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Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

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by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au/
Published September 13th 2013
It's dam fun
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The Imposing Sturt River Flood Control Dam


The Sturt Gorge Recreation Park is 244 hectares of densely vegetated hill slopes and open space south of Adelaide, stretching from Craigburn Farm in the east to Flagstaff Hill.

The Sturt River, which originates at Upper Sturt and passes through the Coromandel Valley Linear Park, travels through the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park and pauses at the massive 40 metre high flood control dam at Flagstaff Hill. It then flows through the Warriparinga Wetlands and the Marion Council area before emptying into the Patawalonga.

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Looking Upstream From the Sturt River Dam


The area was once home to the Kaurna people and the river was used by them as a natural link between the Adelaide hills and the sea - it would have been an area that provided well for their needs of food, water and shelter.

sturt gorge, recreation park, park, walking, cycling, dam, south of adelaide, sturt river, trails
A Friendly Willy Wagtail in the Park


After European settlement the park area was used for grazing cattle and sheep, occasional farming, and even some mining of minerals.

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Kangaroos Visit the New Plantings at Craigburn Farm


Today the character of the recreation park changes noticeably - the Craigburn Farm Shared Use Trails are mostly through open grasslands, although large scale plantings by groups such as Friends of the Sturt Gorge, the Million Trees Program, Adelaide Cyclists and others will change that character over time.

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Cycling on Mountain Bikes is Hugely Popular at Craigburn Farm


This has created an ideal environment for cyclists on mountain bikes, who share the Craigburn Farm trails with people walking, exercising dogs and horse riding. (Dogs are permitted in the park if on leash). Despite this local fauna such as kangaroos and koalas are not hard to find, and there is a good diversity of bird life too.

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Gate 11 Entrance on Broadmeadow Drive


Heading further west the recreation park becomes much more heavily wooded, and more hilly. I had hoped to start walking from Craigburn Farm to reach the Sturt Gorge dam through the recreation park, but my phone lost signal so I was unable to get directions from Google maps.

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The Path Leading to the Dam


I decided instead to drive around to Flagstaff Hill and enter the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park from Gate 11 at the east end of Broadmeadow Drive. From here it was only a short walk to a gravel path where I got my first view of the dam. The path slopes fairly steeply down to the dam, and leads onto a walkway at the top of the dam.

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Steep Steps to the Bottom of the Dam


The dam was only releasing a small amount of water, but it was still an awesome sight. My dog happily poked his head between the wall bars to look down, but I felt a little uncomfortable so high up.

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Looking Downstream


Looking west, the valley leading to the sea is very steep and almost v-shaped after thousands of years of erosion by the Sturt River.

There are other trails in this part of the park, including one that loops around overlooking the eastern side of the dam.

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The Parrianna Track Descends Moderately Steeply


Further along Broadmeadow Drive the Parrianna Track descends fairly steeply into the gorge, while several other gates provide access to different terrain.

Until recently Onkaparinga Council had an excellent guide to Walking Trails in the area available online, but unfortunately it has now been withdrawn as some of the gate numbering has changed. It may be still possible to pick up a paper copy at libraries or council offices though.

For now the best way to see the park is to progressively explore from different gates. It's a very good way of keeping fit!

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Why? Follow the Sturt River
When: Anytime
Phone: (08) 8278 5477
Where: Between Craigburn Farm and Flagstaff Hill
Cost: Free
Your Comment
The colours of the landscape are so vivid, it is almost hyperreal.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|11279) 1380 days ago
Is the dam actually known as Kangaroo Creek?
by r.eng (score: 2|235) 241 days ago
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