Desert Parks online bookings frequently asked questions

Online booking for South Australia’s national parks commenced in August 2014 and most remaining parks – including our desert parks – came online on 1 June 2017.

This means visitors will need to book online before they travel for camping, accommodation and entrance fees.

We acknowledge that there will be confusion for some visitors as we move to the new system. Other states have similar systems and we expect this confusion to reduce in time. Here’s some answers to help visitors to our Desert Parks through the transition.

Why book online?

The booking system makes securing your campsite easy and fair. Your site is reserved just for you, no matter what time you get to the park. It allows you to book a site up to 12 months in advance without stressing if you will actually get a site when you arrive.

Many park visitors want the convenience of booking and paying online. This means you don’t have to carry the correct amount of cash to pay at the old payment stands, and you will actually have a site when you get there.

Which parks need to be booked online?

Entry and camping fees for the following Desert Parks are booked online:

  • Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park
  • Innamincka Regional Reserve
  • Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park
  • Witjira National Park
  • Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park
  • Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park
  • Tallaringa Conservation Park
  • Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park (entry only - no camping permitted)

The three historic accommodation options at Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park - Grindell’s Hut, Nudlamutana Hut and Balcanoona Shearer’s Quarters will also be available to book online.

How do I make an online booking?

Go to the Book now page to use the ‘BookEasy’ system. Have your credit card handy while you locate the individual park page online, click the ‘book online’ link at the top. Select the park or facility and the date(s) you want to book. Note, only campsites that are available for the dates you nominate will show on your screen.

Is there an alternative to the online payment?

We recognise that there is limited mobile phone coverage in the region, and in some areas no coverage. Sometimes it’s not practical to book ahead, and not everyone has access to the internet or portable devices. A number of businesses in strategic, remote locations have become booking agents. They will have signage that online payment is available before you drive out to the park and can assist you. Agents are:

Are on-park self-registration stations available?

With the online booking system, self-registration stations (aka iron rangers) will no longer be in use. Self-registration stations are continually subjected to acts of vandalism and theft. The online booking system will remove an element of anti-social behaviour from our parks, and enable staff to use time spent emptying and maintaining iron rangers on other park management activities.

Who will police campsite bookings?

The aim is to provide clear information to visitors so campsites do not need to be policed. The booking system sends visitors a confirmation email with dates and details of the sites they have booked. There will be no ‘reserved’ signs on campsites. Allocated campsites will be clearly numbered, so people unfamiliar with the campground should not have trouble finding the site they have booked.

Do I still need a Desert Parks Pass?

The Desert Parks Pass is available for Witjira National Park, Innamincka Regional Reserve, Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park, Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park, Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park and Tallaringa Conservation Park and is often a more cost-effective option for travel in the region. For these parks, Desert Parks pass holders still book their campsite through the booking system; it will ask for a Desert Parks Pass so you won't pay twice. Casual day entry and camping permits to these parks are also sold through the online booking system.

What about the Simpson Desert?

The online booking system will not apply to the Simpson Desert Regional Reserve and Simpson Desert Conservation Park. For this park, a Desert Parks Pass is required to cover entry and camping fees and holders can camp in designated areas on arrival.

What if someone is in my campsite?

While visitors are learning about the booking process there is a small chance that someone will be in the site you have booked. If this occurs it will most likely be a mistake on the other visitor’s behalf. 

As the Desert Parks are large, you may or may not see National Parks staff. If you see park staff, please approach them for help, and ensure you have a copy of your confirmation email available (either saved on your smartphone/tablet, or printed). Otherwise, we recommend showing the other campers your booking confirmation email.There is no chance of sites being double booked for the same date, and signage at locations before and at park entrances will clearly state that online bookings are required.

What if weather delays my travel?

If your trip has been delayed due to weather or road closures, contact the Desert Parks Administration Officer in Port Augusta on (08) 8648 5300 or DEWNRDesertParks@sa.gov.au to change the date or pre-book at an agent as it is likely by the day you get to your camp, someone else will have a booking for that day.

Is there a no booking/no camping policy? 

Yes, this is the only way to ensure there are no double bookings. Last minute bookings are not a problem; the booking should be made online and the instant confirmation email will mean no inconvenience for visitors.

Will there be any changes to the cost for camping?

Camping and entry fees can change every financial year and are scheduled to increase in line with the subsequent financial year. 

What is to stop camping park pass holders booking sites to ensure availability and then not turning up? 

There is nothing to stop this from happening. We will know if park pass holders have booked the campsite because rangers can print a report that shows the vehicle registration number and pass number that has booked an individual site. The only restriction on booking a site is that a booking can be no longer than 21 days. We will not cancel any bookings in the system in case the park pass holder is en-route and simply running late.

Do I need to print and display a receipt?

No. Park staff have a record of bookings and vehicle registration numbers. However, we do recommend printing a copy or saving it to your smart phone for your own reference during your trip.

What penalties will apply?

There will be some initial confusion as we transition to on-line booking and an extended grace period will apply to 31 December 2018. After this time, penalties may apply for not having booked and paid for entry and/or camping.

Where can I get information on outback safety and road closures?

The SA Arid Lands region is a remote part of South Australia and it is important that visitors are well prepared for safe, outback travel, including road closures.There are tips on our Get Desert and Outback Wise page.

Further information/feedback

Online booking system

If you have feedback on the online booking system please pass this on to the online bookings email address: DEWNR.OnlineBookings@sa.gov.au. Your comments are important so we can deal with issues quickly and continue to improve our visitor service. 

Desert Parks Passes and general park information

For further information about the parks themselves or Desert Parks Passes contact the Desert Parks Pass Administration Officer in Port Augusta on (08) 8648 5328 or DEWNRDesertParks@sa.gov.au or visit the individual parks pages.