Don’t underestimate how closely tied South Australia is to nature. You might feel like it’s a lifetime away after a day of work in Adelaide but it’s closer than you think – in more ways to one. Sure, there’s the ring of green surrounding the Adelaide CBD, which includes hideaways like Veale Gardens, Victoria Park and everyone’s favourite lunchtime decompress, the Japanese-inspired Himeji Garden. But zoom out and see that the CBD is on the doorstep of a bounty of idyllic locations worth exploring, all within an hour or so drive from the city.
Here’s five to bookmark now.
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
Barely a 25-minute drive south-east of Adelaide’s CBD, Mount Lofty Botanic Garden displays some of the most stunning cool-climate cultivars in the world. Featuring an array of trails, tours, a lake, sculpture gardens as well as food and drink options, it’s a location equally worthy of a 30 minute stroll as it is an all day adventure.
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The multitude of walking paths offers an abundance of variety, regardless of whether you enjoy a slow saunter, or wish to embrace the challenge of a trail trek.
The Lakeside Trail is a highly accessible one-kilometre loop ideal for guests of all mobilities. Follow it around Main Lake at your own pace, or join a free guided tour that includes various nature-themed artworks scattered along the trail. The Nature Trail features seven hectares of natural shrub and provides a glimpse at some of the other trails to choose from. Then stop for a coffee and a snack accompanied by panoramic garden views at the Noel Lothian Viewing Platform.
Despite being only a 20-minute drive east of the CBD, Morialta Conservation Park offers a natural serenity that feels like it’s miles away. Established in the mid-1800s, the area has been well-maintained over the past 100 years. Stroll by the creek or through the woodlands, taking opportunities to explore the gorges and waterfalls along the way.
If you time your visit for spring you’ll catch wildflowers in full bloom. There are also plenty of picnic locations and a natural rock-climbing area to try out.
Anstey Hill Recreation Park
On the eastern fringe of Adelaide city lies Anstey Hill Recreation Park, an extensive network of walking and mountain bike trails (there’s eight to choose from) that caters from beginner to the most experienced rider or hiker. This 362-hecare area boasts other features too, such as the ruins of the original Newman's Nursery (once home to rare varieties of flora), an abundance of bird life, and Indigenous wildlife such as western grey kangaroos and koalas. Additionally, the park preserves rare vegetation that was once widespread throughout the Adelaide Plains and Mount Lofty Ranges, making it a one-of-a-kind destination. For the history-lovers, you can also find evidence of early colonisation sprawled throughout the park, from the restored Ellis Cottage to Rump’s Bakehouse.
Onkaparinga River National Park
The Onkaparinga River National Park is just under an hour’s drive south of the CBD towards the McLaren Vale wine region.. With a range of trails to choose from, as well as opportunities to try rock climbing, horse riding, abseiling or bird watching, there's also pools, rivers, cliff top hiking trails and valleys to explore.
Scott Creek Conservation Park
Located 40 minutes south of the CBD, Scott Creek Conservation Park is a significant piece of South Australian history dotted with ruins of a gold mining-past. Take the Almanda Mine Loop, which includes an engine house, towering stone chimney, and an old mine office, alongside several abandoned mining shafts. These historic artefacts offer a glimpse into the past and provide an educational experience unlike anywhere else.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with South Australia – A New State of Mind.