Located 13km south of Adelaide, the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park follows the Sturt River down to the Adelaide Plains. Established in 1973, the 244-hectare Sturt Gorge reserve is recognised internationally as a conservation area with geological significance.
River crossings are a part of the River Trail Hike. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Multiuse trails form a network of possibilities for a fun day among the steep slopes of greybox grassy woodlands and Sturt tillite rock formations. It might be easy to walk or ride past the rock formations without realising that the Sturt tillite found in the area was the first location in the world to provide evidence of Cryogenian glaciation. It is believed that the landforms were created from glacial material dropping from ice floating in the ocean, which covered the area over 800 million years ago.
Rock formations in the reserve. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The walking trails in the Sturt Gorge range from the 400 metre Parrianna Trail; a short descent from Broadmeadows Drive to the spring-fed falls of the Sturt river, to the to 8km River Trail with the option of combining trails to customise your walk to suit your time constraints and fitness level. Wherever you park, there is a combination to loop back to your car, check out the information boards at the trail entrances.
The River Trail; a 4km walk. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The 8 km River Trail explores the length of the Sturt Gorge, including waterfalls, rocky gorges and flowing creeks. Accessed from Murrays Hill Road, the first section of the trail, suitable for cyclists and walkers, combines with the beginning of the Wattle Trail, following the Sturt River. Cyclists leave to follow the Wattle Trail, while walkers continue on the River Trail crossing the reserve toward the Flood Control Dam. The final section of this trail zigzags up to meet the Tillite track or alternatively, follows the trail through to Main South Road, near McDonalds.The walk requires a good level of fitness and the willingness to scramble over the rocks. Crossing the river on multiple occasions is also part of the fun and adventure of this walk.
Views from the deRose Trail. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The de Rosa Trail Named after the deRose family who settled in the area in the 1920s, the DeRose Trail is a 4km multi use trail winding across the rim of the reserve with scenic views of the Sturt Gorge and Adelaide Plains. The 2 hour walk or 45 minute ride, commencing from The Boulevard, is a challenging trail which intersects with the River Trail and Tillite track as it travels toward the end at Gorelon Drive. Fort those parked in The Boulevard, take the Lomandra and Spring Trails back to meet the deRose Trail back to the trailhead.
The Lomandra Trail From Gorelon Drive, the 4km Lomandra Trail weaves a path toward the river before travelling parallel to Broadmeadow Drive. Native birds and wildlife can be seen in the Sheoak and greybox woodland areas that make up the Lomandra Trail. If the 2 hour hike isn't enough of a workout for you, extend your journey by following the 4km Wattle Trail or return via Parrianna Trail to link with the River and Spring Trails to return to Gorelon Drive.
Narrow, undulating paths can be challenging. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Take care on the trail surfaces, which are uneven in some areas, with narrow and slippery sections and occasional steep inclines and descents. The trails are not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.
Access to the Sturt Gorge Reserve is 24/7 and dogs on a lead are welcome. There are no facilities in the reserve, so remember to take enough water for your adventure, as well as adequate protection from the sun.
And while you're in the reserve, remember the River Trail rocks, check them out.