5 treasures in Onkaparinga River parks

5 treasures in Onkaparinga River parks

Our Onka­paringa Riv­er insid­er shares some top tips for vis­it­ing two very dif­fer­ent parks.

With diverse hikes along ridgetops and through the spec­tac­u­lar Onka­paringa Gorge, Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park offers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to abseil down rugged cliffs and dis­cov­er some of the best bush­land in south­ern Adelaide.

In con­trast, the serene wet­lands of Onka­paringa Recre­ation Park are a great place for a fam­i­ly pic­nic, fish­ing, kayak­ing or bird­watch­ing while strolling along the boardwalks.

Locat­ed 35 kilo­me­tres south of Adelaide’s CBD, Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park and Recre­ation Park offer some­thing for every­one to enjoy.

Ranger William Sheri­dan shares his insid­er tips on some hid­den trea­sures in these parks.

1. Explore the wetlands

It’s a great time to tack­le the Wet­lands Loop Trail where you can explore the large fresh­wa­ter lagoons, which are abun­dant with wildlife.

One of the lagoons has a long, wind­ing board­walk that takes you across the water and right through the action. The trail is acces­si­ble for bikes, prams and dogs on lead, so it’s fun for the whole family.

Start explor­ing from the Perry’s Bend pic­nic area on Riv­er Road, Noar­lun­ga Downs.

5 treasures in Onkaparinga River parks

2. Take a hike

Try the Nature, Echid­na and Hardy’s Scrub hikes at the east­ern end of the nation­al park where you will be reward­ed with a peace­ful walk through some of the best remain­ing bush­land with­in the park.

Native birds, koalas, kan­ga­roos and pos­sums are reg­u­lar­ly spot­ted along these hikes, and you might even see an echid​na​.As well as being a great trail for see­ing wildlife, the Echid­na Hike includes a her­itage hut built in the 1800s. Look out for the near­by track that leads down the gul­ly to a waterfall.

5 treasures in Onkaparinga River parks

3. Dis­cov­er the Punchbowl

One of the nation­al park’s best kept secrets, the Punch­bowl is the per­fect place to get away from the hus­tle and bus­tle of the city and step back in time.

This spec­tac­u­lar rock pool in the gorge is sur­round­ed by rugged cliffs with an over­hang­ing rock for­ma­tion, cre­at­ing the per­fect place to relax while you take in the scenery and enjoy some birdwatching.

From the carpark at Gate 9 on Pig­gott Range Road, Onka­paringa Hills, fol­low the Punch­bowl Link Trail towards the Punch­bowl Look­out, where you will be offered views of the Punch­bowl. Con­tin­ue east along the Punch­bowl Link Trail, keep­ing a look out for native wildlife such as koalas, kan­ga­roos, and echid­nas along the way. Con­tin­ue your adven­ture by fol­low­ing the walk­ing trail that winds its way down to the river.

5 treasures in Onkaparinga River parks

4. Admire the views

Fol­low the Sun­drews Ridge Hike or the Gorge Hike in the nation­al park. The Gorge Hike offers you the best of both worlds – you can expe­ri­ence the riv­er from the bot­tom of the gorge, and see the spec­tac­u­lar views of the gorge when you make it up to Sun­dews Lookout.

While you are admir­ing the amaz­ing scenery, don’t for­get to look for the sun­dews that give the hikes their name. These small car­niv­o­rous plants have pret­ty white flow­ers and use their sticky leaves to cap­ture insects for food.

It’s best to do the riv­er hike in late spring through to autumn, as high water lev­els can make walk­ing along the riv­er difficult.

Insid­er tip: Last time Ranger William Sheri­dan was walk­ing the Gorge Hike he spot­ted one of the more elu­sive crea­tures that call this park home – a Rakali, com­mon­ly known as a native water-rat, or the Aus­tralian Otter” – so keep your eyes peeled. 

5 treasures in Onkaparinga River parks

5. Get a new perspective

Kayak from Old Noar­lun­ga through the recre­ation park to the riv­er mouth at Port Noar­lun­ga to see the estu­ary and all its plants and wildlife from a dif­fer­ent perspective.

The calm waters pro­vide an ide­al set­ting to enjoy the scenery and watch the many species of birds that live in, and vis­it, the park.

If you don’t have your own kayak, you can hire one at Port Noarlunga.

Insid­er tip: check the tide times before you go, as sec­tions of the riv­er become quite shal­low and dif­fi­cult to nego­ti­ate at low tide.

5 treasures in Onkaparinga River parks

Park of the month:

In Decem­ber, cel­e­brate Onka­paringa Riv­er parks as the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice’s fea­tured Park of the Month. Join a vari­ety of events and activ­i­ties, includ­ing a fam­i­ly cul­tur­al walk and reju­ve­nat­ing for­est bathing.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living