The bushfires that have ravaged Australia across the end of 2019 and into 2020 have been devastating for communities, destroying livelihoods and also impacting on economies from loss of tourism. As well as lives lost, it has been hard to see a lot of nature and wildlife wiped out. This is a loss to Australia that will take years, if not months, to recover.
While this has affected a lot, there is still plenty for nature lovers to see when visiting both Adelaide and other parts of South Australia. I make mention of this because Adelaide really is a city with everything at its disposal – beaches, nature and culture, while the state of South Australia has varied climates making for unique natural phenomena. Here are a few top picks for nature/wildlife experiences across Adelaide and South Australia.
The Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty hike is Adelaide’s most popular hiking trail, with the Mt Lofty summit once you reach the top a just reward that provides the best city views. The hike is moderate level, so make sure to be prepared with appropriate gear and provisions, but expect to see a mix of casual walkers and those training for hikes overseas. If you want an easy walk, there’s the 40-minute Discovery Walk just under the summit perfect for a chilled venture.
Getting there: catch the 864F bus in the direction of Mt Barker, get off at Crafers and switch to the 823. Get off stop 26 Summit Road for the top of the summit. For the Waterfall Gully car park, you’ll need a car/taxi/Uber.
Mt Lofty Botanical Garden nearby is a wonderful showcase of different flora species from around the world, but really in touch with cool-climate plants from around the world. In the autumn months from April to June, the area is just a delight with a rainbow of colour amongst the tree leaves and makes for great photos.
Getting there: catch the 864F bus in the direction of Mt Barker, get off at Crafers and switch to the 823. It’s a short walk when you get off at stop 25 Summit Road.
Cleland and Gorge wildlife parks are two areas easily accessible from the city centre by public transport or car, and provide a number of unique wildlife experiences:
Cleland: Accessible by public bus from the city centre, or a 20-minute drive if you have car access, there are a number of offerings with animals including reptile, butterfly and wombat experiences. Included in your entry fee is the chance to feed and take photos of koalas, but you do have to pay extra to hold one and get professional photos taken.
Daily ‘hold a koala’ sessions run between 2pm and 3:30pm, spaces are limited and often sell out. An additional session is available on Sundays and public holidays between 11am and 12pm. Bookings are not required (just buy the koala ticket on entry) – but watch the temperatures in summer, these don’t run if the forecast is more than 32 degrees for that day.
Getting there: catch the 864F bus in the direction of Mt Barker, get off at Crafers and switch to the 823 which will take you to the park.
|Concession (on presentation of Australian concession card*)||$25.00|
|Child (aged 4 – 15)||$15.00|
|School group (per student, no min people) – bookings essential||$12.00|
|Hold a koala||$32.00 (plus entry fee)|
Gorge: This park is cheaper to enter, but doesn’t have a direct bus there. You previously didn’t have to pay extra for holding a koala at this wildlife park, but from December 2019 there’s now a $10 fee payable on entry (on top of the regular entrance fee). Like Cleland, you can pat and take photos of koalas free of charge if you’d rather not hold one.
Their daily koala cuddling sessions are at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Other wildlife experiences including a reptile display occur on weekends.
Getting there: You’ll need a car/taxi/Uber.
Hallett Cove Conservation Park in Adelaide’s southern suburbs is fabulous if you need a bit of seabreeze as you walk. Coastal walks suitable for moderate fitness levels are a great way to enjoy a natural landscape of solid ground and the deep blue sea at the same time. It’s a free park for anyone to enjoy – just make sure you have food and water handy as there are no cafe facilities on site.
Getting there: catch the Seaford train, get off at Hallett Cove Beach station and walk 10 minutes to the entrance.
Close to Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is renowned for being a wildlife hub as well as a foodie’s delight. The western side of the island is closed as of January 2020 from devastation caused by bushfires, but the eastern half contains all the makings of a great holiday. From the main townships of Kingscote and Penneshaw, where you can soak up the strong community atmosphere to Seal Bay, home to many of the mentioned creatures where you can walk next to them on the beach, the landscape is breathtaking. Make sure to get your hands on eucalyptus products and try KI Spirits gin!
Getting there: It’s a 1.5hr drive to Cape Jervis from Adelaide, where you catch the ferry (Sealink or KI Connect).
Drive five hours north of Adelaide and you come to the fringe of the Outback of South Australia, starting with the gorgeous Flinders Ranges. Known for its Mars-like appearance across desert land, the area is steeped in indigenous history, and you can take tours to discover more about the land’s traditional owners. Wilpena Pound is stunning from a helicopter ride above, the eroded mountains making the area look like a huge crater. There’s the Pichi Richi railway for train enthusiasts (yep, through a little of the Outback!) and glamping is the best mode of accommodation where you’re among a galaxy of stars at night.
Getting there: by car, it’s five hours. You can also fly to Port Augusta three times a week from Adelaide.
There are two natural wonders worth taking a look out if you’re heading down the Limestone Coast in the direction of Melbourne. Mt Gambier is the second biggest city in South Australia with 29,000 people and has the Blue Lake and Umpherston Sinkhole to its name. Both are free to see, which makes it super awesome.
The Blue Lake really is a beautiful lake with… blue water. But not all year round! You have to visit in the summer months from December to March to see it live up to the name. For the other months of the year, the water appears as a steel grey colour, giving it a different vibe. It’s actually a crater from a former volcano, and you can take tours around other nearby craters as well.
The Umpherston Sinkhole is a cave formed from the dissolution of limestone, and it was turned into a sunken garden in 1886. It’s gorgeous just to sit down and take it all in, and definitely one for Instagram! There’s a viewing platform from the top before you make your way down to the bottom.
Getting there: either direct flights from Adelaide, or a 4.5 hour drive.
Missed the last post? I shared what Flamboyance Tours has achieved in its first year of operation!