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Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park

  • Toilets
  • Camping
  • 4WD
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Bird Watching

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.

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

Toilet facilities are available at the Cooper Creek day visitor area and campground.

Come prepared to be self-sufficient if you are planning on camping on the lake's edge or the Kudriemitchie campground as there is no facilities available in those areas.

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 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. 

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 Cooper Creek day visitor area and campground. 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.

Book online

FAQs about booking online

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

Vehicle entry needs to be paid prior to arrival.

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

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:

DEWDesertParks@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.

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:

DEWDesertParks@sa.gov.au

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