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Published April 26th 2017
Professor Morialta, I presume?
Morialta's biggest views for our tiniest hikers (by National Parks SA)
The Morialta Conservation Park, over 5sq/km of dense bushland only 10km north-east of Adelaide, has been a haven for hikers since it was first declared a "National Pleasure Resort" in 1915. While the long, cool gorges, soaked by tumbling waterfalls over jagged ridgelines, have occasionally flooded, they are also popular starting points for rockclimbers, with steel rings left dangling from the many crags jutting from hard quartzite. Green thumbs are also rewarded, with hundreds of species of flowers, including bluebeard orchid, spider flower, sticky hop-bush, wooly riceflower and shrub violet, on show. Birdwatchers should have binoculars posed to spot (or hear) the blue wren, mistletoe bird and southern boobook owl.
Morialta is lined with many walking tracks leading to lookouts, picnic areas and rock climbing rings, regularly crossing with other tracks and inviting scenic detours whenever the mood takes you. Once you've got your bearings, try combining these walks to extend your exploration time, grabbing all the daylight you can before retiring for a hearty dinner. If you're keen to show off Morialta to a newcomer, begin with one of these top hikes.
Lookout over Morialta's waterfalls (by National Parks SA)
Whichever walk you choose, take it easy, revel in the seasonal treats surrounding you, particularly the colours, fragrances and birdsong, but be safe.
Practise your best rendition of the Lion King's Be Prepared as you stock up with water, snacks, appropriate attire (hat, long-sleeve shirt, pullover, rainjacket, sunnies, firm, comfortable walking shoes with good tread, heel and arch support, long pants (leave your designer jeans in the wardrobe, cargo pants are ideal against brushes with thorny undergrowth and have pockets for trail mix and lollies), smartphone with camera and a backpack. Review a map, watch for signposts and landmarks and let a friend know where you're going and when you'll finish.
Morialta Falls Valley Walk - 1.5km return. Begin your 45-minute walk at the western edge of the park, in the First Falls Car Park on this easy, smooth trail ideal for children and strollers. Winding east along Fourth Creek and slicing through Morialta Gorge, you'll pass Kookaburra Rock before marvelling at the view of the falls from the lookout, particularly spectacular in autumn and winter when water thunders over 30 metres to the shimmering quartzite rocks below. Visit Walking SA for more info.
Morialta Falls Plateau Hike - 4km circuit. After an intro to Morialta's beauty on the valley walk, delve deeper on this longer loop, beginning at the same spot in First Falls Carpark, at the south-east end of Morialta Falls Rd. Start counter-clockwise with the east-bound trail along Fourth Creek, arriving at Giants Cave on a switchback to reach First Falls Plateau Trail. You could veer right on a detour to the Second Falls Lookout or continue to First Falls and Eagles Nest Lookout to spot majestic peregrine falcons soaring overhead before a sharp right turn onto Yurebilla Trail, with dozens of exotic species of orchid blooming beside you in the cooler months, until you rise up out of the gorge to catch your breath at Deep View Lookout. After a quick snack, forge onto the finish line on a short walk along Banksia Trail. Visit Walking SA for more info.
Fourth Creek Walk - 1.5km one-way. Strap on the lead to your canine companion on this 90-minute easy dog-friendly hike, beginning at the carpark on Stradbroke Rd, opposite Seminary Way. The H30, H30C and X30 buses also stop nearby. Tackle the wide, smooth trail past a cleanly mowed grass park dotted with towering gum trees, moving south-east with Fourth Creek below you on your left until you reach the trailhead at the First Falls Car Park, pausing for lunch in a picnic shelter or on the warm grass, with honeyeaters fluttering amongst red gum and stringybark trees before returning home. Visit Walking SA for more info.
Morialta's First Fall (BY 3.0 / Peter Neaum)
Three Falls Grand Hike - 7.5km circuit. Although you can easily complete the grand hike in 3 hours, why rush? Along this mildly challenging surface, enjoy the views of waterfalls, the dramatic contours of steep granite cliffsides and the enchanting acres of banksia shrubs, grass trees and heathland, home to the tiny chestnut-rumped heath wren, with males singing sweetly during the winter months. Pause here for the free birdsong concert with a glorious view toward the Adelaide Plains.
You'll start from Norton Summit Rd, winding north-west before reaching a fork in the trail, where you can complete this looping hike in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Turn right traverse challenging switchbacks and be rewarded with a 'top of the world' feeling at Deep View Lookout or turn left to plunge into the gorge, listening for rustling leaves as tawny dragons scurry in the undergrowth, tracing the creekbed as mists from the Falls tickle your face. Visit Walking SA for more info.
Heysen Trail - 6.5km one-way. The 1,200-kilometre Heysen Trail should be on every hiker's bucket list, covering the array of South Australian flora and fauna in forests, beaches, country towns and rocky valleys, winding north from Cape Jervis to reach Parachilna and the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. Get a taste of the Southern half of the trail as it slices through Morialta on a 3.5-hour adventure.
Begin in the park's south-east on the Colonial Track, moving west along the Sinclair Gully, where you might be lucky enough to spot the endangered southern brown bandicoot by the water until reaching Third Falls Lookout. Keep on the main path as it turns east into Centre Track, then switches back into Yurebilla Trail, passing two paths, Yurebilla Trail leading to Eagles Nest Lookout and Centre Trail drawing couples toward Lovers Creek. Yurebilla winds north and west for a kilometre to arrive at Deep View Lookout. Over halfway, you've earned your lunch at this peaceful observation point. Continue north on Yurebilla as the path slopes right, flowing into Rocky Hill Track. From here, it's 1.5km to the exit point at Moores Rd. On the drive home, take a short detour east to visit Smiths Gully Orchards, selling in-season cherries, lemons, apples and figs. Visit The Heysen Trail for more info.
After you've left only footprints, which of these tracks in Morialta is your favourite?