY and Tallaringa.

There iare a total of 6 parks in this region, comprising of 2 National Parks, and 4 Conservation Parks in this region. They are as follows:

  1. Great Australian Bight NP
  2. Mamungari CP
  3. Nullabor NP
  4. Pureba CP
  5. Tallaringa CP
  6. Yumbarra CP

A DEWNR office exists at Ceduna.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 13.14.02

Map courtesy of

Eyre Peninsula

The Eyre Peninsula region covers an area of 80,000 square km or 8 million hectares.  It includes parts of the upper Spencer Gulf, the City of Whyalla, and stretches across the southern boundaries of the Gawler Ranges, beyond Ceduna to the edge of the famous Nullabor plain, and south to Port Lincoln at the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula.

Eyre Peninsula still has 43% of natural vegetation cover intact, making it one of the highest levels of surviving native vegetation for agricultural regions in South Australia.  About 40 species of native plants are endemic to the area, with 26 plant and animal species of national conservation significance listed.

The Eyre Peninsula region includes over 1,800 km of coastline.  This represents about 33% of the entire coastline of South Australia.  The Eyre Peninsula NRM region contains over 100 different parks and reserves.

This region was previously called West region.

There are a total of 74 parks in this region, comprising of 3 National Parks, and 71 Conservation Parks.  They are as follows:

This region does not appear to be divided into Districts.

  1. Acraman Creek CP
  2. Avoid Bay Islands CP
  3. Baird Bay Islands CP
  4. Barwell CP
  5. Bascombe Well CP
  6. Boondinna CP
  7. Calpatanna Waterhole CP
  8. Cap Island CP
  9. Cape Blanche CP
  10. Caralue Bluff CP
  11. Carapee Hill CP
  12. Chadinga CP
  13. Cocata CP
  14. Coffin Bay NP
  15. Corrobinnie Hill CP
  16. Darke Range CP
  17. Eba Island CP
  18. Fowlers Bay CP
  19. Franklin Harbor CP
  20. Gambier Islands CP
  21. Gawler Ranges CP
  22. Gawler Ranges NP
  23. Greenly Island CP
  24. Heggarton CP
  25. Hincks CP
  26. Kathai CP
  27. Kellidie Bay CP
  28. Kulliparu CP
  29. Lake Gilles CP
  30. Lake Newland CP
  31. Laura Bay CP
  32. Lincoln NP
  33. Lincoln CP
  34. Lipson Island CP
  35. Malgra CP
  36. Middlecamp Hills CP
  37. Moody Tank CP
  38. Mount Dutton Bay CP
  39. Munyaroo CP
  40. Murrunatta CP
  41. Neptune Islands CP
  42. Nicholas Baudin Island CP
  43. Nuyts Archipelago CP
  44. Nuyts Reef CP
  45. Olive Island CP
  46. Peachna CP
  47. Pigface Island CP
  48. Pinkawillinie CP
  49. Point Bell CP
  50. Point Labbatt CP
  51. Rocky Island (North) CP
  52. Rocky Island (South) CP
  53. Ruddall CP
  54. Sceale Bay CP
  55. Searcy Bay CP
  56. Shannon CP
  57. Sheoak Hill CP
  58. Sinclair Island CP
  59. Sir Joseph Banks Group CP
  60. Sleaford Mere CP
  61. The Plug Range CP
  62. Tucknott Scrub CP
  63. Tumby Island CP
  64. Venus Bay CP
  65. Verran Tanks CP
  66. Wahgunyah CP
  67. Waldegrave Islands CP
  68. Wanilla CP
  69. Wanilla Land Settlement CP
  70. Wharminda CP
  71. Whidbey Isles CP
  72. Whyalla CP
  73. Wittelbee CP
  74. Yeldulknie CP

DEWNR offices for this region exist at Port Lincoln and Ceduna.

EPNRM region map

image courtesy of

Kangaroo Island

The Kangaroo Island region encompasses Kangaroo Island which is about 15 km off the coastline of the southern Fleruieu Peninsula.  The island covers an area of 4,370 square km.  Off all the South Australian agricultural regions, Kangaroo Island contains the highest proportion of remnant vegetation.  In fact, about 40% of the island is taken up by native vegetation.

