Playgrounds - Nature Play SA

SA’s 16 best adventure and nature playgrounds

By Claire Lock and Jodee Dellow

 

Run through the belly of a giant Red-bellied Black Snake. Peer for pirates from a Crowsnest. Search for megafauna fossils and crawl in caves. Spot kangaroos whilst defending a towering wooden fort.

 

South Australian kids are reaping the rewards of major investment in nature playspaces and adventure playgrounds, bringing back opportunities for risky, imaginative, and fulfilling play for all ages and abilities.

 

And with many of SA’s best playspaces set in national parks and natural reserves, a simple trip to the playground quickly catalyses curiosity and free play in a wilder world.

 

Discover why #ItsBetterOutside these school holidays with our pick of South Australia’s adventure and nature playgrounds.

 

COVID-19: Remember to maintain hand-washing hygiene and social distancing in playgrounds, and stay home if you’re unwell.

Nature Play SA recognises the expertise and collaboration of nature play landscape architects, designers, construction teams, Aboriginal custodians, local communities, and other experts to create SA’s nature playgrounds.

 

ADELAIDE NATURE PLAYGROUNDS

 

1. Mukanthi Playground (Adelaide)

 

Mukanthi (meaning ‘celebrate and play’ in Kaurna language) is a multi-award-winning playspace featuring physical challenge, Kaurna culture, sustainability, and connections to local place. Five areas – Frog Island, Eagles Perch, Great Snake, Birds Nest, climbing boulders and trees – invite children to explore the landscape and connect with nature.

 

Where: Morialta Conservation Park (Stradbroke Rd, Woodforde)

Distance from Adelaide: 10 km northeast

Parking and amenities: Parking, toilets, BBQs, shaded tables and benches available

Accessibility: Accessible car parks are located at the Stradbroke Road parking area, along with two accessible toilets at the playspace

 

More things to do: Morialta is a much-loved spot for creek adventures, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. In winter, walk to three iconic waterfalls or find shelter in Giants Cave. Listen for frogs and spot wildlife like kangaroos, koalas, tadpoles, yabbies, and birds like Honeyeaters and Thornbills. Find more Morialta nature play ideas here.

 

 

2. Kites and Kestrels Adventure Playground (Adelaide)

 

Play the day away at Cobbler Creek Recreation Park. Test out the flying fox, nest towers, and natural elements like sand, creeks, and stepping stones in the bird of prey-themed playground. Pack the bikes to discover the Park’s pump track and purpose-built riding trails.

 

Where: Corner of Bridge and Smith Roads, Salisbury East

Distance from Adelaide: 20 km north

Parking and amenities: Shaded picnic tables, BBQs, toilets and car parking

Accessibility: Accessible parking, toilets, and picnic area available at the main entrance carpark.

 

More things to do: Learn about local plants and animals at the nearby Birds, Bees, and Butterflies Garden and Colour of Nature display. Spot kites and kestrels in Pedlars Paddock and look for lizards sunning themselves. Find out about bush tucker and Kaurna culture on the 2.4km Mai Tappa Circuit. Discover more bushwalks and things to do at Cobbler Creek here.

3. Wilfred Taylor Reserve (Adelaide)

 

Southern Adelaide can rejoice with the opening of this new $2.2 million playspace, offering adventurous and inclusive play to all ages and abilities. Kaurna culture, the site’s farming history, and Hills-to-Beach themes feature as key design elements, with Junior and Older kids play areas providing abundant active, imaginative, and sensory play opportunities.

 

Where:  Wheatsheaf Road, Morphett Vale

Distance from Adelaide: 26 km south

Parking and amenities:  Parking, sheltered picnics, toilets, BBQs, fenced Junior play area

Accessibility: Inclusive elements include basket swings, a bucket-seat flying fox, raised sensory gardens and sand play, a vertical xylophone, and a wheel-chair accessible carousel

 

More things to do: Explore the broader Wilfred Taylor Reserve along walking and riding paths. Follow Christies Creek, taking in ancient Red Gums and birdlife like Lorikeets and New Holland Honeyeaters. Play ball sports on grassed areas. Experience a family train ride two Sundays a month (when re-opened following COVID-19 restrictions).

