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Cruise the Coorong

Home > Adelaide > Animals and Wildlife | Australian Bush Tucker | Cruises | Escape the City | National Parks
by Juliet E (subscribe)
A freelance writer, reviewer and broadcaster passionate about South Australia's fabulous wine and food.
Published May 15th 2015
Explore the unique beauty of the Coorong
South Australia's Coorong is a salt water wetland of world significance, with a wealth of birdlife and unique natural beauty. Many areas are out of reach for casual tourists, but one way to view the more secluded parts of this fascinating attraction is to take a cruise on a small boat.
Coorong, birds, seals, cruise, boat trips, National Park
Image appears courtesy of Cruise the Coorong website

'Cruise the Coorong' is a tour operated by Michael Veenstra, whose family have a long association with the River Murray and the Goolwa area. Michael takes a maximum of 16 passengers in his comfortable shallow draft vessel, which is designed to get into the spots that other vessels cannot. Every seat has a view and there is also a video presentation to accompany the commentary.

The day I went on this cruise was fine and bright but still a little nippy, so I was glad I was prepared with a jacket as well as my sunnies and hat. We left from historic Goolwa Wharf and travelled up past Hindmarsh Island, through the Goolwa Barrage and towards the Murray mouth. Due to extensive dredging, the area immediately around Mouth is closed to vessels, but we managed to steer close enough to get a good look at the iconic outlet to the sea and envy the fishermen casting out into the Southern Ocean.

We disembarked at Barker's Knoll for a cuppa and a walk through the Coorong National Park, where Michael pointed out some examples of bush tucker, some tasty and others not quite to everyone's liking! His good-humoured commentary during the whole trip was fascinating and displayed the extent of his impressive local knowledge, gathered throughout a life spent on the river.
Barkers Knoll, Coorong, cruises
Image appears courtesy of Cruise the Coorong website

A little further on, another stop and a bit of a trek through the sand dunes to the wild ocean, where we tried our hand at cockling - a hazardous occupation, as several of the group were taken unawares by the strong rip and went for an unintended dip! However, no harm done and the cockles we sampled later tasted better with the sauce of revenge. A fresh salad lunch in the sun soon dried everyone out and we turned towards the Tauwitchere Barrage to enter imposing Lake Alexandrina.

The variety of bird life on the water was stunning and Michael was able to identify and discuss each species and its habitat with ease, so my binoculars were very useful and the camera got a good workout, too. Seals have also moved into the Coorong in large numbers, a charming addition for the tourists but not so welcome to the fishermen scattered amongst the islands. We moved through the Tauwitchere Lock and came almost nose to nose with the inquisitive members of the colony living in its waters. Great photo op!
Coorong, birds, seals, cruise, boat trips, National Park
Image appears courtesy of Cruise the Coorong website


A leisurely trip past some not so imaginatively named islands around the lake (Snake Island, Rat Island, Goat Island - get the picture?) took us to Clayton and a quick history lesson along with afternoon tea. Then around the back of Hindmarsh Island and back to our mooring in Goolwa, after 6 1/2 hours of fascinating exploration.

The extended 'Cruise the Coorong' operates on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but there is a shorter, 3 hour, tour which goes out on Friday afternoons and on demand September - May. However, if there are gale force winds forecast, the cruise may be cancelled. For more information and bookings, visit

www.cruisethecoorong.com.au or the Goolwa or Victor Harbor Visitor Information Centres.
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Phone: 0410488779
Where: Goolwa Wharf, SA
Cost: $50-$130
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