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Little Para River Trail Walk

Home > Adelaide > Free | Parks | Picnic Spots | Playgrounds | Walks
by Hazel Cochrane (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer, photographer & fitness instructor. I enjoy hiking and kayaking and writing walking. Facebook https://www.facebook.com/greataussiewalks
Published May 21st 2016
A dog and family friendly walk through the Salisbury Area
Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Birdlife at the Whites Road Wetlands On the Little Para River Trail. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Perhaps you are looking for a place to walk your dog, or maybe you want to take the kids for a bike ride, or maybe you just want a place to walk, whatever you need, the Little Para River Trail can deliver and take you through areas from the early settlement days of the Salisbury area.
Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Carisbrooke Reserve. Photo: Hazel Cochrane


From the Salisbury Heights to Globe Derby Park, the 16 km dog friendly, shared use Little Para River Trail can be completed as a whole or done in sections according to the limitations on your time and fitness. The trail is accessible for both wheelchairs and strollers.

Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Dogs enjoying a swim in the Little Para River in Carisbrooke Reserve. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

The trail passes through Carisbrooke Reserve, a number of recreation reserves in the Salisbury Council area, through Salisbury, under Port Wakefield Road and all the way to Globe Derby. If you are really keen, you can continue through Mawson Lakes all the way to Wynn Vale on the Dry Creek Linear Trail. Eucalypts, grasslands, mangroves, playgrounds, the Little Para River Trail has it all.

Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Carisbrooke Park Playground. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Commencing in the 1960s when the City of Salisbury began acquiring land designated for open spaces, the trail now includes facilities including picnic areas, under cover playgrounds, a dog park and an abundance of shady trees and birdlife. Providing a reliable supply of water during the early days in the development of the Salisbury area, the Little Para River is a seasonal creek that runs across the area and the focal point of the trail. From its source near
Lower Hermitage; through the Little Para Reservoir to the Gulf of St Vincent, the river supplies some of the water for Adelaide's northern suburbs from the reservoir, which was built for water storage and to mitigate the risk of flooding.

Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
The Little Para River was an important source of water in the early days of the Salisbury area. 1885. B43096A: State Library of South Australia

Sacred sites till exist from the original inhabitants of the area, the Kaurna people. The name of the river is derived from the Kaurna word, Pari, or a stream of flowing water. The river has changed from a narrow winding river prone to flooding after heavy rainfall, to a wider river and with the addition of levees mitigating the risk of flooding in the area. The Little Para River features strongly in the development of the area, providing a dependable source of water for the citrus and almond industries of the early days.

Little Para River, Hazel Cochrane
Upper Little Para River. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

From behind the Old Spot Hotel in Salisbury Heights, the start of the trail can be completed as a spur trail traveling up the river for about 2 kilometres toward the weir. Tall River Red Gums line the trail providing a haven for birds and possums on an easy section of the Little Para River Trail. Returning down the trail through the Main North Road underpass, leads to the popular Carisbrooke Reserve.

Accessible from two entrances, with car parking off Main North Road, the grass reserves, undercover playgrounds and picnic areas are a feature of the Carisbrooke Reserve, which is divided by the Little Para River. Originally named the Carisbrooke Orangery, the family favourite reserve began as a citrus orchard purchased by Leslie Jenkins in 1898.

The giant aged gum trees form part of the charm of this reserve, with their knotted and twisted branches, canoe shaped cutouts and knotholes. With over 5km of walking trails throughout the reserve, there are plenty of alternatives for walkers of all fitness levels. Dogs on a lead are also welcome in the park. Families and sporting groups have been visiting the reserve for decades for a barbecue or end of season gatherings, utilizing the large grassed areas for games and picnics.

Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Harry Bowey Reserve Playground. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Continuing on the linear trail, the Harry Bowey Reserve, with a climbing based playground, cricket pitch and toilet facilities make this reserve an ideal location for a family picnic. Named after, Harry Bowey, a former Councilor and Mayor of Salisbury, the reserve provides shady trees and grassed areas.

Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Jenkins Dog Park, the perfect place for your four legged friend. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

One of many reserves in the Salisbury Council area with an enclosed dog park, Jenkins Reserve is a place for your four legged friends to enjoy running through the steps and tunnels, sliding down the slippery dip and enjoy a well earned drink. Dog owners can take a break on the seats provided in the dog park. On Sunday mornings, the Para District Dog Obedience Club provides classes for dogs and their owners on the oval adjacent to the dog park.

