Murray River National Park

  • Picnic Areas
  • Campfires Permitted
  • BBQ Facilities
  • Toilets
  • Camping
  • Swimming
  • Dogs on Lead
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Walking Trails
  • Bird Watching
  • Boating
PDF Park Brochure
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Murray River SA map

This park contains some of the most visually spectacular and environmentally important areas in the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin.

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About

Come and explore the Murray River National Park. The park provides ample opportunity for a variety of recreational activities such as walking, canoeing, bird watching and bush camping in a near natural environment. Designated camping areas with toilets and parking facilities as well as walking trails and a self-guided drive trail are established over several areas in the park. This park enables the conservation of more than 13,000 hectares and includes a vast network of Murray River wetlands and floodplains that provide unique natural experiences.

Murray River National Park is divided into three separate areas: Katarapko (Winkie), Lyrup Flats (Lyrup) and Bulyong Island (Renmark). As these areas are separated by towns, visitors will need to ensure they familiarise themselves with maps of the region.

Katarapko

Katarapko features 9,148 hectares of black box, red gum and lignum covered floodplains and wetlands alive with aquatic bird species. Katarapko Creek is a significant creek that flows through the park and provides great canoe adventuring and is a very important habitat for native fish. The Ngak Indau walking trail is great for viewing wetland birdlife. Rilli Island, Media Island and Kapunda Island Conservation Parks are also part of Katarapko.

Katarapko itself is divided into three sections: Lock 4 section, Eckert’s Creek section and Katarapko Creek section. Each section has a separate entrance with visitors being unable to move from one section to another through the park.

Katfish Reach is a community environmental rehabilitation project that encompasses the Katarapko and Eckert Creek area. The area has been identified as a priority floodplain for environmental flows, and for broad‐scale rehabilitation works for native fish.

Lyrup Flats

Includes 2,000 hectares along the floodplain on the northern side of the river and ferry at Lyrup. It provides wonderful opportunities for birdwatching, fishing and camping. You can take your dog for a walk in the Lyrup Flats area of the park providing it is on a lead.

Bulyong Island

North of Renmark, this area is only accessible by boat. The Goolwa street boat ramp is the closest launch point. The island is home to a number of wildlife species, such as western grey kangaroos, emus, pelicans, kingfishers and parrots. It is a fantastic area for canoeing and exploring the extensive waterways above Renmark by small boat.

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. The park may also be closed during high rainfall events when roads and campsites become slippery and boggy, as well as times when there are high water levels in the wetlands. Roads may also be closed at time during construction of new regulators which will enable future flooding of the floodplain. Please contact us if you are unsure.

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

Getting there

Each area of Murray River National Park has different access points and drive times from Adelaide:

Katarapko (220 km, 2 hrs 50 min)

Lock 4 Section

Entry is via Draper and Lock 4 Road from Berri (4.6km to park entrance). Individual campsites in this section are situated along the beautiful River Murray, including the Booky Cliffs and Sawmill Campgrounds. Also featuring the Ngak Indau Wetland Trail and downstream views of Lock and Weir No.4.  

Eckert’s Creek Section

Entry is via Migga Road and Lower Winkie Road, off the Old Sturt Highway (4.7 km to park entrance). Individual campsites in this section are situated along Eckert’s Creek and the northern end of Katarapko Creek, and includes Causeway Campground.

Katarapko Creek Section

Access the Katarapko section via the Old Sturt Highway. Turn off between Glossop and Berri and follow the signs (10km to park entrance). Entry is via Winkie Road and Katarapko Crescent. Individual campsites in this section are situated along the majestic Katarapko Creek. Also featuring Craggs Hut Walk, Kai Kai Nature Trail and the Murray Pine Self-guided Drive.

Lyrup Flats (250 km, 3 hrs 10 min)

Lyrup Flats is situated between the Sturt Highway and the river, between the towns of Renmark and Berri. 

Bulyong Island (300 km, 3 hrs 15 min)

Bulyong Island is north of Renmark and can only be accessed by boat.

Contact details

Natural Resource Office - Berri

Phone: (+61 8) 8580 1800

For booking enquiries please email:

DEWNR.SAMDBOnlineBookings@sa.gov.au

When to visit

Climatically and scenically, autumn and spring are the best times to visit Riverland parks. However, the climate of the Riverland makes it suitable for visiting parks most of the year. The summer months of January and February can be hot.

Roads along the flood plain are generally unsuitable for driving on immediately after heavy rains. This, and other hazards such as bushfire, can force the temporary closure of some sections of the park. Keep your eye on this website for up to date information.

Pets in parks

You and your dog can enjoy the Lyrup Flats area only, provided that 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.

Pets are not permitted in the Katarapko or Bulyong Island areas of the park.

Facilities

There are picnic areas, campfire areas, toilets, camping sites and caravan sites available in this park.

