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Top Five Fun Things to do in South Australia

Home > Adelaide > Walks | Parks | National Parks | Gardens | Family | Lists
by Hazel Cochrane (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer, photographer & fitness instructor. I enjoy hiking and kayaking and writing walking. Facebook
Published September 2nd 2016
Choose your time, select your fun
When you need a break from your hectic lifestyle, South Australia offers a vast selection of fun activities, some are close to the city and others a little further away. Whether you want a quiet stroll or something a little more strenuous, there is an activity to suit your fitness level and budget. If you can only spare a couple of hours or you have a few days, you can have a great time in South Australia.

Botanic Gardens, Adelaide, Hazel Cochrane
The walk around the Botanic Gardens is both scenic and relaxing. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

If you have just a couple of hours, take a stroll through the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

Since 1857, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens has been open to the public for a relaxing way to spend an hour or two soaking up the beauty and diversity of the plant life. From the scented beauty of the 5000 roses in the International Rose Gardens, to the recent addition of the Little Sprouts Kitchen Garden or the Waterlily pavilion established over 150 years ago, a stroll around the 50 hectare property is fun for all ages. Between the hours of 10am and 4pm, every day (except Christmas Day and Good Friday), you can pause at the Visitor Information Centre, which is staffed by volunteers who are always willing to assist you with maps, brochures and details of upcoming events. If you want some guidance on where to walk, you can join a free 90 minute guided walk. Guided walks depart daily (except on Christmas Day and Good Friday) at 10.30am from the Schomburgk Pavillion. If you have groups of five or more people, you can book a private tour by calling the Booking Officer on 8226 8803.

Self guided tours notes are available from the boxes near the garden entrances and seasonal guided trails can be downloaded from the Botanic Gardens website. Audio tours for iPhones and Androids can be downloaded by downloading the MyParx App, which provides information about parks ranging from local parks to national parks.

Adelaide Botanic Gardens, walk, Hazel Cochrane
Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Adelaide Botanic Gardens, walk, Hazel Cochrane
Visit the 150 year old Waterlily Pavillion to see an interesting collection of plants. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Open from 7:15am on weekdays and 9am on Weekends and Public Holidays, the Botanic Gardens can be accessed from North Terrace, Plane Tree Drive, Hackney Road and Frome Road. Ticketed parking, using coin or credit card vending machines, is available on Plane Tree Drive or on Goodman Building carpark where payment is by coin operated ticket vending machines.

The neighbouring Botanic Park, separated from the Botanic Gardens by an avenue of trees planted in 1874 and nestled between the River Torrens and the Adelaide Zoo, provides the opportunity for a pleasant to stroll through the 34 hectares of peaceful gardens. If you need to relax and reflect, take some time to gaze through the canopy of the century-old Moreton Bay Fig trees, read a book near the ferns or pack a picnic to enjoy some quality time with friends and family.

If you have half a day, try something a little different by kayaking in the Port River with the dolphins
Port river, kayak
Kayaking on the Port River with dolphins, shipwrecks and a sandbar for a rest break. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

A kayak tour through the mangroves and ship graveyards of the Port River is a fun way to work out the abs and upper body and get the chance to meet the local dolphins that visit the area. It can be quite intriguing watching the dolphins play hide and seek with you, swimming up to your kayak, plunging underneath and popping up on the other side. One of the best paddling locations in Adelaide, you can go on a guided tour or hire a kayak, complete with paddles, life jacket and map to create your own three-hour paddling adventure for around $40. Paddle out to view over 20 shipwrecks located among the mangroves on the Port River, which became the final destination from 1909 to 1945 or view the bird and marine life that call the mangroves home. Stingrays can also be seen near the mangroves.

For those who are new to kayaking, a guided tour might be a good option. A two-hour guided tour designed for families with children 4 to 12 years, starts at $50 per person or a three-hour dolphin and ship graveyard tour is around $70 per person. Kayak hire pickups and tours commence from Garden Island Boat Ramp and Reserve, Lot 204 Garden Island Road, Gillman.

Bookings are essential, and remember to wear shoes that can get wet, a hat and sunscreen If you have left it to the last minute to book, you might lucky enough to be able to book on the day via phone. Call 0429019141.

If you have a whole day, ride your bike along the River Torrens Linear Trail

Torrens Linear Park, Adelaide, cycle, walk, hazel Cochrane
Pelicans on the Torrens watch all the fun. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Following the River Torrens from Athelstone to Henley Beach South, the shared use trail can be started anywhere along the route. Cycling along the sealed trail is the quickest way to see everything from the River Red Gums in the north-eastern suburbs, the city recreation areas in the Elder and Bonython Parks, the Obahn buses whizzing past and the horses on the trail near beachside suburb of Henley Beach. Passing icons such as the zoo, the Festival Theatre and the West End Brewery Lights, the trail provides the opportunity to see the many different sides to the Adelaide and the surrounding suburbs. If you don't have a bike, you can take advantage of the free bike hire from several locations along the trail including the Golf Links, Convention centre, Bonython Park Kiosk and the Royal Adelaide Zoo.

