Record visitation at SA national parks as summer program kicks off

SA Gov

Visitors are flocking to South Australia’s national parks sites with the Adelaide Gaol and Naracoorte Caves smashing attendance records.

The popularity of our parks comes ahead of another bumper summer program providing with more opportunities to experience the best of the state’s nature, wildlife and heritage, including a new escape cell experience at the gaol.

Visitation to Adelaide Gaol increased by more than 34 per cent between 1 December 2022 and 30 November 2023, with nearly 40,000 people walking through its heavy iron doors compared with the same period last year.

More than 96,000 people travelled to the state’s south east to experience the incredible Naracoorte Caves, while the nearby Tantanoola Caves also received an 8.5 per cent boost in attendees, up to about 35,000 over the past 12 months.

Attendance to Cleland Wildlife Park climbed 34 per cent on the previous year, with almost 130,000 people venturing to the beloved Adelaide Hills site.

Nearly 94,000 people visited the spectacular Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island.

With the school holidays now upon us, national parks and reserves have plenty on offer to entertain families this summer, including:

Cleland Wildlife Park: Christmas at Cleland

*Self-guided Christmas scavenger hunts on 18, 19, 21 and 22 December.

*Wildification: A program packed with fun activities, including exploring the park and seeing the amazing resident animals. A special ‘Christmas Mayhem in Nature’ Wildification event is planned on 20 December.

* Have your photo taken with Lofty the Koala at midday every day between 18-22 December.

*Bush buddies: Children 2-4 years can learn about Australian animals through storytelling, music, interactive and sensory learning experiences, while also exploring the park. Program running 18, 19, 21 and 22 December.

Adelaide Gaol:

*New escape cell experiences for children aged 12 and over, transporting participants to another time and challenging them to work together to solve puzzles to escape.

*12 Days of Holidays: Attendees can learn about how prisoners spent Christmas and other holidays in the Gaol. Runs between 16 December 2023 – 28 January 2024.

Naracoorte Caves:

*Evening bat tours: watch the bats fly out of the caves for their evening activities.

*Adventure caving: Get down and dirty by crawling through tunnels within the cave complex.

As put by Susan Close

South Australians are blessed to have some of the world’s best natural environments and amazing visitor experiences right on their doorsteps.

Over the holiday period our sites will be hubs of activity, providing a range of unique, fun and educational experiences.

Whether it’s the Adelaide Gaol, the spectacular Naracoorte Caves or Cleland Wildlife Park, I highly recommend South Australians to venture out to see what makes our state so amazing.

As put by National Parks and Wildlife Service Visitor and Commercial Services Manager Gary Joyce

We are thrilled with the amount of people who have visited our national park sites this year, setting new records along the way.

There is plenty to do in our parks and tourism sites this summer, so if you’re planning school holiday activities or heading off on a road trip, our parks and reserves have got you covered.

NPWS visitation figures

Site1 Dec 21-30 Nov 221 Dec 22-30 Nov 23Increase
Cleland Wildlife Park96,252129,24034.27%
Adelaide Gaol29,34539,33634.05%
Naracoorte Caves86,56596,32111.27%
Tantanoola Caves32,48235,2388.48%

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