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South Australia’s dry landscape and folded mountain ranges are the major features. Reduced vegetation makes off-track walking fairly easy and there is considerable scope for exploratory walks in the rugged desert ranges.
South Australia is a relatively dry state. Inland areas in the north and west of the state can be very hot over summer with maximum temperatures of 40⁰C and above not uncommon.
Coastal regions have a generally milder climate and are suitable for bushwalking in all seasons, although rainfall is more frequent during late autumn and winter.
Bushwalking areas and notable walks
Flinders Ranges and Outback
Mt Remarkable is a small but significant national park north of Adelaide near Port Augusta. All features can be visited on an overnight walk or as several day walks.
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is a semi-arid area with ancient mountain ranges largely composed of folded and faulted sediments with deep gorges carved by creeks. The well-known natural amphitheatre, Wilpena Pound (Ikara), is a unique geological feature. The park has good track walks of one or two days and also some good off-track walking. Some tracks are closed during the hot summer months.
Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park is a wilderness park in the northern Flinders Ranges where creeks have carved deep gorges into the soft sandstone leaving rugged and colourful cliff lines. Walks vary from one or two day trips to one-week traverses of the gorge systems. Given the long drive to access this area it is worthwhile to plan for a longer stay. Good walking is also available on private land in the nearby Arkaroola area, for which permission is required.
The Mount Lofty Ranges are also known as the Adelaide Hills and several small parks provide good day walks. Morialta, Cleland, Black Hill, Warren, Waterfall Gully and Mt Crawford are popular walking venues. Overnight walks are also possible by using parts of the Heysen Trail.
Deep Creek Conservation Park on the coast south of Adelaide provides good walks through coastal forests with plenty of ocean views. Most walks are short ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours, but there are a couple of longer day walks.
Heysen Trail is a 1000km marked track running north from Cape Jervis, on the Fleurieu Peninsula, to Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges and provides many opportunities for one-day and overnight walks as well as the challenge of completing the entire trail. The trail passes some of South Australia’s most scenic areas including iconic destinations such as the Barossa Valley and Wilpena Pound.
The main reserve on Kangaroo Island is the Flinders Chase National Park at the western end of the island. The park has many short and one-day walks.
The 61km Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail passes through areas of riverbank and mallee habitats where wildflowers provide splashes of colour all year around then heads along part of the rugged coastline of the Southern Ocean. Highlights include limestone cliffs, white sand beaches and the sculpted granite boulders known as Remarkable Rocks.
The volcanic craters around Mount Gambier together with low-lying plains, low sandhills and large wetlands, including the southern end of the Coorong and Bool Lagoon, are features of this area. There are many small conservation reserves which contain a variety of easy, short walks on well-maintained tracks.
Water is scarce year round in the drier regions of the state and often water is not fit for human consumption. Check the status of water sources before you go.
Ambulance cover: essential for all bushwalkers
Interstate visitors should check that their home state or territory ambulance cover has reciprocal arrangements with SA Ambulance Service.
International visitors should confirm they have travel insurance that covers bushwalking.
Current weather, emergency and safety information
Well prior to a trip, each group member should, on their mobile phone*:
Install the Alert SA Emergency app, and become familiar with the warnings, setting a watch zone and notifications.
Install the Bureau of Meteorology weather app:
Bookmark the websites below, which provide current local advice and emergency warnings.
- Warnings and incidents – South Australian Country Fire Service (or the app above)
- Current incidents and warnings – State Emergency Service South Australia
- South Australia weather and warnings – Bureau of Meteorology (or the app above)
- ABC Emergency – current local emergency information from the ABC
- Bushfire recovery – National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia
- Outback road warnings – Department of Infrastructure and Transport South Australia
- Traffic conditions – Traffic South Australia
- Upcoming prescribed burns – Department of Environment and Water South Australia
- Air quality Monitoring – Environment Protection Authority South Australia
*Useful only when there is mobile phone network coverage.
References and external links
- Bushwalking – National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia
- National Parks and Wildlife Service SA
- Accessibility – National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia
Bushwalking peak body
Walking SA – provides general information on bushwalking, and on the State’s bushwalking clubs.