Torrens Linear Park, Adelaide, cycle, walk, hazel Cochrane
The trail passes under roads and the OBahn track as it winds from Athelstone to Henley Beach. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

River Torrens, Linear Park, dog walks, Hazel Cochrane
Cycle past the Brewery Lights, a family favourite every Christmas. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Popular access points outside the city include the Paradise and Klemzig interchanges, War Memorial Drive, near the Golf Links, Holbrooks Road and Seaview Road. You can walk the trail if cycling isn't for you; dogs on a lead are welcome too. Whichever way you choose to travel, the clearly marked trail has maps, multiple exit and entry points, playgrounds for the kids and bridges for loop trails.

If you have two days, try walking in Deep Creek Conservation Park on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Located 108km south of the city, the park can be accessed from Main South Road or from Victor Harbor along Range Road. Walking any of the fifteen trails in the park provides the opportunity to see western grey kangaroos, a wide variety of bird life and scenic views of Backstairs Passage and Kangaroo Island. Walking trails range from the 1.5km, easy Stringybark loop walking trail to the torturous but rewarding 7 hour Deep Creek Circuit Hike, which incorporates the waterfall and cove.

Deep Creek, Adelaide, Hazel Cochrane
Deep Creek Waterfall. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Deep Creek, Adelaide, Hazel Cochrane
A steep climb down can mean a steep climb back up later. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

deep Creek, Adelaide, Hazel Cochrane
The Aaron Creek Circuit Trail is more of a bush walk than a coastal walk in some sections. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Explore the remains of the 19th century Cornish Mine on the 3km return Talisker Silver Mine Hike or hike the 3.5km return trip to the beautiful year round waterfall, on the Deep Creek Waterfall Hike from Tent Rock road. For the more adventurous, the 6.4km Deep Creek Cove Hike from Trig picnic area travels to a secluded cove. No matter how many times you visit the Deep Creek Conservation Park, there is always something different to see and do.
Prepayment of park entry fee of $10 per vehicle ($8 concession) is required to enter the park and fees also apply if you decide to camp in the many campsites in the Conservation park.

kangaroo, deep creek, hazel cochrane
Kangaroos are a frequent sight in Deep Creek, especially around the camp grounds. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

For a three-day break, you can't beat a scenic flight and hike in the Wilpena Pound.

Flinders ranges, Heysen Trail, Hazel Cochrane
Walking Trails in the Flinders Ranges range from a short 2km trail to as far as you want to walk. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Situated 429 km north of Adelaide, in the Ikara Flinders Range National Park, the enormous quartzite amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound is best viewed from the air on a scenic flight. A 20-minute flight will provide panoramic views of the Elder and Heysen Ranges, Lake Torrens and St Mary's Peak, the highest peak in the Flinders Ranges. The ancient landscapes of Bunyeroo and Brachina Gorges, a glimpse of 650 million years of the earth's history, can also be incorporated on a 30-minute flight. A scenic flight to capture all of the beauty of the ancient rock formations encasing the sea of river red gums and native pines in Wilpena Pound will leave you seriously impressed.
Prices for a 20-minute flights from Wilpena Pound Resort start at $169 and 30 minute flights from Rawnsley Park Station start at $195.

Eagle, Wilpena Pound, Hazel Cochrane
Fly like an eagle over Wilpena Pound or view them from the ridge tops. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

If your budget doesn't stretch to a scenic flight, Wilpena Pound is also a popular bushwalking location with short, moderate and advanced hiking trails through the rugged gullies and ridgetops. Incorporating some of the most scenic countryside in the Flinders Ranges, Wilpena Pound is home to four walking trails and fourteen hiking trails. Starting from the Visitor Centre, the short 2km return Boom and Bust trail leads you through seasonal wildflowers or you can choose to walk the 6.6km return Hills Homestead Hike, which travels to the former home of Jessie Hill, daughter of a pioneer family. If you don't want to do the return trip from the homestead, you can catch the shuttle bus to the Visitor Centre. If you need more of a challenge, there are plenty of 3 to 5 hour options for all fitness levels, right up to the 21 hour St Marys Peak Loop Hike, suitable for experienced hikers only.
A variety of accommodation options are available from camping (fees apply) to stations stays and units.

Park entry fees of $10 per vehicle ($8 concession) apply and can be paid at self-registration stations located in the park.

Add any of these to your to do list, tell your friends and you will be able to experience some of the best places and activities that South Australia has to offer.
Wilpena Pound, flinders ranges, Hazel Cochrane
Wilpena Pound is imposing from the air or the ground. Photo: Hazel Cochrane

Flinders Ranges, Wilpena Pound, Hazel Cochrane
If you like emus, you'll love the Flinders Ranges. They are everywhere!. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
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Why? Great fun activities for everyone
When: Anytime, except Flinders Ranges is best from March to September
Where: Adelaide, Port River, Deep Creek and Flinders Ranges
Cost: Varies depending on the option selected
Your Comment
I've heard the Fleurieu rather lovely and I'm keen to visit.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9766) 2221 days ago
Good roundup of SA's beauty and things to do in the great outdoors. Well thought out. Congrats Hazel.
by Jenny Prior (score: 3|4244) 2220 days ago
Great article, Hazel - a well-deserved Gold! As usual, I just love your photos!
by Elaine (score: 3|9010) 2221 days ago
They sound like great walks
by shere (score: 1|22) 2216 days ago
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