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Find a Park > Eyre Peninsula

Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area

  • Toilets
  • Camping
  • 4WD
  • Swimming
  • Scuba / Snorkelling
  • Fishing
  • Walking Trails
  • Bird Watching

About

Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area, located 50km from Port Lincoln, conserves the magnificent scenery surrounding Memory Cove, as well as providing refuge for the park's rare flora and fauna.

To maintain the special wilderness qualities of this area access to Memory Cove is limited to 15 vehicles a day (information about gate key provided when booking). Among the park's eucalypt and sheoak woodlands, a wide variety of birds can be found, including the shy bush stone-curlew and the rare western whipbird. There are spectacular views from coastal lookouts that overlook the surrounding islands. You may even spot a whale or dolphin that pass by the area during the winter months.

Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area is surrounded by Lincoln National Park, be sure to check out other things to see and do in this neighbouring park to make the most of your visit.

Opening hours

To maintain the special wilderness qualities of this area access to Memory Cove is limited to 15 vehicles a day, book your vehicle entry and camping to receive a gate key.

Upon booking further instruction will be given on how to pick up your key from the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre.

Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre

3 Adelaide Place, Port Lincoln
Phone: (+61 8) 8683 3544

Contact details

Port Lincoln Natural Resource Centre

Phone: (+61  8) 8688 3111

Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre

Phone: (+61 8) 8683 3544 or 1300 788 378

For online bookings enquiries please email:

DEWEPOnlineBookings@sa.gov.au

When to visit

Summer in Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area is perfect, the weather is warm to hot and usually dry. It’s great for camping and ideal for beach lovers.

If you visit during late winter and spring – the best time for walking – you're likely to see the park teeming with native flora and birdlife.  You may even spot a whale or dolphin that pass by the area during the winter months.

Dogs not allowed

Dogs are not permitted in this park.

Discover which parks you can walk your dog in on our find a park tool or read 12 dog-friendly walks in Adelaide Parks by Good Living for inspiration.

Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are permitted in most public places and are therefore welcome in South Australia’s parks and reserves. Assistance dogs must be appropriately restrained on a lead and remain under your effective control at all times while in a park or reserve.

As per the dogs in parks and reserves policy, if the dog is not an accredited assistance dog, they must be trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate that disability and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for a dog in a public place. However, refusal may be given if the person with the disability is unable to produce evidence the dog is an assistance dog with the appropriate training.

Before taking your assistance dog into a park that does not normally allow dogs, it is highly recommended that you contact us so we can provide you with the latest information on any potential hazards within specific parks that may affect your dog. Please contact the park via the contact details provided under the contact tab or call the information line on (+61 8) 8204 1910.

Facilities

There are five campsites available to be booked at Memory Cove. There are toilets and non-potable water located at the campground.

This is a remote wilderness so please be prepared to be self sufficient.

Please bring garbage bags and take you rubbish with you when you leave.

Useful information

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

Traditional owners

The Barngarla and Nauo people use the rich food resources of the lower Eyre Peninsula coast. The local Aboriginal people have mastered the art of harvesting freshwater from underground and coastal springs. They also make use of a wide variety of fish, inland mammals, reptiles and plants. Fish traps made from stone arrangements, stone working sites and middens are still present in the park.

Aboriginal peoples have occupied, enjoyed and managed the lands and waters of this State for thousands of generations. For Aboriginal first nations, 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. 

There are many places across the State that have great spiritual significance to Aboriginal first nations.  At some of these places Aboriginal cultural protocols, such as restricted access, are promoted and visitors are asked to respect the wishes of Traditional Owners.

In places where protocols are not promoted visitors are asked to show respect by not touching or removing anything, and make sure you take all your rubbish with you when you leave.

Aboriginal peoples continue to play an active role in caring for their Country, including in parks across South Australia. 

European history

Colonial history in the Port Lincoln area is first recorded in Matthew Flinders' voyage of discovery aboard the Investigator in 1802. He surveyed and mapped much of the coastline of lower Eyre Peninsula, naming many sites in and around Lincoln National Park and Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area. Flinders erected a plaque at a site he named Memory Cove, in memory of the crew he tragically lost after their cutter was upset by rough seas in the Thorny Passage near Memory Cove. Eight of the islands in the Thorny Passage were named by Flinders in their memory.

