Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park

  • Toilets
  • Camping
  • 4WD
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Bird Watching
PDF Park Brochure
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Malkumba Coongie Lakes SA map

This park is a pristine water world made up of channels, lakes, internal deltas, shallow floodplains and interdune corridors.

Tag your Instagram pics with #malkumbacoongielakesnationalpark to see them displayed on this page.

About

Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park is one of the most spectacular of South Australia's natural attractions. The park is a pristine water world made up of channels, waterholes, lakes, internal deltas, shallow floodplains and interdune corridors and swamps. Motorboats, camp fires, fishing and generators are not permitted in the park, ensuring a genuine wilderness experience.

Coongie Lakes is listed as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The waterbird diversity is high for an arid wetland and is a significant feeding, resting and breeding site for an enormous number of birds that migrate to the area. The wetland plays host to a diversity of wildlife including fish, reptiles and frogs. It transforms into a breeding ground for an enormous number of migratory birds from around the world. The contrast from sand dunes to vast wetlands is remarkable. The park is a true wilderness for visitors seeking a place of solitude to enjoy nature. Take advantage of the wilderness – camp, canoe, enjoy photography, bushwalk, discover Aboriginal history and generally relax in the calm surrounds of the wetlands.

Opening hours

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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

Contact details

Natural Resource Centre - Port Augusta

Phone: (+61 8) 8648 5300
Email: DesertParks@sa.gov.au

After hours Regional Duty Officer: 0408 378 284

When to visit

Climatically and scenically, April and October are the best times to visit this park. The summer months from November through to February can be very hot and dry. If you are lucky enough to visit the park a few weeks after a soaking rain, you will be rewarded with ephemeral wildflowers and the sound of frogs in flowing creeks.

Getting there

Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park is located 100km north west of Innamincka. Access is along the Strzelecki Track, via Leigh Creek.

Please refer to the latest Desert Parks Bulletin for current access and road condition information.

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

In Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park campground toilet facilities are located at the creek. Camping is also available around the lake’s edge. Kudriemitchie campground is located on the edge of the park.

Useful information

  • There is no mobile phone coverage in the park.

Please refer to the latest Desert Parks Bulletin for current access and road condition information.

Outback Road Report

1300 361 033 (24-hour automated service)
Northern and Western South Australian Outback Roads Temporary Closures, Restrictions and Warnings Report

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

Take a virtual tour

Take a virtual tour of this park, get a taste for the beauty of the lakes at sunrise, the red of the outback dunes and the a sense of stillness that this park provides.

Traditional owners

The Coongie Lakes and associated wetlands are a spiritual site for Aboriginal people and was once crucial to the maintenance of the Indigenous populations due to the availability of resources, particularly following flood events.

The Yandruwandha and Yawarrawarrka people have lived in this region for thousands of years, taking advantage of the prolific birdlife and seasonal wildlife. The groups retain a strong interest and presence in the area.

Words from the Yandruwandha Yawarrawarrka Parks Advisory Committee

Our people lived and thrived around the Coongie Lakes area for many generations before European explorers and pastoralists arrived in the 1800s. Despite loss of country, our culture was not lost; we kept our language and stories, and handed them on.

We are keen to protect the land and share our stories and culture with neighbouring communities and visitors. The Malkumba–Coongie Lakes National Park Management Plan (2014) identifies three zones within the park – Heritage and Conservation Zone; Living and Camping Zone; and Fishing Zone – to allow our community members to carry out traditional activities today. We have also improved interpretative signs and are finalising a cultural heritage plan.

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.

See and do

Rangers recommend

We have picked the brains of our park rangers to find out what they would recommend you see and do whilst visiting this park.

  • Find a peaceful location, use binoculars to watch the many species of birds that use this wetland system.
  • Depending on the campsite, watch the sunset or sunrise over Coongie Lake.
  • Walk around the lake shore and take in the sights, sounds and smells.
  • Take your time, relax and recharge your personal battery in this wilderness area.

Bushwalking

There are no specific bushwalking trails within this park.

However, you can take a stroll around the Coongies Lakes, be sure to stop and watch the water birds in their native habitat.

Stay in the park

In Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park, camp sites with toilet facilities are located at the creek. Camping is also available around the lake’s edge. Kudriemitchie campground is located on the edge of the park, and camp fires and generators are allowed.

Fees apply for the Malkumba-Coongie Lakes campground and you must book in advance.

Coongie Lakes

The incredible contrast of sun-scorched desert and life-filled wetlands make Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park truly unique. The landscape changes with the movement and flow of the water. The monsoonal rain falling in central Queensland winds its way through the Barcoo, Thomson and Wilson rivers into the Cooper Creek system.

In extreme flood conditions virtually the whole of the northwest corner of South Australia becomes a huge lake. During major floods, Coongie Lakes overflow onto the broad western floodplains and floodwaters can reach the vast inland basin of Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre).

Flora

The park's flora changes with the seasonal water flows. Northern river red gums are often plentiful where water is permanent with Lignum forming dense thickets beneath. The soil type and how regularly the area is flooded determines the surrounding vegetation, ranging from grasses and native herbs to low open woodlands of Coolabah trees.

