By Jason Tyndall and Claire Lock
Grab a blanket and pack for adventure: spring is the perfect time to picnic in South Australia’s world-class natural areas.
Whether it’s a nearby outing or something further afield, families can relax and play in unique settings like Botanic Gardens, National Parks, reserves, beaches, lakes, and wetlands.
We’re sharing our top 10 picnic spots in SA to inspire your nature play adventures. Go on, discover why #ItsBetterOutside these holidays!
1. Mambray Creek, Mt Remarkable National Park
A few hours from Adelaide, families can picnic among mountain ranges, ancient rock terraces and gorges, old river red gums, and flowing creeks at Mambray Creek Day Visit area in Mount Remarkable National Park.
Distance from Adelaide: 300 km north (45 km north of Port Pirie)
Parking and amenities: Parking and spacious visitor areas with toilets, gas barbecues, picnic tables, and options for short and long bushwalks. Download the Mambray Creek map here
Things to do: Try the Mambray Creek Walk orselect from easy to challenging bike trails and hikes (including multi-day hikes). Alligator Gorge, the Terraces, creek walks, and Mount Remarkable Summit are popular beyond the Day Visit Area. Book a campsite or accommodation at Mambray Cabin and Alligator Lodge. Find more spring ideas to enjoy in the Park here.
2. Hazelwood Park, City of Burnside
Spend a day or special occasion in the beautiful open spaces of State Heritage Listed Hazelwood Park. Families can enjoy picnic areas, extensive path networks, spacious lawns, shady trees, and local wildlife, like koalas and lorikeets.
Distance from Adelaide: 7.2 km east
Parking and amenities: Grassed areas with plenty of shade, barbecues, toilets, seating, shelters, and paths. Wheelchair and pram accessible areas are available, including the popular playground.
Things to do: Stroll around the duck-filled pond and spot waterbirds. Explore the Wombat Waterhole Playground, visit the small war memorial, and take a dip at the George Bolton Swimming Centre in summer.
3. Stradbroke Road Picnic Area, Morialta Conservation Park
Morialta is a much-loved spot for creek adventures, picnics, hiking, mountain biking, koala spotting, and the award-winning Mukanthi Playground – all accessible from the Stradbroke Road Picnic Area in Morialta Conservation Park.
Distance from Adelaide: 10 km northeast
Parking and amenities: Parking, toilets, BBQs, shaded tables and benches, and grassed areas for ball games.
Things to do: Discover many easy to challenging walks in Morialta Conservation Park, such as the accessible Morialta Falls Valley Walk or harder Morialta Falls Plateau Hike. Explore the playground and Fourth Creek (listen for frogs and keep an eye out for tadpoles, yabbies, and birds like rosellas and wrens.) Discover 10 things to do at Morialta and more ideas here.
4. Blue Lake, Mount Gambier
Marvel at the mystery of Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake. Once an extinct volcano, the Lake changes colour from faded blue to rich turquoise in spring.
Distance from Adelaide: 437km southeast
Parking and amenities: Toilets, café, parking, and trails
Things to do: Stop at a lookout to picnic and take in the views. Stroll the 3.6km Lake trail (allow 45 minutes).Tours are available (subject to COVID-19 restrictions) that explore the history, geology, and significance of the Lake to the Boandik people. Explore other local gems in and around Mt Gambier, such as Railway Lands Nature Play Space, Naracoorte Caves, and wineries and cellar doors.
5. Heron Way Reserve, Hallett Cove
With one of the most spectacular backdrops, Heron Way Reserve offers sea views, open spaces, a playground, and a local café. Explore the adjoining Hallett Cove Conservation Park’s rich geology, ancient glaciers, and world-famous Sugarloaf formation.
Distance from Adelaide: 22km south
Parking and amenities: Toilets, café, wheelchair and pram accessible areas, parking, trails, beach access, playground, and picnic areas
More things to do: Explore two local trails: Coast Park Path and the Conservation Park’s Glacier Hike (learn about the ice age, wildlife, and cultural and geological heritage via interpretative signage.) Make stacks from smooth pebbles on Hallett Cove beach or beachcomb and peer at rock pools. See these top five things to do in the Conservation Park or discover more nature play ideas here.
