Day-tripping in Marino, South Australia – including Marino Conservation Park and the new-look Bandon Terrace Reserve
by Carla Caruso
The suburb of Marino has it all for a day’s adventure, from a lighthouse hike to a rocky beach and a new seaside-themed playground.
For some reason, the suburb of Marino has always called to me like a sea siren. It sits on the coastal hills, overlooking Saint Vincent Gulf, and neighbours Marino Rocks, Seacliff, Hallett Cove, and Kingston Park.
So, these summer school holidays I decided to go exploring there with my kids and hubby.
Our first stop was the Marino Conservation Park, which would lead us to the still-operational Marino Rocks Lighthouse. It was a 10-minute hike to get to the landmark via its Botanical Trail, though we stopped along the way to snack. (This made me feel a bit like characters picnicking in the Enid Blyton tales I used to read as a kid!)
I’d envisaged the hike being a coastal, clifftop affair but it has more of a national park vibe – just with jaw-dropping Santorini-like views. The landscape changes from red dirt to scrubby in a heartbeat, with signage detailing the various plants en route.
Summer brings out the killer ants so make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear. There are also the flies to contend with – and potentially snakes. (Note: there are no public toilets.) Apparently, the walk is particularly pretty in autumn and spring when the flowers bloom.
Finally, we reached the lighthouse, which was built in 1962 and is managed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Apparently, there used to be one closer to the shore, but it was marred by tragedy. Staring up at the beacon, this time, I felt like I was starring in the old TV show, Round the Twist. One of my boys asked if we could wander inside it, but, unfortunately, you can’t.
After the hike, we drove to the Marino Rocks beach, which features a steep cliff-face and rocky shore. The dramatic scenery is reminiscent of a European pebble beach, minus the crowds. Plenty of people were fishing the day we visited, but snorkelling is said to be popular too.
Handily, at the beach’s access point, there’s a public toilet (featuring mosaic artwork by SA artist Michael Tye), plus the Marino Rocks Café & Restaurant is opposite.
After our kids whiled away seeming hours throwing rocks about, we headed up to the boardwalk’s first viewing platform. I was delighted to discover it’s a popular spot for people to leave Paris-style ‘love-locks’, inscribed with loved-up messages.
I would’ve liked to continue wandering north on the boardwalk to the next beach, but my kids’ legs were tiring. (Please note: some parts of the Marion Coastal Walking Trail are also under repair.)
So, for our last stop, we headed to the Bandon Terrace Reserve, which was upgraded in September 2019. The seaside-themed playground includes a climbing tower with a crow’s nest, bespoke wooden boat, and timber jetty play-deck, all set in a lagoon-shaped sandpit. There’s also a swing set, trampoline, stepping logs, and a picnic shelter with BBQ facilities. Sporty types will love the cricket pitch and netball/basketball courts, set against a to-die-for coastal backdrop.
The playground visit was a great way to wind up our day of exploring. Marino, we’ll be back!
What we like about it
- Marino is only a half-hour drive from the Adelaide CBD but you’ll feel a world away amid its unique, dramatic scenery.
- It still feels like a hidden, untouched gem, not having the crowds and shops of the other, flashier beach suburbs nearby.
Things to consider
- Come prepared with appropriate footwear (for hiking and the rocky beach), sunscreen, hats, Aerogard, snacks, and bottled water.
- Little legs will likely tire, so be aware that you might not get to every site you expect to.
- The conservation park and clifftop boardwalk aren’t suitable for your average pram. The park hike is also quite isolated.
- The rock-strewn beach is not a swimming haunt.
Coffee and food options nearby
Marino Rocks Café & Restaurant is a handy option, or head to the food truck at the nearby Brighton Caravan Park, offering fish and chips and more. For alternative transport, the Seaford railway line passes through the suburb.
For more information please visit the City of Marion website.
What: A day’s exploring in Marino
Where: Marino, South Australia (coastal suburb south of Adelaide’s CBD)
Who: Adventurous, beach-loving families and nature lovers
All photos by Carla Caruso for Play & Go Adelaide
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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