Ranger tips: Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

Ranger tips: Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

Get insid­er tips on the best places to vis­it and must do activ­i­ties from Ranger Kur­tis Madigan.

Locat­ed just 13 kilo­me­tres south of Adelaide’s CBD, Sturt Gorge Recre­ation Park is a hid­den gem.

It has a large net­work of shared-use moun­tain bike and walk­ing trails, a spec­tac­u­lar rugged gorge with inter­na­tion­al­ly recog­nised geo­log­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance, cas­cad­ing water­falls, rock­pools and creeks that flow dur­ing win­ter, and it’s an urban oasis for native wildlife and vegetation.

To help plan your next vis­it, here are some tips from Ranger Kur­tis Madigan:

What’s your favourite walk­ing trail in the Sturt Gorge Recre­ation Park?

There are so many trails in this park, it’s hard to nar­row down a favourite.

If I’m going for a walk with some mates that aren’t keen on a long or chal­leng­ing walk, I like the Lake­view Trail in the Craig­burn Farm sec­tion of the park.

The trail loops around Craig­burn Lake and is a good spot for bird­watch­ing. The trail is great for a relax­ing stroll and will only take about 30 min­utes to com­plete the 1.5km distance.

I per­son­al­ly pre­fer a longer walk­ing expe­ri­ence and the Riv­er Trail is great in that respect. I like to start the trail at the east­ern end of the park and fol­low the Sturt Riv­er all the way to the west­ern end.

The trail takes in the rugged beau­ty of Sturt Gorge while pass­ing through a vari­ety of veg­e­ta­tion com­mu­ni­ties along the way. The 8km trail is rat­ed as a hard hike’ and you should allow 4 hours (one-way) to com­plete it. How­ev­er if you don’t have time you can com­plete short­er sec­tions of the hike.

Be sure to check out the view from the look­outs at the top of the Sturt Riv­er dam wall, which you can access either from the Riv­er Trail, the Craig­burn Road walk or the Wat­tle Trail.

There are some steep sec­tions that you need to be wary of, so make sure you keep an eye out for the warn­ing signs, wear appro­pri­ate cloth­ing and footwear, and take care in those areas.

Top tip: If you’re walk­ing with a friend and you have access to two cars, it’s a good idea to park a car at either end to save the return walk. If you don’t have access to a car, pub­lic trans­port is avail­able near both ends of the trail.

Ranger tips: Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

When is the best time to visit?

I love to watch the park trans­form from the browns and yel­lows of sum­mer to the lush greens of win­ter and then back again.

Each sea­son pro­vides a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive of the park with dif­fer­ent high­lights to see. If you’re vis­it­ing in sum­mer, I would choose a day with mild weath­er, while autumn and spring are prob­a­bly the most ide­al for longer walks and rides.

Here’s what I like about each sea­son though:

  • The sum­mer sun­sets with views of the Ade­laide Plains below are real­ly spe­cial. There’s not too many things bet­ter than find­ing a qui­et place to sit and watch nature’s palette go to work.
  • Autumn her­alds the first rains after sum­mer, and soon after native pink gar­land lilies start pop­ping up in the park.
  • Win­ter trans­forms the park with water flow­ing down the water­falls and gorge. I love walk­ing in the rain and mist, which I think enhances the colours of the park as the moss and fun­gi come to life.
  • In spring, as the warm sun­ny days return, it’s a great time to see wild­flow­ers, such as native orchids, and baby wildlife. The big bright blue skies and colours of the park are a highlight.

Top tip: Dur­ing win­ter the Sturt Riv­er and the creeks are at peak flow, which can poten­tial­ly affect acces­si­bil­i­ty to trails that fol­low the creeks and riv­er. Dur­ing this time it’s a good idea to choose a trail away from the creek, espe­cial­ly after heavy rain.

Ranger tips: Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

What native ani­mals can be seen in the park?

Sturt Gorge Recre­ation Park pro­vides an oasis for wildlife in an area sur­round­ed by urban devel­op­ment. Koalas, kan­ga­roos, short-beaked echid­nas, kook­abur­ras, yel­low-tailed black cock­a­toos and Ade­laide rosel­las are some of the species often seen in the park.

You might also spot a vari­ety of wood­land bird species like gold­en whistlers, cres­cent hon­eyeaters and well as rep­tiles and amphibians.

Ranger tips: Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

What’s the best moun­tain bike trail?

I’m no moun­tain bik­ing expert but I love it for the abil­i­ty to cov­er a lot of ground while tak­ing in the sights and sounds. The adven­ture is an added bonus.

I like the vari­ety and tak­ing in dif­fer­ent aspects of the land­scape. So for me, I like to ride along trails such as Tapa Turun­ka, de Rose, Loman­dra or the Wat­tle and Lakeview.

The de Rose is a par­tic­u­lar high­light, with views of the coast and city, and the Loman­dra Trail allows you to explore through the nation­al­ly threat­ened grey box grassy woodland.

Top tip: Start with the Surf and Turf trail in the Craig­burn Farm area to find your feet, then make your way to Gun­ners Run via Lit­tle Riv­er, a fun, flow­ing con­tour trail for more expe­ri­enced rid­ers. Con­tin­ue down to Horner’s Cor­ner if you’re game to attempt the full 25km loop. The cool shady areas of the Wat­tle Trail and the fun flow of the Loman­dra and de Rose trails will make it worth your while.

Ranger tips: Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

What is the park’s best kept secret?

I would say the whole park itself. Sturt Gorge Recre­ation Park is just 13km south of the Ade­laide CBD and nes­tled amongst the sub­urbs of Flagstaff Hill, Eden Hills, Belle­vue Heights, Craig­burn Farm and Coro­man­del Val­ley. A lot of peo­ple live all around it or dri­ve past it as they trav­el along Flagstaff Hill Road, but not many peo­ple know it’s here!

Top tip: Before vis­it­ing the park down­load the park maps from the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice SA web­site or for a geo-enabled map, down­load the maps through the Aven­za Maps app. The app uses your device’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time loca­tion with­in the park onto a map. Once you’ve down­loaded it, the app can be used with­out a net­work connection.

Ranger tips: Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

Park of the Month – March 2020

Through­out the month of March, Sturt Gorge Recre­ation Park is being cel­e­brat­ed as Park of Month. There are heaps of events and activ­i­ties to get involved in and explore the park.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living