5 national parks to visit on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula

5 national parks to visit on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula

Spend­ing time on the Fleurieu Penin­su­la? Make a stop in one of these nation­al parks while you’re there.

South Australia’s Fleurieu Penin­su­la has some­thing for every­one. Bare­ly more than 100 km south of Ade­laide, the region is an easy day-trip away, but is also per­fect for a longer stay.

The region is home to some of the best local food and wine in the coun­try, and is alive all year-round with vibrant and cre­ative fes­ti­vals and events.

Not to be missed are the diverse and beau­ti­ful nation­al parks, with their coastal thrills, seclud­ed beach­es and unspoilt wildlife.

Here are our pick of parks to vis­it next time you’re in the region:

1. Gran­ite Island Recre­ation Park

A short 2.2 km dri­ve from pop­u­lar tourist town Vic­tor Har­bor is Gran­ite Island Recre­ation Park.

Enjoy the unique expe­ri­ence of trav­el­ling on a horse-drawn tram along the wood­en cause­way that con­nects the main­land to the island, or put on your walk­ing shoes and make your way over by foot.

Take the 1.9 km Kai­ki Walk around the island and mar­vel at the huge gran­ite boul­ders, tinged with orange lichen, and dis­cov­er fas­ci­nat­ing facts about the island’s wildlife, geol­o­gy and his­to­ry through the inter­pre­tive signs along the way.

Along the walk, take some time to stop and admire the sweep­ing views of Encounter Bay and the Bluff from the island’s many van­tage points.

If you’re vis­it­ing in win­ter, you may even be lucky enough to chance a sight­ing of a south­ern right whale.

5 national parks to visit on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula

2. Encounter Marine Park

Encounter Marine Park stretch­es across many kilo­me­tres of coast and has mul­ti­ple access points along the Fleurieu Penin­su­la, includ­ing Port Noar­lun­ga, Aldin­ga, Rapid Bay, Cape Jervis, Vic­tor Har­bor, Port Elliot and Bashams Beach.

The marine park holds some of SA’s best snorkelling and dive sites, where you’ll be wit­ness to a spec­tac­u­lar show­case of the state’s diverse marine life.

Head to Rapid Bay for a chance to glimpse the icon­ic leafy sea drag­on. The best place to spot these mag­nif­i­cent crea­tures is under the old jet­ty, just west of the new jetty.

For a chance to see cut­tle­fish, perch and blue dev­il fish, take a dive in Aldin­ga Reef, or head to Sec­ond Val­ley to see sea urchins, leather jack­ets and salmon trout.

For those who pre­fer land-based fun, hop in your four-wheel dri­ve (4WD) and dri­ve along the beach from Gool­wa all the way to the Mur­ray Mouth, where Encounter Marine Park and Coorong Nation­al Park overlap.

5 national parks to visit on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula

3. Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park

A stone’s throw from Ade­laide, but at the gate­way to the Fleurieu Penin­su­la, is Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park. The park has some­thing on offer for every­one with hik­ing, moun­tain bik­ing and horse rid­ing trails, as well as spots for rock climb­ing and abseiling.

The 2 km Punch­bowl Look­out Trail takes you on a leisure­ly stroll through grey box wood­land and out to the stun­ning Punch­bowl Look­out. The trail is per­fect for peo­ple of all abil­i­ties and is suit­able for prams and lim­it­ed mobil­i­ty access.

To expe­ri­ence more of the park on foot, fol­low the 6 km Gorge Hike and make the steep descent from the Sun­dews Look­out to the bot­tom of the gorge and trav­el down­stream before return­ing up the steep slopes to the top of the ridge.

If you’re the dar­ing type, head to the rock climb­ing area locat­ed an 850 m walk from the car park at Gate 15 on Chapel Hill Road. This is a pop­u­lar loca­tion for both expe­ri­enced and begin­ner climbers, with both top rope and lead climb­ing available.

After all that explor­ing, why not set up camp at the Pink Gum Camp­ground and relax amongst the tow­er­ing gum trees for the night – but be sure to book online before you go.

5 national parks to visit on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula

4. Onka­paringa Riv­er Recre­ation Park

Just next door to Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park is Onka­paringa Riv­er Recre­ation Park, with its tran­quil wet­lands and floodplains.

Explore the park by bike and feel the wind in your hair as you cycle along the 4.5 km Wet­lands Loop Trail. Along the trail you’ll be spoilt with a vari­ety of wildlife such as birds, frogs and fish as well as some uncom­mon plant species.

If a bike isn’t your favourite mode of trans­port, head to Perry’s Bend and set off from the launch site in your kayak or canoe and take in the scenery of the estu­ar­ine waters.

The park is home to a diverse range of birdlife, so be sure to take a moment to be still and you might catch a glimpse of a pere­grine fal­con or a yel­low-tailed black cockatoo.

5 national parks to visit on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula

5. Deep Creek Nation­al Park

Sit­u­at­ed 36 km west of Wait­pin­ga, and home to a wide array of native wildlife such as west­ern grey kan­ga­roos, short-beaked echid­nas and 100 species of birds, is Deep Creek Nation­al Park.

For stun­ning coastal views across the east­ern and west­ern sec­tions of the park, jump in your 4WD and head along one of the 2 tracks in the park.

The Boat Har­bour track winds through stringy­bark for­est with steep descents and ends at a small carpark where you can stop dri­ving and walk to Boat Har­bour Beach.

The Blow­hole Beach track is as steep as it is rocky and pro­vides access to a sandy beach with dis­tant views of Kan­ga­roo Island.

Look­ing for some­where to stay the night? The park has 5 camp­grounds with sites suit­able for tents, car­a­vans, camper vans and camper trail­ers – but be sure to check avail­abil­i­ty and book online before you go.

If you want to stay in the park but aren’t a fan of camp­ing, South­ern Ocean Retreats has you sort­ed with a range of accom­mo­da­tion options, from rus­tic cot­tages to archi­tec­tural­ly designed eco-retreats.

5 national parks to visit on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula

Before you head into any of these parks, be sure to check the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice South Aus­tralia web­site for any entry or camp­ing fees, alerts or park clo­sures and oth­er impor­tant infor­ma­tion for your visit.

Keen to explore more of region­al South Aus­tralia? Check out these parks to vis­it in the River­land, Barossa, Lime­stone Coast and Flinders Ranges.

Main image: Deep Creek Nation­al Park

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living