The seaside suburb of St Kilda is perhaps best known for its hugely popular St Kilda Adventure Playground, which attracts tens of thousands of kids in Adelaide to visit every year. There's a range of play equipment that is pretty much unique, with enough to keep many families busy all day at no cost.
After spending hours on the giant slides, swings and other activities for kids, sometimes a more relaxed activity is appealing. The St Kilda Tram Museum is just down the road, and appeals to many people who were unaware of the long history of trams in Adelaide.
Alternatively the free St Kilda Mangrove Trail is a good place to stay outdoors, slow the pace a little, and learn a bit more about South Australia's aquatic life.
St Kilda was originally made of three low lying islands, and these were settled by fishermen by 1865. The islands were surrounded by samphire and mangrove swamp, and sea walls were built to reclaim the area into the mainland. The mangrove swamp has survived in part to the present day, and in 1984 the City of Salisbury built a board walk to allow people to walk through the mangroves to the Barker Inlet.
Mangroves are coastal trees that grow in salty water where there's lots of sediment - often in sea water that is protected from strong direct wave action. They have aerial roots which stop the trees drowning in the submerged soil. The St Kilda Mangrove Trail allows us to see the Grey Mangrove up close - the only species that grows locally in the cooler climate.
While a mangrove swamp is well known for being a haunt for mosquitoes, it is also very attractive to other forms of life. Falling leaves create a nutrient rich environment which bacteria thrive in, and become the start of a larger food chain.
Many fish such as sea mullet and barramundi breed in the muddy water that mangroves grow in. Together with crabs the fish make a tasty ready to eat street food meal for more than 200 species of birds. Snakes are also happy to prey on birds eggs - if they don't get eaten by something else first.
This rich diversity of wildlife is all on display at the free St Kilda Mangrove Trail. Pick up a key from the Tackle and Tucker Kiosk at the boat ramp, and start your own personal adventure into the murky world of the mangrove. A short walk through the gate takes you to a modern and colourful Mangrove Interpretive Centre where easy to read displays prepare you for the sights ahead.
It is well worth while spending enough time in the interpretive centre, as many things along the boardwalk are not immediately obvious at first glance. There are a few places where you can stop and sit on the trail, and if you keep quiet you'll be surprised by the variety and behaviour of the birds that you see. Lizards, crabs and other creatures will also resume their daily life if you keep still.
The St Kilda Mangrove Trail is about 400 metres long, and you should allow at least 45 minutes for your visit. Pause and be patient, and you will see so much more!
Watch Wildlife From the Bird Hides at the St Kilda Mangrove Trail
With the growing emphasis on Nature Play, the St Kilda Mangrove Trail brings more opportunities to engage with nature outdoors. The City of Salisbury Salisbury Plays campaign is also another place to pick up ideas for fun things to do in the school holidays.