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Onkaparinga River Recreation Park

Home > Adelaide > Walks | Picnic Spots | Outdoor | National Parks | Free
Published March 17th 2013
A river runs through it
Onkaparinga River Recreation Park

The Onkaparinga River Recreation Park, part of the greater Onkaparinga River National Park, is located in the seaside town of Port Noarlunga. It is a large reserve that encompasses the Onkaparinga River, South Australia's second longest river.

The recreation park is mostly comprised of natural attractions but the most recent addition is a bridge that traverses the park as part of the Seaford Rail Extension. The park offers a great view of the new bridge and in some parts the opportunity to get up close to it, if that is what floats your boat.

Others will choose to float their boat along the gentle waters of the Onkaparinga River which is ideal to canoe and kayak. The river is also a popular fishing spot and the paths alongside it are well tread by walkers, runners and cyclists. The tranquil estuary and wetlands abound with flora and fauna that will keep nature watchers content.

The main attractions of the Onkaparinga River Recreation Park, other than the river itself, are the two walks that take place either side of it; the Wetlands Walk and Pingle Farm Walk.

Wetlands Walk

The Wetlands Walk begins at the entrance on River Road at Port Noarlunga. It is a 4.5 km round walk that is estimated to take 1.5 hours. The riverside walk is quite easy with mostly flat surfaces on dirt tracks and boardwalks. It offers stunning natural scenery and a glimpse into life at the estuary.

Navigate your way along the Wetlands Walk and observe changes in the environment. There are avenues of shady trees and arid fields affected by agriculture. A few rusty farm relics can be spied along the way like an old windmill amid tall grass.

Pingle Farm Walk

The Pingle Farm Walk is a 4.5 km round trip that is estimated to take 2 hours. It is accessed from the entrance off Commercial Road at Port Noarlunga South. There are a couple of small hills but mostly it is a flat trek along a dusty dirt path. The walk is nice enough but the highlight is the ruin of Pingle Farm.

Pingle Farm was built in 1862 and lived in by the Jared family for over 100 years. It was sold to the South Australian Government in the early 1970s. The main dwelling, barn and an underground tank are heritage listed.

Today Pingle Farm rests dilapidated on a barren field. The beautiful stone walls have crumbled and the tin roof has rusted. It is surrounded by a high fence that has been invaded by weeds. Nearby is the skeleton of an information sign in need of repair. Pingle Farm is now a canvas for vandalism rather than a respected site of historical significance.

Nevertheless, it stands as an important remnant of the past, a reminder of the lives of the early settlers and a fascinating feature of the park.


There are woodlands of replanted eucalyptus and sheoaks that provide shade throughout the park. Hidden within live a troop of kangaroos, and koalas rest high in the trees and munch on leaves.

With fish that can be seen leaping out of the water, Onkaparinga River supports an abundance of birdlife. Pelicans and egrets sit by the riverbanks and show the fisherpeople how it's done. Black swans float gracefully along the river feeding on the roots and leaves of aquatic plants.

The grass and scrub around the estuary are hunting ground for birds of prey that can sometimes be seen hovering above in search of mice and lizards.

Exploring the Park

Onkaparinga River Recreation Park is a lovely place to spend a morning or afternoon. It is open every day of the week, you can visit the park and Port Noarlunga All Year Round.

The best equipped location is the River Road entrance where there is a nice picnic area. Facilities include sheltered barbecues, tables, benches and public toilets.

The park claims to be well signposted with clearly defined tracks. From my experience, signs and markings are rarely seen once inside the park and it is easy to wander off the beaten track. I like to photograph the displayed map at the entrance as reference, should my sense of direction lead me astray.

Fishing, canoeing and kayaking are welcome on the river. The park is open to walkers, runners and cyclists. You can even take your dog provided it is on a leash and well-controlled.

Both walking tracks are considered easy, suitable for all fitness levels and age groups. Be sure to pace yourself, bring water and wear comfortable sneakers. You may find a bench to rest on but these are few and far between. Don't forget to slip, slop, slap and then you are ready to explore the Onkaparinga River Recreation Park.
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Why? Natural attractions and historical sites
When: Every day
Where: River Road, Port Noarlunga and Commercial Road, Port Noarlunga South
Cost: Free
Your Comment
My family were the Jared family. (John William Jared, Gertrude Jared)
Just doing some genealogy research and came across their farm.
by heath (score: 0|6) 2882 days ago
Lots of information and lovely photos, thanks Hayley.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11307) 2907 days ago
This is walking distance from my house and I didn't know it was there!! Thanks Hayley, I'll have to give it a go!
by danni (score: 1|96) 2907 days ago
I love port noarlunga and it's surrounds. I came across and went searching for more information. That led me to here. Considering I live so close to this I will have to go and have a look. Thanks for the informative article. Should be a good place to walk my puppy.
by brade (score: 0|2) 1973 days ago
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