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Sometimes, you just want to get out of the city. Clogged, congested streets, that busy, fast-paced lifestyle – what is all that compared to rock formations, scenic overlooks and waterfalls? As it turns out, you can have the best of both worlds.
Taking a holiday to Adelaide, the fifth largest city in Australia, the capital of South Australia and home to just under one million inhabitants, is not just for the joyous celebration of music; did you know there are no less than four national parks, along with a dozen others in the vicinity, brimming with adventure and activities for the whole family? It’s really the perfect mini-holiday or weekend getaway – close to all the amenities of a big city (including tons of accommodation and dining options) but just a quick drive or train ride to a totally different world, full of marvelous creatures and sensational sights.
At just 13 km south of Adelaide, Belair is a great choice if you have a car (though it’s only a 35-minute ride by train via the Belair line), accessible along Upper Sturt Road. It is Australia’s second oldest national park, proclaimed since 1891 and is administrated by the Department for Environment and Heritage. At 835 ha, with six trails, tennis courts, lots of grassy picnic areas, an adventure playground for children, wheelchair accessible restrooms, gas barbecues, plus cabin accommodations and campsites, Belair is well-rounded and full of enough amenities to keep everyone in the family outside, active and having a good time.
For vehicles there is a parking fee (visitors arriving by train do not have to pay to enter the park) and Belair is open year-round, every day except Christmas Day.
Cleland Conservation Park, while it may not have tennis courts, is at 992 ha the largest of Adelaide’s state parks, with more of an emphasis on bringing visitors closer to the native fauna of Australia. Cleland sits about 12 km to the south-east of Adelaide city and is comprised of the Wildlife Park and the popular destinations Mount Lofty summit and Waterfall Gully. Guests to the park can reach their destination by car via Greenhill Road or Mount Lofty turnoff via South Eastern Freeway or by bus; but get there early, because starting at 10 a.m. koalas are shown, up-close, as well as kangaroos, emus, wombats and dingoes. Mount Lofty summit sits 727 meters above sea level; Waterfall Gully, located on the western edge of the park, can be reached by a safe but steep footpath.
There are fees up to $18 (for adults) to enter the park, as well as extra fees for animal experiences or guided tours. The parks are open every day except, again, Christmas Day and days of total fire ban in the Mount Lofty Ranges.
Kangaroo Island is, on the whole, an incredible destination but visitors flock to the remarkable rock formations at Flinders Chase National Park in particular. Kangaroo Island is located 213 km from Adelaide, a quick ride away from the port at Cape Jervis on the Sealink vehicle and passenger ferries. As well as being a spot for spectacular geological formations (the Remarkable Rocks), Flinders Chase has been a sanctuary for endangered species, including koalas and platypuses, since the 1920s and 1930s. Entry to Flinders Chase is $10 for adults, $6 for children or a family fee of $27. The island is also host to other parks and recreational activities, hotels and bed and breakfasts, and restaurants, cafes and vineyards.
At only 10 km north east of Adelaide, this rugged park offers some challenging hiking opportunities best left to the cooler months, though the view from the top – a scenic and rare glimpse of Adelaide – is worth the effort. Visitors with less sweat in mind can enjoy more pleasant strolls, picnics and bird watching. Native species of animals and plants can be spotted along the walking trails, while a variety of orchids grow within the park. It’s so close to the city and easily accessible via Addison Avenue, Montacute Road and Maryvale Road, plus public transportation. Even better, entry to Black Hill is free – no car fees, no admission.
This article was written by Paige Santos, who is driven by her wanderlust to discover new and exciting places worldwide, for herself and for others. She was an English literature major in university.