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The Sturt Gorge Recreation Park is 244 hectares of densely vegetated hill slopes and open space south of Adelaide, stretching from Craigburn Farm in the east to Flagstaff Hill.
The Sturt River, which originates at Upper Sturt and passes through the Coromandel Valley Linear Park, travels through the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park and pauses at the massive 40 metre high flood control dam at Flagstaff Hill. It then flows through the Warriparinga Wetlands and the Marion Council area before emptying into the Patawalonga.
The area was once home to the Kaurna people and the river was used by them as a natural link between the Adelaide hills and the sea - it would have been an area that provided well for their needs of food, water and shelter.
This has created an ideal environment for cyclists on mountain bikes, who share the Craigburn Farm trails with people walking, exercising dogs and horse riding. (Dogs are permitted in the park if on leash). Despite this local fauna such as kangaroos and koalas are not hard to find, and there is a good diversity of bird life too.
Heading further west the recreation park becomes much more heavily wooded, and more hilly. I had hoped to start walking from Craigburn Farm to reach the Sturt Gorge dam through the recreation park, but my phone lost signal so I was unable to get directions from Google maps.
I decided instead to drive around to Flagstaff Hill and enter the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park from Gate 11 at the east end of Broadmeadow Drive. From here it was only a short walk to a gravel path where I got my first view of the dam. The path slopes fairly steeply down to the dam, and leads onto a walkway at the top of the dam.
Further along Broadmeadow Drive the Parrianna Track descends fairly steeply into the gorge, while several other gates provide access to different terrain.
Until recently Onkaparinga Council had an excellent guide to Walking Trails in the area available online, but unfortunately it has now been withdrawn as some of the gate numbering has changed. It may be still possible to pick up a paper copy at libraries or council offices though.
For now the best way to see the park is to progressively explore from different gates. It's a very good way of keeping fit!