Looking for a family and dog friendly walk, with no hills, no cars and lots of facilities?
The family and dog friendly walk from Athelstone through Adelaide to Henley Beach South may be just what you are looking for. Walking or riding along the River Torrens Linear Park Trail can be done as an end-to-end challenge or in shorter loop trails using the footbridges located along the trail. One of the best features of this trail is the car parking available at regular intervals along the track, so you can start and stop where you choose depending on your time and fitness considerations.
Following along the banks of the Torrens, the 35km pram and wheelchair accessible shared use trail is ideal for all members of the family, including the four legged fur kids. Cyclists can ride along the trail, and for those who don't have a bike, bicycle hire is available from the Adelaide Convention Centre, the Par 3 Golf and the Torrens Weir.
Consistent signage throughout the trail, approximately every kilometre, identifies the Linear Park Trail intersections and exits, making it easy to stay on the track.
Passing many iconic landmarks, including the Adelaide Oval and the Old Adelaide Goal, the River Torrens trail travels alongside the O-Bahn track and under busy Adelaide roads as it winds toward the sea. Barbecue facilities, picnic areas and playgrounds are regular features. Crucial on any family walk, toilet facilities are available at many locations along the trail.
The River Torrens, a scenic backdrop for the Linear Park Trail, is a haven for a variety of bird and plant life and flows steadily from the hills to the sea, although in the early days in Adelaide, the river was a little less reliable.
The primary source of water for early settlers, the Torrens often flooded in the winter and dried up in the summer months. The Gorge Weir, built at Athelstone in 1857, followed by replacement of the dilapidated timber weir with the Torrens Weir in 1881, considerably alleviated the problem, although flooding was still an issue over the following years.
The concept of the River Torrens Linear Park, designed in the 1980s, was to use the urban open space to mitigate the risk of flood and provide a transport option, which became the O-Bahn and the current shared use walk and bike trail.
Linear Park is protected by the Torrens Linear Park Act 2006, which ensures that the park cannot be sold and will be preserved as an urban park for the benefit of present users and future generations.
The traditional owners, Kaurna people, called the area Karrawirra Parri meaning the river of the red gum forests; evident in the majestic, ancient river red gums, which tower over the river, particularly in the 6km section between Athelstone and Dernancourt. The pathway toward the city starts at the three trail markers in the picnic area near the Gate 9, Black Hills Conservation Park, just off Gorge Road.
The scenery changes from giant eucalypts to open reserves and narrow gullies with remnants of the market gardening era as the trail travels along the 2km path to the Paradise Interchange. Located on Darley Road, the facilities include a car park, toilets, playground, BBQs, outdoor fitness equipment and a skate park across the road.
Passing under the Darley Road Bridge, the 4.5km section to Klemzig passes playgrounds near Greenslade Drive and Lochiel Park. Children can enjoy watching the buses speeding along on the O-Bahn track as the trail crosses under and travels alongside the O-Bahn track before reaching Klemzig.
From the Klemzig Interchange, the trail passes under the Ascot Avenue Bridge, then under the O-Bahn track multiple times during the 3.5 km journey to Walkerville. Walkers with children might enjoy the Dunstan Adventure Playground, with its featured slippery dip, adjacent to the trail. For those needing a break before returning or continuing on the trail, Watsons Coffee shop is a popular coffee spot on the weekends.
The walk from Walkerville to Port Road is one of the more popular sections of the trail. The Linear Park Trail passes the Adelaide Zoo, the second oldest zoo in Australia, which opened in May 1883. The 8-hectare zoo is home to over 2,000 animals and is the only major metropolitan zoo to be operated on a non-profit basis.
Sculptures on display along the banks of the Torrens near the zoo provide interesting viewing before the trail passes under the Frome Road Bridge, past Jolley's Boathouse towards King William Road.
The trail continues through Elder Park, a place in the heart of Adelaide, where people ride on the paddleboats or the Popeye, which has been transporting visitors and Adelaidians to the Zoo and back since 1935.
Elder Park, often used for events and concerts, is home to the Festival Theatre and the Rotunda. Thomas Elder gifted the cast iron Rotunda to the city of Adelaide in 1882. Made in Glasgow, the Rotunda was officially opened on 22 November 1882.
Passing the Torrens Weir, opened in 1881, the trail travels towards Bonython Park and the Old Adelaide Gaol, one of the oldest public buildings in Adelaide, which opened in 1841 and closed in 1968. Staffed by police until 1854, the gaol was commonly called "Ashton's Hotel" after the first Governor, William Baker Ashton. During his watch, there were several escape attempts.
The first attempt by two prisoners in 1854 was unsuccessful, followed by three prisoners who escaped to Blanchetown in 1897. Forty five people were executed at the jail before it became a military barracks in 1942. The gaol was about to be demolished in 1965 due to salt damp but fortunately the decision was reversed in 1969. It is now a museum and tourist attraction with guided tours through the gaol including the ghost tour at night.
Adjacent to the gaol is the family favourite, Bonython Park, known as Tulya Wodli to the Kaurna people. Situated at one of the many the playgrounds is a totem pole, donated by the Head Chief of the Gitwilgywat Band of the Tsimshian Nation in 1970. There are a wide variety of activities on offer in the park, alternatively the trail continues through the underpass, to a small bridge across the Torrens toward Port Road.
The SA Brewing Company, near the Hindmarsh Bridge, is the site of the annual Christmas lights display. Since 1959, children have enjoyed the bright lights of Christmas scenes on the warm December evenings, and perhaps mastered the challenge of eating a soft serve ice cream before it melts.
The 7km section of the trail has a slight incline as it passes the Adam Street Cemetery. The historic cemetery, established in 1846, was originally set aside for a marketplace. The small brick shed was once known as the dead house due to the number of bodies stored there during the influenza pandemic, which caused 50 million fatalities worldwide, in 1918/19.
The trail continues under South, Holbrooks and Tapleys Hill roads with a selection of parks and playgrounds for a welcome break. Commencing from the Tedder Reserve car park, the predominantly straight and level 4 km trail passes under Tapeless Hill Road and Seaview Road before it begins to widen approximately 2 km from the beach as it approaches Breakout Creek, the artificial channel created in 1934.
The channel was designed to assist in controlling the regular flooding which caused damage to the areas surrounding the Torrens in the early 20th century. The channel diverted the increased run off water, caused by erosion due to land clearance, directly into the sea. Grazing horses and pelicans in this section of the trail contribute to an interesting walk toward the beach.
Walking the wide, sealed paths of the River Torrens Linear Park Trail, with its attractions, history and facilities provides a safe place to explore nature with the children, get fit, walk the dog or just enjoy a relaxing stroll.
Having walked the entire length many years ago in stages,it is well worth the effort.Make sure you have some water and food with you and protect yourself from the elements.The more interesting part is the Eastern side and even more so when the river is flowing.