4. Oaklands Reserve (Adelaide)

 

Spend a few hours or the whole day discovering Oaklands Reserve’s three unique areas. Climb, balance, and find adventure in the nature playground; explore Oaklands Wetland, brimming with wildlife and native plants; or ride the skate park and more in the popular Recreational Plaza

 

Where: Oaklands Road, Oaklands Park

Distance from Adelaide: 13 km south

Parking and amenities: Ample parking and toilets facilities available

Accessibility: Accessible toilet and parking available

 

More things to do: Pack a towel and change of clothes for water play in the nature playground. Look for wetland animals and insects like ducks, spoonbills, fish, frogs, and dragonflies. Ride your bike in the Recreation Plaza’s mini-circuit or go further afield on the River Sturt Linear Trail or Marino Rocks Greenway. Try orienteering in the wetland, using the maps available from Orienteering SA.

5. Mitcham Reserve (Adelaide)

 

Pack a picnic and prepare to be enchanted at this creek-side playground in the southern foothills. Children can flow between play areas using a small footbridge. Discover elements such as an elf tower, balancing and climbing logs, carvings, and references to local culture and history.

 

Where: Corner Old Belair Road and Norman Walk, Mitcham

Distance from Adelaide: 8 km

Parking and amenities: BBQ’s, picnic tables, gazebo, toilets, and parking

Accessibility: Disabled access toilets, access to double slide

 

More things to do: Meet friends for a BBQ or celebration. Play ball games on the open grass. Explore Brownhill Creek Recreation Reserve – bushwalk the Wirraparinga Trail or find 300 year old River Red Gums. See what you can learn about local history (Brownhill Creek was a Kaurna camping, hunting, and gathering place and the Reserve was the site of the village green in colonial times).

 

6. Jervois Street Reserve (Adelaide)

 

Meet friends at this much-loved, multi-award-winning nature playground and reserve. Discover water play, stepping logs and rocks, and timber features, including a wooden caterpillar named ‘Jervie.’ Giant butterfly-shaped shade structures and a fully fenced space makes this reserve popular with young families. Older children and sports lovers are also well catered for.

 

Where Jervois Street, South Plympton

Distance from Adelaide: 7km

Parking and amenities:  BBQ’s, picnic tables, sheltered areas, off-street parking

Accessibility:  Disabled parking and toilets

 

More things to do:  Pack the bikes to ride the pump track and path around the reserve. Enjoy a scratch match or shoot hoops at the 3-on-3 basketball court and netball ring. Kick a footy or soccer ball on the open grass area or discover the chess and table tennis tables (BYO equipment).

7. St Kilda Adventure Playground (Adelaide)

 

Epic adventures and imagination call at this award-winning playground on Adelaide’s northern coastline. A $3.5 million revamp has transformed this iconic SA destination with elements like a towering hill-top castle, wooden pirate ship by the water, giant slides, thrill-seeking flying foxes, rope obstacle courses, climbing frames, swings and much more.

 

Where: 470 St Kilda Rd, St Kilda

Distance from Adelaide: 28 km north

Parking and amenities: BBQs, shaded picnic tables, large lawns, toilets, ample parking

Accessibility: Liberty swing and wheelchair accessible slide

 

More things to do: Look for resident and migratory shorebirds like the Red-capped Plover and Curlew Sandpiper at the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary- Winaityinaityi Pangkara. Discover Adelaide’s old trams at the nearby St Kilda Tramway Museum. Explore Barker Inlet mangrove forests along the St Kilda Mangrove Trail boardwalk and Interpretive Centre.

8. Belair National Park Adventure Playground (Adelaide)

 

Generations of memories have been made at Belair National Park’s Adventure Playground, cherished for its vast tunnels, a giant wooden fort, curious wildlife, creek, and bushland. A culture of cubby building has grown in recent years with the annual Cubby Town event by Nature Play SA and National Parks and Wildlife Service SA attracting thousands of families.

