Just 15 kilometres up Adelaide’s South Eastern Freeway is the majestic peak of Mount Lofty Summit. With its spectacular views across Adelaide’s city skyline, it’s easy to see why it attracts more than 350,000 visitors a year.
But how much of the summit and its surrounds have you explored?
Whether you regularly hit the trail up Mount Lofty for your weekend workout, or you’ve never set foot in that neck of the woods, there’s sure to be a patch of this special area that you haven’t seen before.
With the new Mount Lofty Precinct smartphone app (for Apple and Android devices) you get a self-guided tour as you explore. Not only will it take you to the main attractions of the area, but it will teach you about its history, plants and wildlife as you go.
Here are six of the spots it will take you to:
1. Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
Did you know Adelaide is actually home to three botanic gardens? There’s the Adelaide Botanic Garden in the CBD, Wittunga Botanic Garden in suburban Blackwood, and this Adelaide Hills gem – Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.
This garden is 97 hectares of spectacular colour, especially in autumn, and is home to the world’s most beautiful cool-climate plants. The smartphone app tour takes you through places like Fern Gully, which is one of Australia’s richest fern collections, Spring Gully, where you can check out the old well and other remnant structures, and the Nature Trail, which winds through 7 ha of natural bushland.
2. Discovery Trail
What this discovery trail lacks in distance – it’s just 350 metres long – it makes up for in interesting insights and stunning views.
As you stroll along, the app explains how wildlife had to build homes in remaining trees and fallen logs after the Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983, and how fire crews use the 34-metre-high Mount Lofty Fire Tower to keep a look-out for fires on days of ‘very high’ or ‘extreme’ fire danger.
Make sure you take a moment along the trail to enjoy the sweeping views over Adelaide. On a clear day you might even see the outline of Kangaroo Island on the horizon.
3. Crafers to Mount Lofty Summit Trail
This easy walking trail gives you a good taste of South Australia’s national parks. Along the way the app tells you about the stringybark trees that were cut down by illegal loggers in the early days of European settlement, and teaches you about the shy bandicoots and diverse plants that thrive in the swampy terrain near the creek bed.
Keep your ears and eyes peeled for the wildlife that lives in the area, especially the wild western grey kangaroos, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, superb fairy wrens, and multi-coloured rainbow lorikeets.
4. Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit Trail
Bring a bottle of water and gear yourself up for this more strenuous walk. Along the way, the app will tell you about critters like the sleepy koalas in the tree tops, the chattering grey fantail birds, the laughing kookaburras, and the small group of southern brown bandicoots in Wilson’s Bog.
When you get to Second Falls you’ll learn that this spot is a favourite place for the sulphur-crested cockatoo. Trust us, you’ll hear them long before you see them flying above. And you’ll also learn the history behind Chinamans Hut.
Note: this trail will be under repair until September 2018 as work is done to fix the damage from the 2016 storms. There are detours in place on weekdays, but it’s business as usual on weekends.
5. Cleland Wildlife Park
Want to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most iconic species? Cleland Wildlife Park isn’t just a tourist attraction, it’s a perfect spot for SA locals to visit too.
We know it’ll be hard, but while you’re adoring the cute and cuddly creatures or staring with intrigue at the reptiles, take a second to check your phone for an app alert bringing you interesting facts about these magnificent species. For instance, did you know that after female emus lay their eggs they wander off to find a new mate, while the male sits on the eggs until they hatch eight weeks later?
6. Mount Lofty Summit
Last but not least, the app will guide you around Mount Lofty Summit itself. The mountain is Adelaide’s highest peak, at 710 metres above sea level. The summit is the place to be if you’re after breathtaking panoramic views over Adelaide.
The summit complex features a Visitor Information Outlet, a gift shop and the Summit Restaurant and Café – the perfect spot to stop and rest your legs after a day of exploring.
About the Mount Lofty Precinct app
Once installed, it will prompt you to allow push notifications and GPS functions and to switch on location services. Follow these instructions to set up your phone to maximise your time in the precinct.
The app includes:
- self-guided walking tours
- an interactive map to help you navigate around the precinct and plan your perfect day out
- local hot spots, including nearby restaurants, cafes, facilities and other landmarks
- push notifications with information about native animals and plants along the trails
- a search tool to help you find your favourite animals and plants
- Chinese translation at the click of a button.
But wait, there’s more…
If you like the idea of taking a self-guided tour using your smartphone, some of South Australia’s other outdoor attractions have similar apps, including:
- the Tennyson Dunes Discovery Trail, available on iOS or Android
- Adelaide Gaol, available on iOS or Android
- the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, available on iOS or Android
So why not install them before you embark on your next adventure?
Editor’s note: It’s not often that we encourage you to get out in nature and stay glued to your mobile phone, but if it helps you get a better understanding of the natural world around you – like these apps will – then we’re all for it.
For more ways to enjoy the amazing parks and outdoor spaces that SA has to offer, check out our library ofthings to see and do.