Useful information

Traditional owners

This area is the traditional home to the Erwirung people, a relatively small Aboriginal group that lived on the fertile plains of the Murray. Cultural sites exist in the park in the form of graves, middens and canoe trees. Aboriginal people have strong affiliations to Country and these cultural values and sites must be respected and conserved.

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

Charles Sturt, in 1830, was the first European to explore the river. Rowing with a party of seven in a whaleboat from its junction with the Murrumbidgee down the length of the river to the river mouth below Lake Alexandrina.

Paddle steamers began plying the river in the 1850's, transporting stock and produce for the burgeoning pastoral industry.

The river trade reached a peak in the 1880's, to be replaced by rail and road transport. In 1887, after the founding of Renmark, vines and fruit trees were established with the help of irrigation schemes. Soldier settlement schemes after both world wars saw more irrigated farmland developed.

In the late 1960s conservation parks were proclaimed to protect some of the islands; in 1991 three areas of the river were incorporated in Murray River National Park.

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.

  • Fishing at Katarapko Creek for golden perch and yabbies.
  • Sitting quietly with your binoculars, watching for birdlife such as the threatened regent parrot.
  • Kayaking through the waterways, then stopping for a picnic lunch in a secluded spot.
  • Taking a dip in the river on a hot day and – if you’re feeling brave – standing still for long enough to let the shrimp nibble your toes.
  • Learning about the history and ecology of the area on one of the Katarapko trails.
  • Watching the sun set the water and the bush aglow as it goes down over your campsite.

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.

Easy walks

  • Cragg’s Hut Walk (40 min loop, 2km)

    This interpretive trail takes walkers back to the time of European settlers. See the historic remains of the homes of the Craigies and the Blands. Visit the grave of Margaret Craigie, before resting at the lookout and gazing out over the land that sustained these families.

  • Kai Kai Natural Trail (40 min loop, 2km)

    Popular with school groups, this walk takes you on a journey of discovery, revealing native plants and animals along the way.

  • Ngak Indau Wetland Trail (1.5 hour loop, 4km)

    This walk begins at the car park just off Lock 4 road and winds its way through the Ngak Indau wetland, out to the river and back again. Check out the wetland birdlife like spoonbills, an array of duck species, herons and whistling kites.

    Murray River National Park - Ngak Indau Walking Trail map

Mountain biking

 You can ride your bike along any public access road within the park. There are no specifically designated cycling tracks in this park.

Stay in the park

Camping is only permitted in designated campsites or campgrounds.

You will be able to access some campsites by boat, but beware of submerged obstacles.

Katarapko

There are three main sections in Katarapko ‐ Katarapko Creek, Lock 4 and Eckerts Creek. The Lock 4 and Eckert’s Creek sections have campgrounds suited to larger groups. These campgrounds can accommodate smaller caravans and camper trailers and are ﴾usually﴿ 2WD accessible. Alternatively individuals can book an unallocated site in these campgrounds, but please be aware you may be also camping with other visitors.

For a more secluded camping experience, there are also a number of individual sites dotted along the river, Eckert Creek and Katarapko Creek in each section. The sites are different shapes and sizes. They have differing water access and views. They are well sign‐posted and easy to find, but the camping area is generally not visible from the road, so you will have to drive ﴾or walk﴿ in to see if the site is suits you. Alternatively, visit ‘Book before you go’ where you will find a photo and description of each campsite.

Lyrup Flats

This is the most accessible section of the park, easily accessed by 2WD in dry conditions. Colligan’s and Black Box campgrounds are well suited to caravans and larger groups.

There are also secluded campsites spaced along the river in Lyrup Flats. See the park map to find the nearest public toilet.

Fishing

Katarapko Creek and the Murray River are popular fishing spots ‐ species include golden perch (callop) and yabbies. The European carp ‐ the scourge of the Murray, is the fish most commonly caught. If you catch one, it is illegal to return it to the river alive. Some fish in the Murray are protected species such as catfish. Make sure you know which fish must be released if caught.

Canoeing and kayaking

This is a great way of exploring the park. Try the quiet backwaters of Katarapko or Eckert creeks. Canoes can be launched from some campsites. Pack a picnic lunch and don’t forget your life jacket and fishing rod.

For information on how to purchase detailed, independently produced canoe trail maps please contact the Berri Visitor Information Centre or the Renmark Paringa Visitor Information Centre.

Flora

The Murray River National Park is home to native plants such as Black Box, River Red Gums and understorey like Lignum, the Spiny Daisy, Swamp Daisy and Prickly Bottlebrush.

The Murray‐Darling Basin region is home to an extraordinarily diverse range of native vegetation ﴾flora﴿, with over 2,000 species recorded. Native vegetation refers to any naturally occurring local plant species which are indigenous to Australia, from small ground covers and native grasses to large trees and water plants.

