Caring for Katarapko

About Katarapko

Please note: Multiple campsites and roads within the Katarapko section of Murray River National Park will be closed from Tuesday 29 January 2019 to Friday 10 April 2020.

This includes the following campsites:

  • Lock 4 Section, campsites 7– 13 and Sawmill Campground
  • Eckerts Creek Section, campsites 14 – 20 (all)
  • Katarapko Creek Section, campsites 2 – 17

See Katarapko Temporary closures map

Katarapko is located near Berri and Loxton and covers more than 9000 hectares. Most of this area falls within the Murray River National Park, with the rest private land, Crown land and the Gerard Aboriginal Reserve.

It is a special place because of its cultural, ecological and recreational value. It is home to threatened species and includes a range of habitats, with lagoons, swamps, wetlands and creeks. The area also attracts up to 40,000 visitors each year.

The ecological health of Katarapko has been declining because of altered flow regimes, obstructions to fish passage, and pest plants and animals.


How we are caring for Katarapko

Community and government agencies are working together to look after Katarapko. Work began with the Katfish Reach project as part of the Native Fish Strategy of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. This project saw the setting up of a large-scale demonstration site that aims to show the community that coordinated activities can help native fish habitat and populations to recover. The name ‘Katfish Reach’ was coined from the words Katarapko and fish demonstration reach.

The Katfish Reach project has now expanded into a community environmental rehabilitation project working for a healthier and more productive aquatic and floodplain ecosystem that everyone can enjoy. Part of improving the health of Katarapko means that we need to be able to manage flows into and around it in a more natural water regime. Katarapko wraps around Lock 4 on the River Murray, which gives us the opportunity to inundate parts of the area with water. This has required us to improve the infrastructure that we use to manage flows. This also involves removing barriers and constructing special fishways that mean fish from downstream of Lock 4 can migrate upstream through Katarapko. These works are taking place as part of the Riverine Recovery Project and the SA Riverland Floodplains Integrated Infrastructure Program, both of which are being delivered by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

Our aim for Katarapko

The aim of the Katfish Reach project is to improve Katarapko’s health by:

  • managing water to create a more natural cycle of flooding and drying
  • increasing native fish numbers
  • improving the ability of native fish to move through Katarapko
  • improving the health of native plants
  • improving habitat for native animals including threatened species
  • recognising the importance of traditional Aboriginal culture and European heritage
  • making the best use of environmental water
  • improving water quality
  • managing pest plants and animals.

What 's happening?

  • Improved native fish passage and increased flows through 38 kilometres of waterways.
  • Improved water quality and connectivity with the river channel.
  • Construction of two new regulators with fishways within the Katarapko Eckert Creek system.
  • Regular monitoring of fish, frogs, waterbirds, tree health and water quality.
  • Upgraded infrastructure to manage the habitat of the Murray hardyhead listed nationally and internationally as an endangered species.
  • On-going management and monitoring of the Murray hardyhead.
  • Improved environmental flow to the Katarapko Island Drainage Basin.
  • On-going pest animal and weed management.
  • Removal of barriers to improve native fish passage and flow of water.
  • Construction of new infrastructure to enable water for the environment.
  • Undertaking salinity and groundwater management measures.

Project updates

Related links


Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin, Department for Environment and Water, Australian Government, Murray-Darling Basin Authority; Friends of Riverland Parks, Primary Industries and Resources of South Australia, South Australian Research and Development Initiative, Berri Barmera Local Action Planning, Loxton to Bookpurnong Local Action Planning, Gerard Aboriginal Community.

Funding partners

RRP is a $91 million Australian Government initiative to improve the health of the River Murray and its wetlands and floodplains from the South Australian-Victorian border to Wellington

SARFIIP is a $155 million investment program funded by the Australian Government and implemented by the South Australian Government to improve the watering and management of River Murray floodplains in South Australia’s Riverland

   Australian Government - SA Murray Darling Basin AuthoritySA state government logo


More information