Bunyip Trail at John E. Brown Park | North Adelaide | Review

Bunyip Trail at John E. Brown Park, North Adelaide – Review

Have you taken your kids on the interactive Bunyip Trail? If you’re looking to entertain them during the school holidays – or if you just love nature or books – it could be just the ticket.

by Carla Caruso

You probably know about the manicured parts of Bonython Park / Tulya Wardli in Park 27  – the playspace, the model boat pond, the picnic facilities.

However, you might not know a nearby wilder, bushier space: John E. Brown Park (Park 27A).

Among its features, it’s home to the Bunyip Trail. For those looking to entertain kids these school holidays – or if you just love nature or books – it could be just the ticket.

But get in quick as the trail is closed from May to August due to the risk of localised flooding. (Care is also needed on rainy days; trees once had to be replanted after storms.) 

The trail’s a joint production between the Children’s University Australia / University of Adelaide and the Adelaide City Council.

Opened back in 2016, it’s based on Queensland author Jenny Wagner’s popular ‘70s book, The Bunyip of Berkley’s Creek. It’s great to see the tale live on for other generations in this way too. 

Kiri Hagenus, the director of the Children’s University Australia, told Story Box Library, the project came about through a community grant.  

“The … council had an area of Bonython Park that had recently been revegetated with native flora,” Kiri said. “Although the area was peaceful and beautiful, they felt it was very underutilised and were keen to see if we could create something using this particular space. 

“I became quite excited when they told me that the area ended at a billabong. That’s when I had the ‘aha’ moment and the children’s book, The Bunyip from Berkeley’s Creek, sprang to mind. I thought it would be wonderful to create a story trail using the book, and incorporate interesting facts about the native flora, fauna and history of the area [too] in a way that pulled all these pieces together.”

The 260m-long trail encourages hands-on participation, with walkers completing a series of activities relating to the story at different points.

You can download the activity booklet here before starting on the trail. Then, follow the bunyip footprints to the start of the trail on the eastern side of the footbridge beside the small weir (access from Gate 4 off Port Road, opposite Phillips Street).

Following the trail, you are encouraged to look for different animals and insects, compare wood debris and litter, guess the age of river red gums, and more. 

For those wanting to dive deeper into topics, you can scan QR codes on the activity boards. When we visited, a few codes didn’t work. However, those that did took us to sites like Planet Ark (highlighting National Tree Day) and All Down Under (providing history on Waltzing Matilda). 

There’s also a link to a part of the story being read by Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave. However, this didn’t work for us. You can listen to it here, though.

Fun facts are dotted throughout the signs – including that “butterflies taste with their feet, smell with their antennae, and are completely deaf”. And, of course, you also learn about the trail’s namesake, the bunyip.

The trail takes about half an hour to meander. After retracing your steps along the River Torrens / Karrawirra Parri, you may like a fuel-up at revamped kiosk Cafe Bonython (below), just as we did.



John E. Brown Park, North Adelaide

  • October to March, 9am-7pm
  • April to September, 9am to 5.30pm
  • May to August trail closed (due to risk of localised flooding)


Review by Carla Caruso

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For more information, please visit the Adelaide Park Lands Association’s website.

All photos by James Elsby

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.


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