Southern Ocean Beach

If camping at Southern Ocean Beach (part of the Coorong National Park) then you need to book a site online first. 

There are several ways to access the Southern Ocean Beach,  Probably the most well-known all weather crossing is the 42 Mile Crossing.  There is also the 32 Mile Crossing, the 28 Mile Crossing and Tea Tree Crossing.  42, 32 and 28 are so named for their distance from the town of Kingston.  They are called crossings because they involve crossing the Coorong and then the sand dunes before reaching the beach itself.  A 4WD is required for them all.

I'll mention only the Tea Tree Crossing as this is the one that I have used.  It is not an all weather crossing, but depends on the amount of water present in this part of the Coorong.  It is not tidal, but influenced by wind strength and direction and the amount of rainfall.  Usually late Summer will see the Tea Tree Crossing open.

The crossing is accessed from Loop Road, a gravel road that runs off of the highway near Salt Creek in the State's south east.  Salt Creek is about 210 kilometres from Adelaide. 

Once off of Loop Road, there is a short track which opens out onto the Coorong.  The crossing itself is marked by poles.  It is easy to cross as the ground is just hard salt pan.  When the other side of the Coorong is reached, there is campground set amongst the Tea Trees which is a nice little spot in itself, although there are no facilities.  An information board gives interesting facts about the areas flora and fauna.

This is a good spot to reduce the pressure in your tyres, something that is required if you wish to get through the soft sand of the dunes.  Around 20 PSI works OK.

That done, you will notice a short but steep hill of soft sand.  The first time I tried this I got stuck.  I almost made it to the top, rolled back a bit, and my rear passenger side wheel was buried with the rear drivers side wheel off the ground.  I started digging out when a group from another 4WD approached and gave me a push back down.  A shift into low range (that's right, I had it in high range) and up and over I went.  It's a good idea to make sure there are no cars returning from the beach before flying over the top, as it's two way.  Once over this hill, it's a relatively easy drive through the massive dunes onto the beach.  

Above the high tide mark, the beach is (usually) easy enough to negotiate.

The beach itself is quite hard and it is easy to drive north along it to the Murray Mouth or south to the 42 Mile Crossing.  However, severe weather conditions can cause the beach to change so don't take things for granted.  Stay above the high water mark and it is generally OK.

There are heaps of sites along the beach.  They are set above the high tide line, right at the base of the dunes.  They are rectangular shape cut outs marked by a permapine post.  Each site is numbered.  It pays to have the sand pegs if pitching a tent as they will give you a bit more purchase in the soft sand.

It is a magnificent place with the pounding surf in front and the large dunes as a back drop.  The colour of the dunes changes with the morning and evening light and the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular. 

The fishing is what most people go to the beach for, with Salmon and Mulloway the main attractions.  It is one of those places where you never know what will turn up.  Flathead and Gummy Sharks are also regularly caught.  The inshore gutters are very deep and the rips are horrendous.  When the swell is up the waves are enormous, so you do not want the kids getting too close.  I don't recommend swimming; you will either drown or be eaten.  (I have heard rumours of surfers here when there is a small, clean swell, but i haven't seen them). 

Southern Ocean Beach.

There are no facilities at all, so you need to come prepared.  Camp fires are permitted on the beach all year round, but check with National Parks staff first on the number quoted on the "Coorong" homepage.  I would recommend that you travel here only in fair weather.  There is no shelter or trees to speak of.  The summer sun can be brutal and you can''t hide.  At any time of the year storms can hit without much warning so keep an eye on the weather.  The big winter storms can change the face of the beach entirely cutting of access in places.

I should also mention the flies.  In the warmer months they are an absolute pain.  They are of the small, seemingly sticky variety, and will fly into your mouth if you keep it open too long.  My son gave up eating breakfast one morning as everytime he opened his mouth a fly dropped in.  I laughed once at the fisherman wearing those hats with the mosquito nets over their faces.  I won't laugh anymore.  That are just about a necessity.

Don't let this put you off though, take plenty of "Bugger Off", or whatever that flyscreen spray is called.  The atmosphere of the place is incredible.