Piccaninnie Ponds Karst Wetlands Ramsar Site

Location: 32 kilometres south-east of Mount Gambier and bordered by Victoria to the east and the Southern Ocean to the south.

On 21 December 2012, Piccaninnie Ponds Karst Wetlands was designated as a Ramsar site under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat

The site, which comprises the 862 hectare Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park, has extraordinary natural features and meets five of the nine Ramsar Convention listing criteria. It is an exceptional example of karst and coastal fen wetlands, with groundwater springs reaching more than 110 metres in depth. The pools are renowned for their water clarity and support aquatic vegetation up to 15 metres below the surface. It is one of the few remaining permanent freshwater wetlands in the lower south-east of South Australia.

Each year around 20,000 people visit Piccaninnie Ponds Karst Wetlands. One of the main attractions is cave diving in the crystal clear deep water. Visitors can snorkel or dive down into the underwater caverns to explore the majestic white walls of sculptured limestone.

The site supports seven nationally or internationally listed species of conservation significance: 

  • Yarra pygmy perch -  Nannoperca obscura
  • Dwarf galaxias -  Galaxiella pusilla
  • Orange-bellied parrot - Neophema chrysogaster
  • Australasian bittern - Botaurus poiciloptilus
  • Glenelg spiny freshwater crayfish - Euastacus bispinosus
  • Maroon-leek orchid - Prassophyllum frenchii
  • Swamp greenhood  - Pteostylis tenuissima

The site also provides habitat for 79 bird species including 24 species listed under international agreements, and 50 Australian migratory or marine species. Native fish populations include seven species which are diadromous and three freshwater obligate species which rely on permanent freshwater. This site represents one of the few remaining permanent freshwater wetlands in the lower south east of South Australia and is believed to be a drought refuge.

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Visit the Piccaninnie Ponds.