By Claire Lock
Get active in the outdoors these holidays with a bushwalk in one of Adelaide’s iconic nature destinations.
Whether it’s a leisurely stroll or a challenge you’re after, there’s something for all families. Our pick of trails will see you exploring National Parks, forests, hills, rivers, the coast, and seasonal falls.
Set out on an adventure and see why #ItsBetteroutside this Autumn.
When bush walking, check weather conditions before you depart, make sure you’re sun smart, pack ample water and snacks, wear sturdy shoes, and let someone know your plans. A small first aid kit and charged mobile are also recommended.
1. Glenthorne National Park – Ityamaiitpinna Yarta
Stroll Adelaide’s newest National Park, officially opened to the public in August 2020. Located on Kaurna Country in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, families can now discover the Glenthorne hub and be part of history-in-the-making as the Park develops and grows.
Distance from Adelaide: 16km south of Adelaide
Parking and amenities: Park ranger station. Currently no facilities as the Park is under construction (view the master plan to see what’s coming soon, like a nature play space, camping sites, and more.)
Walks: A new 4km temporary loop trail starts and ends near the ranger station on Majors Road, O’Halloran Hill. Interpretive signage shares the park’s history and future plans
More things to do: Keep up to date with the Park’s development or lend a hand volunteering at planting days and other events. Look for flocks of Endangered Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos in trees or flying across the landscape. Discover nearby precincts of the National Park, including O’Halloran Hill Recreation Park, and Marino and Hallett Cove Conservation Parks.
2. Para Wirra Conservation Park
Para Wirra is a northern nature oasis, featuring twelve walking trails of varying grades and the South Para River. Families can explore the area’s rich Aboriginal and European history, discover wildlife like Western Grey Kangaroos, and let the kids burn off energy walking or riding along shared-use trails.
Distance from Adelaide: 41 km north
Parking and amenities: Toilets, parking, picnic areas, nature playground, BBQs, and wheel-chair accessible campground
Walks: For shorter family hikes, try Lake Discovery Walk (1 km) or find a rock that resembles a lizard’s head on Lizard Rock Hike (1.6 km). For a bigger challenge, Devils Nose Hike (4.4 km) will reward with stunning views. Learn about the historic gold rush along the Barossa Goldfields interpretative walk.
More things to do: Spend a few days in the park by booking one of the 19 new campsites.Climb trees and fallen logs, build a cubby and test the flying fox at the Nature Play Forest. Look for emus, kangaroos, echidnas, and bushland birds. Learn more with these Ranger tips and nature play ideas.
3. Woorabinda Bushland Reserve
Families will be captivated by the majestic lake, bushland, and wildlife of Woorabinda, located near Stirling in the Adelaide Hills. Discover 4 km of trails and special features like the poetry bench, bird hide, and resident turtles in this peaceful 34-hectare site.
Distance from Adelaide: 20 km east
Parking and amenities: Parking available. Visit Stirling for toilets and local shops
Walks: Stroll around the lake or take a self-guided walk using this brochure via the Friends of Woorabinda Bushland Reserves.For a longer route, try the Woorabinda Bushland Reserve Loop (5.4 km) which connects four park areas. Discover the trails map here.
More things to do: Find a place to picnic in the park. Observe birds from the timber hide or investigate what water bugs (macroinvertebrates) you can see. Read poems or compose your own as you reflect at the poetry bench. Notice the features of different plants and habitats, like Stringybark woodlands, aquatic reeds, and blooming wildflowers.
4. Morialta Conservation Park
Morialta is a much-loved spot for bushwalking, creek adventures, mountain biking, rock climbing, wildlife spotting, and the award-winning Mukanthi Playground. In winter and spring, the waterfalls enthral families (along with a climb into Giant’s Cave).
Distance from Adelaide: 10 km northeast
Parking and amenities: Parking, toilets, BBQs, shaded tables and benches available, grassed areas for ball games
Walks: Discover eight walks. Morialta Falls Valley Walk (1.6 km) is accessible to prams and limited mobility, taking in popular sights. Morialta Falls Plateau Hike (2.5km) features panoramic views of Adelaide. For a challenge, try Second Falls Gorge Hike (5.3km) or Three Falls Grand Hike (7.3km)
More things to do: Learn about Kaurna cultureas you explore the playground and Fourth Creek. Try to spot Peregrine Falcons from Park lookouts. Listen for frogs and keep an eye out for tadpoles, yabbies, and birds like rosellas and wrens. Check out these 10 things to do at Morialta or find more nature play ideas here.
5. Belair National Park
Families can walk one of nine mesmerising trails in Adelaide’s oldest National Park, taking in woodlands, lakes, creeks, and picnic areas. Keep an eye out for resident kangaroos, koalas, emus, echidnas, bandicoots, and birdlife on your travels.
Distance from Adelaide: 13 km east
Parking and amenities: Parking, picnic areas, BBQ, toilets, and dog walking. Find accessibility amenities and information here.
Walks: Options are available for easy walks to hard hikes. Young families can wander around Playford Lake on the Wood Duck Walk (1 km) or try the Lorikeet Loop Walk (3 km) which includes the Adventure Playground. The Waterfall Hike (6.5 km) and Adventure Loop Trail (13 km) will challenge active families.
