Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park - Winaityinaityi Pangkara

  • Campfires Permitted
  • Camping
  • Dogs on Lead
  • Bird Watching
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Photo by Dan Weller
Photo by Glen Ehmke
Photo by Paul Wainwright
Photo by Glen Ehmke
Photo by Martin Stokes
Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary state map image

If you love bird watching, or fancy giving it a go, the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary and new national park present an exciting opportunity to explore and appreciate birds in their natural habitat.

The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary is a unique safe haven for shorebirds, many of which are truly remarkable – migrating each year between Australia and the northern hemisphere. A northern section of the bird sanctuary has recently been proclaimed and is the state’s first new national park in a decade.

One of the best things about visiting this park is the ability to immerse yourself in the untouched wilderness of the northern Adelaide coastline. So pack a picnic, put on your walking shoes and download our visitor map to find out all best self-guided experiences in the Bird Sanctuary.

Need activities for the kids? We’ve got you covered with our 20 fun things to do activity list.


The Bird Sanctuary encompasses over 60km of coastline north of Adelaide, adjacent to Gulf St Vincent, Adelaide’s northern suburbs and spans across four local council areas. Within the bird sanctuary sits the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park - Winaityinaityi Pangkara.

The Bird Sanctuary sits right at the southern end of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF) and is one of the key feeding and roosting sites for migratory birds who use the flyway each year. Birds fly from as far as Siberia and Alaska, passing through 22 countries. The area acts as a crucial habitat on this migratory route which is used by more than 5 million birds a year, 27,000 of which call Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary home.

Whilst being one of Adelaide’s longest continuous conservation areas, the Bird Sanctuary is home to 263 unique fauna and flora species. In particular, the Bird Sanctuary helps protect resident and migratory shorebirds, including threatened species such as Curlew sandpiper, Ruddy turnstone, Red knot and Eastern Curlew as well productive mangroves, marine and coastal assets, river systems and many significant terrestrial species and ecological communities.

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

To keep informed about the progress of Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary and for opportunities to be involved, sign up to receive the newsletter.

Phone: (+61 8) 8463 7131
Facebook: Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary
Twitter: @BirdSanctuarySA
Instagram: adelaide_bird_sanctuary

Getting there

The southern gateway of the Sanctuary, located at the St Kilda foreshore, is only a 30 min drive from Adelaide.

The northern gateway, at Thompson Beach is situated on some of Adelaide’s pristine coastline featuring samphire and intertidal mudflats.

Access to areas of the sanctuary outside of the approved track network is not permitted. Access roads, approved tracks and the closure of trails will be a key community conversation point in the coming months. In the meantime departmental staff will be on site at various times to advise the public on current use and future plans

Pets in parks

You and your dog can enjoy this park providing you keep your dog on a lead and under your control at all times. Don't forget to bring your disposable 'doggie-doo' bag to clean up after your dog.

Useful information

Traditional culture

The Kaurna People have had a deep and spiritual connection with land and waters of the bird sanctuary for thousands of years and are the recognised Traditional Owners of the Adelaide Plains. Through their deep understanding of the land, strong commitment to reconciliation and caring for their Country, Kaurna People are actively leading in the establishment of the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary.

Kaurna knowledge is integral to the planning, establishment and management of the bird sanctuary. Their vision is to ‘Bring Meaningful Reconciliation of the Past–Present–Future’ through supporting the recognition of the Kaurna identity to be strong, self-sufficient and a healthy sustainable Kaurna Nation for the Kaurna People. Their vision will support Kaurna participating in the wider economy and social life of the Adelaide Plains, while protecting Kaurna heritage.

The landscape of the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary – its water, plants, animals and special places – are a part of Kaurna culture. Understanding this and working together for shared access to Country will help to strengthen respect for Kaurna culture, and support the Kaurna People in their aspirations for the future. Meaningful engagement with Kaurna Elders has unearthed numerous possibilities for the bird sanctuary and will continue to underpin its future success.

The creation of a national park

The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park - Winaityinaityi Pangkara (pronounced Wee-nay-chi-nay-chi Pan-ker-a ) is made up of 2457 hectares of land north-west of Adelaide. The park is being created in stages, with the first stage now proclaimed with future stages being proclaimed over the coming year. The Interim Management Statement provides guidance around park management until the full national park is proclaimed.


The Dry Creek salt fields were first constructed by ICI in the 1930s, and have been maintained by an annual series of pumping activities since. The land on which the salt fields were constructed historically supported wetlands, especially saltmarsh and mangroves.

The mineral leases over the Dry Creek salt fields cover around 10,000 hectares. Around 4,000 hectares were developed as salina ponds (artificially controlled saline ponds used to produce salt). The rest of the land is undeveloped and remarkably well preserved due to limited access to the site for the past 80 years.

The land under mining lease is either owned by the Crown, including the majority of coastal land seaward of the ponds, or is freehold land owned by Ridley Corporation. The majority of land owned by Ridley occurs on the landward side of the salt fields.

See and do

Bird watching

Every year, between September and March, up to 27,000 shorebirds gather across the bird sanctuary with more than 50 different species of migratory birds recorded. Many of these migratory shorebirds travel from as far away as Siberia and Alaska, passing through up to 22 countries as they travel the East Asian-Australasian Flyway to reach the coast of Gulf St Vincent.

A wonderful natural experience awaits you with two easily accessible gateways, north and south.


The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary area consist of diverse and relatively pristine saltmarsh and wetland habitat that is declining elsewhere in the region and across the state due to urban encroachment, pollution and agricultural development. Continued protection of this habitat from development and degradation is critical.

Saltmarsh is not only an ecologically valuable habitat but is also one of the highest carbon sequestration habitats known. In recognition of its significance, coastal saltmarsh was listed as a threatened ecological community under the EPBC Act in August 2013.

The bird sanctuary support species of state and national conservation significance, including the largest Australian population of bead glasswort and the samphire thornbill, both listed as nationally threatened under the EPBC Act.

Two wetlands of national significance occur in the area – the Port Gawler and Buckland Park Lake, and the Barker Inlet and St Kilda wetland. 

Stay in the park

Camping is permitted in the park.

Please check with council for requirements for camping outside the park.


If you think you might be interested in volunteering opportunities within the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary please contact our Volunteer Support Unit.

If you’d like to get involved in caring for Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary please contact Friends of Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary (FAIBS)




There is currently no bushwalking information available for this park, please contact the park office for more information. 


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 between 1 December 2016 to 30 April 2017.
  • You must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited.

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.



Entry fees

Come and enjoy this park for free. 

Park pass

This park is not included in the park pass system. 

Camping and accommodation

Camping is free within the national park.

Please check with the local council for requirements on camping outside the national park zone.

Other fees and permits

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

PDF Park Brochure