The sand dunes in the park can be up to 15 metres tall. Vegetation on the dunes varies with flora including narrow-leaved hop-bush, sand hill wattle and sand hill cane-grass.

Fauna

The Coongie Lakes wetland is internationally recognised as a Ramsar wetland of international importance and is known for its diversity and multitude of waterbirds. The wetlands are home to 205 bird species, including 87 waterbird or wetland dependent species, 45 of which breed here. Twenty four of these species are rare, vulnerable or endangered in South Australia.

Every year, millions of migratory wading birds fly from one side of the world to the other and back again, covering a distance more than 25,000km. Along the route is a network of wetlands, including Coongie Lakes, that the birds visit from December to April to feed and shelter.

Volunteering

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is currently not permitted in this park. 

Safety

Bushwalking

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
  • be aware of weather conditions and avoid walking during the hottest part of the day
  • 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

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.

4WD

When 4WDriving in the park, it is important to be aware of the following:

  • Standard road rules apply when driving anywhere in the park, including the laws for speed limits, drink driving, vehicle registration and seat belts.
  • Take extreme care when driving in the park – be aware of blind corners, crests and narrow two-way tracks.
  • Observe all track and safety signs, especially 'No public access' signs.
  • Do not take your vehicle off the designated tracks. Wildlife can be threatened and precious habitat and indigenous sites can be damaged by off track driving.
  • Make sure you know what to do in the event of getting bogged and always carry a shovel.
  • When driving on sand, deflate your tyres as appropriate for your vehicle. Don’t forget to reinflate your tyres to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure before leaving the park. Take care when lowering tyre pressure as there is risk you could roll the tyre off its rim. Also, remember that lower tyre pressure can mean a change in how the vehicle handles.
  • 4WDriving in parks
  • Download the Oodnadatta Track visitor brochure and the Birdsvill and Strzelecki Tracks visitor brochure.

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

Park maps

Maps on your mobile

If you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza PDF Map app and have interactive national park maps on hand when you need them.

The app uses your device's built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos and drop placemark pins. 

How to get it working on your device:

1. Download the Avenza PDF maps app from the app store whilst you are still in range (its free!).
2. Open up the app and click the shopping cart icon.
3. Click ‘Find’ and type the name of the national park or reserve you are looking for.
4. Click on the map you are after and install it (all our maps are free).
5. You will now find a list of your installed maps on the home page of the Avenza app.
6. Use our maps through the Avenza PDF map app while in the park and never take a wrong turn again.

Fees

Entry fees

Please book and pay online for vehicle entry and camping prior to arrival as self-registration stations are no longer available in this park.

Vehicle entry fees

Vehicle entry: $10.00
Vehicle entry (concession): $8.00

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

Alternative booking and payment options

Cash payments for this park can be made at:

  • Innamincka: Innamincka Trading Post, South Terrace, Innamincka, SA, (08) 8675 9900 
  • Birdsville: Birdsville Visitor Centre, (07) 4656 3300
  • Birdsville: Birdsville Fuel Station, 65 Adelaide Street, Birdsville, QLD, 4482, (07) 4656 3236
  • Marree: Marree Oasis Cafe, (08) 8675 8352
  • William Creek: William Creek Hotel, (08) 8670 7880
  • Mt Dare: Mt Dare Hotel, (08) 8670 7835
  • Hawker: Hawker Visitor Information Centre, (08) 8648 4022
  • Port Augusta: Natural Resource Centre – Port Augusta, Level 1, 9 Mackay Street, Port Augusta, SA, (08) 8648 5300

Camping and accommodation

Please book and pay online for vehicle entry and camping prior to arrival as self-registration stations are no longer available in this park.

Campsite fees (per night)

Vehicle (max 8 people) - $12
Hikers/cyclists/additional vehicle occupant (per person) - $6.50
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.

Alternative booking and payment options

Cash payments for this park can be made at:

  • Innamincka: Innamincka Trading Post, South Terrace, Innamincka, SA, (08) 8675 9900 
  • Birdsville: Birdsville Visitor Centre, (07) 4656 3300
  • Birdsville: Birdsville Fuel Station, 65 Adelaide Street, Birdsville, QLD, 4482, (07) 4656 3236
  • Marree: Marree Oasis Cafe, (08) 8675 8352
  • William Creek: William Creek Hotel, (08) 8670 7880
  • Mt Dare: Mt Dare Hotel, (08) 8670 7835
  • Hawker: Hawker Visitor Information Centre, (08) 8648 4022
  • Port Augusta: Natural Resource Centre – Port Augusta, Level 1, 9 Mackay Street, Port Augusta, SA, (08) 8648 5300

Park pass

Desert Park Pass

Heading to the outback? Purchase a Desert Parks Pass which entitles you to 12 months vehicle entry into seven selected desert parks. 

The pass also allows you to camp for periods of up to 21 nights at a time in the desert parks (excluding Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park, where camping is not permitted). 

Other fees and permits

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

PDF Park Brochure