Adelaide is a fortunate city to have so many choices for bushwalking in such close proximity to the city. A short drive in any direction will lead you to a walk in our beautiful bushland, which can be enjoyed by the whole family.
The Sugar Loaf dates back to prehistoric times. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Accessed via Heron Way or Dutchman Drive, the Hallett Cove Conservation Park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Over 1700 Aboriginal artefacts have been discovered in the area, which dates back to the ice age over 600 million years ago.
The Amphitheatre at Hallett Conservation Park. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Take the 3km return walk along the boardwalk and paths on the Glacial Hike, through geological formations of rose coloured Sugar Loaf and imposing Amphitheatre.If you walk on the spur trail, up the wooden stairs to the Sugar Loaf, you can get close enough to Sugar Loaf to see the unusual texture and colour of the rock. The curious rose colouring of the rock formations, due to sediments deposited in a lake from a molten ice sheer around 280 million years ago, indicate an era when Australia and Antarctica were joined in a frozen continent named Gondwana. Discovered in 1877 by Professor Ralph Tate, the glaciated rocks are considered of worldwide geological significance.
Coastal views or prehistoric rocks, whichever way you look, there is a scenic view. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Amazing photo opportunities of both coastal views and the prehistoric rock formations are on offer, especially in the golden hours around sunrise and sunset. Interpretive signs along the walking trail provide interesting information about the geological significance and conservation programs in progress throughout the conservation park. Keeping to the boardwalks allows walkers and nature enthusiasts to enjoy the trail and provide protection for the native vegetation and wildlife. A moderate level of fitness is required on this trail in order to navigate the stairs and steeper sections. Parts of this walking trail form part of the Marion Coastal Walk, so if you need more steps on your pedometer, you can continue towards Marino or further along Hallett Cove.
Ruins in the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Hosting sections of the Heysen and Yurrebilla trails, the Horsnell and Giles Conservation Parks are popular with walkers of all ages. Located just 13km east of Adelaide, the Horsnell Gully and Giles Conservation Parks offer walkers a variety of trails from a short 2km hike to the waterfall to the 12 km Reedbed Ruin walk. Accessed via Horsnell Gully Road in Horsnell Gully, the parks are home to historic ruins from the days of early European settlement. Settling in the area in the 1840s, John Horsnell and Charles Giles built cottages from local stone, the remains of the homestead, stable and cowsheds can be seen along the trail.
The well sign posted trail is in good condition. Photo:Hazel Cochrane
Walking along well sign posted trail provides many opportunities to see western grey kangaroos nibbling the grass and koalas snoozing in the trees. Depending on your time and fitness level, you might choose to walk the 2km Old Coach Road Hike, which begins at Gate 3 of the park. The moderate level trail travels along the old road into Adelaide, used during the 1870s, to the suburb of Skye, previously known as Coach Hill. Back in the early days, the coach driver would blow a trumpet announce his arrival to the settlers. These days, a simple wave will suffice to announce your arrival to anyone nearby.
Starting from the Horsnell Gully Conservation Park car park, the 4km Main Valley and Rockdale Hill Hike travels a 5km loop under the Giant River Red Gums and South Australian Blue Gums to the waterfall. Crossing the waterfall to continue on the trail can be quite slippery in the winter months, so take care. The trail joins the Rockdale Hill Track down into the valley, before travelling to the ridgeline and back to the car park.
The climb begins at Black Hills. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Deriving its name from the black foliage of the Sheoak trees lining the hilltops, the Black Hills Conservation Park is located 10 km north east of Adelaide. Open from sunrise to sunset, entry to the park is from Addison Avenue, Montacute Road or Maryvale Road in Athelstone.
Walking through this park requires a good level of fitness due to the steep inclines, but you will be rewarded with great views across Adelaide and as far as the Gulf of St.Vincent. The quiet, rugged neighbour of the busy Morialta Conservation Park, the 684 hectare Black Hills park is filled with giant red gums and native vegetation.
Views of Adelaide are the reward for the hard walk uphill. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
A network of tracks ranging from the short Ambers Gully Loop to the long 6km one way hike following the Yurrebilla trail weave through the park, taking in the old shepherd hut from the 1880s, the quarry and the frozen waterfall, made from a rare formation of a calcium deposit called tufa. Alternatively, the short 2km Orchard Hike takes you past the historic orchard before returning back down the Eagle Track.
For anyone who enjoys a hill climb, the 467m climb to Black Hill Summit is 4.2km of steep climbing, mostly along a creek line and sadly, trees obscure the view from the summit. If you want a fitness challenge, this walk could be for you, if you are a photographer, this trail might be a bit underwhelming.
The quarry in the Black Hills Conservation Park. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
If you want a less strenuous reason to visit Black Hills, check out the native wildflower garden. The work of F. C. Payne in the 1940s, the garden was created when he and his family planted 250 native plants from across Australia, the garden is now maintained by volunteers. Car parking is available at Gate 9 on Gorge Road and on Addison Avenue, if you are about to attempt the summit.
Bushwalking is a fun way to keep fit and enjoy nature. It is important to wear appropriate footwear, preferably hiking boots, and remember to pack sun protection and adequate water to keep safe. Our conservation parks have been developed to provide protection for the habitats of native flora and fauna, so pets are not allowed in these parks.
Pack a picnic lunch and get out to walk in our conservation parks.