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, take a dip in water­holes along the riv­er 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.

Senior Ranger Steve John­son shares his insid­er tips on some hid­den trea­sures in these parks.

1. Explore the wetlands

The recre­ation park’s wet­lands are full of water for the first time in two years, so 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 dur­ing late win­ter and spring. You’ll be reward­ed with a spec­tac­u­lar dis­play of orchids and wildflowers.

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 Gate 10 on Pig­gott Range Road, Onka­paringa Hills, fol­low the ser­vice track towards the gorge, keep­ing a look out for native wildlife such as koalas, kan­ga­roos and echid­nas along the way. Then con­tin­ue along the walk­ing track that winds down to the river.

Insid­er tip: Last time Senior Ranger Steve John­son was at the Punch­bowl a Brown Goshawk kept a close eye on him from a near­by Riv­er Red Gum – so keep your eyes peeled.

5 treasures in Onkaparinga River parks

4. Admire the views

Fol­low the Sun­dews Ridgetop or Sun­dews Riv­er hikes in the nation­al park. The riv­er 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.

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

Explore Onka­paringa parks dur­ing August

Through­out the month of August, Onka­paringa Nation­al Park and Recre­ation Park are being cel­e­brat­ed asPark of Month– an ini­tia­tive between Nature Play SA and DEW.

Why not explore the park with Ranger Steve or a Friends of Onka­paringa Park vol­un­teer at the Onka­paringa Riv­er Parks Fam­i­ly Day on 14 August or enjoy a guid­ed tour of Noar­lun­ga Downs Wet­land on 28 August. Click thePark of the Month eventstabfor all the details.

Don’t for­get to share pic­tures of your vis­it on Insta­gram – just tag #onka­paringariver­na­tion­al­park.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living