Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and Wilderness Protection Area

  • Picnic Areas
  • Caravan Sites
  • Toilets
  • Camping
  • Disabled Toilets
  • Scuba / Snorkelling
  • Rock Climbing
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Walking Trails
  • Bird Watching
  • Boating
PDF Park Brochure
Alerts 2

Partial park closure

Part of Cape Gantheaume Wilderness Protection Area will be closed from 6am on Sunday 1 May 2016 until 6pm on Saturday 31 December 2016.
Details >

Track closure

Trail and campground closures are in place in Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park
Details >

Campground closure

Trail and campground closures are in place in Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park
Details >

Cape Gantheaume - Photo by Quentin Chester
Cape Gantheaume - Photo by Quentin Chester
Cape Gantheaume - Photo by Quentin Chester
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Cape Gantheaume - SA Map

Cape Gantheume Conservation Park includes vast areas of wilderness and spectacular coastal scenery. Take a self-guided drive along D'Estrees Bay, marvel at the abundant wetland birdlife and stay in a campsite by the beach.

Cape Gantheaume - SA Map

Cape Gantheume Conservation Park includes vast areas of wilderness and spectacular coastal scenery. Take a self-guided drive along D'Estrees Bay, marvel at the abundant wetland birdlife and stay in a campsite by the beach.

About

Vast areas of wilderness, the Island's largest lagoon and coastal scenery provide a spectacular backdrop to Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park and adjoining Wilderness Protection Area on the south coast of Kangaroo Island. This large area of pristine coastal environment is important for biodiversity and provides a continuous block of vegetation adjoining Seal Bay Conservation Park, a critical corridor and habitat for a range of rare and threatened species.

The park has plenty of walking opportunities, including the unmarked Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek (experienced hikers only), established trails at Murray Lagoon, and short walks at D’Estrees Bay.

Murray Lagoon supports wetland habitat for abundant birdlife, while D'Estrees Bay has beautiful beaches for recreation. This bay is a historic site connected to the island's early whaling industry.

The self-guided drive along D'Estrees Bay Road allows the visitor to discover the natural and cultural significance of the area. Designated points of interest along the 8km drive are marked.

Access to Southern Kangaroo Island Marine Park is also available from this park.

Opening hours

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.

Listen to the local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety. 

Contact details

Natural Resource Centre - Kingscote

Phone: (+61 8) 8553 4444

Getting there

Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park is located 40km south west of Kingscote, on Kangaroo Island. Access is via Birchmore Road for the Murray Lagoon section and Elsegood Road or D'Estrees Bay Road for the coastal section of the park.

You can get to Kangaroo Island from mainland South Australia on the SeaLink ferry. This vehicle and passenger ferry operates daily (except Christmas Day) between Cape Jervis (two hours south of Adelaide) and Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island. The journey takes 45 minutes for the 16km crossing.

Visit the SeaLink website for more information and bookings.

Pets in parks

Pets are not permitted within this park. There are however, a number of South Australian National Parks where you can take your dog on a lead. 

Facilities

There are picnic areas, caravan sites, toilets, disabled toilets and campground located in this park.

Traditional owners

Aboriginal South Australians are the first peoples of our State and have occupied, enjoyed and managed these lands and waters since the creation. For SA's First Peoples, creation ancestors laid down the laws of the Country and bestowed a range of customary rights and obligations to the many Aboriginal Nations across our state. 

Aboriginal peoples' oral histories and creation stories traverse the length and breadth of Australia’s lands and waters, including South Australian Parks. These stories interconnect land and waters with complex meaning and values and hold great cultural significance. We recognise and respect Aboriginal people's ownership of their stories and that they hold rights and obligations to care for Country. It is through these rights and cultural obligations and a shared goal to protect the environment for generations to come that DEWNR is committed to meaningful collaboration and involvement with Aboriginal peoples in the management of our shared parks.

