Ranger tips: Para Wirra Conservation Park

Ranger tips: Para Wirra Conservation Park

Get insid­er tips on the best places to vis­it and must do’ activ­i­ties from Ranger Ais­linn McAleer.

Less than an hour’s dri­ve north-east of Ade­laide you’ll find Para Wirra Con­ser­va­tion Park. It’s a per­fect park for immers­ing your­self in nature – for walk­ing, pic­nick­ing, camp­ing and observ­ing native ani­mal life.

After work­ing in the park for the past two years, Ranger Ais­linn McAleer knows the place like the back of her hand.

We asked her for some tips to help you make the most of your next vis­it to this lit­tle gem of a park. Here’s what she had to say:

What stands out at the park dur­ing each of the seasons?

Para Wirra Con­ser­va­tion Park is great to vis­it year-round. Each sea­son offers dif­fer­ent highlights:


As the heat of sum­mer gives way to cool­er autumn days and nights, the Wirra Camp­ground comes to life.

Pack your bikes and explore the shared-use Tree Creep­er Loop next to the camp­ground. Admire the bloom­ing wat­tles and look up into the canopies to spot any ring-tail pos­sums, tawny frog­mouths and night jars.

Out­side of fire dan­ger sea­son you can enjoy nights around the camp­fire using the fire pits at each of the camp­sites. Just remem­ber to bring your own firewood.

It’s also a great time of year for out­door play, so let the kids use their imag­i­na­tions while they explore the many fea­tures of the Nature Play Forest.

Ranger tips: Para Wirra Conservation Park


The refresh­ing win­ter rains trans­form the park as the South Para Riv­er fills with water and the green ferns, moss­es and native plants come flour­ish­ing back to life.

Take a walk along the Hissey loop trail and look for the inter­est­ing­ly coloured fun­gi. Look at the bases of the stringy barks and you may spot a ghost mush­room. If you’re camp­ing in the park overnight, head out for a night walk and try to spot them glow­ing in the dark!

Ranger tips: Para Wirra Conservation Park


Pack some bacon and eggs and head to the lake for break­fast with the birds.

Make use of the BBQ and pic­nic area as you’re ser­e­nad­ed by the hun­dreds of species of birds that call the park home.

After brekkie, take a walk along the Mack Creek Hike or the Lady Pearce Hike Cir­cuit and look for colour­ful native wild­flow­ers, includ­ing orchids such as band­ed green­hoods, don­keys and pur­plish beards that bloom in the spring.

Keep an eye out for the rare Mount Lofty Ranges grass trees that will have their flower spikes up and in full bloom for the bush­land birds and oth­er pollinators.

Ranger tips: Para Wirra Conservation Park


If you’re look­ing for soli­tude, sum­mer is a qui­eter time of the year to vis­it the park.

Pack plen­ty of water and snacks and take the Dev­ils Nose Hike out to the look­out for panoram­ic views.

Lis­ten to the roar of the sum­mer cicadas and walk through a wall of majes­tic monarch but­ter­flies while you admire the flour­ish­ing Christ­mas bush flow­ers on your way.

On a mild day, pack the footy or boc­ce set and head to the Bush Oval for a fun after­noon with friends, fam­i­ly and the local emus.

Ranger tips: Para Wirra Conservation Park

What’s your favourite walk­ing trail in the park?

My favourite would have to be the South Para Grand Hike, with Mack Creek Hike a close second.

The South Para Grand Hike encom­pass­es some of the most dra­mat­ic views of the park, includ­ing the Dev­ils Nose Look­out, Knob Look­out and steep gorge views from Lizard Rock. It’s about a 9 km loop and a good workout!

Head out in win­ter or spring and you’ll find an array of cool and colour­ful orchids on the track out to the Dev­ils nose.

Ranger tips: Para Wirra Conservation Park

What’s the park’s best kept secret?

The giant riv­er red gums along the South Para Riv­er and the Mount Lofty Ranges grass trees on the hills above are pret­ty spec­tac­u­lar. It’s a very impres­sive area of the park – you can eas­i­ly for­get where you are and mis­take the area for some­where like the Flinders Ranges.

What ani­mals can vis­i­tors expect to spot in the park?

Emus, kan­ga­roos, echid­nas and tawny drag­ons. You’ll often find emus near the park entrance, down near the Para Wirra Cen­tral Pic­nic Area wait­ing for a sausage (but please remem­ber not to feed them) or at the Bush Oval stretch­ing their legs.

In sum­mer you’ll some­times find sand goan­nas in the north­ern end of the park, as well as pere­grine fal­cons and square-tailed kites.

Ranger tips: Para Wirra Conservation Park

What’s your favourite camp­site in Wirra Campground?

Camp­site num­ber 9 is my favourite at Wirra Camp­ground. It’s down a short walk­way and tucked in among a nice patch of yaccas.

It’s the most seclud­ed site but also quite close to the facil­i­ties and camp kitchen.

Ranger tips: Para Wirra Conservation Park

Top tip: Camp­sites must be booked before you go. Book now to reserve one for your next adventure.

Park of the Month

Through­out August, Para Wirra Con­ser­va­tion Park is being cel­e­brat­ed as Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice’s Park of the Month. Join a guid­ed walk with the ranger, or explore this spec­tac­u­lar park in your own time. Check the web­site for all the details. 

Too much to see in one day? Spend a few days instead. Check out our guide on How to spend a week­end in Para Wirra Con­ser­va­tion Park.

Main image: Ranger Ais­linn McAleer

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in May 2019.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living