OCEAN & RIVER
South Australia’s only giant kelp forest is found off the Coorong within one of two South East marine parks. Giant kelp forests have national protection as endangered ecosystems and shelter a range of other marine life including fish, sea snails, sea urchins, seaweed and corals.
The endangered pygmy blue whale is also known to use this stretch of coastline as an important feeding ground, and scientists estimate that there may be as few as 1200 of these solitary mammals left in the world.
A number of boat charter companies offer exclusive marine wildlife tours, with the edge of the continental shelf off south-eastern SA considered one of the best places to spot whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds.
PARKS & FORESTS
From the air, the patchwork of plantations blankets the earth in every shade of green, with pine saplings planted in rotations to ensure a steady supply of this renewable resource.
Unique pockets of native forest hidden within the commercial forest are widely recognised for their biodiversity, and are regularly explored by nature enthusiasts on the surface and cave divers beneath.
Ghost Mushrooms – a discovery by our local self-titled “Mount Gambier Enthusiast” and award winning photographer, Ockert Le Roux.
Head deep into the pine forests near Glencoe during the cooler months to look for the luminous Omphalotus nidiformis “Ghost Mushroom” that gives off an eye-startling fluorescent green glow after dark.
This attraction opened in 2016 with unexpected results. Over 15,000 visitors.
Wetlands, Wildlife & Birds
Some of Australia’s most significant wetlands are found in this area, and sites at the Coorong, Bool Lagoon and Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park have been declared Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance.
A 500-metre boardwalk over the Bool Lagoon wetlands is the next best thing to walking on water, while the adjoining Hacks Lagoon offers more magnificent scenery. Brolgas, commonly associated with northern Australia, are perhaps the most spectacular of the 150 species of birds that visit this area.
The Limestone Coast is one of Australia’s biodiversity hotspots due to its variety of habitat covering coastal and inland areas.
Unique wildlife encounters await those who love to explore, with more than 750 species of fauna calling this region home. At least 100 of them are listed as endangered, vulnerable or rare, including the iconic red-tailed black cockatoo and the orange-bellied parrot.
Valley Lake Conservation Park – located in the Valley Lakes Recreation Area, this is an attraction that allows visitors and locals alike to see kangaroos, koalas and more. Wander along the trails and enjoy a relaxed time in this accessible and compact conservation park.
The region also provides critical habitat for thousands of migratory wader birds who make round trips of up to 26,000 kilometres between their summer breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere and their feeding areas here in the south.
How they achieve this incredible feat is still something of a mystery to scientists – do they navigate by the stars and sun, or can they sense magnetic fields? Either way, they depend on the local wetland and coastal environments to rest and refuel for the next leg of their journey.
Some of the best water habitats are found near Port MacDonnell and Cape Banks, and along the Coorong and Lower Lakes.
Piccaninnie Ponds and Bool Wetlands – while in the region spot the Brolgas, commonly associated with northern Australia, are perhaps the most spectacular of the 150 species of birds that visit this area.
Coorong – further north, the Coorong is famous for its network of shallow lagoons and desert-like dunes that run parallel to the Southern Ocean for almost 100 kilometres. More than 230 bird species have been recorded among the large tracts of coastal vegetation, with some waders flying in from as far away as Siberia for a slice of the serenity.