History

In 1803 the French explorer Nicolas Baudin circumnavigated Kangaroo Island. He named this long, sweeping bay after Jacques D’Estrees (1660–1737), a French author, Marshall of France, Vice-Admiral and Minister of State.

Further detailed information about the history of Cape Gantheaume Conservation park can be found in the Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park D'Estrees Bay Self-guided Drive brochure.

See and do

Bushwalking

Bushwalking is a fantastic way to connect with nature, keep fit and spend time with family and friends. 

South Australia's national parks feature a range of trails that let you experience a diversity of landscapes. Our trails cater for all levels of fitness and adventure and our classification system makes it easy to select an experience suitable for you.

Treks

  • Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek

    This trek is suitable for experienced walkers only. If you're planning an overnight walk or longer, you must discuss your plans with a ranger.

    The trek begins at the Sewer car park at D’Estrees Bay. From this point follow the old vehicle track to Cape Gantheaume where you will find an isolated pristine beach dotted with New Zealand fur-seals. (Warning: Cape Gantheaume beach has strong rips and is unsafe for swimming).

    From Cape Gantheaume, the trek is unmarked and trekkers need to find their own path through the coastal vegetation until they reach the Bales Bay car park.

    Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek - Trekking Information Sheet

    Natural Resource Centre - Kingscote

    Phone: (+61 8) 8553 4444

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is currently not permitted in this park. 

Stay in the park

Enjoy the peacefulness and vast wilderness of the park by camping under the stars at secluded campgrounds.

Murray Lagoon (1 site)

This basic campground has only one site and is accessible to caravans. Toilet facilities are available and water provided. A self-registration station is located on site.

D'Estrees Bay (4 sites)

D’Estrees Bay campground is accessible to caravans and has toilet facilities. A self-registration station is located on site.

D'Estrees Bay self-guided drive

This self-guided nature drive on Kangaroo Island begins at the second boat ramp, seven kilometres from the junction of Elsegood Road and D’Estrees Bay Road.

It will take you to the end of D’Estrees Bay Road adjacent to Sewer Beach. The drive is approximately eight kilometres in length.

Follow the map in the guide to explore and gain a greater understanding of the natural and cultural history of D’Estrees Bay in Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park. The trail symbol of an Osprey and stop numbers mark designated stops at points of interest along the drive.

The Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park D'Estrees Bay self-guided drive brochure will take visitors along to discover the interesting history and environment of D'Estrees Bay.

Flora

Along the beaches of D’Estrees Bay you will see large deposits of seagrass washed ashore. Extensive seagrass meadows flourish in D'Estrees Bay due to the low wave energy and shallow, sunlit waters of the bay.

Seagrass meadows play a vital role in the food chain of near shore marine ecosystems, providing a home for many animals including fish, crabs, sponges, sea snails and octopus. Many fish also use the meadows as areas in which to breed.

Australia's temperate waters contain some of the largest and most diverse seagrass beds in the world. Often described as the lungs of the ocean, these meadows are vulnerable. Many thousands of hectares of seagrasses have died over the last century, smothered by the increased loads of sediments and nutrients entering our oceans, which reduce the intensity of light reaching the grasses. Once damaged, the dominant temperate seagrass posidonia may take hundreds of years to regrow and recolonise.

More information about specific plants which can be spotted in this park can be found at the end of the Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park D'Estrees Bay self-guided drive brochure.

Fauna

Between May and October you could be ‘in the right place at the right time’ and glimpse the tail of a southern right whale rising from the ocean’s surface, before splashing to the depths below. These whales migrate from the Antarctic to the warmer southern Australian coastal waters to give birth and mate. During this season they fast, and feed again on krill, when they return south.

Keep a watch for osprey plunging feet first into the sea to catch fish. Ospreys are coastal raptors that hunt close to the shore – along cliff lines, in sheltered bays and river estuaries. Each year two to four eggs are laid in September - October in a bulky nest constructed of sticks, on the cliff-top close to here.

