The Shepherds Hill Recreation Park Offers Plenty of Fun for Kids and Adults
Less than 20 minutes drive south of Adelaide you can find the Shepherds Hill Recreation Park at Saint Marys. It's a huge area of natural bushland adjoining the Waitparinga Reserve to the east and Saddle Hill Reserve to the north. It contains grey box woodlands on the hillsides and massive ancient gums along the Viaduct Creek. The area is a suburban goldmine, rich with native bird and plant life, sweeping views, and things to see and do.
The Shepherds Hill Recreation Park is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service
, supported by volunteers from the Friends of Shepherds Hill Recreation Park
The BMX Track is Also Suitable for Mountain Bikes
A short distance from the car park on Ayliffe's Rd at Saint Marys is a great BMX track with a jumps area which is fun for kids of all ages. It's rated as an intermediate ride, so keep an eye on younger children who use it.
There are several mountain bike trails mapped out for your to use, but be aware that many are shared use trails, and that mountain bikes must give way to pedestrians and horses. The grades vary from easy to quite steep, with the River Red Gum loop trail being one of the easiest. In winter it can get quite muddy in the park, but everywhere is dry throughout summer.
Horse and pony riding
It's Great Fun for Kids to Ride Mountain Bikes on the Shared Use Trails
The Shepherds Hill Recreation Park is home to a pony club, and many horse riders like to use it too. Fortunately I haven't seen any signs of horse droppings on the walking trails in the park.
Dogs are permitted throughout the park but must be kept on leash and under effective control. Mountain bike riders need to take care and keep a good lookout though, as some dog owners do let their dogs off leash here.
Hiking and bushwalking
Walking the Dog on the Walking Trails in Shepherds Hill Reserve
A number of walking trails meander through the Shepherds Hill Recreation Park, with the Viaduct Trail leading east to Watiparinga Reserve. Watiparinga reserve is owned by the National Trust SA and is also accessible via Gloucester Avenue, Belair.
The Seaview Loop trail climbs steadily up hills to the south, rewarding you with panoramic views of the city, coastline and surrounding areas if you are willing to exercise. You can also reach the Eden Hills railway station and Ellis Reserve by taking the walking trails in this direction.
Follow Mountain Bike Trails to the Remains of the Eden Hills Viaduct (Image: State Library SA B26293
Following the Viaduct Trail will (not surprisingly) bring you to the ruins of the Eden Hills viaduct that was in use until 1919. This railway viaduct was a massive structure that bridged the valley, but became redundant when a second railway line was needed.
Some of the Eden Hills viaduct supports were used by the Army for demolition practice during World War 2, but some ruins still remain today.
There are also what appear to be rolling stock wheels, but I'm unaware of their history.
Possibly Rolling Stock Wheels Near Eden Hills Viaduct Site
Near the viaduct you will also find a disused railway tunnel, which has been used for many things since it was closed. During the Second World War it was used to store important documents and valuable art works. Later it was used to grow mushrooms, and is used now to store wine.
There are also some small caves in the park which are thought to have been used for shelter by the local indigenous people.
Archery- Eden Field Archers
Women's Archery in the Shepherd Hill Recreation Park
The park is home to the Eden Field Archers
who meet there regularly on Saturdays. They have facilities including clubrooms and a canteen on site. All ages are welcome - it's energetic fun for kids and there is a women's archery group. When the archery range is in use a small area of the recreation park is closed to the public for safety reasons.
If none of these activities catch your interest, perhaps you would like to join others who use this reserve for orienteering, geocacheing, bird watching, and flora preservation
. Whatever floats your boat, it's a great place to visit with many things to see and do. It's not surprising that it comes highly recommended for nature play in SA