Tolderol Game Reserve

Sunset, Tolderol Game Reserve.

Update - September, 2015.

Both Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert are full of water again so there is water in the channels of Tolderol Game Reserve.  Access to the water (Lake Alexandrina) is virtually non existent now, with reed beds having grown right along the shore.  The grass and weeds have also grown.  It is not a very inviting place to camp.  If the water remains through the summer months, it is sure to attract some rare bird species, but there are not too many other reasons to camp here.  Tolderol has always been a notorious spot for tiger snakes and now with the vegetation like it is, they will be even more difficult to spot.  I visited on a cool, overcast day and spotted three snakes, all lying alongside the track.   

Update - December, 2009.

After a recent visit to Tolderol Game Reserve, it is obvious that it has suffered badly like all other Lower Lakes regions.  The water is a long, long way out and all channels are dry.  Only after heavy rain will the channels hold water and some bird life return.  At the moment there is nothing for the visitor and this will only improve after a significant water level increase or heavy rain.  (The bid hide has also been removed, there being no use for it).

Situated on the shores of Lake Alexandrina, Tolderol Game Reserve is a well known bird watching spot.  There are man made canals and ponds that attract a variety of bird life, including rarely seen waders and Orange-bellied Parrots.

There are open days when duck hunters shoot....well....ducks.  Check the Department of Environment and Heritage website at http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/ or give them a ring to find the dates.  Some years, hunting will not be allowed at all, depending on the bird numbers and other factors.

The reserve isn't far from Adelaide, about 80 kilometres south east.  The easiest way to get there is to head up the freeway to Mount Barker, then on to Strathalbyn and then to Langhorne Creek.  Take the Langhorne Creek to Wellington Road and there is a sign indicating the Tolderol Game Reserve.  Turn right onto this road, Dog Lake Road, which is unsealed.  At the end of the road, there is a gate.  Open it (obviously) and then close it behind you.  Follow the track (calling it a road at this point is stretching it a bit) to the left and follow this to the end.  Go through another gate and into the reserve (remembering to shut this gate also).  The road is suitable for conventional vehicles, but after rain it may become boggy in parts.  The main track inside the reserve is OK for all vehicles too, but the tracks that follow the edge of the canals and ponds may be a bit rough in parts.

When it comes to camping there isn't much to choose from.  It is a very open area with no trees.  Reed beds along the lake shore and grassy banks between canals and ponds is what the area consists of.  There is also a bit of scrub and salt bush in parts.  There is no shelter at all really, but it is possible to get down behind the reed beds and grass banks if there is a cold southerly blowing.  Any wind from the north and you would be exposed to it.

About the only suitable area for camping would be the small grassy clearing at the end of the main track.  There is a concrete table and benches there, but nothing else.  See the photo hereabouts and it will give you some idea of how open it is.

Tolderol Game Reserve is very open.  Water levels are a lot lower now, at the time of writing, as those shown in the photo.

As I mentioned, birds are the main attraction here.  There is a bird hide on the left as you enter the reserve.  When there is water in the canals and ponds, the amount of birdlife is amazing.  When it's dry, it can be a barren place.  Elegant Parrots are common and Orange-bellied Parrots, which are very rare, are sometimes seen. 

Fishing in a gap in the reeds will produce some large Carp.  Even Winter seems to be quite productive.  The water is open and shallow, with a mud/sand bottom.  Fresh Water Mussells are easy to locate by wading in and feeling for them with your toes.  They make good bait.

Remember fire restrictions and bring your own firewood.

Pleasant weather is required here.  There are no facilities of any kind and no shelter. 

Unfortunately the last few years has seen no water within this reserve due to the drought.  Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert have been hit hard also, and water levels are very low.  It is a spot that needs water to live up to it's reputation, so it may be best left until water levels are back to normal.

Sunrise, Tolderol Game Reserve.