The osprey is listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species. In spring and summer both eggs and chicks are at threat from inquisitive people. Eggs can die in the cold air if the incubating parent is forced to leave the nest. Once hatched, chicks are less likely to be fed if the parents or nest are disturbed.

There are many other birds which frequent this area, keep an eye out for the rock parrot, ruddy turnstone, sooty oystercatcher, australasian gannet, hooded plover and the crested tern.

Volunteering

If you think you might be interested in volunteering opportunities within this park please contact our Volunteer Support Unit.

Safety

Bushwalking

Cape Gantheaume Coastal Trek is suitable for experienced walkers only. If you're planning an overnight walk or longer, you must discuss your route with a ranger prior to arriving in the park.

Natural Resource Centre - Kingscote

Phone: (+61 8) 8553 4444

The international Trail Users Code of Conduct is to show respect and courtesy towards other trail users at all times.

Ensure that you:

  • when hiking, wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen
  • make sure you have appropriate weather proof clothing
  • carry enough water to be self-sufficient
  • please be respectful of other users at all times
  • stay on the designated trails and connector tracks for your own safety, and prevent the spread of declared weeds to other areas in the park
  • ensure someone knows your approximate location and expected time of return
  • take appropriate maps.
  • Walk, hike or trek - what's the difference?

Camping

When camping in a National Park, it's important to remember the following:

  • Always let someone responsible know your travel plans, especially when travelling in remote areas. It's a good idea to let them know when you expect to return.
  • Check the weather forecast before you leave, including overnight temperatures on the Bureau of Meteorology. Even during very mild weather, the nights can get very cold. 
  • The quality and quantity of water cannot be guaranteed within parks. Please bring plenty of water and food to be self-sufficient.
  • Always camp in designated sites (where applicable) - do not camp beneath trees with overhanging branches, as they can drop without warning. It's also a good idea to check that there no insect nests nearby.
  • Check to make sure you're not camping in a natural waterway, flash floods can happen anytime.
  • If camp fires are permitted, you must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Extinguish your camp fire with water (not sand or dirt) until the hissing sound stops.
  • Ensure that you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Fire

This park is closed on days of Catastrophic Fire Danger and may be closed on days of Extreme Fire Danger.

Listen to the local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety. 

Fire restrictions

  • Wood fires and solid fuel fires are prohibited throughout the year.
  • Gas fires are permitted, other than on days of total fire ban.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Know before you go

Every national park is different, each has its own unique environment, it is important to be responsible while enjoying all the park has to offer.

Please ensure that you:

  • leave your pets at home
  • do not feed birds or other animals, it promotes aggressive behaviour and an unbalanced ecology
  • do not bring generators (except where permitted), chainsaws or firearms into the park
  • leave the park as you found it - place rubbish in the bins provided or take it with you
  • abide by the road rules (maintain the speed limit)
  • respect geological and heritage sites
  • do not remove native plants
  • are considerate of other park users.

  • Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited.

Maps

Fees

Entry fees

Vehicle entry to this park is free, however fees apply for camping.

Park pass

Holiday Park Pass and Multi Park Pass

Want to explore SA’s parks all year round? Purchase a Multi Park Pass (12 months), or a Holiday Park Pass (for 2 months) which entitles you to vehicle entry and optional camping not just for this park, but up to an additional 58 parks as well!

Camping and accommodation

Camping fees can be paid at the self-registration stations at each campground. Please bring correct money as change is not available.

Campsite fees (per night)

Vehicle (max 8 people) - $15
Hikers/cyclists/additional vehicle occupant (per person) - $9
Group camping (20+ people - per person) - $6

If you are planning a trip for a school group or other large group, please ensure you let the park know of your intentions.

Fees collected are used for conservation and to maintain and improve park facilities.

Other fees and permits

There are no other fees or permits associated with this park.