Onkaparinga River National Park

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This article is about the national park in South Australia. For the adjoining recreation park, see Onkaparinga River Recreation Park.
Onkaparinga River National Park
South Australia
IUCN category II (national park)
Onkaparinga NP lookout.JPG
Sundews lookout
Onkaparinga River National Park is located in South Australia
Onkaparinga River National Park
Onkaparinga River National Park
Nearest town or city Adelaide
Coordinates 35°09′38″S 138°33′14″E / 35.16056°S 138.55389°E / -35.16056; 138.55389Coordinates: 35°09′38″S 138°33′14″E / 35.16056°S 138.55389°E / -35.16056; 138.55389
Established 5 August 1993 (1993-08-05)[1]
Area 15.42 km2 (6.0 sq mi)[1]
Managing authorities Department for Environment and Heritage
Website Onkaparinga River National Park
See also Protected areas of South Australia

Onkaparinga River National Park is a protected area in South Australia (Australia), 32 km south of Adelaide. It extends over the floodplain of the Onkaparinga River east of Main South Road.


The lower reaches of the Onkaparinga River were inhabited by the Kaurna Aboriginal people, and the name of the river is taken from the Kaurna name meaning chief. European settlement and farming in the district began about 1840 leading to the rapid displacement of the Aboriginal inhabitants. Kaurna people still have strong ties to the area through cultural practices and religious beliefs. Many local place names such as ‘Onkaparinga’, ‘Noarlunga’ and ‘Willunga’ have their origins in the Kaurna language. The town of Noarlunga (renamed Old Noarlunga) was the service centre with farm produce being transported 10 km down river to Port Noarlunga.

The remains of Pingle Farm, built in 1862, can be seen in the section of the park west of Main South Road. In 1878, several additional structures were built, including an underground water tank, a stone barn and a shed. The farm was occupied by the Jared family until the early 1970s when it was sold to the South Australian Government.

Flora and fauna[edit]

A Kangaroo of Onkaparinga River National Park

The vegetation of the park has been greatly perturbed by human activity, but remnant patches remain. The most intact area is the Hardy's Scrub section of the reserve. 160 years of livestock grazing, timber harvesting and cropping has cleared most of the reserve of native understorey species and in many areas invasive grasses are the main vegetation type. Remnant Eucalypts are the most noticeable native species in the reserve. Eucalyptus microcarpa (Grey Box), Eucalyptus fasciculosa (Pink Gum), Eucalyptus porosa (Mallee box), Eucalyptus Cameldulensis (Red Gum), and Eucalyptus leucoxylyn (Blue Gum) all occur in the reserve. The European Olive (Olea europaea) is a noxious weed in South Australia and has invaded the park, although generally individuals are not as large as in older parks in the Mount Lofty Ranges like Belair National Park but will continue to be a problem unless managed. Over the last twenty years accessible areas of the gorge have been revegetated by contractors working for National Parks SA. The oldest area of revegetation in the park was conducted with tubestock, predominantly of Eucalypts. Recent efforts have focused on the direct seeding method where seed of native species is ploughed into a scraped trench. Insect activity includes butterflies (Lepidoptera) and dragonflies (Anisoptera). Kangaroos are common among the open hillsides with abundant greens.


Hardys Scrub Hike[edit]

Old Quarry Track

2 hr loop, 4 km loop (Gate 11).

This patch of native vegetation is a very important conservation area, despite a history of timber cutting, quarrying and grazing.

Nature Hike[edit]

2 hr loop, 3.5 km loop (Gate 6).

The Nature Hike includes good views of the gorge, while trails provide an opportunity to view many species of birds and the occasional lizard.

Echidna Hike[edit]

An echidna under an olive tree

2.5 hr loop, 3.5 km loop (Gate 7).

The Echidna Trail winds its way amongst some of the best remnant vegetation and visits six heritage sites, including huts and houses built in the 1880s. The dominant overstorey species is Peppermint Box, with River Red Gum in the gullies and Pink Gum on the higher slopes. Other plant species include sheoak, Golden Wattle, a small stand of native pine and various herbaceous ground covers. Twenty-seven native orchid species have been recorded in the area.

Sundews Ridge Hike[edit]

Sundews Lookout

2 hr loop, 4 km loop (Gate 6).

A relatively short hike to view the rocky outcrops and meandering Onkaparinga River from the Sundews Lookout.

Gorge Track[edit]

4 hr return, 3.5 km return (Gate 18).

This hard trail takes you to gorge vantage points before descending steeply to the river.

Sundews River Hike[edit]

Onkaparinga River at the end of Sundews River Hike

4 hr loop, 4.5 km loop (Gate 6).

This rocky trail descends steeply from the Sundews Lookout to the bottom of the gorge, and then follows the river downstream for a short distance before returning up the steep slopes of the gorge to the ridge and then the car park.

Rock climbing[edit]

Climbing is permitted on the designated cliff area near Gate 10. Specific skills and equipment are required. Climbers are required to contact the Belair District Office first.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "CAPAD 2012 South Australia Summary (see 'DETAIL' tab)". CAPAD 2012. Australian Government - Department of the Environment. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 

External links[edit]

Further information[edit]

  • Whitaker, Michael L (2013), Twelve more walks in the Onkaparinga River National and Recreation Parks, Friends of Onkaparinga Park, S.Aust.