Greg James

Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park

Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park
Investigator Thorny Passage Thorny Passage Investigator Thorny Passage Sir Joseph Banks Group Eastern Spencer Gulf Franklin Harbor Upper Gulf St. Vincent Southern Spencer Gulf

General Marine Park Information

Home of the much loved cuttlefish, Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park at some 1602km2 encompasses the entire upper end of Spencer Gulf (apart from a few small areas) from Cowled's Landing across to Port Davis. It is the site for considerable professional fishing activities, as well as containing three major regional ports (Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla).

Being at the end of Spencer Gulf, it is considered (for the most part) a low-energy environment and is subjected to considerable tidal fluctuations in water level. The coastline is typical of low-energy estuarine environments, with mangrove systems, tidal flats and saltmarshes interspersed amongst a rocky coastline. Semi-submerged sand/mud bars are also evident along many parts of the shoreline, and even the occasional rocky reef structure.

Please exercise due diligence when operating in this area, as the wetland areas and mangroves are important feeding and nursery areas for many small fish and crustaceans.

GPS Boundaries*

  • The western most point of the marine park lies at the median high water mark at 1372635.45E, 33914.9S, near Cowled's Landing south of Whyalla.
  • Northerly along the shoreline to the upper tip of Spencer Gulf, before following the shore back south to Jarrold Point at 1374856.23E, 331528.01S.
  • Westerly across the gulf to the first point above, encompassing, the entire upper reaches of Spencer Gulf in a triangle-shaped area.

There are a couple of sections within the the area described above which are not included in the marine park, mainly for shipping reasons.

  • The Whyalla and False Bay areas.
  • A channel running generally north out from Port Pirie, to a larger east-west shipping channel extending out into the gulf around the Ward Point/Port Germain area.

For more accurate information on these exclusions, please refer to the DEH website.

Fishing Information

Commercial fishing activity is quite high in this area, focusing on blue swimmer crabs, western king prawns and varios fish. Recreationally, this region of Spencer Gulf is well known for its snapper fishing and crabbing, with plenty of squid, octopus, mullet, garfish and whiting also available. A special delicacy called razorfish is also quite common in this area, and highly sought after by many of the locals.

In the Whyalla area, blue crabs, King George whiting, salmon, squid and garfish are all quite common around the sandy/silt bottomed areas. A trip down to Point Lowly also has a good chance of producing decent sized (15kg) red snapper, especially between April and September.

Around the very upper reaches near Port Augusta, fishing is a little more limited due to the extensive mud flats and heavy tidal fluctuations. Trumpeters, garfish, yellow fin whiting and tommy ruffs are all catchable from the jetty and surrounding shores. For those with a boat, you can also catch Yellowtail Kingfish and King George whiting around the power station, or snapper on the broken ground a bit further south. Crabs, of course, are also sought after by the local fishermen.

Port Pirie has relatively low fishing activity, mainly due to the shipping activity and the constraints of the local environment. Crabs are available, as are some whiting and garfish. If you are on this part of the coast though, you may be better served by heading slightly south to Port Broughton where you have a much better chance of landing some King George whiting or snapper.

*Note: GPS boundaries are approximate positions only. For more detailed information, please refer to the DEH website.