Your guide to camping at Onkaparinga River National Park

Your guide to camping at Onkaparinga River National Park

Camp in a nation­al park with­out ven­tur­ing too far from Ade­laide. Here’s every­thing you need to know.

Sit­u­at­ed in the east­ern cor­ner of Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park, the Pink Gum Camp­ground makes camp­ing con­ve­nient for city-dwellers. It’s the clos­est place to Ade­laide that you can stay in a camp­ground run by a nation­al park. Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park is just a 40-minute dri­ve from the city and right across the road from some of McLaren Vale’s most pop­u­lar winer­ies and vineyards.

Sur­round­ed by tow­er­ing gum trees and walk­ing trails, and close to the park’s rock climb­ing zone, this camp­ground is sure to become your fam­i­ly favourite.

Before you run off to pack the car, read these use­ful insid­er tips pre­pared for you by one of the first peo­ple to camp at the campground:

Near­by activities


There are two main walk­ing trails that depart from the camp­ground. Take the Riv­er Hike down to the gorge where you can find a spot by one of the many rock pools to relax with your book.

Your guide to camping at Onkaparinga River National Park

Or if you’re up for a sol­id day of hik­ing, fol­low the gorge down­stream to link up with one of the many new trails and look­outs to the north of the gorge.

You can also take the track down to the rock climb­ing zone, which boasts spec­tac­u­lar views of the gorge below. If you are not an expe­ri­enced rock climber you will need to stay behind the rock climb­ing railing.

Your guide to camping at Onkaparinga River National Park

Before you go, make sure you down­load the park maps, or if you’re the adven­tur­ous type, you might like to use the Aven­za PDF Map app so you can see in real-time where you are in the park. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful as some of the trails are not well defined.

Rock climb­ing

For those with the appro­pri­ate train­ing, expe­ri­ence and equip­ment, rock climb­ing and abseil­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties are just a short 20 minute stroll away at the Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park Rock Climb­ing Zone.

Your guide to camping at Onkaparinga River National Park


A kayak and canoe launch is locat­ed just a short dri­ve away from the camp­ground at the near­by Onka­paringa Riv­er Recre­ation Park’s main entrance at Per­ry’s Bend. It’s ful­ly equipped with steps and a ramp to help you slide your boat down to the water safely

Moun­tain biking

Head down­stream from the camp­ground to try out sev­er­al great bike tracks on the north­ern side of the gorge. You’ll need to take your bike around to the oth­er side of the gorge to access these trails. Not all trails allow bikes so be sure to down­load the cycling maps first.



A toi­let is avail­able for campers to use. The water at the tap is unsuit­able for drink­ing, so come pre­pared with your own water. Water is lim­it­ed, so bring extra for wash­ing up. 

Your guide to camping at Onkaparinga River National Park


Sites are not pow­ered so you will need to be pre­pared to be self-sufficient.


The camp­sites are very flat and are made of grav­el. Make sure you pack a good ham­mer and sol­id pegs as it’ll take a bit of grunt work to get your tent pegs in. Drill in’ pegs work well, or drilling pilot holes for stan­dard pegs with a cord­less drill is also effective. 

Your guide to camping at Onkaparinga River National Park

Although the camp­sites are fair­ly open and grav­el-based, there is a com­mu­nal grassy area in the mid­dle that’s shad­ed by big Pink Gum trees with heaps of room to laze in the shade or for the kids to play cricket.

Your guide to camping at Onkaparinga River National Park

Most of the camp­sites are wheel­chair acces­si­ble, as they are on flat ground with a com­pact­ed grav­el sur­face. The road slopes down to the toi­lets but is acces­si­ble by car. The toi­let facil­i­ties are wheel­chair acces­si­ble, doors are 900 mil­lime­tre wide and there’s a fixed handrail along­side the toilet.

Know before you go

Book online

Pink Gum Camp­ground is a book before you go’ site, so be sure to reserve your site online before you head off so that it’s wait­ing for you when you arrive.


Use the Aven­za PDF Map app to down­load inter­ac­tive park maps. These maps can be used with­out inter­net con­nec­tion and will track your cur­rent loca­tion in the park so you won’t get lost.


Fire restric­tions apply at all nation­al parks. At Onka­paringa, gas fires are per­mit­ted through­out the year, oth­er than on days of total fire ban. Wood fires and sol­id fuel fires are only per­mit­ted out­side of the fire dan­ger sea­son in des­ig­nat­ed camp­fire pits. Always check the SA Coun­try Fire Ser­vice web­site to keep up-to-date about fire bans.

Also note, you must bring your own fire­wood if you plan to have a wood fire, as the col­lec­tion of fire­wood with­in nation­al parks is prohibited.

Your guide to camping at Onkaparinga River National Park

Vehi­cle access

All the camp­sites are acces­si­ble by 2WD, with sev­er­al of the larg­er sites also acces­si­ble to camper trail­ers and caravans.

No dogs allowed

Leave your pooch at home – Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park is a dog-free zone.

If you live in Ade­laide, camp­ing in Onka­paringa is a great option if it’s your first time – par­tic­u­lar­ly because you won’t have to trav­el far. Check out our tips to get you start­ed, includ­ingwhat to packandhow to be a cour­te­ous camper.

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in Novem­ber 2017.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living