3 simple ways to be a sensible park visitor while social distancing

SA’s national parks are open during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you need to be sensible when visiting. Here’s how.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed our way of life for the time being. Social distancing rules, an essential part of controlling the spread, have limited our pursuit of regular recreational and social activities.

If you’re the outdoors type or a new visitor just looking to get off the couch and out of the house, take heart in knowing that the state’s national parks remain open, as long as you follow the necessary social distancing regulations.

1. Find a park

The message is simple – it’s good for your physical and mental health to get out into parks, experience the fresh air and connect with nature.

Check the National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia website to find a park that's close to you, or one that has the kinds of experiences you love. You can filter parks based on experiences such as kayaking, walking and mountain biking, get the latest information about the park and download walking trail maps.

2. Be crowd conscious

National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia has been delighted to welcome new and returning visitors over the past few months. Park rangers have noticed that the number of people visiting for exercise remains strong and that people are doing the right thing in following COVID-19 restrictions.

While you might be itching to get out and about to stretch your legs, be smart about it. If you get to your local park and see a few too many cars or people around, making it potentially more difficult to maintain social distancing, consider coming back at another time or trying another park that’s also in your local area.

3. Pick the wider path

If you want some good options for walking trails with wider tracks, so you can remain separate from other park visitors while still enjoying the outdoors, you’re in luck. These are some great options:

  • The Yurebilla Trail through Black Hill and Morialta conservation parks is mainly on wide fire tracks with informative directional signage in place. The trail enters into Black Hill off Montacute Road after leaving Morialta Conservation Park. Download a park map to your smartphone before you go.
  • The Buffer Zone Track in Black Hill Conservation Park is another less-used wide track. The track commences at the visitor carpark off Addison Avenue or from the administration centre on Maryvale Road. Download a park map to your smartphone before you go.
  • The Tree Creeper Loop in Para Wirra Conservation Park has been designed and constructed as a shared use trail. This means that it's for both cyclists and walkers to use together.  Please be respectful and give way to other trail users. Get there via the Wild Dog Creek carpark, east of Para Wirra Drive and just south of Wirra Road. Download a park map to your smartphone before you go.
  • The Scenic Loop in Para Wirra Conservation Park is also a shared use trail. Access the walk from the Gawler View Picnic Area. Download a park map to your smartphone before you go.

Dogs in the park

With a lot of walkers out and about it’s a good time to remind people that while dogs are allowed in certain parks in SA, including some of Adelaide’s most popular, like Belair, Onkaparinga River and Para Wirra, they must remain on designated walking trails and be on a lead under your control at all times.

These restrictions are in place to not only protect native flora and fauna, but to keep your dog free from harm.  

There is one off-leash national park, Blackwood Forest Recreation Park, located in Blackwood. There are nice walking trails through the pine forest and grassy fields as well as lovely views to enjoy. Even though it’s an off-leash area your dog must still remain under effective control.

You’ll need to bring disposable bags to clean up your dog’s poo and take all litter with you when you leave as there are no bins in national parks. Thanks for being a responsible dog owner and leaving the park as you found it.

For extra info about dogs in national parks, go to the national parks website. To learn about other ways to connect with nature while social distancing, read our stories about ideas in your own backyard

Main image: Para Wirra Conservation Park

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