Connecting with Sturt River
Pedestrians and cyclists are enjoying the new path on the Sturt River Linear Park at Coromandel Valley.
The third stage of the Sturt River Linear Park Master Plan has recently been completed in Coromandel Valley, inspired by the area’s rich history and natural environment.
The master plan was developed in 2005 by the former Adelaide and Mount Lofty Natural Resources Management Board—now Green Adelaide. It forms an integral part of Adelaide’s Metropolitan Open Space System and is identified within the state government’s 30-year Plan for Greater Adelaide as part of its greenways policies.
Key aspects of the stage 3 project include the construction of an 800 metre sealed asphalt path joining the existing path adjacent to the Coromandel Valley Institute building on Main Road. The new path provides safe pedestrian and cyclist access from Horner’s Bridge carpark adjacent Coromandel Parade to Frank Smith Park on Magarey Road. The continuous path connects to other community hubs including Watchman House, Coromandel Valley Shopping Centre and Coromandel Valley Primary School. In future, it will create a continuous trail link all the way to Patawalonga Basin in Glenelg North.
The $3.5 million project is co-funded by the state government’s Department for Infrastructure and Transport, and the City of Onkaparinga and City of Mitcham as the path crosses land in both council areas.
The construction of the pedestrian boardwalk and bridges at river crossings and in low-lying flood plain areas provides the community with the opportunity to enjoy views of the wildlife and rock formations along the river.
“The concrete bridge abutments you see above ground are just the tip of the works undertaken below the surface. Excavation to rock, steel fixing and concrete works extend several meters below the natural ground level to ensure the bridges can withstand the large rainfall and flooding events we know happen along Sturt River,” says Project Leader Jamie Quilliam.
New installations include stacked rock retaining walls and bench seats, shelters and tables for picnics, and signage. A new stairway connection has been constructed at Vawser Court to the new path and stormwater culvert extension.
An important part of the project was restoring watercourse habitat to improve the natural ecosystem function of the Sturt River. With sustainability and the ecology of the area in mind, the river corridor has been planted with more than 20,000 native seedlings including trees, large and small shrubs, ground covers, and non-invasive heritage plant species to complement the historic character of the area. Site preparation for the restoration works included the protection of existing native plant species and selective control of woody weeds that spread seeds and negatively affect the local ecosystem.
“This project presented an excellent opportunity for council to undertake restoration works within a degraded section of the Sturt River and begin the process of removing declared weeds and reintroducing watercourse vegetation native to the area. These plantings not only assist with bank stabilisation but, over time, will also improve important habitat for wildlife including frogs, Eastern Water Skinks and small woodland birds,” says council’s Senior Natural Areas Conservation Officer Ben Moulton.
The path features artwork titled Touchstone by Aldinga artist Gail Hocking. Comprising a cluster of sandstone sculptures up to two metres in height, Gail says the surrounding environment was a major factor in determining the materials and design of the artwork so it echoed the space.
“The conceptual idea was to harmonise with the local ecology while providing a space for meditating on connection to place,” Gail says.
Each sculptural stack is topped with polished stainless-steel round capping which mirrors and reflects the environment and adds another dimension to the work.
“I chose to work with sandstone even though I had not used this material before because it is found in the Sturt River area of Coromandel Valley. I learnt quickly that I could not force the positioning of each stone but allowed each stone to settle in its own position or find its balance against each other,” Gail says.
The staged development of the Sturt River Linear Park has been guided by ongoing input from the local community. The project team particularly acknowledges the participation of the Coromandel Valley and Districts Branch of National Trust South Australia.
The works were undertaken by lead civil contractor Camco SA Pty Ltd and landscape contractor LCS Landscapes.
Coromandel Valley residents Mel and Luke Turner and their children Matilda, Eleanor and Lincoln love the open space of the linear park (left); Council's Nature Conservation Project Officer Nikola Manos has written the interpretive signage along the path.