Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve | Review

Happy Valley Reservoir

Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve offers lots of recreational family fun.

After 120 years, they’ve finally opened the gates to Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve, and it’s one to put on your must visit list in SA.

Review by Brooke Hendry

Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve is located only 35 minutes from the Adelaide CBD  in the Southern suburb of Happy Valley.  As tempting as the water looks, unfortunately, there’s no swimming. But, it’s for good reason – considering this is our drinking water, and we don’t want to cause contamination issues.

No swimming doesn’t mean there’s no fun to be had! There’s still plenty to do at the Happy Valley Reservoir, including:

  • Kayaking or canoeing
  • Fishing
  • 20 kms of bike and walking tracks
  • Wildlife and bird spotting
  • Sheltered picnic areas
  • A dam wall and lookout – great views of the reservoir, reserve and beyond up to the Adelaide Hills
  • BBQ’s
  • Coffee Vans

You’ll also be pleased to hear that there are toilets here too.

Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve

The official open day was Saturday 11 December 2021 and we went for a quick squiz to check it out.  We were pretty impressed with what we saw, and have no doubt that it’s going to be a top spot to visit.

It’s the perfect spot for families, those with an adventurous spirit, or those wanting a fantastic reason to get out of the house and explore in nature – or just to sit back, relax and take in the beautiful scenery.

Happy Valley Reservoir SA

Bring the bikes, your fishing rods and pack a delicious picnic – throw in a few snags for the BBQ, and your kayak, if you’ve got one, of course!  It’s also a great spot to meet up with friends and family for a nice catch up and fun day out. We’re definitely looking forward to going back soon for a proper explore.

Things To Note:

Before heading off for your big adventure to Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve, there are a few things we thought you should know:

Entering The Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve

We entered via the kayak shoreline beach launching entrance, rather than the main entrance which is located on Chandlers Hill Road, Happy Valley. If you’re not planning on going kayaking or canoeing we’d recommend using the main entrance. There is kayak launching access from the main entrance too.

There are also a few other smaller entrances located around the Reservoir, but these are more for local foot traffic, as there are no car parks at these locations.

Happy Valley Reservoir Map

Water Activities

There are more than 110 hectares of water and shoreline to explore, but only for kayaks or canoes.

You can launch your kayak or canoe from the launching pontoon, or at the shoreline beach launch area. Electric or fuel-powered motors and sails fitted to canoes or kayaks are not permitted.

All other watercraft are not permitted, including motorised or battery powered crafts, dinghies, rowboats, sailboats, stand up paddleboards or windsurfing boards.

There’s no swimming or going into the water above knee level either.

This is all to reduce the risk of contaminating the water.

Happy Valley Reservoir Kayaking


Fishing is permitted (yay!).

You can fish for the shoreline, or from your kayak. However, you will need a fishing permit.

Recreational fishing permits start from $10 for 3 days, through to $33 for an annual permit (concessions are available). Children 16 years or under do not require a permit if they are with a permit holder. You can obtain a recreational fishing permit here.

Walking/Bike Tracks

All the paths are suitable for mountain bikes, and we saw quite a few people pushing prams around too. The paths are shared with all, so be considerate. There’s 20km’s of trails to explore – with paths taking you along the water’s edge, through a pine forest, native flora and open grassy areas.

Happy Valley Reservoir bike tracks


Pack a picnic for your trip, as it’s going to be easy to spend the day here. There are two open space picnic areas with BBQ’s and shelters. Or, roll out your picnic blanket wherever suits your fancy – there are lots of trees providing sheltered spots to sit back, relax and take in the beauty.

Just don’t feed the wildlife!

You’ll probably spot kangaroos, koalas and other native species. There are over 90 species of land and water birds that live in the Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve.

Happy Valley Reservoir SA

No Dogs (or other pets) or Horses

There are no dogs, or other pets, are allowed in the Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve, even if they are on a leash (assistance dogs are excepted). 

However, if you’re in the area with your pooch and want to take them somewhere fun – there is a dedicated dog park located just across the road from the Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve. You’ll find it in Minkarra Park, on the corner of Happy Valley Drive and Manning Road, Aberfoyle Park.

Minkarra Park also has a great skate park and playground for the kids.

See all conditions of access in the below image:

Happy Valley Reserve SA

Opening Hours

The Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve will be open from 7.30am – 8pm during summer daylight saving hours.

During standard times, 7.30am – 5pm.

It’s open daily, and will only be closed if there is a total fire ban.

Happy Valley Reserve SA

What we like about it

We love the range of activities available within the Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve. You can simply go for a relaxing walk, a fish, and a picnic – or go all out on an adventure by running the trails, or bike riding and kayaking. Having access to public BBQ’s is a great plus and makes it the ideal spot for a family or friends catch up or a fun day out. An easy spot to spend the day, without spending all of your money!

Coffee and food options nearby 

We believe that there are some coffee vans that have permanent spots within the Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve during the summer. Just another big plus! 

There is also a range of takeaway options and supermarkets located about 5 minutes drive away – Either at the Hub Shopping Complex (on Hub Drive, Aberfoyle Park) or at The Happy Valley Shopping Complex (Kennihan’s Rd, Happy Valley).


Main Car Park Entrance – Chandlers Hill Road, Happy Valley

Open Daily: 7.30am – 8pm during summer daylight saving hours &  7.30am – 5pm during standard hours.

Discover more Reservoirs in South Australia to Visit with Kids

things to do in Adelaide for families

For more information and all enquiries please visit the Reservoirs SA website.

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 Brooke Hendry


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