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Coorong National Park/Australia

Introducing Coorong National Park

The amazing Coorong National Park is a fecund lagoon landscape curving along the coast for 145km from Lake Alexandrina towards Kingston SE. A complex series of soaks and salt pans, it's separated from the sea by the chunky dunes of the Younghusband Peninsula. More than 200 species of waterbirds live here. Storm Boy, an endearing film about a young boy's friendship with a pelican (based on the novel by Colin Thiele), was filmed here.

In the 1800s the bountiful resources of the Coorong supported a large Ngarrindjeri population. The Ngarrindjeri are still closely connected to the Coorong, and many still live here.

At the edge of the Coorong on Lake Albert (a large arm of Lake Alexandrina), Meningie (population 900) was established as a minor port in 1866. These 'lower lakes' have returned to life recently, in the wake of the 2011 Murray River floods. Prior to this, the lakes were shrinking rapidly, and the entire Coorong ecosystem was under threat through salination and species decline. A momentary reprive from climate change? Time will tell...

The Princes Hwy scuttles through the park, but you can't see much from the road. Instead, take the 13km, unsealed Coorong Scenic Drive. Signed as Seven Mile Rd, it starts 10km southwest of Meningie off the Narrung Rd, and takes you right into the landscape, with its stinky lagoons, sea mists, fishing shanties, pelicans and wild emus. The road rejoins the Princes Hwy 10km south of Meningie.

It looks a little shabby, but Camp Coorong – run by the Ngarrindjeri Lands and Progress Association and 10km south of Meningie – has a museum and is a great place to learn about Ngarrindjeri culture. Call ahead to make sure it's open.

With a 4WD you can access Ninety Mile Beach, a well-known surf-fishing spot. The easiest ocean access point is 3km off the Princes Hwy at 42 Mile Crossing, 19km south of Salt Creek.

On the southern fringe of the Coorong is Kingston SE (population 2230). The town is a hotbed of crayfishing, and hosts the weeklong Lobsterfest in May. One of Australia's 'big' tourist attractions, the anatomically correct Larry the Lobster, is a famed resident.

For a watery perspective, try Spirit of the Coorong in Goolwa, which runs ecocruises into the national park, including lunch and a guided walk. Adelaide bus connections available.