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Thorndon Park Reserve

Home > Adelaide > Playgrounds | Picnic Spots | Parks | Free | Weekend Escapes
by Hazel Cochrane (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer, photographer & fitness instructor. I enjoy hiking and kayaking and writing walking. Facebook
Published May 31st 2016
Picnics, playgrounds and ponds in Paradise
Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
The Old Water Tower. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

An often-overlooked reserve in the north-eastern suburbs, Thorndon Park Reserve has a variety of facilities on offer for visitors of all ages.

Thorndon Park Reserve, built on the property formerly owned by Lord Petre and the Honourable Henry Petre of Thorndon Hall, Essex, was assigned as a public park for community recreation in 1986.

Thorndon Park Reserve was the site of the Thorndon Park Reservoir, constructed on Petre's land and that of The South Australia Company. Built in 1860, the reservoir supplied the town of Adelaide, with a capacity of 640 megalitres of water. After arriving in Australia in 1851, the engineer John English, co-designed the jetty at Glenelg and was instrumental in the building of the reservoir. Upgraded in the early 2000s, the park is still undergoing further redevelopment to manage the flora and fauna, and provide facilities for the community.

Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
Thorndon Park Reservoir overlooked by the hills. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Located in the suburb of Paradise, on the corner of Gorge Road and Hamilton Terrace, the park is open to the public at all times, although the car park is closed between sunset and sunrise each day. The park is considered a sanctuary for birds, consequently dogs are not allowed in the park.

Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
An interesting playground. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Entering the reserve, the large shady trees invite picnickers and barbecue aficionados to demonstrate their skills while the kids enjoy a jaunt on the playground equipment. A visit to the Park Ranger for the key will allow children in wheelchairs to enjoy the fun on the Liberty Swing, an innovative swing for people with disabilities.

Near the entrance, the P. W. Richard Force Pump, used between 1890 and 1930 to pump water from the River Torrens to gardens nearby, is a reminder of the history of the park in the earlier days in South Australia.

Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
Thorndon Park Reservoir Circa 1889 B1662 State Library of South Australia

Facilities in the grassed area cater for a wide variety of functions. Picnic tables under the shady trees or log bench seats for a more rustic lunch are available. Alternatively, the Pungangga Pavilion, a large undercover area, offers protection from the elements for those days where the weather threatens to spoil the day. In another area, a circle of picnic benches sit under large sails supported by poles decorated with Aboriginal Art.

Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
Undercover picnic areas. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Adjacent to the main entrance, the oval caters for ball sports, making this park a great option for sporting club functions. The rotunda near the picnic area is available for hire for special occasions or family functions. The small heritage museum and adjacent kiosk operated by the Rotary Club of Morialta, is open each weekend. Toilet facilities are also available in the park.

Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
The Rotunda Photo: Hazel Cochrane

The waterways and ponds provide a scenic backdrop to the network of walking trails winding through and around the park. The 1.45km trail on the sealed, wheelchair and stroller accessible path circumnavigates the park, with distance makers along the trail, for those who want to power walk or run for fitness.

Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
Waterways, ponds and birdlife are features of the park. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

The wetlands provide a haven for a diverse range of plant and wild life. Featuring prominently in a walk around the reservoir lake is the historical old water tower. Birds, particularly pigeons, congregate around the tower, which formed part of the construction of the reservoir back in the 1860s.

Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
Ducks and birdlife around the ponds. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Waterways winding through the park toward the reservoir from the smaller lake are interesting facets of the park. Keeping a watchful eye of children near the unfenced waterways is essential, as watching the ducks gather near the pond verges is sure to attract the curious youngsters who might be tempted to follow the ducks as they retreat into the water. The waterfall near the top of the hill is a relaxing venue to watch the birdlife and relax. A pump located near the top of the hill feeds the man-made waterfall.

Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
The Waterfall. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

If a barbecue or picnic is not on the agenda, The Rezz, located across the road from the park is a great alternative. Purchased in 1855, the Reservoir Hotel has had several owners since commencing as a hotel in December 1858. The new owners relaunched the Hotel as The Rezz, the Hamood family in 2009. The warm and inviting café, together with the friendly staff make this an ideal place for a coffee or a light meal or perhaps a wood oven pizza. The Rezz is also home to a bistro with live entertainment on a Friday evening and a function centre.

Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
The Rezz - an ideal stop for a coffee or light meal. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Thorndon Park Reserve has a great deal to offer, with the Campbelltown Council continuing to improve the facilities. Next time you need an outdoor venue for a family gathering, social function or perhaps just some recreational time, pack up the picnic gear and head out to Paradise.

Thorndon Park, Paradise, parks, Hazel Cochrane
The Old Reservoir Hotel 1887. B9711 State Library of South Australia
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Why? Free Fun
When: Anytime of year
Where: Throndon park, Gorge Road, Paradise
Cost: Free
Your Comment
It looks like the Old Water Tower has been moved...reminds me a bit of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.This is a wonderful picnic area...ideal for families and a BBQ.Not been there fro a long time now...must take the Grand Daughter there.
by noelp (score: 3|1201) 2306 days ago
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