8 things to do with your mates in SA’s national parks

Over going to pubs and clubs with your besties? Get out in these parks and enjoy the fresh air together instead.

Nearly two-thirds of people who visit South Australia’s national parks say they go there to spend time with their friends. So get on board with the cool kids! Grab a pal – or two or three or four – and try one of these great mate-friendly activities:

1. Camping at Deep Creek Conservation Park

Deep Creek is just an hour from Adelaide, making it the perfect place for a cheeky weekend away. Stringybark is our favourite campground, because of its shady gum trees and hot showers, but you can also choose from Trig, Tapanappa, Cobbler Hill, or the hike-in Eagle Waterhole.

Outside fire danger season, you can sit around the campfire, which we think has to be one of the best things to do when you’re hanging out with your friends. Book your site online before you go and it will be waiting for you when you get there.

If you want to camp even closer to Adelaide, Onkaparinga River National Park and Para Wirra Conservation Park both have new campgrounds.

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2. Tennis at Belair National Park

As well as beautiful trails for walking, cycling and horse riding, Belair has tennis courts for hire – 43 of them, to be exact. Book a court online before you go, grab your rackets and a few tennis balls, and channel your inner Roger Federer or Serena Williams. But don’t worry if tennis isn’t your game – there are also ovals for hire.

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3. Walking at Morialta Conservation Park

Have you tried the Three Falls Grand Hike at Morialta? We love it just as much as Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty. It’s a little over 7 kilometres, so leave three-and-a-half hours for the return trip.

Morialta is full of birds and animals, so keep an eye out for koalas, kookaburras, superb fairy wrens, rosellas and lorikeets. In the wetter months, you’ll see all three waterfalls flowing.

Prefer a walk with a sea view? Try one of the trails at Hallett Cove Conservation Park.

Don’t worry if Morialta and Hallett Cove are too far away – there are fantastic trails in every region of SA. Explore the parks and reserves near you to find your next favourite walk.

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4. Footy or cricket at Para Wirra Conservation Park

What could be a better way to spend an afternoon with your mates than a game of footy or cricket – backyard rules, of course. Para Wirra’s Gawler View Oval is ideal for either, and it even has barbecues so you can cook yourself some snags at half time. Perfect!

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5. Mountain biking at Cobbler Creek Recreation Park

If you and your friends are into cycling, then Cobbler Creek is the park for you. If you’re new to mountain biking, watch our how-to videos, then hone your skills on the pump track or the KAFNARFA Circuit. When you feel confident, you can move on to the Intermediate Jumps Trail or the Short and Sweet.

If you’re already an experienced rider, go straight to the Advanced Jump Trail or the Northern Downhill to get the adrenaline pumping. If you’re looking for more challenges O’Halloran Hill and Sturt Gorge recreation parks are also great for mountain biking.

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6. Picnicking in a botanic garden

The Adelaide region is lucky enough to have not one but three botanic gardens: Adelaide, Mount Lofty and Wittunga.

They all have dozens of beautiful picnic spots to choose from, whether you want to sit under a tree, on a grassy slope or by a lake. Pack yourself a portable feast of tasty snacks and drinks. Grab a blanket and you’re ready for the ultimate afternoon of relaxation.

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7. Four-wheel driving in Ngarkat Conservation Park

Spread across 270,000 hectares of vegetated dunes and Mallee scrub, Ngarkat Conservation Park is known for just one thing among four-wheel drive enthusiasts: the famous Border Track. The track  runs north to south along the SA/Victorian border and is only open from 1 April to 31 October every year due to the high temperatures in the hotter months, but it qualifies as one of the great South Australian four-wheel drive adventures.

It’s for advanced, well-prepared drivers, and for safety reasons it should only be tackled with other vehicles, so get your convoy organised and hit the track.

Start from Pinnaroo and take the Ngarkat Loop, camping overnight at Bucks Camp or Rabbit Island Soak, or take the Big Desert Loop and cross into Victoria, spending the night in the shadow of Red Bluff. Part of the track is one-way, so make sure you do your homework before you go.

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8. Surfing or fishing at Innes National Park

Innes National Park is a magnet for surfers and fishers, so what are you waiting for? Pondalowie Bay, Chinaman’s Beach and Salmon Hole have terrific breaks that draw surfers from around the state.

There are lots of great fishing spots around the park, but Browns Beach and the jetty at Stenhouse Bay are two of our favourites. Try surf fishing for salmon from Browns Beach, or drop a line at the jetty and try your luck for squid, tommy ruffs, garfish or even King George whiting.

Pondalowie Bay, Browns Beach and Stenhouse Bay all have campgrounds, too, so you and your mates can stay overnight and make the most of your beachside escape.

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Prefer furry friends to the human type? We’ve got you covered there, too – there are lots of parks where you can take your dog for a walk.

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