For some people, the idea of bushwalking conjures up thoughts of big backpacks, hiking poles and rugged mountain climbs. It doesn't have to be that way. South Australia National Parks have short, easy walking trails suitable for all levels of experience and fitness.
Walking trails under 3km can be found in many areas not too far from Adelaide, if you just know where to look. These walks are primarily loop trails, predominantly flat or with just a slight incline to get you started, have small children or can be used as a quick walk as part of a picnic or barbecue outing.
A lizard catching some sun in Jenkins Scrub. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Jenkins Scrub Walk - Mt. Crawford Located in the Little Mount Crawford Forest reserve about 50km northeast of Adelaide, this 1.6km loop walk along a clearly marked trail has a gentle gradient that will not be too strenuous. The trail winds through the forest, in a bush setting, before returning you to the trailhead. Accessed from Mount Road, near the intersection with Maryvale Road, the walking trail starts from the car park, where picnic facilities can also be found.
Wildflowers on the Jenkins Scrub Trail. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
You can also expect to see Superb Fairy Wrens, Grey Fantails and Western Grey Kangaroos, as you wander through the Golden Wattles, She-oaks and Banksia trees. If you are walking in the spring, the colourful wildflowers will be in bloom adding further interest to your walk. The trail passes a fenced off area, formerly the mine diggings from the Gumeracha Goldfields, which operated between 1884 and the early 1900s. Crossing the small bridge near the end of the trail will return you to the start of your walk, about an hour from your start time. This walk is not suitable for prams due to the uneven terrain. The focus on the protection of wildlife and native vegetation in the forest means that dogs are not allowed on the trail.
The Victoria Hill Circuit starts at the Barossa Goldfields entrance in the Para Wirra Conseravtion Park. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Victoria Hill - Barossa Goldfields Accessed from the car park on Allendale Road, near Bowden Cottage, the 1.5km circuit takes you through sections of the historical Barossa Gold Mine. The history lesson starts before you leave the car park. Located under the pepper tree are the foundations of a small cottage formerly owned by Sarah and Henry Woodfield. The information sign provides details about the former residents, who lived in the house from 1873 to 1901. All walking trails through the goldfields start from the car park. Before you start, take a few minutes to read some of the interesting information about the site. More information signs den be found as you walk along the trail to Checkpoint G2. Take care here to follow the boundary of the diggings to Checkpoint G7, this will loop you back to the trailhead through the garden of Bowden Cottage. The cottage, now managed by the Barossa Goldfields Historical Society, was built in 1907 and extended by the Bowden family in 1930.
The old mine shaft near the trailhead for the Victoria Hill walk. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Picnic and toilet facilities share the garden with old mining equipment and a group of magpies looking for a free feed. The Barossa Goldfields are located in the Para Wirra Conservation Park, near Williamstown, about 50km from Adelaide. Take the road from Williamstown, turn onto Balmoral Road, then Goldfields Road and onto Allendale Road after 4km. Entry to the walking trail is free of charge and dogs on a lead can enjoy the walk too!
Para Wirra lake is an ideal spot for a picnic and a short walk. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Lake Discovery Walk – Para Wirra National Park With over 100 species of birds living in the park, there is always something to see when you visit the Para Wirra Conservation Park. Emu and kangaroo sightings are frequent on the 30-minute stroll around the lake, which will delight young children. You can even bring your dog, provided it stays on a lead. The scenery changes depending on the time of day and year, so a return visit is often worthwhile. Spring is the best time to see wildflowers, warmer days will bring out the lizards and if you visit in summer, make sure you have water and sun protection, it can get very hot in the park. Accessed from Para Wirra Drive, you can park next to the lake and take advantage of the picnic facilities in the presence of a variety of birds. If you are really lucky, you might come across an Echidna, although they can be rather shy creatures and difficult to find. Para Wirra is open from sunrise to sunset every day, unless fire bans are in place.
Take a break on the seat overlooking the Para Wirra Lake. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
This easy walk along a fairly even dirt path, will take you in a lap around the lake, incorporating sections of the Hissey Trail and the Devil's Nose Hike, so keep to the lake trail if you don't want to extend your short walk into a significantly longer walk. Walking in Para Wirra Conservation Park is free but a fee of $10 ($8 concession) applies to vehicles entering the park. Payments can be made at the registration stations, remember to bring correct money, no change is available.
Emus, kangaroos and a variety of birds will keep you company at Para Wirra Conservation Park. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Bushwalking isn't about walking long distances or reaching an unexplored destination. It's about enjoying the journey with family, friends and in some parks, your family dog as well. It's about selecting a walk that is of interest to you and conquering a distance and terrain that suits the fitness level of all the walkers in your group. Sometimes, it might be an additional activity on a picnic or barbecue. Whatever your motivation, South Australian National Parks and Forests have easy, moderate and hard walks in bush settings that are fun for everyone.