5 treasures in South Australia's Cleland National Park

5 treasures in South Australia’s Cleland National Park

Plan your next trip to this serene Ade­laide Hills con­ser­va­tion park with these tips from our park insiders.

With icon­ic South Aus­tralian sites such as Mount Lofty Sum­mit, Cle­land Wildlife Park and Water­fall Gul­ly con­tained with­in this park, you may think there’s noth­ing else to dis­cov­er at Cle­land Nation­al Park. But there are plen­ty of hid­den gems – away from the crowds – left to explore.

Just 22 kilo­me­tres south-east of Adelaide’s CBD, this park offers stun­ning SA land­scapes, up-close-and-per­son­al wildlife expe­ri­ences, and serene gul­lies where bab­bling creeks are the only sounds you’ll hear.

We asked Ranger Fly­nn to share some of his insid­er tips. Here’s his sug­ges­tions of what to see and do:

1. Meas­days loop hike (4 km)

Start­ing from the Meas­days look­out, this spec­tac­u­lar shared-use trail will reward you with expan­sive views of the park and beyond, lead­ing you to the shady gul­ly below. 

Don’t be put off by the steep start to this hike, it quick­ly lev­els off and is a great one for kids and fam­i­lies. You can extend your hike by tak­ing on one of the many adjoin­ing trails.

Ranger Fly­nn thinks this is the best part of the park and the most impor­tant area for flo­ra and fauna. 

Dur­ing win­ter, the gul­ly is burst­ing with life. Vel­vety, lime green moss cov­ers the boul­ders while an array of native fun­gi can be dis­cov­ered nes­tled in the under-growth. 

Insid­er tip – unlike the Water­fall Gul­ly carpark, you won’t have trou­ble get­ting a park at the Meas­days lookout.

5 treasures in South Australia's Cleland National Park

2. The Tin Lines Ruins, Keirs Ruins and Chinaman’s Hut

Sir Samuel Dav­en­port owned much of Cle­land Nation­al Park in the lat­ter half of the 19th cen­tu­ry. Dav­en­port estab­lished orchards and gar­dens and grazed sheep in the north­ern sec­tion of the park, under the super­vi­sion of a shep­herd named John Keir.

These his­toric ruins of days gone by can be explored just off the road as you head into Cle­land Wildlife Park (Tin­lines ruins), and also at the north­ern entry of the park at Gate 6 off Green­hill Rd along the Wine Shan­ty Hike trail (Keir’s Ruin). The Chinaman’s Hut ruins are locat­ed on the Water­fall Gul­ly to Mt Lofty trail.

5 treasures in South Australia's Cleland National Park

3. Crafers to Mt Lofty link trail (4.5 km)

This trail pro­vides an excel­lent alter­na­tive for vis­i­tors who want to avoid the often busy Water­fall Gul­ly carpark, as it pro­vides a direct route to walk or ride from Crafers to Mt Lofty summit. 

Anoth­er option is for vis­i­tors to catch a bus from the city to Crafers and avoid tak­ing the car altogether.

A trail­head oppo­site the bus inter­change has park and trail infor­ma­tion, and from here, you can expe­ri­ence the seren­i­ty of the dense bush­land by walk­ing or rid­ing through Cle­land Nation­al Park. 

The trail takes you through heav­i­ly-forest­ed areas of old growth stringy bark, which are impor­tant nest­ing sites for the yel­low-tailed black cockatoo.

5 treasures in South Australia's Cleland National Park

4. Perched swamps

Next time you’re huff­ing and puff­ing up to Water­fall Gul­ly, about half-way up take a break to catch your breath at Wilsons Bog, the most acces­si­ble perched swamp with­in the park. 

What’s a perched swamp you might ask? It’s a swamp that sits at a high­er lev­el to the sur­round­ing land.

There are five of these swamps with­in Cle­land Nation­al Park and they are clas­si­fied as rare ecosys­tems with­in the Mount Lofty Ranges. 

These areas pro­vide habi­tat for ferns, silky tea-tree, black­wood, frogs and are of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance to the south­ern brown bandicoot.

5 treasures in South Australia's Cleland National Park

5. Cle­land Wildlife Park

Cle­land Wildlife Park has been a major tourist attrac­tion for more than 50 years. Why not take a trip up to the park on the week­end or the school hol­i­days. A num­ber of dif­fer­ent activ­i­ties are avail­able dur­ing your vis­it, like koala and rep­tile holds, keep­er talks at feed­ing time, and of course feed­ing the res­i­dent kan­ga­roos, wal­la­bies, potoroos, emus and water birds.

It’s a great place to bring a pic­nic or have a bar­be­cue and spend the whole day. If you don’t have that much time, we sug­gest allow­ing at least two hours to explore the park.

This will give you enough time to stop and feed the the res­i­dent kan­ga­roos, wal­la­bies, potoroos, emus and water birds, lis­ten to one of the keep­er talks, and stroll at a leisure­ly pace.

Cle­land is just 20 min­utes from the Ade­laide city cen­tre and is open dai­ly – rain or shine (except on Christ­mas Day or on days with a cat­a­stroph­ic fire dan­ger rating).

Don’t for­get your sun­screen in sum­mer, and in win­ter warm up around the open fire in the café.

5 treasures in South Australia's Cleland National Park

Park maps

If you have a smart­phone or tablet you can down­load the free Aven­za PDF Map app and have inter­ac­tive nation­al park maps on hand when you need them.

The app uses your device’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time loca­tion with­in the park onto a map. The app can be used with­out a net­work con­nec­tion and with­out roam­ing charges. You can also mea­sure area and dis­tance, plot pho­tos and drop place mark pins.

Here is more infor­ma­tion on how to use the app. 

Park of the Month

Through­out March, Cle­land Nation­al Park and Cle­land Wildlife Park are being cel­e­brat­ed as our Park of the Month.

A range of activ­i­ties are on offer, includ­ing ranger-guid­ed bush­walks, art in the park and a nature walk with Uncle Tamaru and Nature Play SA. Vis­it parks​.sa​.gov​.au/​g​e​t​-​i​n​s​p​i​r​e​d​/​p​a​r​k​-​o​f​-​t​h​e​-​month for full details.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living