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Wetlands Loop Trail, Onkaparinga River

Home > Adelaide > Day Trips | Escape the City | Family | Free | Parks
by The wanderer (subscribe)
Outdoor,photography,coffee, nature, food and culture lover; seeker of life's simple pleasures.
Published September 17th 2022
A family friendly scenic loop trail, full of wildlife
The Onkaparinga River is located just over 45 minutes by car or approximately 1.5 hours by public transport from Adelaide City. It is the perfect day trip for those living in the city and looking to get out in nature.

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Onkaparinga Wetlands Loop Trail.


What do I pack?

There is a carpark conveniently located on River Road near Gate 12, this spot also has toilet facilities, which you may want to use prior to your walk. Make sure you take weather suitable clothing, comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots and of course, plenty of water, snacks and sun protection.
Mobility aids and strollers are suitable, however, please note the path is a mixture of boardwalk and dirt roads with gravel bits, so bring suitable wheels for the terrain. Also, keep in mind paths may be muddy after a rainy day.

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Ancient gumtrees line the river.


About the Wetlands Loop Trail.

This trail extends through bush, river and wetlands. You can expect to complete the 4.5 km loop in approximately 2.5- 3 hours (depending on how fast you walk and how many times you stop to rest or enjoy a pre-packed meal).

This scenic walk is located on the estuary of the Onkaparinga National Park which means you might spot plenty of wildlife and local flora. Keep a close eye amongst the trees to find plenty of koalas nestled in gum trees, tawny frogmouths, kangaroos, echidnas, bush and ring tailed possums, peregrine falcons, small lizards, cockatoos, frogs, butterflies and of course, plenty of water birds and fish in the river.

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Frougmouth resting by the river.

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Look up to find plenty of koalas.

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You might spot wild kangaroos.


Native flora is also abundant. You will be walking amongst many gum tree species, tall grasses, saltbush, samphire, aquatic flora and an introduced species - Scottish thistles.

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Scottish thistles of all sizes.

Colourful flora lines the paths.


The trail is suitably signed with lots of local information, maps and arrows pointing you in the right direction. Please follow the signs of your selected walk, as this National Park has many loop walks and hikes that are quite close to each other. If you fail to follow the signs, you might end up in a different walk, making your return longer and harder to figure out.

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Stunning landscape to walk through.


The terrain is mostly flat and is classified as a "Grade 1, easy walk". Read more about the Australian walking track grading system here.

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Native gum trees.


Activities available.
Other than a leisurely walk the Wetlands Loop Trail offers the perfect space for jogging, mountain biking, birdwatching, photo sessions for a special occasion and of course, for nature photography enthusiasts, recreational fishing or to enjoy a long lazy or romantic picnic.

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The inspiring Australian landscape.


For those who enjoy water sports, you can launch a kayak, paddleboard or canoe onto the river. There is a new ramp at Perry's Bend close to the car park on River Road.

If you have completed the loop walk and find yourself keen for a drink or a refreshing swim, you can head to Port Noarlunga main street (just a few minutes drive). Enjoy a variety of restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlours and of course, the stunning coast or if you are more in a river mood, you can also swim where the Onkaparinga river meets the sea.

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Why? Because you want an easy walk deep in nature.
When: Anyday
Where: River Road, Gate 12, Noarlunga Downs.
Cost: Free entry
Your Comment
I had no idea this place existed but it looks amazing. I'm blown away by your sighting of the three tawny frogmouths at one.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9742) 10 days ago
Sounds like an easy walk with lots to see. I love the boardwalk. I thought Onkaparinga were just blankets. My knowledge has expanded.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4373) 9 days ago
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