The Kangaroo Island Region only contains one district.  And that is Kangaroo Island.

There is a total of 22 parks in this region, comprising 1 National Park, and 21 Conservation Parks. They are as follows:

  1. Baudin CP
  2. Beatrice Islet CP
  3. Beyeria CP
  4. Busby Islet CP
  5. Cape Gantheaume CP
  6. Cape Willoughby CP
  7. Cygnet Estuary CP
  8. Dudley CP
  9. Flinders Chase NP
  10. Kelly Hill CP
  11. Lashmar CP
  12. Lathami CP
  13. Lesueur CP
  14. Mount Taylor CP
  15. Nepean Bay CP
  16. Parndana CP
  17. Pelican Lagoon CP
  18. Seal Bay CP
  19. Seddon CP
  20. Simpson CP
  21. The Pages CP
  22. Vivonne Bay CP

A DEWNR office for this region exists at Kingscote.

Screenshot 2014-06-18 23.05.02

Image courtesy of Kangaroo Island NRM Plan 2009 

Northern and Yorke

The Northern and Yorke region totals 34,500 square km or more than 3 million hectares.  It encompasses the Yorke Peninsula, the northern Mount Lofty Ranges, the southern Flinders Ranges, and significant areas of Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent.

This region is divided into three districts as follows:

  • Upper North
  • Lower North
  • Yorke Peninsula

There are a total of 24 parks in this region, comprising of 2 National Parks, and 22 Conservation Parks. They are as follows:

  1. Althorpe Islands CP
  2. Bird Islands CP
  3. Black Rock CP
  4. Carribie CP
  5. Clements Gap CP
  6. Clinton CP
  7. Goose Island CP
  8. Innes NP.
  9. Leven Beach CP
  10. Martindale Hall CP
  11. Minlacowie CP
  12. Mount Brown CP
  13. Mount Remarkable NP.
  14. Mount Brown CP
  15. Point Davenport CP
  16. Ramsay CP
  17. Spring Gully CP
  18. Telowie Gorge CP
  19. The Dutchmans Stern CP
  20. Troubridge Island CP
  21. Warrenben CP
  22. Wills Creek CP
  23. Winninowie CP
  24. Yalpara CP

A DEWNR for this region office exists at Clare.

Screenshot 2014-06-18 23.08.44

Image courtesy of

South Australian Arid Lands

This area covers over half of South Australia and takes up the state’s north east corner to its borders with New South Wales, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.  The population within this semi arid region comprises less than 2% of the State’s entire population.

This region is divided into the following 6 districts:

  • Gawler Ranges
  • Kingoonya
  • Marla-Oodnadatta
  • Marree-Innamincka
  • North Flinders
  • North East

There are a total of 15 parks in this region, comprising of 7 National Parks, and 8 Conservation Parks in this region. They are as follows:

  1. Bimbowrie CP
  2. Breakaways CP
  3. Coongie Lakes NP.
  4. Ediacara CP
  5. Elliott Price CP
  6. Flinders Ranges NP.
  7. Ironstone Hill CP
  8. Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre NP
  9. Lake Gairdner NP
  10. Lake Torrens NP
  11. Pualco Range CP
  12. Simpson Desert CP
  13. Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges NP
  14. Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs CP
  15. Witjira NP

A DEWNR office exists at Port Augusta.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 11.37.58

Map courtesy of

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin

The SA Murray-Darlling Basin region extends from where the mighty Murray River crosses the South Australian/Victorian border, down to where the Murray meets the sea at the Coorong.  The region covers 70,000 square km.

This region was previously known as Murraylands and contained a number of parks that were in the old Adelaide area, e.g. Kyeema Conservation Park and parks that were in the old Northern & Yorke region including Mkotoa CP and Red Banks CP.

