Karte Conservation Park

Sunrise - Karte Conservation Park

27/07/2017 - It is now necessary to book online if you wish to camp at Karte Conservation Park.  There are 3 sites, all quite large (all rated at 8 people on the Parks SA website).  Cost is $12 a night.

Located in the Murray-Mallee region of the State, Karte Conservation Park is about 30 kilometres north-west of Pinnaroo.  Pinnaroo is about 250 k's from Adelaide.

If travelling from Adelaide, the easiest way to get there is to head up the freeway to Murray Bridge, then from there to Tailem Bend.  Just after Tailem Bend, turn left and head out along the Mallee Highway through Lameroo and on to Pinnaroo.  Then head about 25 k's out along the Pinnaroo to Loxton Road and you'll see a sign "Karte walking trail - Conservation Park" indicating left.  (That might not be exactly what it says, but you get the idea - it's a brown sign with white lettering).

The road is sealed all the way to this turn off.  After that it is a well maintained dirt road suitable for all vehicles.  After heavy rain it becomes quite slippery with some soggy bits.  The 250 metres of track into the Conservation Park itself is not so good, but still negotiable in 2wd vehicles.

Of course, you could use a GPS system and ask it to give you directions to "Karte".  Just be prepared to become familiar with the network of dirt roads between Murray Bridge and Karte.

The campground sits on the edge of the Park, which itself is surrounded by farmland.  It's a fairly small Park, with sandhills covered by thick, dense Mallee scrub.  Malle Cyprus Pines, Wattles and Broombush are common here too.  The soil is very sandy, similar to Ngarkat Conservation Park. 



 The campground at Karte Conservation Park

The only facility is the recently erected long drop loo.  Other than that it's bush camping all the way.  There are however, designated areas for campfires and wooden tables and benches.  There are three (3) sites, but the entire camping area is fairly small.  The ground, as mentioned, is sandy, but is firm enough to hold tent pegs.  A caravan or camper trailer would be OK here too.  There is enough room to manoeuvre the car and trailer about.  There is no grass, but I don't mind that sandy stuff so much.  It doesn't stick to everything like mud and doesn't hold huge puddles of water.  It also makes a nice soft base for the tent or swag.

 A little bit of luxury at Karte CP - a nice new long drop loo

A 1.5 kilometre walking trail starts and finishes at the campground, and winds through the scrub and up to the top of one of the higher dunes.  It's a great view from the top.  Look east and you will see the edge of the Park and the seemingly endless farmland stretching to the horizon.  Look west and the thick scrub stretches across the tops of the undulating dunes.  The trail itself is eroded in parts due to water run off and the fact that it's sand.  It's an easy walk, although there are some steep sections.  Markers along the way offer some information on a few of the native trees and shrubs. 

A couple of interesting things about this trail.  One, it doesn't seem to be particularly well used, so there are quite a few spider webs strewn across it.  I have a completely irrational fear of all things spider-like and ended up walking straight into a nasty looking black and white spider that quickly took up residence in the hood of my jumper.  I did a funny little dance (see Jim Carey in "Me, myself and Irene") before ripping the jumper off and flinging the spider as far away as possible.  I spent the rest of the walk waving a long stick in front of me to clear the trail of webs.  

The other interesting, and not so creepy, thing is the number of marks left by animals.  OK, it might be a bit boring, but because of the sandy soil, perfect tracks are left by anything that walks over it.  Kangaroo and Echidna tracks are very distinguishable and there are others that I can't name, although I suspect fox and rabbits. 

Karte Conservation Park is a well known spot amongst bird watchers.  Honeyeaters are prominent, along with Ringneck Parrots, Galahs, Magpies, Thornbills, Weebills and even Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos.  There are reportedly Mallefowl and Western Whipbirds, although they might be a bit more difficult to spot.

Kangaroos and, surprisingly, Echidnas are often easy to spot in this park, especially near dawn and dusk.  (Keeping quiet is the secret to spotting Echidnas).

A myriad of native plants are present also, and Spring would be a good time to visit if wildflowers are your thing.

Any of the cooler months is a good time to visit due to the scorching Summer temperatures.  Campfires are allowed out of fire danger season, so it's easy to keep warm during the cold winter nights.  Remember to bring your own firewood as collection of wood within the Park is prohibited.  The flies are very friendly here which is another reason to visit when it's cool.

Karte is not a very well known camping area and sees few visitors.  I think this is probably because it really is in the middle of nowhere lying away from the major roads and towns.  For me though, therein lies it's attraction.  It is one of the quietest places to camp and there is sure to be no crowds.  I enjoy visiting here mid week in Winter so I have the place to myself.  It is a great spot to relax for a night or two around the camp fire.