Staying home this Easter?

Dwarf Fern Lawn

Dwarf Conifer Lawn, Mt Lofty Botanic Garden

For some folk the four-day Easter break is the ideal time to temporarily relocate to a riverbank camping spot, a beachside country town, or a rural valley that just happens to be chock-full of wineries.

For others it’s an opportunity to stay at home and avoid doing the odd-jobs you promised you’d get stuck into over Easter.

So in the spirit of procrastination, ignore the rooftop garden in the gutters and head off to visit some of our great local attractions. 

Here’s a list of some of my favourite spots in and around Adelaide. Click on the headings to reach the blog, SA Motor article or video for more information on each location.

Cycling

Park Lands Trail

Botanic ParkThis is a great way to explore  the city’s wonderful Park LandsCurrently it’s a ring route encircling the CBD and incorporating a section of the River Torrens Linear Park trail, but eventually it will extend into North Adelaide.

While some segments of the extension have been completed, there is still a bit more work to do, particularly around the North Adelaide Golf Course.

The present alignment is ideal for kids - the terrain is almost completely flat and the route passes several excellent playgrounds.

Highlights include Rymill Park, with its lake, waterbirds, coffee and ice-cream, colourful Veale Gardens, Botanic Park’s magnificent Moreton Bay fig trees and, of course, the playgrounds.

It even passes through West Terrace Cemetery, and a short deviation from Glen Osmond Road will take you to the tranquillity of Himeji Japanese Garden.

Tip: Organise a car-mounted bike carrier and park somewhere on the southern side of the city.

Rattler Trail, Riverton to Auburn

Rattler Trail
At 19.5 kilometres in length, this trail is considerably shorter and a little easier than the 36km Riesling Trail that extends from the Rattler Trail’s northern end.

Because it follows an old rail alignment, bridges and cuttings have dealt with any nasty lumps and bumps. There are a couple of gradual climbs but with correct gear selection there’s nothing to get out of your seat for.

The trail passes through scenic rural countryside and there’s excellent interpretive signage along the way. 

If you’re not keen on making it a round trip, you could leave a car and a bike carrier/trailer at one end and then return to the starting point with the bikes aboard a second vehicle. 

Historic Treasures

The Cedars
Once home to artist and environmentalist, Hans Heysen, The Cedars is still owned by the Heysen family. Visitors can stroll through the landscape that inspired his artwork, and pop into the bush studio where his visions came to life.

A guided tour takes in the Heysen family home, which is bursting with paintings and sketches.

Carrick Hill

Carrick Hill
Built in the late 1930s, this grand old house was designed in the style of 17th century English manor. It was the home of John Martins department store owner, Bill Hayward, and his wife Ursula, the daughter of one of the State’s most wealthy and philanthropic families, the Barr Smiths. 

The property is now in the care of the State Government and volunteers, and is remarkably well preserved. The interior still contains many of the artworks and sculptures collected by the couple.

Outside, the extensive grounds evoke images of high-society garden parties, while the Storybook Trail is great fun for kids.

Bring a hamper and find a secluded nook for a picnic, or splash out on a meal at the alfresco café.

Snorkelling

Port Noarlunga Aquatic Reserve (The blog focuses on scuba diving but the video is all about snorkelling)

Port Noarlunga Reef
If the weather stays pleasantly warm over the Easter break, have a go at snorkelling along the mid-south coast.

The best time to tackle Port Noarlunga is on a clear, calm day at low tide when the reef is fully exposed. The reef acts as both a breakwater and a place to rest between undersea explorations.

As soon as you drop into the water at the end of the jetty you’ll see why this is such a popular spot among snorkellers and scuba divers.   

Second Valley (Links to an SA Motor story and a video that includes snorkelling at Second Valley)
Squeezed between sea cliffs,Second Valley is a gorgeous spot with a smugglers’ cove feel. For the best snorkelling action, head towards the jetty and then follow the path around the base of the cliffs to the gritty beach. Keep walking until you reach the small cove just beyond the rocky point…and that’s where you’ll find the treasure!

There’s a good variety of fish hanging out among the colourful seagrasses, and a lucky diver might even spot a leafy or weedy sea dragon.

Scenic Walks

Hallett Cove Glacier Hike

The Sugarloaf
Glacial wreckage and erosion-scarred cliffs – a lot’s happened here, and it’s surprising that this suburban geological wonder receives so little attention.

280 million years ago, material carried by massive ice sheets gouged scratches into the rocks beneath. As the glacier thawed it dumped huge boulders on the beach and left behind deep grooves in the clifftop rocks.

Subsequent erosion of the soil has revealed a palette of colour, including the gelato pastels of a feature known as the Sugarloaf.    

There are a few steep pinches, but steps and a boardwalk make the 3km-return walk much easier.

Chambers Gully (Links to a video showing some of the great walks around Adelaide, including Chambers Gully)
If you don’t see a koala on this hike then you haven’t looked up. StartingChambers Gully from Waterfall Gully Road, the trail follows Chambers Creek, passing through a gorge thick with vegetation. It then climbs towards Cleland Wildlife Park and, if you turn left at Long Ridge Track, you can drop into Cleland for a coffee and a snack.

Following Long Ridge back towards the city, be sure to take the 400-metre return trip to the lookout at the end of the ridge for an uninterrupted view of Adelaide.

From here the trail winds back down to Chambers Gully with views across the city your constant companion. If you’re keen to impress visitors or get the kids into bushwalking then this should do it.

Keep in mind there’s a steep section from the end of the gully up to Long Ridge, but moderately fit kids shouldn’t find the going too tough.

Glorious Gardens

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
There’s Dwarf Conifer Lawn (just the spot for hide-and-seek), South American Gully, Rhododendron Gully, an arboretum of oaks, elms and maples, Fern Gully, and lots more. With such a diverse variety of flora every season brings joy.

Set on the eastern flank of its namesake, some of the trails are quite steep. I usually park in the bottom carpark so the return trip is downhill.

The extensive lawned area beneath the deciduous trees of the arboretum is ideal for picnics.

Himeji Japanese Garden

Himeji Gardens
A national treasure that some Adelaideans don’t even know exists. Screened from South Terrace behind a thicket of trees, Himeji is an island of tranquillity in the CBD.  

A gift from Adelaide’s Japanese sister city, Himeji, every feature in this well-groomed garden has significance. A brochure available at the entrance tells the full story.

Picnics

Rocky Paddock, Mt Crawford Forest (Links to a blog on picnic spots outside of Adelaide, and includes a short video of Rocky Paddock)
Rocky Paddock
There’s no playground, no barbecues and few other facilities, but adventurous and imaginative kids are bound to enjoy Rocky Paddock.

Giant granite boulders are dotted about the heavily wooded pine forest that sweeps down a hillside. This is just the sort of place you’d expect to find elves planning a magical adventure.

Bonython Park (Tulya Wodli)
The redeveloped playground at Bonython Park makes traditional swings and seesaws look a bit, well, meh! There’s a giant hamster wheel, a couple of flying foxes, a monster sand pit, an interactive waterway complete with sluice gates and a waterwheel, and much much more.

A short distance away is the SAPOL Road Safety Centre where the tots can ride their bikes on a miniature road network. The centre is open to the public on weekends when it isn’t being used by SAPOL for formal training.

There are several barbecue areas scattered throughout this enormous reserve and enough lawn for the kids to frolic themselves to exhaustion.

Happy Easter everybody and safe travels.

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