The Park - Para Wirra

Para Wirra Recreation Park (1409 hectares) was dedicated in 1962. Para Wirra is an aboriginal phrase meaning river with scrub. It is a beautiful bushland reserve with many walking trails including The Knob, Lizard Rock, Devil's Nose and Hissey Loop. Every trails or hikes have different attractions. Please visit the Walks page to know more about it.

Para Wirra was declared a Conservation Park in 2015

There are also scenic drives, recreation facilities and native animals. The Park offers many attractions for a day in the Adelaide Hills, and is just 40 minutes from the city and 20 minutes from Elizabeth, Gawler and Golden Grove.

Geology of the Park

Precambrian rocks form a substantial area of the Mount Lofty Ranges. Para Wirra RP lies entirely within an inlier of basement rock that extends southward towards Torrens Gorge. It is part of a more extensive Precambrian rock mass, the oldest in the Mt. Lofty Ranges. As with other inliers in the region, the basement at Para Wirra is exposed as the core of an anticlinal structure, the axis of which trends approximately north south.

The rocks are Lower Proterozoic and believed to have an age in excess of 1,400 million years. As a result of being subjected to a number of periods of deformation and heating, the original nature of the basement rocks has been obscured. To the north, east and west and within 2km are the sedimentary rocks of the enclosing Precambrian cover, estimated as being at least 800 million years old.

In the extreme west of the park there are undifferentiated, mostly micaceous rocks (Schists), and gneisses. A zone of distinctive layered or banded quartz feldspar rich rocks (gneisses) extends through the central portion of the park, In the extreme east is another conspicuous rock type (augen gneiss) which is distinguished by the presence of "eye" structures (usually of feldspar) up to 2.5 cm in length.

Epidote is a common mineral in the gneisses. Migration and segregation of minerals has produced plagioclase-feldspar and epidote veins, which typically transect the layering of the gneisses. Some of the quartz veins (or "quartz reefs") have been gold bearing and provided the major prospects in the area. The rather sporadic mineralisation, however, made many profitable ventures short lived.

Gravels and sands formed a ferruginous capping over the area in the Cainozoic (probably early Tertiary) and their subsequent dissection left hill top remnants. Two outliers extend into the park, the larger spreading across the northern limits of the park, with a small area of gravels occurring at one locality on the eastern boundary.

These geological structures are fundamental to the geomorphology and soil structures of the region which in turn strongly determine the vegetation characteristics of the area.

Please view more Para Wirra's photos in Photo Gallery.


Chricton, Harvey and Hills (1978) have described a wide variety of vegetation types in Para Wirra  - silver banksia (Banksia marginata), silver daisy-bush (Olearia Ppannosa) and many more.There are also a large number of pest plants within Para Wirra at present - Boneseed (Chrysanthemoides monilifera), olive (Olea europaea) and others.

The high number of pest plants found in the park is the result of past activities within and around the park including: grazing, mining, farming and logging. Current problems surround the large populations of kangaroos that prevent the regeneration of native vegetation, particularly grasses (John Choate, 2000). Any weed control programs that are developed for Para Wirra need to take into account surrounding landholders' planting and weed control activities. Likewise, close watch should be kept on watercourses, highly disturbed/cleared areas and along roads and tracks where most of the serious weed invasion tends to occur.

Please view more Para Wirra's fauna photos in Photo Gallery.

Flora in Para Wirra

From left to Right - Banksia marginata, Olearia pannosa, Olearia teretifolia, Platylobium obtusangulum


Fauna in Para Wirra

From top to bottom - Blue Moth, Lady Beetle

Para Wirra has an extensive number of birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians within the Mount Lofty Rangers. The diverisity of animals is due to the various vegetation associations and landforms found in the park, providing a wide range of habitats and niches.

Over one hundred and twenty birds have been recorded in Para Wirra . The emu was introduced in 1967. The vegetation of the park provides a major winter resource for nectar feeding birds. Quail and grass parrots inhabit the grasslands. White throated treecreepers, brown treecreepers and white winged choughs can be observed in the woodlands. Where there is dense ground cover, fairy wrens and robins can be seen.

There are approximately thirty-eight species of reptiles and amphibians found in the various habitats provided by the park and of note is the locally uncommon sand goanna (Varanus gouldii) that was sighted during this study.

The mammal population in the park includes the western grey kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus), euro (Macropus robustus), short beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), yellow-footed antechinus (Antechinus flavipes), common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) and little insectivorous bats (Microchiroptera spp).

As well as providing diverse habitats for native animals, Para Wirra also provides a home for a number of introduced animals including cats (Felis cattus), foxes (Vulpes vulpes), rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniclus), hare (Lepus capensis), and deer. There is still some evidence of goat browsing on numerous shrub species that occurred prior to eradication of the goats in the late 1980s.

Here is a PDF file of the list of flora that you can see in Para Wirra 
Birds list for Para Wirra (63.3kb).

Please view more Para Wirra's fauna photos in Photo Gallery.

Important Information of the Park

Phytophthora(fy-TOFF-thora), otherwise known as root-rot fungus is killing our native plants and threatens the survival of animals depending on plants for food and shelter. This introduced fungus can be found in plant roots, soil and water. Please help stop the spread by staying on the tracks and trails whenever you are in the park and by complying with all Phytophthora management signs.

Help protect our park by following these guidelines:

Thank you for leaving the bush in its natural state for the enjoyment of others.