Prior to becoming a park the area was farmed and grazed from the mid 1800s until the mid 1900's. Sealing occurred for a few decades in the early 1800s, but seal numbers were depleted so quickly that interest turned to whaling. A whaling station operated in Spalding Cove from 1828 to about 1832. By the late 1840s whale numbers had declined to a point where whaling had become unviable.

See and do

Stay in the park

Memory Cove Campground (4WD, 5 sites, access key required)

Nestled among a canopy of coastal mallee overlooking a picturesque white sandy beach and tranquil blue bay. This campground is accessible by 4WD only and is a true coastal wilderness.
Bookings are essential, upon booking further instruction will be given on how to pick up your key from the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre.

Lincoln National Park

Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area is entirely surrounded by Lincoln National Park. Don't miss the opportunity to explore this neighbouring park when visiting Memory Cove. See the Lincoln National Park page for more information on things to see and do.

Fishing

There are excellent fishing spots throughout Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area and Lincoln National Park.

Take care when fishing, make sure you know the tides and do not fish from slippery rocks. Many cliffs are undercut and crumbling. Be careful when walking, fishing or driving near any coastal area.

Please note; there are several marine parks with sanctuary zones (where fishing is not allowed) in the vicinity of Lincoln National Park.

Getting there

Memory Cove Wilderness Protection area is accessed via Lincoln National Park.

Entry to Lincoln National park is 13km south west of Port Lincoln via Proper Bay Rd. The park is on the south-eastern tip of the Eyre Peninsula and is an 8 hour, 680km drive from Adelaide. The trip can be shortened by taking the ferry from Wallaroo to Cowell, when it is operating.

The Wanna access gate in Lincoln National Park is 19 km from Memory Cove. 4WD vehicles are required as the road is unsuitable for conventional vehicles at certain times of the year (caravans are not permitted).

Whale watching

The coastline of the Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area forms part of the Thorny Passage Marine Park which is known for whale watching.  Each year between May and October, you may spot southern right whales swimming off the coastline as they travel from sub-Antarctic waters to the sheltered and warmer seas of southern Australia where they gather at special "nursery" beaches to give birth and nurse their young, and mate before migrating back to Antarctic waters in spring.

Flora

A large proportion of Memory Cove and Lincoln National Park is covered with a mixture of mallee eucalypts, some species of which are restricted to southern Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island (Coffin Bay mallee, eucalyptus albopurpurea), and the Port Lincoln mallee eucalyptus conglobata conglobata subspecies occurs on the southern tip of Eyre Peninsula.

The other main vegetation type that represents a distinctive community in its own right, but which has been extensively modified by grazing and farming land uses, is the drooping sheoak woodlands. This community occurs primarily inland and is comprised of a diverse variety of understorey shrubs and grasses. The shoeak woodlands are the focus of habitat restoration activity by volunteers and rangers.

Fauna

Lincoln National Park and Memory Cove Wilderness Protection Area protect the coastal vegetation of the lower Eyre Peninsula and provide a safe refuge for rare wildlife including Rosenberg's goanna, echidna, western whipbird, malleefowl and hooded plover.  More than 130 species of birds are known to visit the area making it ideal for birdwatching.

The brush-tailed bettong, a small member of the kangaroo family was once common in this area. The clearing of habitat and preditation by foxes and cats forced this rabbit sized animal into extinction in South Australia. With the help of volunteers, park management has brought the parks fox and cat population back in check and brush-tailed bettong has now been reintroduced into the area.

You can see the Australian sea lions and long-nosed fur seals that haul up on the coast to rest after lengthy fishing trips at sea, and the bottle-nose and common dolphins are frequently seen close to the shore. The once rare Rosenberg's goanna population is recovering in Lincoln National Park and Memory Cove thanks to the Rangers intensive fox baiting program.

Have you seen a goanna on the Eyre Peninsula? You can record your goanna sightings and photographs to help understand the recovery of goannas in this region.

