TOp Activities in National Parks and reserves

The Fleurieu Peninsula national parks and reserves are some of the best around – from epic coastal landscapes to rugged gorges and pristine inland lakes. But they’re not just pretty to look at – here are some of the best things to do in our parks and reserves.

 

Onkaparinga River National Park

The Onkaparinga River National Park is full of diverse hiking and biking trails, campsites and wildlife – perfect for a weekend away.

Follow the trails to the gorge’s clifftops for magnificent views, or meander down to pools in the rocks teeming with life. If you’re lucky, you might even spot an echidna!

But while it’s great for the usual stuff like hiking, you can also take in some spectacular views of the gorge by rock climbing and abseiling with Earth Adventure. Their accredited climbing instructors provide all the equipment and instructions for you to learn some new skills and challenge yourself, with various climbs catering to different skill levels. And it’s just a short drive from the Adelaide CBD!

Adjacent to the National Park, Onkaparinga River Recreation Park also has some excellent fishing, kayaking, and photography opportunities – use the River Road Entrance to explore the estuary environment.

 

Onkaparinga rock climbing

Onkaparinga River National Park

Deep Creek Conservation Park

Hike until your heart is content at Deep Creek Conservation Park, with some of the most spectacular scenery you’ll find on the Fleurieu!

Home to plenty of wildlife, including grey kangaroos and hundreds of species of birds, you’ll find vistas overlooking Backstairs Passage, Kangaroo Island and of course Deep Creek Valley.

Be sure to check out Blowhole Beach near the western edge of the park, a sandy 200m long stretch in a steep valley with a creek included. Swimming can be hazardous there though, so please stay safe. Or head inland to the Deep Creek waterfall at the end of a moderate hike.

Explore the park with an expert from Southern Ocean Walk and gain an appreciation of the land, history and natural environment. With all meals, beverages and accommodation included, what's not to love?

If you're doing it on your own there are plenty of places to stay within the park, so you can truly escape the hustle and bustle and spend a few days away from civilisation. Camp at one of the five campsites in varying locations from dramatic cliffs overlooking the ocean to peaceful stringybark forests. If you're looking for a place with a few more creature comforts Southern Ocean Retreats offers a variety of accommodaiton types in the park, from rustic cottages to eco-retreats.

 

Deep Creek Conservation Park hiking

Deep Creek Conservation Park. Image courtesy of John Montesi

Myponga Reservoir

The Myponga Reservoir Trail is just an hour from Adelaide and the perfect spot for a picnic and some bird-watching. With a 3.3km trail to explore, whether that’s on a bike, walking or running, it’s an idyllic place to while away an afternoon.

Hire a kayak from Myponga Kayak Hire and paddle until your heart's content. You can even drop a line and fish in the reservoir, stocked with Murray Cod (catch and release), Golden Perch and Silver Perch. Just make sure you buy your fishing permit first!

The Reservoir Lookout offers great views of the reservoir and the surrounding pine forest, and the reserve is also overlooked by the Smiling Samoyed Brewery.

That’s a pretty good reason to visit in our opinion!

 

Myponga reservoir

Myponga Reservoir Reserve. Image courtesy of Nick Bellotti

Granite island recreation park

Take a stroll across the causeway and wander about Granite Island, home to little penguins, the horse-drawn tram and a sculpture trail.

Follow the Kaiki Walk and discover the island’s history and take in the coastal scenery characterised by huge granite boulders. This walk also includes an art trail with 10 sculptures placed around the perimeter of the island along the 2.4km trail.

Keep your eyes peeled offshore and spot dolphins and southern right whales (May-October) frolicking in the waters off the island of Enounter Bay.

And if you’re tired after all that walking and watching, you can take the horse drawn tram ride back to Victor Harbor and recharge at one of the many cafes and restaurants.

 

Southern Right Whale Encounter Bay Victor Harbor

Southern Right Whale. Image courtesy of The Big Duck Boat Tours

Newland Head Conservation Park

Just a short drive from Victor Harbor lies the Newland Head Conservation Park. This hidden gem is perfect for the keen fishermen or surfer or just to camp and enjoy the rugged, coastal scenery.

Set up your tent or swag at Waitpinga campground and listen to the crashing waves of the nearby beach. The beaches are not suitable for swimming though so take care! There are plenty of walking trails of varying lengths, from coastal views and cliffs to rolling hills and open mallee forests, so you are sure to find one that suits.

If you're taking your rod, fish species to target include Australian salmon and yellow eye mullet. Pro tip: "time your fishing to coincide with a rising or high tide. Gutters and holes will often have the most life in them when they're well filled with water."

 

Waitpinga Campground Newland Head Conservation Park

Waitpinga Beach. Image courtesy of Jake Forrester

KUITPO FOREST RESERVE

Explore this picturesque forest reserve just 45 minutes from Adelaide in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges. The towering pine trees and pockets of native bush make for the perfect setting for walking, cycling and horse riding. You can even camp or book one of the few forest hut accommodations (April – November). 

Visitors will also soon be able to fly through the treetops at a brand new Treeclimb aerial adventure park. With 12 different tree climb courses to try you will surely get your adrenaline fix.

 

Camping at Kuitpo

Kuitpo Forest. Image courtesy of Jack Brookes

 

With all of these places to explore you could spend quite a few weekends out and about in nature on the Fleurieu Peninsula – and we hope you do!

Check out our website for more information and inspiration of things to do in the region.

We promise it’s worth the trip!

 

Header image: Second Valley Forest Reserve. Image courtesy of Kristy Billing @gypsyandherwild.