10 national parks near Adelaide you might not have heard of
Are you a seasoned park-goer, thinking ‘been there, done that’? Then this list of lesser-known parks is for you.
Don’t get us wrong, Morialta Conservation Park, Waterfall Gully and Belair National Park are all amazing spots but if you’re craving a bit more of a secluded wilderness walk there are actually lots of lesser-known national parks dotted around Adelaide to explore.
These smaller, more secluded parks tend not to have the facilities that some of the larger, more popular parks have so be sure to be self-sufficient on your walk.
Here are 10 you might like to try:
1. Horsnell Gully and Giles Conservation Parks
Horsnell and Giles are two adjoining parks, and are home to the popular Heysen and Yurrebilla trails and offer stunning views over Adelaide. Along the trails, you will find the remains of a large homestead, including coaching sheds, a stable and cowsheds.
2. Kyeema Conservation Park
Kyeema is located 60km south of Adelaide, just east of Willunga. The peace and tranquillity walking through this densely vegetated park is rejuvenating.
The park provides habitat for animals such as the southern brown bandicoot, swamp rat and western grey kangaroo. Be sure to pack your binoculars – with more than 80 species of birds this park is a haven for birdwatchers.
3. Mount George Conservation Park
Mount George is located 25km southeast of the city, just outside of Stirling. This park has lots of walking trails to explore, ranging in duration from 15 minutes to 2 hours. A section of the Heysen Trail also passes through the park.
You can walk your dog in the park’s ‘recreation zone’, between Mount George Road and Cox Creek, provided you keep it on a lead and under your control at all times.
4. Mark Oliphant Conservation Park
Mark Oliphant is located 22km south east of Adelaide’s CBD, between Ironbank and Stirling. It was renamed in honour of former state governor Sir Mark Oliphant’s contribution to conservation, and is a great choice if you want to bushwalk through a forest landscape.
Look out for native birds, including the scarlet robin, golden whistler and Adelaide rosellas. The park is also important habitat for the nationally endangered southern brown bandicoot.
5. Montacute Conservation Park
It’s here that you can take a hike along the Montacute Heights to Cudlee Creek section of The Heysen Trail, but be aware that some sections are quite steep and challenging.
Along the trails you may discover outcrops of Precambrian dolomite rocks more than 570 million years old, or on the eastern side of the park, an outcrop of Stonyfell quartzite.
6. Scott Creek Conservation Park
Scott Creek is located in the Adelaide foothills, 30km south of Adelaide. It’s a significant conservation area and home to many threatened species of the Mount Lofty Ranges.
Expect to discover remnants of mine ruins including an engine house, stone chimney, the mine office, a dairy and several mining shafts along the park’s interpretive walking trails.
7. Warren Conservation Park
Warren is a little further afield, located 60km northeast of the city, just south of Williamstown. There is a rich diversity of plants and animals in this park including wild orchids, lilies, kangaroos and lizards.
The park has four challenging walking trails, including a section of the Heysen Trail. The tracks are steep and quite difficult, so they should be used by experienced bushwalkers only.
8. Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park
Aldinga Scrub is located 46km south of Adelaide in the Willunga basin, and features an impressive backdrop of sand dunes, sand blows (mobile dunes) and coastal vegetation.
Explore the walking trails and take the time to stop, look and listen for animals and birdlife. During spring the park is ablaze with wildflowers. If you’re lucky you might even spot a short-beaked echidna, a lizard or a bat.
9. Hale Conservation Park
Hale is another park located near Williamstown, about 60km northeast of Adelaide. Characterised by its diverse landscape and steep rocky ridges, this park is home to some of Australia’s more secretive mammals and conserves the Oyster Bay cypress pine.
Challenging walking trails provide spectacular views of the South Para Valley and reservoir. The trail to the South Para River passes from the highlands to the river crossing, while the trail to the north-eastern boundary of the park follows the creek line to emerge in grasslands on the outskirts of Williamstown.
10. Sandy Creek Conservation Park
Sandy Creek is also about 60km northeast of Adelaide, but just east of Gawler. It’s surrounded by farmland, vineyards and deep sand mining pits.
There are several walking trails that take you through the native pine and pink gum bushland. Look out for wildlife such as kangaroos grazing on the grasslands in the early morning and at dusk, and visit in spring to see an abundance of wildflowers.
Have we missed one of your favourites? Tell us which park you like to visit that other park-goers might not know about yet.
This story was originally posted in August 2018