Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth

This internationally significant area east of Goolwa, where the Murray meets the sea, covers 140,000 hectares and includes wetlands, lakes and coastline. It is one of Australia’s top waterbird sites while 33 bird species found here are listed under international treaties to protect migratory birds. A lack of water flowing to this area has severely impacted on the Coorong’s health with only one quarter of the ecological system still supporting its native fish, birds and plants. Much of this area lies within the Coorong National Park


Why are the Lower lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth special and worth visiting

The Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth extend over approximately 140,000 hectares, covering 23 different wetland types, from very fresh to saltier than the sea.

Where the River Murray meets the sea, is one of the 10 major havens for large concentrations of wading birds in Australia, and is recognised internationally as a breeding ground for many species of waterbirds and native fish.

The Coorong is renowned as an area of national and international biological and historical significance. It is a habitat for numerous species of migratory birds and provides refuge for ducks, swans, cormorants, seagulls, terns, grebes and pelicans.
The park is an archaeological site of national importance with middens and burial sites, evidence of Aboriginal occupation over many thousands of years

In springtime, the Wetlands and Waders Festival celebrates the annual migration of wader and wetland birds into the coastal wetlands and River Murray.

The Coorong National Park lies adjacent to the mouth of the River Murray and consists of a string of long, shallow, saline lagoons more than 100 kilometres in length, separated from the Southern Ocean by the sand dunes of the Younghusband Peninsula.

How to get there

Coorong Map


The area is well-endowed with visitor facilities such as toilets, camping areas, fireplaces, good access roads and a number of towns close by with food, fuel and accommodation.

Excursion organisers must take full OH&S responsibility for all acticities. MDBA will not be held responsible for any visits to icon sites as they are National Parks.

Key contacts

For information when visiting the Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth and looking at The Living Murray program, please contact:

  • Department for Water (SA) – 08 8436 6800
  • South Australia Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board (Murray Bridge) – phone 08 8532 1432

The Living Murray

Ecological objectives of The Living Murray in this area include:

  • maintaining the connection between the river and the ocean,
  • encouraging more frequent estuarine fish spawning, and
  • enhancing migratory wader bird habitat in the Lower Lakes

What to do when you are there?

There many things to do in the Coorong:

  • Study the relationship between the ocean, lakes and rivers
  • It is the only part of the Murray-Darling Basin that has a coastal environment
  • Study the impacts of droughts and floods
  • Look at the impact of regulating the River Murray
  • There are great opportunities to study the rich cultural heritage and Aboriginal life
  • There are boat tours along the waterways

Birdlife is so abundant in the Coorong that the area is a Wetland of International Importance. Less than three kilometres wide, the inland sea of shallow lagoons is home to Australia’s largest breeding colony of pelicans while many shore birds, including those migrating from Japan, China and Siberia, also call the Coorong home over summer

  • Pelican Point offers a great opportunity to see water birds.
  • Parnka Point is popular with the waders and the rare Orange-bellied parrot.
  • Jacks Point Pelican Observatory allows you the opportunity to observe pelicans and
  • Fairy terns nesting on the islands of the Coorong lagoon.
  • The mallee scrub in the Salt Creek area is home to a variety of bush birds including the
  • Malleefowl that develops the most sophisticated incubation mounds.
  • The ocean beach is home to the endangered Hooded plover and numerous terns.

Excursion Activities

Click here to go to our Excursion section to download some activities that you can print out and use on excursions around the Murray Catchment


  • The Living Murray program can also be contacted at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority on 02 6279 0100 or via the enquiries form at www.mdba.gov.au/contact