 

Distance from Adelaide: 13 km

Parking and amenities: Public toilets, parking, kiosk in peak periods. Park entry fees can be paid at the gate or online

Accessibility: Accessible carparks and toilets. Learn more via the Park’s Accessibility Map

 

More things to do: Build a cubby using long fallen sticks on site. Look for geocaches near the Playground and throughout the Park. Choose from the many biking or bushwalking trails, including the Waterfall Hike to Belair’s Lower and Upper Falls. Look for kangaroos, emus, koalas, kookaburras, and echidnas. Find more nature play ideas here.

 

 

9. Marshmallow Park (Adelaide)

 

Located in the greenery of the Adelaide Parklands, this playspace engages children with multiple water play features, climbing frames, Boulder Island, metal jellyfish sculptures, and traditional play equipment like slides, swings, and other apparatus. Expansive Moreton Bay figs, lawn, and fencing make this an ideal place to picnic with family and friends.

 

Where: Glen Osmond Rd, Adelaide

Distance from Adelaide: In CBD

Parking and amenities: Toilets, seating, shelters and BBQs, parking on Glen Osmond Road (note time restrictions apply)

Accessibility: Accessible BBQs and toilet

 

More things to do: Hop across rocks in the nearby creek bed and Oxbow playspace. Pack a basketball or tennis rackets for use on the Park courts. Explore the Adelaide Parklands by bike on the Parklands Trail. Take a short stroll to reflect on the beauty of nature in the Japanese-style Adelaide Himeji Garden.

REGIONAL NATURE PLAYGROUNDS

 

10. Bristow-Smith Reserve (Fleurieu Peninsula)

 

Located by the banks of the Murray River, this Goolwa playspace inspires connection with local history and the environment through elements like a 10-metre fishing boat, creek and water play, hand-carved wooden native animals, logs, and an upgraded local beach (suitable for swimming and splashing).

 

Where: Barrage Road, Goolwa

Distance from Adelaide: 85 km south

Parking and amenities: Parking, picnic spots, shelters, BBQ facilities, toilets

Accessibility: An accessible swing is available for wheelchair users

 

More things to do: Lengthy lawns at Bristow-Smith make it ideal for kite flying. Ride the Encounter Bike Way to Tokuremoar Reserve, an environmental site of significance to the Ramindjeri/Ngarrindjeri people. Visit the local townships of Goolwa, Middleton, or Port Elliot. Discover landscapes and sites featured in Storm Boy in the Coorong National Park.

11. George T Fisher Nature Playground (Fleurieu Peninsula)

 

Set by the foreshore and Norfolk Island pines, Victor Harbor’s Nature Playground invites adventurous and imaginative play with tree trunks and ropes for climbing, large granite boulders and rocks, a giant sandpit, rope balancing bridge, and sculptures of locally iconic animals like the Australian Pelican and Little Penguin.

 

Where: Flinders Parade Victor Harbor

Distance from Adelaide: 83 km

Parking and amenities: Street parking, toilets, BBQs, picnic tables, one fenced play area

Accessibility: Access ramp for wheelchairs and prams

 

More things to do:  Discover the cafes and local shops of Victor Harbor. Stroll over the causeway to Granite Island and marvel at giant boulders, the home of Little Penguins, and views from the clifftop sculptural trail. Watch for whales along the Encounter Marine Park Whale Trail from May to October. Climb the Bluff for sweeping coastal and island views.

 

 

Image: Mike Moore

12. Waikerie Water and Nature Play Park (Riverland)

Located on Wakerie’s riverfront reserve, this new nature playground is an idyllic spot to picnic and play. Take in river views while enjoying grassy open spaces and rolling hills, lots of water play, climbing, a flying fox, and sand play.

