Mount Remarkable National Park – take the kids hiking at Alligator Gorge in the Southern Flinders Ranges
by Katrina Gogel
Alligator Gorge in Mount Remarkable National Park is one of South Australia’s most scenic hikes. With dramatic gorges, bright ochre walls and watercourses lined with river red gums, it truly is a remarkable place.
There are plenty of walking options to choose from in Mount Remarkable National Park, but one we keep going back to time and time again is the Gorge Circuit Hike. This loop trail takes in the spectacular Alligator Gorge, The Narrows and The Terraces, and at approximately 3 kilometres in length it is a great distance for little legs.
The Gorge Circuit trail (marked green on the map) commences at the Alligator Gorge carpark and requires you to take 300-ish steps down to the gorge floor. There are handrails to assist you and benches along the way if you need a rest, or just simply want to sit back and admire the views.
Once at the bottom you are met with two options. Turn right at the directional sign to complete the 600-metre-return trip to The Terraces or continue left through the gorge creek bed towards The Narrows.
Take your time as you wind your way through Alligator Gorge. With so much natural beauty to admire and plenty of large rocks to hop across and scramble over, it’s not a place you want to rush through.
Fun fact: Alligator Gorge is not named after Alligators! It is rumoured to be named after a local shepherd called Ally, who lived in the area.
Most of the trail surface in Alligator Gorge is creek bed with loose rocks. The hike alternates between walking on a trail alongside the creek, or walking on the rocky creek bed. This section is great fun but can be challenging for little ones, who may need to be carried at times.
You know you’ve reached The Narrows when the towering ochre walls close in and are only few metres apart.
In winter months there can be water covering the gorge floor. You will either have to rock hop your way to the other side of The Narrows, or turn back to the start if it’s too deep and you don’t want to get your feet wet.
We were able to rock hop our way from one end to the other on our most recent trip (July 2019), with Master six declaring this his favourite part of the hike. He carefully calculated which rocks would be best to step on and was elated to make it to the other side without getting wet shoes!
When you emerge from The Narrows you still have a couple hundred metres of gorge to trek through. We decided to take a rest break here for twenty minutes and found a great spot on a ledge to sit and eat our morning tea.
The final part of the hike is a gradual uphill walk out of the gorge towards the carpark. You will leave the colourful ochre walls behind now and find yourself wandering amongst pretty native bushland. See if you can spot any kangaroos, wallabies or emus along this section of the hike, or listen out for the call of the Kookaburra.
Reward yourself once you reach the gorge carpark by having a picnic lunch. With tables and toilets at either of the two carparking areas, this is a great spot to relax and unwind after you have finished your hike.
And, if you have enough energy left, take the short walk from the carpark to the lookouts to view the gorge from above, and see where you have just been.
Alligator Gorge Facilities:
- Carparking at Alligator Gorge and Blue Gum Flat (refer map photo)
- Toilets at both Alligator Gorge and Blue Gum carparks
- Picnic tables (nearby both carparks)
Things to note:
- If you’re wondering why there are no photos of The Terraces in this post, it’s because we completely forgot to side trip to them during this visit. Oops.
- A day entry fee is applicable to Alligator Gorge/Mount Remarkable National Park and payable via the National Parks website. As there is no phone service in the lower lying sections of the park, it is best to stop at the entrance and pay online prior to driving in
- The 12-kilometre road to the Gorge is steep and windy, and not suitable for caravans or trailers
- No pets are allowed in Mount Remarkable National Park
- After rain, rocks can become slippery and there can be water in creek beds
- There are no rubbish bins. Hike out what you hike in!
- Wear hiking boots or running shoes. The trail is not suitable for sandals or thongs
- Carry a backpack with sufficient water for your hike
- It can get very hot in the Southern Flinders Ranges from October through to April. As well as sufficient water, make sure to bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen
- Pack a picnic lunch to have before or after your Gorge hike
- Don’t forget the camera!
- If you don’t want to do the full Gorge loop walk, and you are travelling with another group, you could park one car in the Gorge carpark, and one at Blue Gum carpark. Commence your walk at the Gorge carpark, take in the sights of The Terraces, Alligator Gorge and The Narrows before ending your walk when you reach the Blue Gum carpark. This saves you a half hour uphill trek
Things to see and do nearby:
- The township of Melrose is approximately 20 minutes’ drive away, and has so much to offer families. See our post here on where to camp and what to do in Melrose
- Have a meal at the rustic North Star Hotel in Melrose. It’s a Play & Go favourite!
- Have older kids and feeling energetic? Why not tackle the 13-kilometre return hike to the top of Mount Remarkable!
- Visit the beautiful silo art work at Wirrabara
- Camp at the wonderful Mambray Creek Campground. This campground is located on the Spencer Gulf side of Mount Remarkable National Park, approximately forty-minutes’ drive from Alligator Gorge. It has wonderful facilities, beautiful scenery and family-friendly walking trails, making it one of our favourite spots to camp in SA.
Mount Remarkable National Park is located in the picturesque Southern Flinders Ranges, approx. three hours’ drive from Adelaide. Alligator Gorge can be accessed via Wilmington or Melrose, along Alligator Gorge Road.
For more information and all enquiries please visit the National Parks and Wildlife Service Mount Remarkable website.
What: Alligator Gorge, Mount Remarkable National Park
When: Any time
Where: Alligator Gorge Road, Wilmington (see map above)
Who: Hiking and camping fans
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.
Image Source: All photos by Katrina Gogel
Want to get all the latest events and activities straight to your inbox?
Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter below to keep up to date with our latest posts and find out all the best events & activities for Adelaide families. Newsletters are only sent once a week, and you may sometimes get a special offer exclusively for our subscribers only!