The region is divided into the following 4 districts:

  • Rangelands
  • Ranges to River
  • Riverland
  • Mallee & Coorong

There are a total of 46 parks in this region, comprising 2 National Parks, and 44 Conservation Parks. They are as follows:

  1. Bakara CP
  2. Bandon CP
  3. Billiatt CP
  4. Brookfield CP
  5. Bullock Hill CP
  6. Carcuma CP
  7. Caroona Creek CP
  8. Cooltong CP
  9. Coorong NP
  10. Cox Scrub CP
  11. Danggali CP
  12. Ettrick CP
  13. Ferries McDonald CP
  14. Finnis CP
  15. Hesperilla CP
  16. Hogwash Bend CP
  17. Hopkins Creek CP
  18. Kapunda Island CP
  19. Karte CP
  20. Kyeema CP
  21. Lowan CP
  22. Maize Island CP
  23. Marne Valley CP
  24. Media Island CP
  25. Mokota CP
  26. Monarto CP
  27. Morgan CP
  28. Mount Magnificent CP
  29. Mowantjie Willauwar CP
  30. Murray River NP
  31. Ngarkat CP
  32. Ngaut Ngaut CP
  33. Pandappa CP
  34. Peebinga CP
  35. Pike River CP
  36. Pooginook CP
  37. Poonthie Ruwe CP
  38. Ramco Point CP
  39. Red Banks CP
  40. Ridley CP
  41. Rilli Island CP
  42. Roonka CP
  43. Salt Lagoon Islands CP
  44. Scott CP
  45. Swan Reach CP
  46. White Dam CP

DEWNR offices exist at Murray Bridge and Berri.

Screenshot 2014-06-18 23.18.03

South East

The South East region covers an area of about 28,000 square km.  It is bounded by the Victorian border to the east, the Southern Ocean to the south, and the Coorong to the west.

The region has three Districts:

  • Southern
  • Central
  • Northern.

Three parks in this region overlap with the SA Murray-Darlling Basin.  They are: Carcuma Conservation Park, Coorong Conservation Park, and Ngarkat Conservation Park.

There are a total of 57 parks in the South East region, comprising 2 National Parks, and 55 Conservation Parks. They are as follows:

  1. Aberdour CP
  2. Bangham
  3. Baudin Rocks
  4. Beachport
  5. Belt Hill
  6. Big Heath
  7. Butcher Gap CP
  8. Calectasia CP
  9. Canunda NP
  10. Carpenter Rocks CP
  11. Christmas Rocks CP
  12. Custon CP
  13. Desert Camp CP
  14. Dingley Dell CP
  15. Douglas Point CP
  16. Ewens Ponds CP
  17. Fairview CP
  18. Furner CP
  19. Geegeela CP
  20. Glen Roy CP
  21. Gower CP
  22. Grass Tree CP
  23. Guichen Bay CP
  24. Gum Lagoon CP
  25. Hacks Lagoon CP
  26. Hanson Scrub CP
  27. Jip Jip CP
  28. Kelvin Powrie CP
  29. Kungari CP
  30. Lake Frome CP
  31. Lake Hawdon South CP
  32. Lake St Clair CP
  33. Little Dip CP
  34. Lower Glenelg River CP
  35. Martin Washpool CP
  36. Mary Seymour CP
  37. Messent CP
  38. Mount Boothby CP
  39. Mount Monster CP
  40. Mount Scott CP
  41. Mullinger Swamp CP
  42. Narracoorte Caves NP
  43. Nene Valley CP
  44. Padthaway CP
  45. Penambol CP
  46. Penguin Island CP
  47. Penola CP
  48. Piccaninnie Ponds CP
  49. Pine Hill Soak CP
  50. Reedy Creek CP
  51. Talapar CP
  52. Tantanoola Caves CP
  53. Telford Scrub CP
  54. Tilley Swamp CP
  55. Vivigani Ardune CP
  56. Woakwine CP
  57. Wolsley Common CP

A DEWNR office exists at Mount Gambier.

Screenshot 2014-06-18 23.24.30

Image courtesy of

In summary.

So there you go.  I have probably completely confused you.  But I do hope it has shed some light on the parks system here in South Australia.

Finally, do not rely on all the information that you find on some of the ‘official’ websites on the internet.  I have found some of them to be incomplete.  For example I found a total of 20 Conservation Parks in the Adelaide & Mt Lofty Ranges District that were not recorded on the list on the NRM website for that Region.

Also, do not rely on Google maps.  It does not show up all of the Conservation Parks  Try using one of the following…..

For more information on parks in South Australia, please see the National Parks South Australia website at…..

Or the Natural Resources website at…..

National Parks South Australia also has a Facebook site should you be interested…..

They also have an app called My Parx, which I will review in an upcoming post.


Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Natural Resources,