 

Where:  7 Leonard Norman Dr, Waikerie

Distance from Adelaide: 182km

Parking and amenities: Bench seating, undercover picnic tables, toilets, car parking, BBQ and shelters

Accessibility: Inclusive play equipment coming soon

 

More things to do: Enjoy water activities like swimming, fishing, kayaking, and boating. Camp or stay in regional accommodation. Take in the Murray River and floodplains views along the 2km Waikerie Rotary Clifftop Walk. Admire the Waikerie Silo Art by Jimmy Dvate and Garry Duncan (‘Healthy River, Healthy Community’ theme). Bushwalk or watch birds in the environmentally significant Hart Lagoon.

13. Bowman Park Playspace (Mid North)

 

Nestled next to a creek, River Red Gums, and bushland, this Crystal Brook playspace is a captivating new creation for children, local community, and visitors to cherish. Wooden climbing and balancing structures, stone tunnel, bee hotel, carvings, and rustic farming treasures celebrate local place and encourage curiosity, active and imaginative play.

 

Where:  Bowman Park Road, Crystal Brook

Distance from Adelaide: 200km north

Parking and amenities:  Picnic and BBQ facilities, public toilets available

Accessibility: Circulating wheelchair accessible path

 

More things to do: Stop for a play on the family camping drive to Mount Remarkable or Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. Visit the local town of Crystal Brook. Investigate the Bowman Park Gardens to smell Yellow-scented Gums and admire local flora. Explore the Heysen Trail. Camp in RV at Bowman Park (donations appreciated for Park maintenance).

 

 

Image: Mike Moore

14. Sounds from the Ground (Mid North)

 

Engage the senses in this new playground brimming with natural elements and musical play. Children can scramble logs to a tree hut, ride or walk the guitar-shaped circuit, and experiment with a wooden xylophone, metal bongo drum, and interactive sound wall.

 

Where:  Apex Park (corner of May Terrace & Wallace Street, Balaklava)

Distance from Adelaide: 96 km north

Parking and amenities: Parking and grassed picnic areas (shops in the township)

 

More things to do: Stop at the playground on a road trip to Mount Remarkable National Park. Picnic on the Apex Park lawns or visit Rocks Reserve by the Balaklava River. Go for a roll in the local skate park or admire the community garden. In warm weather, cool down at the swimming pool.

15. Fossil Hunters Playground (South East)

 

Located at the World Heritage Naracoorte Caves, this playspace connects children with the region’s geological and Aboriginal history through features like caverns, tunnels, dig pits, fossils, and giant Wonambi Rainbow Snake. Other natural play elements include balancing logs, climbing structures, limestone boulders, and a serene bushland setting.

 

Where: 89 Wonambi Road, Joanna

Distance from Adelaide: 330 km southeast

Parking and amenities: BBQs, picnic tables, toilets, and parking

Accessibility: Accessible playground featuring 360-degree access path, wheelchair accessible fossil and sand play table, picnic tables allowing for wheelchair clearance

 

More things to do: Learn how the 800,000-year-old Naracoorte Caves acted as pitfall traps and predator dens. Discover Australia’s ancient megafauna and fossil remains. Step back in time at the Wonambi Fossil Centre or Cave tours. See the rare Southern Bent-winged Bat via infrared red camera and learn about its plight for survival.

 

 

Image: Claire Lock

16. Railway Lands Nature Play Area (South East)

 

Inspired by local heritage, this Mount Gambier playspace is part of an award-winning project transforming a historic railway area into a thriving community hub. Old railway tracks and items form key design features, with play elements including climbing structures, large rocks, a creek bed, sandpit, limestone animal carvings, and a giant stumpy-tailed lizard.

 

Where: Railway Terrace, Mount Gambier

Distance from Adelaide: 435 km southeast

Parking and amenities: Parking, BBQs, picnic area, public toilets

Accessibility: Accessible paths and sealed Rail Trail, accessible toilets 

 

More things to do: Pack a picnic or visit markets and events in the Railway Lands precinct. Ride or walk the Rail Trail. Visit regional gems like Blue Lake, Cave Garden, Valley Lake and Centenary Tower, and Umpherston Sinkhole. Discover a cave and underwater themed area in the Mount Gambier library (named the best small public library in the world).

 

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