Ranger tips: Morialta and Black Hill conservation parks

Ranger tips: Morialta and Black Hill conservation parks

Get insid­er tips on the best places to vis­it and must-do activ­i­ties from Ranger Steph Cole.

Sit­u­at­ed at the begin­ning of the Ade­laide Hills, Mori­al­ta and Black Hill con­ser­va­tion parks are pop­u­lar areas with local and inter­state vis­i­tors. The parks are posi­tioned side-by-side with a sin­gle road sep­a­rat­ing the two.

Enjoy the rugged ridges, gul­ly scenery and sea­son­al water­falls that make up Mori­al­ta Con­ser­va­tion Park, or the net­work of walk­ing trails at Black Hill Con­ser­va­tion Park. These trails take you past a wide vari­ety of flo­ra that offer a stun­ning dis­play of native flow­ers in spring, includ­ing many del­i­cate and colour­ful orchid species.

We asked local Park Ranger Steph Cole for some insid­er tips for vis­it­ing these great parks. Here’s what she had to say:

What is one of the best kept secrets at these parks?

Be sure to check out the two less­er-known water­falls in Black Hill Con­ser­va­tion Park. Although these falls do not actu­al­ly flow like their coun­ter­parts in Mori­al­ta, they are inter­est­ing and unique in their own way.

You can access the first water­fall via Mon­ta­cute Road and off the trail from Orchard Track. The walk to the falls is a grad­ual incline the whole way, so allow an hour or so to stop and take in the beau­ti­ful sur­round­ing veg­e­ta­tion along the creek line.

Often you will spot kan­ga­roos and native birdlife on your way up and very rarely will you encounter anoth­er human being. Once at the falls, sit on the wood­en bench and enjoy the tran­quil­li­ty of the val­ley around you.

The sec­ond water­fall can be accessed from Gate 9 off of Gorge Road. Fol­low the steep incline up Ambers Gul­ly Trail for approx­i­mate­ly 500 metres. This par­tic­u­lar water­fall is formed from an ancient cal­cite deposit and con­sists of a smooth expanse of sheer rock and small sur­round­ing caves.

Ranger tips: Morialta and Black Hill conservation parks

What are the best trails to avoid the crowds?

Any of the tracks in the upper east end of Mori­al­ta are your best bet to avoid the crowds.

Instead of flock­ing to the Mori­al­ta Falls Road Trail­head, I encour­age you start your walk along Moores Track, which can be accessed off of Moores Road, or Fox Hill Track, which you can access from Mon­ta­cute Road.

These top tracks often boast the best views and are sur­round­ed by some of the best rem­nant bush­land areas in the park.

Third Falls Track, Pylon Track and Cen­tre Track are my favourite spots to look for wild­flow­ers and orchids.

It’s always fun to make up your own hik­ing route using a com­bi­na­tion of these less­er trav­elled tracks. You will always see some­thing new and it’s great exer­cise too.

Top tip: Have you got Aven­za Maps on your phone? Aven­za Maps allows you to view your real time loca­tion in the park on a pdf map. It doesn’t require inter­net, and it’s a great tool if you’re prone to get­ting lost. Read our blog to learn more.

Ranger tips: Morialta and Black Hill conservation parks

What are the best sea­son­al highlights?

Autumn is one of my favourite times in these parks as they offer love­ly cool con­di­tions for hik­ing and you can see the begin­ning of the beau­ti­ful native flo­ra that pops up dur­ing the cool­er weath­er, such as com­mon heath and flame heath. 

Of course dur­ing this time of year you can also enjoy the best attrac­tion at Mori­al­ta – the flow­ing water­falls, which I nev­er get sick of visiting. 

Although it can be cold, win­ter is also the best time to see many inter­est­ing species of lichens, moss­es and fun­gi that are out and on show. If you head to some of our wilder tracks you may also be lucky enough to find green­hood orchids and sun­dews that are flow­er­ing at this time of year.

Top tip: Remem­ber to bring a good cam­era as there are always fan­tas­tic pho­to oppor­tu­ni­ties. Also, come pre­pared for wet weath­er and bring a hot cup­pa too.

Ranger tips: Morialta and Black Hill conservation parks

What sort of ani­mals can you find in the park?

Black Hill and Mori­al­ta con­ser­va­tion parks are home to a great diver­si­ty of wildlife – you’ll see some­thing dif­fer­ent every time you come.

If you look up into the gum trees as you walk along Fourth Creek in Mori­al­ta, you will like­ly see a koala or kookaburra.

I’ve also been lucky enough to see a yel­low-foot­ed antech­i­nus dart­ing around the under­growth in the ear­ly morn­ing and the bril­liant blue of the superb fairy wrens.

If you’ve got a keen eye, pere­grine fal­cons can be found roost­ing on the cliffs along Mori­al­ta Gorge, so remem­ber to bring a pair of binoc­u­lars on your next visit.

Chil­dren often find tad­poles and frogs under­neath the rocks along Fourth Creek and yab­bies and fish are often spot­ted in the pools of First, Sec­ond and Third Falls.

If you do find some­thing, it is best to look and not touch and remem­ber to always return any­thing you find back to its home.

Mori­al­ta and Black Hill con­ser­va­tion parks are also home to some of the state’s rar­er ani­mals like the Cunningham’s skink. If you’re lucky, you can find these elu­sive skinks in fam­i­ly groups sun­ning them­selves high up on rock ledges.

The chest­nut-rumped heath­wren is anoth­er icon­ic endan­gered species known to live in both parks, while south­ern brown bandi­coots are found in Morialta.

You’ll need a keen eye to see these crit­ters – try hik­ing where the best habi­tat is along the Sum­mit Hike in Black Hill or around Rocky Hill and Hik­ers Hill in Mori­al­ta. I wish you the best of luck!

Ranger tips: Morialta and Black Hill conservation parks

Park of the Month – May 2020

Through­out the month of May, Mori­al­ta Con­ser­va­tion Park is being cel­e­brat­ed as Park of Month. There are heaps of events and activ­i­ties to get involved in and explore the park – check the web­site for all the details or keep an eye on the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice SAface­book page.

With all this talk of water­falls, are you inter­est­ed to know which oth­er parks to find one? Check out our list ofwater­fall-wor­thy nation­al parks.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living