Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park
Established in 1969, Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park encloses a long stretch of sandy beach backed by dunes and limestone ridges. Three separate wetland systems featuring crystal-clear water-filled sinkholes are the intriguing focus of the park. Over thousands of years fresh water has bubbled up through the limestone and, in parts, the water pressure has caused wall collapses, leaving underwater chasms and caverns. These ponds offer spectacular snorkelling and world-class diving for experienced cave divers (permits required and must be pre-booked).
One reed-edged pond is a 13-metre-deep cave with a collapsed roof, known as a doline. Beneath the dive pontoon are delicate plants, algal growth, fish and eels. On the western side of this pond lies the Chasm. This is a gaping blue trench, 5 metres wide and 30 metres long, formed over thousands of years by the erosive action of the rising fresh water, and it drops to a depth of more than 70 metres. Beautiful green plant life clings to the sheer walls. The Cathedral is a dramatic sight, a large sculptured cavern with impressive white limestone walls.
The wetland environment supports around 60 bird and five mammal species including swamp antechinuses and water rats. If you take the Beach Walk towards the Victorian border you will find fresh water bubbling up through the sands – the run-off from the ponds.
The Outlet Walk heads west amid coastal wattle and bearded heath to the mouth of Outlet Creek. From here boardwalks head inland to a lookout offering views over the wetlands. Camping, fishing and swimming are possible at the beach. Swimming is prohibited in the ponds.
Piccaninnie Ponds; fees apply
Location and access
460 km south-east of Adelaide; 32 km south of Mount Gambier on Discovery Bay
- Parks SA (08) 8204 1910
- Parks SA Mount Gambier (08) 8735 1177
Port MacDonnell (08) 8738 3000
- Back to nature, Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park, Back to nature
- Snorkelling and diving near Mount Gambier, Eco-friendly activity