More things to do: Pack a torch and walk through Echo Tunnel. Go for a family bike ride. Pack a picnic and build a cubby at the adventure playground. Spot wildflowers, birds, and butterflies in bushland or visit the native plant nursery. Find more nature play ideas here.
6. Onkaparinga National Park
A southern Adelaide nature refuge, Onkaparinga River National Park captures family’s imaginations with its walking trails, magnificent lookouts, river gorge, seasonal wildflowers, and local wildlife.
Distance from Adelaide: 35km south
Parking and amenities: Parking, toilets, camping, and picnic areas
Trails: Choose from 14 Park trails, ranging from moderate to hard hikes.Punchbowl Lookout Trail (2 km) is popular with families and suitable for prams and limited mobility access. Choose Sundews Ridge Hike (4 km) for a more adventurous option. Steeper Gorge trails include Gorge Hike (6 km).
More things to do: Take in the views at Punchbowl and Sundews Lookouts. Hike into the River Gorge to see the valley, permanent rock pools, and wildlife. Book a site at the new Pink Gum campground. Visit the nearby Onkaparinga River Recreation Park to kayak, walk the Wetlands Loop Trail (3 km or 4.5 km), and spot birds like Sandpipers and Swamphens in the Onkaparinga Estuary. Find Ranger tips here.
7. Kuitpo Forest
Kuitpo Forest is a cherished destination to walk, mountain bike, horse ride, picnic, and camp. Explore pine and eucalypt forests on your adventures, keeping an eye out for koalas, kangaroos, butterflies, and Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos.
Distance from Adelaide: 47 km south
Trails: Discover these four walks. Families can stroll the Eucalyptus Trail (2 km) at Rocky Creek Hut and Chookarloo Walk (1.1 km) from the Chookarloo Campground and Picnic Area. For long hikes, try the 12km Tinjella Trail or 10.8km Onkeeta Trail. The Heysen Trail also travels through Kuitpo.
More things to do: Pack a picnic to enjoy in the shade or open grassy areas.Discover local creeks, hidden cubbies, and fallen logs at Rocky Creek Hut or Chookarloo. Families can spot wildflowers, birds, and signs of wildlife such as echidnas and kangaroos. Book to camp with family and friends from April to November. Explore trails in the nearby Kyeema Conservation Park.
8. Cobbler Creek Recreation Park
Cobbler Creek Recreation Park is a northern nature refuge ideal for family walking adventures. Discover the many trails through tree-lined creeks and along ridge tops with scenic Adelaide views.
Distance from Adelaide: 19 km north
Parking and amenities: Parking, picnic areas, BBQ, toilets, playground, bike pump track
Walks: Find 5 popular walks here, including Valley Circuit (4km), Porosa Hike (3km) and the Babbler and Ruins Loops (3.6 and 3.4km). Learn about bush tucker and Kaurna culture on the 2.4km Mai Tappa Circuit (meaning ‘food pathway’ in Kaurna language)
More things to do: Run wild on the Kites and Kestrels playground. Spot kestrels hovering above grassy areas and lizards sunning themselves on fine days. Bike ride on purpose-built beginner and intermediate trails (as well as advanced downhill and jump trails for experienced riders).
9. Mannum Falls
A short drive from Adelaide, families can walk, rock hop, and explore the scenic Mannum Falls and Reedy Creek (the waterfalls flow in winter, spring, and following rain). Find reed beds, water pools, granite rocks, ancient gum trees, and birdlife like Wedge-tailed Eagles, Galahs, and Whistling Kites.
Distance from Adelaide: 85km east of Adelaide (Murraylands)
Parking and amenities: Upper and lower car parks are available, with a toilet near the lower park
Walks: A 3km undulating, moderate-grade trail with some steeper sections. The first water pools are a short walk from the lower car park (find the first falls approximately 750m further on). Note this trail is not recommended in hot weather
More things to do: Pack a picnic and ample water (shops available in Mannum or Murray Bridge). Look for aquatic water bugs (macroinvertebrates) and local birdlife. Enjoy other regional attractions, like a visit to the banks of the River Murray or a visit to Monarto Zoo.
10. Deep Creek Conservation Park
Located on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Deep Creek makes for a memorable day trip or weekend getaway. Families can enjoy rugged landscapes, 15 bushwalking trails, expansive coastal views, big night skies, wildflowers, orchids, and abundant wildlife.
Distance from Adelaide: 100 km south
Parking and amenities: Parking, toilets, picnic areas, campgrounds and accommodation. Accessible options available.
Walks: For easy walks popular with young families, try Stringy Bark Loop Walk (1.5km) or Forest Circuit Walk (2.6km). Discover the majestic Deep Creek Waterfall from Tent Rock Road (3.5km) or Tapanappa Lookout (7km). Find more bushwalks here. Accessible trail options are available, and a TrailRider all-terrain wheelchair can be hired from the District Council of Yankalilla.
Things to do: Book an overnight stay at one of five campgrounds. Watch for shooting stars and constellations like Orion’s belt on a clear night. Hike down to the sea at Deep Creek Cove or Blowhole Beach. Watch for kangaroos grazing at dawn and dusk. Visit nearby regional wonders, like Ingallala Falls and Talisker Conservation Park. Find more seasonal nature play ideas here.
Discover why #ItsBetterOutside these school holidays with more handy tips and ideas for families.