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5 things to do in South Australia’s national parks these school holidays

Stuck for school holiday ideas? Look no further than your nearest national park to keep the family entertained.

School holidays aren’t just for the kids to chill out – they’re also a chance for you to take some time out and spend some quality time with the little people in your life.

But thinking of fun ideas can be a task in itself. If there’s only so many ‘kiddy’ activities that you can handle, then you might need to look further afield.

Visiting a national park can work wonders for your own wellbeing, and there’s endless activities for the little ones to enjoy. Or better yet, for you to do together.

Here’s five school holiday ideas for kids – and grown-ups – to enjoy, all within a stone’s throw of Adelaide.

1. Mountain biking at Shepherds Hill

Dust off the bikes and give The Bowl – Pump Track a go at Shepherds Hill Recreation Park. This mountain biking area has been designed with small children in mind, making it ideal for kids learning to ride on dirt.

There’s small jumps to try and bridges to ride along, with the track winding through a majestic Grey Box woodland. Either get on your bike and join in too, or simply sit back and unwind in this scenic park.

When the kids – or you – have mastered the Pump Track, you’re ready to venture onto some more of the intermediate trails in the park. Just remember to pack your helmets.

Interested in visiting? Read 5 hidden treasures in Shepard’s Hill Recreation Park.

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Image courtesy of Jason Tyndall, Nature Play SA

2. Morialta waterfalls and walks

Take a 45-minute stroller-accessible walk in Morialta Conservation Park to see the truly spectacular waterfalls.

Now's is the perfect time to see water tumbling 30 metres from the top of this picturesque landmark in this popular park.

If you’re stroller-free and the kids are a little older, why not tackle the 1.5 hour Morialta Falls Plateau Hike.

This trail takes you to the top of First Falls, overlooking Morialta Gorge. Along the way you can also take the steep 60-step climb to the remarkable Giants Cave, which is always a popular space for kids to check out.

Interested in visiting? Read 5 hidden treasures at Morialta Conservation Park.

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Giants Cave (Image courtesy of Jason Tyndall, Nature Play SA)

3. Belair Adventure Playground

Let the kids explore an active wonderland at Belair National Park’s adventure playground while you grab a hot drink from the food truck (generally open weekends, public holidays and school holidays: 10.30am – 3.30pm).

Be sure to check out the adult-size wooden fort and maze of tunnels, perfect for a game of chasey or hide-and-seek. Make a day of it and spend time exploring the rest of the park too.

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One of the wooden forts at Belair National Park

4. Family fun day at Para Wirra

Para Wirra Conservation Park has a lot more than meets the eye. Examine mini-beasts and water-bugs at Para Wirra Lake, but don’t forget to put them back.

Collect different-shaped leaves to trace around and create your own mythical animals and explore the cubbies made from fallen branches that are dotted around the park.

Interested in visiting? Read 5 treasures of Para Wirra Conservation Park.

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(Image courtesy of Jason Tyndall, Nature Play SA)

5. Mount Lofty Summit views and nearby walks in Cleland Conservation Park

Enjoy the views at Mount Lofty Summit before having a wander along the 1 kilometre Discovery Walk in Cleland Conservation Park.

You’ll find the directions on the signage next to The Summit Café, or be prepared and look it up before you go.

Along the way, take a few moments to be still in your surrounds, and ask the kids to put their best listening ears on to hear the calls of some of the resident birdlife.

Why not bring binoculars and see if you can spot them too?

If you’ve got time on your hands, there’s plenty of things to keep you busy at Cleland Conservation Park.

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Waterfall Gully Creek

National Parks are a great place to spend quality time in nature. For a full listing of all of South Australia’s parks, including details about facilities, parking and entry fees, visit the website.

Main image courtesy of Jason Tyndall, Nature Play SA.

This story was originally posted in July 2017.

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