Published on 23 July 2019

Getaway in your own backyard

Within the southern Mount Lofty Ranges is a landscape to rival anywhere in the world, with its spectacular vistas, rugged ridges and a river gorge teeming with life. Welcome to Onkaparinga River National Park.

With hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing among the long list of things to do in the Onkaparinga River National Park, you’ll want to spend more than a day, so here’s a few ideas to help plan your next adventure.

Pink Gum Campground
Pitch a tent amongst the gums, heat the billy on an open fire, and enjoy the comforts of modern wheelchair accessible facilities. Seasoned campers, the Procter-Hirst family only have praise for the new campground. “It’s neat and tidy and surrounded by bushland, yet has a very practical feel to it — lovely level pitches,” Becky Hirst says. “And being right on our doorstep it’s so convenient.”

Rock climbing

A short walk from the campground is a picnic area with vistas of the gorge. Fences offer security, for beyond are majestic perpendicular cliffs and the park’s official rock climbing zone. This is also where experienced bushwalkers can link to the grade 4 River Hike. Expect a steep descent and burning thighs but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views en route to the river. Ditto, the Gorge Hike.

Hardy’s Scrub

This tranquil trail meanders through a conservation area identified as one of the finest remaining pockets of remnant vegetation in the southern Adelaide region. Valley views and being within a rare ecosystem will enhance your walk.

Echidna Trail

This popular hike is undulating, but not too steep, and includes woodlands, gorge views, heritage listed ruins, and in late winter, wildflowers. The circuit takes two hours; longer for sightseeing.

Punchbowl lookout

Flat and accessible, “it’s a lovely walk that is stroller-friendly so suitable for all the family,” Becky says. “The view at the end of the trail is well worth the walk.” Or bike ride, as this trail is also one of the designated cycling tracks in the park, extending into the Punchbowl Link Trail and the Tom Roberts Horse Trail.

Flora and fauna

The park is a sanctuary for rare and threatened plant and animal species. In late winter there is an abundance of wildflowers, including orchids, and in all seasons look out for grey kangaroos, ringtail possums, echidnas and hunting birds such as the peregrine falcon.

Protect your park

Friends of Onkaparinga River National Park preserve and conserve the park. Volunteers are welcome.

Final word

“The national park is a hidden gem,” Becky says. “So many people don’t realise it’s even there — both visitors and locals alike and yet it is seriously spectacular.”

Visit to find out more about the Onkaparinga River National Park, download trail maps or book a site at Pink Gum Campground visit

Or if you’d like to participate in conservation activities contact Friends of Onkaparinga Park.

Heath Riggs and daughter, Ella, cycle the Punchbowl trail