Whales

There has been 29 different types of whales recorded in South Australia. The most common are the southern right whale, humpback whale, sperm whale, blue whale and orca whale (killer whale).  Of these you are most likely to spot a southern right whale along the South Australian coast.

Southern right whale
Every year, between May to October, southern right whales gather along the southern coastline of Australia to mate and calve, before returning to sub-Antarctic waters to feed.

The southern right whale is a large whale which can grow up to 17.5 metres and weigh over 80 tons.  The vast majority of southern right whales are black in colour with distinctive white patterns on their heads that are calluses formed by small crustaceans known as 'whale lice'.  The patterns are visible at birth and are unique to each whale allowing researchers to identify individual whales. 

Volunteering

  

Want to help?

To find out how you can help in this park or nearby, please visit Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula – Volunteering.

Want to join others and become a Park Friend?

To find out more about Friends of Parks groups please visit Friends of Parks South Australia.

You could join others to help look after a park. You can take part in working bees, training and other events.

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:

  • keep to defined walking trails and follow the trail markers
  • wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen
  • carry sufficient drinking water
  • be aware of weather conditions and avoid walking during the hottest part of the day
  • 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

  • Fires of any kind and generators are prohibited throughout the year (to low water mark).
  • Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Whale watching

Maintaining the legal distance from marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals is important, both for our safety and that of the animals.

The animals may be seriously injured if they are struck by a vessel or frightened young may become separated from their mothers. Even if there is no contact, coming too close can disrupt feeding, breeding and migratory behaviours.

Regular water users should make themselves familiar with all the rules for interacting with marine mammals by viewing the National Parks and Wildlife (Protected Animals – Marine Mammals) Regulations 2010.

In the Water

  • Prescribed vessels (high-powered craft such as jet-skis, hydrofoils and boats used for water skiing or paragliding): Never closer than 300m.
  • Other vessels (for example, cabin cruisers, yachts, ‘tinnies’, inflatables, kayaks, wind surfers and kite surfers): No closer than 100m.
  • Other vessels within 300m of a whale: No anchoring; maximum speed 4 knots; maximum time 60 minutes.
  • Swimmers (including surfers and boogie boarders): No closer than 30m.

On Land

  • No closer than 30m (or 50m if the whale is distressed, stranded or entangled)

In the air

  • Planes and remotely piloted aircrafts (drones) must be at least 300m from any whale or other marine mammal (additional Civil Aviation Safety Authority restrictions apply).
  • Helicopters and gyrocopters must be at least 500m from any whale or other marine mammal.

 Special rules exist for:

  • whale calves: all vessels and swimmers – no closer than 300m
  • distressed, stranded or entangled whales: all vessels and swimmers – no closer than 300m

4WDriving

  • Expect varying road conditions along beaches, with sandy, boggy and rocky patches.
  • Take extreme care when driving in the park – be aware of blind corners, crests and narrow two-way tracks.
  • Getting bogged in sand is common. Know what to do 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.

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

Vehicle entry needs to be paid prior to arrival.

Click through to the online booking page for vehicle entry fees.

Upon booking further instruction will be given on how to pick up your key from the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre.  A $50 cash deposit is required for the key. Please contact the centre during business hours to arrange pick-up (+61 8) 8683 3544

Book online

Book online to buy day entry for your vehicle.

FAQs about booking online

Book and pay in person

If you are unable to book and pay online you can do so, in person, at these booking agents across the state.

For online bookings enquiries please email:

DEWEPOnlineBookings@sa.gov.au

Camping and accommodation

Campsites need to be booked prior to arrival.

Click through to the online booking page for more details about individual campgrounds and fees.

Upon booking further instruction will be given on how to pick up your key from the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre.  A $50 cash deposit is required for the key. Please contact the centre during business hours to arrange pick-up (+61 8) 8683 3544

Book online

Book online to reserve your campsite up to 12 months in advance.

FAQs about booking online

Book and pay in person

If you are unable to book and pay online you can do so, in person, at these booking agents across the state.

For online bookings enquiries please email:

DEWEPOnlineBookings@sa.gov.au

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 not just for this park, but up to an additional 10 parks as well!

PDF Park Brochure