6. Walnut Paddock, Belair National Park
Belair National Park is an Adelaide favourite with open spaces for gatherings, celebrations, and picnics, and an array of recreational facilities and shelters for hire. From almost any part of the Park, families can discover bushwalks that meander through woodlands, lakes, and creeks.
Distance from Adelaide:13 km southeast
Parking and amenities: Toilets, parking, sporting ovals and courts, plant nursery, playground, and a kiosk in peak periods. Find picnic areas throughout the park – note shelters with amenities, such as Walnut Paddock, require booking and park entry fees are payable at the gate or online. Accessible carparks and toilets are available (see Accessibility Map).
More things to do: Explore the park by bike. Spend an afternoon at the adventure playground and build a cubby using long fallen sticks. Spot wildflowers, birds, and butterflies in bushland. Visit the nursery for native plants for your garden. Spot waterbirds at Playford Lake and take a gentle stroll along Wood Duck Walk. Discover 20 things to notice in National Parks and more nature play ideas.
7. Felixstow Reserve, City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters
Felixstow is an award-winning hidden gem with large open spaces, relaxing wetland interpretive trails, abundant nature, and sports and fitness opportunities.
Distance from Adelaide: 7.6km northeast
Parking and amenities: Toilets, car parking around the reserve perimeter, wheelchair-friendly grassy areas, seating, and barbecues. Sports facilities include basketball courts, a netball ring, bocce, table tennis, and fitness stations.
Things to do: Wander the interpretive Kaurna Trail with educational signage. Spot wetland birds, fly kites, hop across the creek on the purpose-built rock bridge, and explore the natural surrounds. Ride the River Torrens Linear Park Trail. Please note there are no fences around the wetlands.
8. Botanic Gardens, Blackwood, Adelaide & Mount Lofty
South Australia’s Botanic Gardens have so much to offer every season, making them a perfect natural setting for picnics and exploring. Each Garden provides unique charms and something for everyone to enjoy and notice.
Distance from Adelaide: Wittunga Botanic Gardens (21km), Adelaide Botanic Gardens (CBD), Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens (16km)
Parking and amenities: Toilets, seating, shelters, and prams and wheelchair accessible trails. Café and function facilities at Adelaide Botanic Garden. All gardens have parking (fees apply for Adelaide and Mt Lofty, except Sundays and public holidays)
Things to do: In Wittunga, stroll around the wetland, relax on the lawns, find the 24 interpretive signs on the Wittunga Naming Walk, and visit local Blackwood businesses for a coffee. In Mt Lofty, explore the many themed areas, nature trails, and panoramic views from nearby Mt Lofty Summit. In Adelaide, discover Little Sprouts Kitchen Garden, First Creek Wetland, SA Water Mediterranean Garden, and other features. Enjoy food and coffee options and the Diggers Garden Shop and Info Centre (currently closed due to COVID).
9. Horseshoe Bay, Port Elliot
Located in Port Elliot on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Horseshoe Bay is a picturesque location for a family day out. It’s well worth a day trip to explore its idyllic sandy beach, rocky outcrops, cafes, playground, and open spaces.
Distance from Adelaide: 82 km south
Parking and amenities: Parking, toilets, cafes, trails, playground, seating, grassy areas to picnic and play.
Things to do: Ride along the nearby Encounter Bikeway. Go Beachcombing, swim, and make sandcastles in the sheltered bay, sit on the jetty, or walk to Freemans Knob to look over the coastline. Visit the Flying Fish Cafe or award-winning Port Elliot Bakery for a bite to eat. For more ideas, see these 20 things to notice along the SA coast.
10. Stamford Beach, Lincoln National Park
With spectacular ocean views and a wild ruggedness, Stamford Beach will capture your family’s imagination. It’s the perfect starting point to fuel up with a picnic lunch before exploring Lincoln National Park.
Distance from Adelaide: 680 km west (13 km southwest of Port Lincoln)
Parking and amenities: Shelters, toilets, parking, trails, and beach access. 15 campgrounds are available, as well as glamping and other accommodation options. Download the Park map here.
Things to do: Spot wildflowers, go beachcombing, swim, or try your luck at fishing. Wander one of the many trails, such as Wanna Lookout and Stamford Hill. Look out for White-bellied Sea Eagles and Ospreys flying near the cliffs and offshore islands. Find more ideas here.
Discover why #ItsBetterOutside these school holidays with more handy tips and ideas for families.
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