When I moved to Adelaide from Hobart to be closer to family I was a bit worried that I’d lose my outdoorsy lifestyle. The City of Churches is often mocked as boring and had never been on my radar as a place for outdoorsy stuff. But when I got there, I was in for a surprise. Adelaide has plenty of things to do and all within a short distance from the city.
One of my first discoveries were the Adelaide Hills that flank the city’s eastern suburbs. They’re a low range of hills that run roughly north-south, mostly forested, cut by gullies and criss-crossed by walking and fire trails perfect for day walks.
Probably the most popular walking trail is the one from Waterfall Gully to the top of the grandly named Mount Lofty. So many people walk it that it can be a bit of a procession sometimes. But it’s a good walk through the bush on a well formed track, past some waterfalls, with some steep sections that get the heart pumping and comes out at a visitor centre/café/restaurant where there are great views of the city and coastline.
The hills are also great for koala spotting. They are the only place in Australia I know of where you can go for a walk and be guaranteed to see koalas in the wild. I loved that I could wake up in the morning, think “I’d like to see some koalas today” and know exactly which tracks to walk to see some. There was plenty of other wildlife to spot too like kangaroos and echidnas. And snakes, unfortunately.
Adelaide was also where I realised I needed two bikes – a mountain bike and a road bike. The mountain bike to go bouncing around the mountain bike parks that were only short drives from my front door and the road bike for pedalling up into the hills and exploring narrow country roads that wind through small towns, forests, farms and vineyards, or along the coast following an almost unbroken line of beaches.
Eagle on the Hill was my closest mountain bike park, only about 20 minutes from home. It was an old quarry and had fantastic single trail that twisted and turned, up and down, through bushland. Another was Cudlee Creek, about 35 minutes away with longer trails. Its other attraction was that, after a day of pumping pedals and thrashing around with friends, we’d reward ourselves with wine tasting at some cellar doors on the way home. I’m not sure there are many places in Australia where you can do that.
I also took up rock climbing in Adelaide. There’s a place called Morialta, again in the hills and only about a 30 minute drive from the city, with fantastic climbing. There were plenty of routes of various grades of difficulty up the quartzite rock. Rock climbing is a relatively small scene in Adelaide so Morialta never felt crowded and it was unusual if you had to wait to climb a route you wanted to try.
Adelaide gets a bad rap from the rest of Australia, which seems to think it’s a boring place. I find that most people who sneer at Adelaide generally have never been there. I lived there for four years and was never bored. For outdoorsy types, it’s brilliant.