Once an extensive orange grove and vineyard, the park was named after the Jenkins Family, early settlers in the Salisbury area. The Linear Trail follows the river, with a footbridge allowing access to a path on either side of the river. The trail leaves the park for a short time at Porter Street in Salisbury, following the signs to return to the trail.

Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Salisbury Waterwheel Museum in Pioneer Park. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Following the trail will lead you toward the Salisbury Waterwheel Museum building, built from stone from the burnt out Block A of Yatala Labour Prison. Restored in 1982, in a joint venture with the Rotary Club of Salisbury, City of Salisbury and the Salisbury and District Historical Society, the waterwheel was originally installed behind the Old Spot Hotel in Salisbury Heights by Frederick Kuhlmann in 1899.

The water wheel was later moved to the current location on Commercial Road. Kuhlmann, the owner of the Old Spot Hotel, installed the waterwheel to pump water from the Little Para River to a storage tank on his property in order to provide irrigation for his farmland. The 4.2 metre wheel, manufactured by Paternoster Engineering Works in 1911, used 64 buckets each containing 20 litres of water, rotating at eight revolutions per minute to pump water. The wheel was operational until the 1940s. In February to May and September to December, the Waterwheel Museum is open on the first and third Sunday of the month from 2:15 to 3:45pm and on the first Sunday of the month in January, June, July and August. For further information, contact 8258 4646 or 8258 3016. Leaving Pioneer Park, the trail travels under Commercial Road toward the Parabanks Shopping Centre car park and Pitman Park.

Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Commercial Road Underpass on the way to Pitman Park. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Lodged between the busy Parabanks Shopping Centre and Bridge Street, Pitman Park is a popular picnic spot and wedding venue. With an abundance of large shady trees along the river, the rose garden and waterfall, the park displays little resemblance to the Harvey family orchard which once occupied the surrounding land. Pitman Park, named after Ann Pitman, wife of the town founder, John Harvey, was redeveloped as a reserve in the late 1970s. Leading to the Salisbury Highway underpass toward the Happy Home Reserve, Pitman Park might be the ideal spot for a quick coffee in Parabanks.

Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Little Para River Railway Bridge in 1889. B55540. State Library of South Australia

Once the site of the Happy Home Homestead and hotel, the Happy Home Reserve was the overnight stopover for the bullock teams transporting grain and ore to Adelaide and Port Adelaide. The Salisbury Council purchased the land in 1963 to be redeveloped as a recreation area.

Today, the reserve, located between Waterloo Corner Road and Salisbury Highway, is home to the Salisbury Swimming Centre, which opened in 1966. Playgrounds, a dog park, circuit loop and large grassed areas suitable for family picnics are also located in the reserve. Car parking is available, although during the summer months, an empty car park space can be difficult to find.

Continuing along the trail, among the large gum trees, a playground, basketball and tennis courts in Strowan Park on Halbury Road and a playground in the nearby Myall Reserve provide some family friendly options. The trail travels alongside Martins Road near the Salisbury Green Par 3 golf course.

Little Para River,
The Rose Farm on the Little Para River Trail. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Accessed from Whites Road in Paralowie or through the Kings Road underpass, the Hausler Reserve is home to a playground and park area. The trail follows the river toward the Walpole Wetlands before passing under Port Wakefield Road. Crossing the bridge, the trail passes a rose garden on the way to the Whites Road Wetlands.

Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Whites Road Wetlands. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Three constructed ponds adjacent to the Little Para River form the 10-hectare wetland known as the Whites Road Wetlands. The wetlands were designed to assist with storm water drainage. The ponds are surrounded by River Red Gums aligning with the Little Para River vegetation. The wetlands are a haven for around 130 species of birds including a common species such as the White-faced Heron and the Australian Reed Warbler to less common species including the Glossy Ibis and Wood Sandpiper. The trail continues to Swan Alley, a saltwater wetlands, which marks the end of this trail. The trail joins the Dry Creek Linear Reserve at this point.

Little Para River Trail, Salisbury, walk, wetlands, Hazel Cochrane
Swan Alley information signs describe an abundance of wildlife and plant life. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

The Little Para River Trail is an ideal trail for all the family with well-maintained paths along the majority of the trail. With a variety of facilities and many opportunities to cross the river to head back to your starting point, the trail is a great way to maintain your fitness or enjoy an opportunity to view a variety of wildlife and plant life. Walking the entire trail is a whole day journey, walking in sections will provide a variety of scenery and experiences for many weekend activities.
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Why? A family and dog friendly walk through local history
When: Anytime of year
Where: Little Para River Trail Salisbury Heights to Globe Derby
Cost: Free
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