About 50% of the region is covered by native vegetation, with around 45% of this contained within national parks, reserves and heritage agreements. However, a quarter of all the plants recorded in South Australia are considered to be threatened, and less than 30% of native vegetation remains in the agricultural areas, with some areas lower than 10%.

Fauna

The three separate areas that make up Murray River National Park ‐ Katarapko, Lyrup Flats and Bulyong Island cover more than 13,000 hectares and conserve the verdant Murray wetlands that flow through the park.

The overall area is home to around 8 species of native frogs such as southern bell frog and the banjo frog, and several species of native fish including murray cod and golden perch (callop). Up to 23 species of reptiles may be found including the carpet python, broad-shelled tortoise and eastern tiger snake. There are also many species of birds and mammals  ‐ regent parrots, emus, kangaroos, black swans, ducks, bats, restless flycatchers and pelicans just to name a few!

The Katarapko area features floodplains and several wetlands. The area is an important breeding area for native wildlife, including waterbirds, and is an ideal place for birdwatching.

Lyrup Flats encompasses 2,000 hectares along the floodplain on the northern side of the river and provides wonderful opportunities for birdwatching and fishing.

Bulyong Island is only accessible by boat. The island is home to a number of wildlife species, such as western grey kangaroos, emus, pelicans, kingfishers and parrots.

Birdwatching basics:

If you’ve already spotted a bird on your walk, then congratulations, you’re a birdwatcher!  Here are few tips for being a better birdwatcher:

  • Remove (or turn inside out) any brightly coloured jackets

  • Move quietly and calmly into a comfortable sitting or standing position

  • Keep noise and movement to a minimum

  • Look at different levels – on the ground, in the reeds, on tree trunks and branches, and in the treetops. 

  • Bring binoculars and a field guide for your next visit.

Volunteering

Want to help?

To find out how you can help in this park or nearby, please visit Natural Resources South Australian Murray-Darling Basin – 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.

  

Become a Campground Host

Combine your love of camping with doing a good deed by becoming a volunteer campground host in this park. 

A campground host is a volunteer who stays at the park either for a specific peak period, like the Easter break or a long weekend, or an extended period of time (up to a few months) to support park rangers.

If you are passionate about the environment, a keen camper, like to meet people from all around the world, and are a happy to help, then hosting could be right up your alley. 

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   for your own safety, and prevent the spread of declared weeds to other areas in the park
  • wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen
  • please be respectful of others at all times
  • carry sufficient drinking water
  • be aware of weather conditions and avoid walking during the hottest part of the day
  • inform a responsible person of your proposed route and expected time of return, take appropriate maps
  • ensure you have appropriate wet weather clothing as weather conditions can change quickly.
  • 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

Camping

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

  • Never camp directly under a large River Red Gum. These trees are susceptible to dropping large branches at any time which may endanger your safety or life.
  • 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. It's also a good idea to check that there are no insect nests nearby.
  • Check to make sure you're not camping in a natural waterway.
  • If camp fires are permitted, you must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for many animals and is essential for adding nutrients to the soil for other native plants when rotting down. 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, as they differ from fire restriction dates set by the CFS.

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 between 1 November 2017 to 15 April 2018.
  • You must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited

  • Gas fires are permitted, except on days of total fire ban.

  • Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Water

Strong currents and snags in the river and backwaters can make swimming dangerous.

4WD

Roads along the floodplain are generally unsuitable for driving on immediately after heavy rains. Expect varying road conditions along tracks with sandy, boggy and rocky patches. Vehicles are not permitted to drive off-road to navigate around these areas.

IMPORTANT: It is an offence regulated under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, to drive/ride/tow a vehicle in an unauthorised area (off-track). Offenders will be fined $150 for each offence.

Take extreme care when driving in the park – be aware of blind corners, crests and narrow two‐way tracks.

When driving on sand, deflate your tyres to 105kPa ﴾15psi﴿ – or 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. Dogs are only allowed in the Lyrup Flats section of this park
  • 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
  • help keep our parks beautiful by taking all your rubbish with you when you leave. Any rubbish left in campsites is an offence regulated under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, and campers will be fined.
  • abide by the road rules ﴾maintain the speed limit﴿
  • respect geological and heritage sites
  • do not remove or damage native plants
  • are considerate of other park users.

Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Dead wood plays a vital role in providing shelter for many animals and is essential for adding nutrients to the soil for other native plants when rotting down.

Maps

Park maps

Canoeing trails

For information on how to purchase detailed, independently produced canoe trail maps please contact the Berri Visitor Information Centre or the Renmark Paringa Visitor Information Centre.

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

Camping and accommodation

Fees apply to camp in this park.

You must book and pay for your campsite permit before you arrive, as cash self-registration stations are no longer in use in this park. 

Alternative booking and payment options

Cash payments can be made at the following agents:

For booking enquiries please email:

DEWNR.SAMDBOnlineBookings@sa.gov.au

PDF Park Brochure