Anstey Hill Recreation Park has something for everyone – much-loved by families, bushwalkers, historians, nature-lovers, geologists, birdwatchers and artists.
Located just 16 kilometres north-east of Adelaide, it’s an easily accessible metropolitan park with a rich history and natural treasures to discover.
Take some time to reflect on Adelaide’s early settlement by exploring the old ruins that are dotted throughout the park, like Ellis Cottage and Newman’s Nursery, which date back to the 1800s.
Anstey Hill’s network of trails will lead you through a variety of beautiful landscapes, such as woodlands, gullies, ridge tops, creeks and lookouts where you can see native wildflowers and butterflies in almost any colour.
With almost 300 species throughout, the park is a sanctuary for rare native vegetation that was once widespread throughout the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges region. Keep an eye out for the huge range of animals that call the park home – western grey kangaroos, tawny and bearded dragons, yellow-tailed black cockatoos and short-beaked echidnas just to name a few.
If you’re keen to experience the park for yourself, autumn is a magical time to visit. Here are 10 ideas to explore on your next adventure, prepared for you by the park’s passionate rangers and Nature Play SA.
- Explore Water Gully Track after an autumn rain and take some time to observe new growth, lush moss and bright lichen and droplets of rain on fern leaves, and notice the smell of damp earth.
- Walk down to the Geological Hike from Gate 8 and find the towering quarry rock face that was used as a venue for performances by the Festival of Arts in 1980 and 1988. Take notice of how many trees, shrubs and grasses have slowly returned to the once bare area.
- From the picnic area at Little Quarry Loop, head up to Kaurna Way where you’ll walk through grassy woodlands occupied by grazing western grey kangaroos. Take a moment to imagine how the Kaurna people used the gullies, trees and wildlife around you.
- Walk along Water Gully Track on a sunny day listening for kookaburras and spotting the different coloured fungi. Look out for dye ball and collared earthstar fungi that grow on the ground, or turkey tail and spectacular rust fungi that grow on fallen logs, branches and at the base of trees.
- Looking at the park map and starting from Gate 1, create your own hike using the network of trails throughout the park.
- Walk the Quarry Views Hike in late autumn and spot the glistening leaves of the insect-eating scented sundew as they begin to emerge. The leaves are sticky and trap insects when they land. They can also be seen throughout winter and spring.
- Map your own route to Silver Mine Loop where you’ll discover old mine shafts from 1853, and keep an eye out for ant mounds – they are very sensitive and provide important homes for large families of ants.
- Take a stroll along the Wednesday Loop, named after the day that the Friends of Anstey Hill Recreation Park commit to conserving the park through weeding, revegetating and monitoring flora and fauna. Look out for signs of this hard work as you make your way along the trail.
- Challenge yourself on a sunny day by taking a hike along the Pink Gum Loop, incorporating the Wildflower Wander which is reserved for walkers only, and Ridgetop Track. Keep an eye out for tawny dragons, the common stumpy lizard and if you’re lucky you may spot the rare Cunningham’s skink.
- Head to the nearby Angove Conservation Park and extend your nature experience by exploring one of the last remaining stands of drooping sheoak.
Park of the month events
Anstey Hill Recreation Park is featured as National Parks SA and Nature Play SA’s Park of the Month for March, bringing with it a range of fun activities you can take part in:
- Adelaide Festival’s The Secret River – various performances from Thursday 2 March to Sunday 19 March
- Anstey Hill Friends of Park Working Bee – Wednesday 15 March, Wednesday 22 March and Wednesday 29 March
- Anstey Hill Discovery Day – Sunday 26 March
- Guided Walking Tour of Newman’s Nursery – Sunday 26 March
- Ranger Guided Walking Tour – Thursday 16 March
- Mountain Bike Anstey Hill Trails – Sunday 19 March and Friday 24 March
For all the details including session times, visit the National Parks SA website.
Anstey Hill Recreation Park has plenty to see and do all year round. Check outNature Play SA’s brochurefor the perfect selection for every season.
For more ideas of things to look out for in other South Australian parks, be sure to type ‘10 things to see and do’ in the search option at the top of this page.
(Main image courtesy of Jason Tyndall, Nature Play SA.)