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Hackney Bridge to Gilberton - A Wildlife Walk

Home > Adelaide > Parks | Outdoor | Animals and Wildlife | Walks
by Barry Silkstone (subscribe)
I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet. Visit my blog naturallysouthaustralia.com
Published May 4th 2022
Bridging the Wildlife Gap
Swan, Pelican, St Peters, Gilberton, Bridges, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, nature,
Australian Pelican and Black Swan near the small weir


It is unusual to observe two of Australia's largest birds together. However, as I peer over the embankment above a small weir, I find an Australian Pelican near a nesting Black Swan.

St Peters, Gilberton, Bridges, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, nature,
Footbridge upstream from the Hackney Bridge


I have walked upstream along Linear Park from Hackney Bridge, crossed the smaller footbridge, then continued along the eastern side of the Torrens as the path slowly climbs above the river.

Black Swan egg and nest, St Peters, Gilberton, Bridges, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, nature,
Swan nest with a sinle egg


From my vantage point, I watch the nesting swan for a while until its partner changes place on the nest. They seem to have a solitary egg. Perhaps there are more to come as Black Swans typically lay 3-9 eggs in a clutch.

St Peters, Gilberton, Bridges, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, nature,
Gilberton Swing Bridge


My next stop is the Gilberton Swing Bridge. The original bridge was completed in 1920 and then reconstructed in the same style in 2017 to comply with modern building and safety standards. The view from the bridge of the Torrens River is worth the walk and allows an observer to watch and photograph wildlife in the canopy and on the water from a fresh perspective.

Rainbow Lorikeet, St Peters, Gilberton, Bridges, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, nature
Rainbow Lorikeet feeding on lerps in the canopy


After crossing the river, I head back downstream on the western bank. My first stop is a viewing deck with seating and shade. It is an ideal place to unpack a snack from the St Peters Bakery. Sitting quietly for 10 minutes, I am able to identify numerous birds from aquatic herons, ducks and moorhens to the more common urban species including parrots, honeyeaters, mudlarks, magpies and ravens.

St Peters, Gilberton, Bridges, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, nature, orchids
Native orchid species


A few hundred metres further on the O-Bahn bus (a light rail system) crosses over the river. After a short climb up some steps, the path levels off. I walk under the shady eucalypts watching Noisy Miners squabble and squawk over territory. My next stop is the Bickle Reserve where a local preservation group has planted native shrubs, grasses and ground covers with a special emphasis on orchids.

cormorant, St Peters, Gilberton, Bridges, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, nature,
Pied Cormorant


The track now descends gently to the riverbank and I see several Pied Cormorants. One is drying its wings while the other is perched on a branch watching the water. The presence of cormorants suggests there is plenty of fish, frogs and other prey in the river.

Pacific Black Duck, St Peters, Gilberton, Bridges, South Australian wildlife, South Australian tourism, Wildlife photography Wildlife stories, nature,
Pacific Black Duck in algal growth


The final stretch of water below the weir and footbridge back to Hackney Bridge takes on a different character from the upstream section. As there has been little rain over summer and early autumn, this section is coated with a layer of bright green algae in which the ducks, coots and moorhens appear to feed on.

Walking between the bridges and enjoying the wildlife and scenery has been a rewarding experience and I will certainly investigate the next stretch of the Torrens up to Walkerville in a later Weekend Notes review. Meanwhile, try this walk for yourselves and enjoy this fascinating part of our Linear Park.


Additional notes
This is a reasonably easy walk with a few uphill sections, some steps and a wobbly but safe bridge crossing. It is quite suitable for families and seniors. There are public toilets, a grassed oval, barbecues, parking and other facilities nearby. It is dog friendly.
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Why? Great urban wildlife and heritage walk
When: All year round
Where: Hackney Bridge to Gilberton
Cost: None
Your Comment
Always love your point of view on life in Adelaide, Barry. Thanks for this article. I enjoyed it immensely.
by Michael Genrich (score: 3|1852) 11 days ago
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