5 things to see along the new walking trail at Tennyson Dunes

5 things to see along the new walking trail at Tennyson Dunes



Take a free self-guid­ed tour on Adelaide’s newest coastal trail, just 12 kilo­me­tres from the CBD. Here’s where.


If explor­ing an ancient dune sys­tem sounds like a great way to spend an after­noon, then you’re in for a treat with the new Ten­nyson Dunes Dis­cov­ery Trail in sub­ur­ban Adelaide.

Locat­ed at Ten­nyson, just oppo­site West Lakes, the 1‑kilometre trail weaves its way through 22 hectares of his­toric dunes, which are home to some of South Australia’s most rugged flo­ra and fauna.

Go at your own pace using your smart­phone as a guide, and make sure to take notice of these five star attractions:

1. The dunes

Take the time to mar­vel at the dunes them­selves. They’re the last ones remain­ing from the three-tiered sys­tem (pri­ma­ry, sec­ondary and ter­tiary dunes) that once stretched more than 30kms along Adelaide’s coast.

These dunes have played an impor­tant role in pro­tect­ing inland areas from storm-caused sea intru­sions for thou­sands of years.

The Ten­nyson Dunes are a place of great sig­nif­i­cance to the Kau­r­na peo­ple who spent their sum­mers here feast­ing on water­birds, fish and shellfish.

5 things to see along the new walking trail at Tennyson Dunes

2. The botan­i­cal wonders

With 52 plant species – 16 that have con­ser­va­tion sig­nif­i­cance – Ten­nyson Dunes can almost be con­sid­ered Adelaide’s fourth botan­ic garden.

The plants here are coastal spe­cial­ists that have adapt­ed to thrive under the harsh con­di­tions of this tough and blus­tery land­scape. As you make your way through the dunes, keep an eye out for the sub­tle dif­fer­ences in veg­e­ta­tion as you get clos­er to the sea.

Look for the rare and spec­tac­u­lar-look­ing cush­ion fan­flower, the glossy ever­green foliage and fra­grant white flow­ers of the sea box shrub, and the droop­ing sheoak tree, whose leaves were tra­di­tion­al­ly used by Kau­r­na peo­ple as a thirst-quencher.

5 things to see along the new walking trail at Tennyson Dunes

3. The exten­sive birdlife

About 50 bird species can be found at Ten­nyson Dunes, mak­ing this spe­cial spot a bird lover’s par­adise. Some of the birds are per­ma­nent res­i­dents, like the musi­cal singing hon­eyeater, while oth­ers fly in from far and wide, clock­ing up thou­sands of kilo­me­tres to get here to hang out for the summer.

The first sign of a bird near­by is most like­ly either the sound of rustling in the bush­es, a sharp cry over­head, or a melo­di­ous whis­tle from around the bend – so keep an ear out.

See if you can spot the black-shoul­dered kite or the nan­keen kestrel as they hov­er over the dunes to hunt for their din­ner, or the tiny red-capped plovers on the fore­shore, dart­ing around the water’s edge.

5 things to see along the new walking trail at Tennyson Dunes

4. The sneaky invertebrates

Look and lis­ten close­ly and you’ll notice inver­te­brates all around you. There’s the antlions that are busy set­ting traps for pass­ing ants, the heavy-set, long-fanged spi­ders and their cam­ou­flaged cousins, and the pie-dish bee­tles dart­ing through the sand.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly some of the most vocal of the inver­te­brates only reveal them­selves at night, like the loud and per­sis­tent mole crick­et. You’ll most like­ly hear these guys in sum­mer when they’re most active.

5 things to see along the new walking trail at Tennyson Dunes

5. The icon­ic reptiles

Ten to 15 species of rep­tiles can be found here at Ten­nyson Dunes. Many are small and shy, like the icon­ic paint­ed drag­on, while oth­ers are quite large, includ­ing one that you might pre­fer not to come across – the east­ern brown snake!

You’re most like­ly to see Tennyson’s rep­tiles in the warmer months, usu­al­ly in the morn­ing and after­noon as they warm them­selves along the trail, on fence posts and on top of bushes.

The largest lizard you’ll see in the dunes is the east­ern beard­ed drag­on. If you get too close it will puff up its char­ac­ter­is­tic beard in a warn­ing to keep your dis­tance. The east­ern brown snake on the oth­er hand is a shy snake that gen­er­al­ly keeps out of your way. It has an impor­tant job at the dunes – to keep mice and rat pop­u­la­tions in check.

5 things to see along the new walking trail at Tennyson Dunes

About the smart­phone app

Down­load the Ten­nyson Dunes Dis­cov­ery Trail audio app (Android or Apple) to be armed with all the infor­ma­tion you need to feel like an expert by the end of your walk.

The app fea­tures 16 wildlife and 10 plant audio tours. Just make sure you switch your noti­fi­ca­tions on so that you’ll get an alert when there’s an attrac­tion to learn about nearby.

This spe­cial place and the rare and sig­nif­i­cant flo­ra and fau­na it sup­ports are brought to life on the app by Kau­r­na Elder Frank Wangutya Wan­ga­neen, renowned envi­ron­men­tal leader Pro­fes­sor Chris Daniels and a host of oth­er local experts. 

For more infor­ma­tion about theTen­nyson Dunes Dis­cov­ery Trail, vis­it the Nation­al Parks SA website.

(Main image cour­tesy of Bill Doyle)


This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living