Kakadu’s reign as Australia’s largest terrestrial national park is under challenge with news that South Australia is planning to create the Munga-Thirri-Simpson Desert National Park.
Bigger than Belgium, and roughly the size of two Fijis, the 3.6 million hectare park would be large enough to house 1.75 million Adelaide Ovals.
It would be more than one million hectares larger than the Northern Territory’s iconic Kakadu National Park.
The vast nature area would be created by changing the legal status of the existing Munga-Thirri-Simpson Desert Regional Reserve and Conservation Park, some 970 kilometres north of Adelaide.
Its creation would strengthen the area’s conservation and biodiversity value, with additional protections also put in place for the environmentally significant Kallakoopah Creek in the Lake Eyre Basin.
“It is truly exciting that South Australia could soon be home to Australia’s largest national park,” SA’s Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said.
“These proposed changes will better conserve our natural environment as well as enhance our reputation as a world-class eco-tourism destination.”
Upgrades are also planned for three other existing conservation parks – Cleland, Deep Creek, and Seal Bay – as well as the Lake Frome Regional Reserve in the Northern Flinders Ranges.
Mr Speirs said the changes, which come with a $130 million investment, would mean national park areas across South Australia will have increased by 200 per cent to nearly eight million hectares since the Marshall government came into power in 2018.
“These protected areas conserve vitally important ecosystems, habitats, plants and animals, unique land formations, and culturally significant places,” he said.
“National parks are essential spaces to enjoy nature in all its forms.”
A section of the Witjira National Park in the state’s north will have its conditions changed to permanently preclude mining from the Dalhousie Springs National Heritage Area, “recognising the area’s incredibly rich Aboriginal cultural significance”.
The state government is consulting with native title holders and other stakeholders ahead of putting the proposals before parliament.