5 free things to do in parks this weekend

Looking for something to do on Sunday? Here’s how you and your car can get in for free at South Australia’s parks.

Did you know that seven in 10 South Australians visited at least one of the state’s 350 national parks and reserves last year?

The locals are on to something – they’re walking, riding, swimming, climbing, fishing, kayaking and just plain relaxing in parks and reserves across the state.

This Sunday, March 12, is the perfect time to experience it for yourself, as there’s free entry to parks and reserves that normally have a vehicle entry fee, such as Belair National Park, Para Wirra Conservation Park, Gawler Ranges National Park and Mount Remarkable National Park, or an individual entry fee, such as Flinders Chase National Park.

The free entry is on offer for Parks Week – a celebration of parks across Australia and New Zealand, which runs from Saturday, March 4 to Sunday, March 12.

Here’s five ideas for fun and free family activities in parks to give you the jump on what’s on in Adelaide and SA this weekend:

1. Explore the adventure playground at Belair National Park

The family friendly activity experts at Play & Go Adelaide reckon Belair National Park’s adventure playground is ‘an active wonderland for kids of all ages… (with) an old-school feel, in a brilliant way’.

There are tunnels to play chasey through, a wooden fort, and a playground with a flying fox. The play area is surrounded by a grassed area with picnic tables, so bring some friends and a picnic lunch.

2. Picnic by the lake at Para Wirra Recreation Park

On calm days the lake at Para Wirra Recreation Park throws up beautifully still, mirror-like reflections of the surrounding bushland. It’s a special experience, particularly in the morning and late afternoon, that can be enjoyed from the barbecue and picnic area. Walk off your picnic lunch and spot waterbirds and bush birds on the lake discovery walk, which takes about 30 minutes. Elsewhere in the park, at the Gawler View picnic area, there’s a huge open recreation space with a traditional playground, access toilets, and a low-key nature play space that the park’s rangers are trialling.

3. Four wheel drive to secluded beaches at Deep Creek Conservation Park

There are two 4WD tracks in Deep Creek Conservation Park that reward drivers with stunning coastal views across the eastern and western sections of the park. Wind through stringybark forest on the Boat Harbour Track and take steep descents before ending at a small carpark where you can get out and walk to Boat Harbour Beach. Or take the Blowhole Beach track for access to a sandy beach with distant views of Kangaroo Island. Check out our aerial photos to get a taste of the park before you leave home.

4. Discover historic sites at Innes National Park

Innes National Park’s gorgeous beaches, rock pools and clear water are loved by holiday-makers. Take the Inneston Historic Walk to explore beyond the picture-postcard views in the ruins of the once-thriving mining township of Inneston. The walk is a 2-kilometre loop that takes about one hour. Once home to around 200 people, Inneston was completely self-sufficient and had its own school, post office, bakery, general store and tennis court. You can park just inside the gate at the Inneston car park.

5. Walk between towering ancient cliffs at Mount Remarkable National Park

Google reviewers give Mount Remarkable National Park 4.7 out of five stars, noting that it’s ‘one of the best kept secrets of the region’. Make the three-hour drive from Adelaide to the Southern Flinders Ranges and you can take on the 18 km Hidden Gorge Hike. Sure, it will take about seven hours return, but you’ll discover narrow gorges and magnificent views from the high Battery Ridge – and if you walk clockwise, it’s downhill at the end.

To find out more about free park entry on Sunday, March 12, check the National Parks South Australia website. And feel free to share your tips for other park-goers in the comments section below.

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