5 treasures in Cleland Conservation Park

Our Cleland insiders share some top tips for visiting this forested Conservation Park.

With iconic South Australian sites such as Mount Lofty Summit, Cleland Wildlife Park and Waterfall Gully contained within this park, you may think there’s nothing else to discover. But there are plenty of hidden gems – away from the crowds – left to explore.

Just 22 kilometres south-east of Adelaide’s CBD, this park offers stunning SA landscapes, up-close-and-personal wildlife experiences, and serene gullies where babbling creeks are the only sounds you’ll hear.

We asked Senior Ranger Eric de Smit and Ranger-in-Charge Kerri Villiers to share some insider tips for park-goers to check out on their next visit.

1. Measdays loop hike (4 kilometres)

Starting from the Measdays lookout, this spectacular shared-use trail will reward you with expansive views of the park and beyond, leading you to the shady gully below. Don’t be put off by the steep start to this hike, it quickly levels off and is a great one for kids and families. You can extend your hike by taking on one of the many adjoining trails. You can even make your way to the ever-popular Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty hike.

Senior Ranger Eric de Smit thinks this is the best part of the park and the most important area for flora and fauna. During winter, the gully is bursting with life. Velvety, lime green moss covers the boulders while an array of native fungi can be discovered nestled in the under-growth. Why not take the Fungi of the Adelaide Hills fact sheet along and tick off as many as you can?

Insider tip – unlike the Waterfall Gully carpark, you won’t have trouble getting a park at the Measdays lookout.

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2. The Tin Lines Ruins

Sir Samuel Davenport owned much of Cleland Conservation Park in the latter half of the 19th century. Davenport established orchards, gardens and grazed sheep in the northern section of the park under the supervision of a shepherd named John Keir. These historic ruins of days gone by can be explored just off the road as you head into Cleland Wildlife Park, and also at the northern entry of the park along the Wine Shanty Hike trail.

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3. Crafers to Mt Lofty link trail (4.5 kilometres)

This newly-created trail provides an excellent alternative for visitors who want to avoid the often busy Waterfall Gully carpark, as it provides a direct route to walk or ride from Crafers to Mt Lofty summit. Another option is for visitors to catch a bus from the city to Crafers and avoid taking the car altogether. When you arrive in Crafers, starting opposite the Crafers bus stop, experience the serenity of the dense bushland by walking or riding through Cleland Conservation Park. The trail takes you through heavily-forested areas of old growth stringy bark, which are important nesting sites for the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo.

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4. Perched swamps

Next time you are huffing and puffing up to Waterfall Gully, about half-way up take a break to catch your breath at Wilsons Bog, the most accessible perched swamp within the park. What’s a perched swamp you might ask? It’s a swamp which sits at a higher level to the surrounding land. There are five of these swamps within Cleland Conservation Park and they are classified as rare ecosystems within the Mount Lofty Ranges. These areas provide habitat for ferns, silky tea-tree, silver wattle, frogs and are of particular importance to the Southern Brown Bandicoot.

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5. Cleland Wildlife Park featuring three cheeky brothers

Cleland Wildlife Park has been a major tourist attraction for more than 45 years, but what’s new to the park are three dingo pups that arrived at Cleland in November. If you haven’t had the joy of meeting them yet, their names are Jiemba, Warrigul, and Dusty. Jiemba comes from the Wiradjuri language and means 'laughing star', Warrigul is a variation of the word 'wild dog', and Dusty needs no explanation!

Don’t miss out on seeing the now teenage dingoes get their daily feed, where you’ll learn about these playful brothers from their expert keepers. The dingoes are fed every day at 2.30 pm. This experience is included in your entry fee, so don’t forget to incorporate it into your next Cleland Wildlife Park visit.

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Cleland’s dingo pups. Image courtesy of Kellie Hoffmann

Throughout the month of July, Cleland Conservation Park is being celebrated as the Park of Month – an initiative between Nature Play SA and DEWNR.

Check out Insider Guide: Cleland Conservation Park for an insight into one of the passionate people that cares for this scenic park.

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