Sturt Gorge Dam at Sturt Gorge Recreation Park | Flagstaff Hill | Review

Hiking at Sturt Gorge Dam and Sturt Gorge Recreation Park | Review

After a low-key weekend activity? Try a walk to one of Adelaide’s biggest man-made structures.

by Carla Caruso

Often, we travel far and wide to experience awe-inspiring sights, not realising there are many hidden gems right near home.

Enter the Sturt Gorge Dam. When I read about the jaw-dropping view from the top, I was keen to check it out for myself. So, off I set one leisurely Sunday with my husband and kids.

We drove around to Flagstaff Hill and entered the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park from a gate at the end of Broadmeadow Drive. From here, it was only a short (rather steep) stroll to a walkway along the top of the dam. (You can do a longer hike, though, from Craigburn Farm through the recreation park. Park near Blackwood Football Club and walk down Craigburn Road. At the end is the dirt River Trail, which connects with the Craigburn Farm trails network.)

Those not wary of heights will happily enjoy the amazing views over the gorge and towards the sea. Apparently, the outlook’s even more awesome close to sunset. I only wish I’d read the Department for Environment and Water’s site before heading there. It tells visitors: “Don’t forget to yell ‘cooee’ at the top of your lungs when you get there – it’s quite thrilling to hear the echo of your voice bouncing off the surrounding hills.” Note to self for next time!

The dam, which stands a whopping 40m high, was built in 1965. Its purpose is to prevent the Sturt River – one of the Patawalonga’s major tributaries – from flooding properties in Marion and Glenelg North downstream.

After we’d marvelled at the view, we extended our hike by walking along part of the Wattle Trail and the fire trail. We turned back near the Flagstaff Hill R-7 School. Depending on how much time you have, you can also venture along other trails (including one that’s said to loop around, overlooking the dam’s eastern side).

Scenically, they reckon autumn and spring are the best times to visit the park. Meanwhile, I still can’t believe this picturesque spot has been within a cooee of home all this time.

What we like about it

  • Being surrounded by nature and inhaling fresh air is good for the soul. (It felt a bit Picnic at Hanging Rock-esque to me, care of all the nationally threatened greybox grassy woodland vegetation – once abundant across southern Oz.)
  • We spotted roo poo en route, so you might get lucky and see a kangaroo in the flesh – or a koala. There’s an abundance of bird life too.
  • Need to take Rover for a walk? Dogs are permitted in the park on leads.

Things to consider

  • Don’t wear clothes or shoes you’re afraid of getting dirty.
  • Sturt Gorge boasts several shared-use trails, so keep your eyes peeled for mountain bikers and horse riders when walking.
  • Make sure to take water bottles and snacks if you’re wanting to explore a while.
  • There are no public toilets or bins in the park.
  • The trails aren’t suitable for your average pram.
  • Those who are afraid of heights won’t be so keen on the view from the top of the dam.

Coffee and food options nearby

We lunched at Cafe Belair and Belair Supermarket. Banana Boogie Bakery (known for its fab vanilla slices) is next door. There are also many eateries along Blackwood’s Main Road.


You can enter Sturt Gorge Recreation Park from Broadmeadow Drive, Black Road and Bonneyview Road in Flagstaff Hill, The Boulevard in Bellevue Heights and Craigburn Road in Craigburn Farm.

Review by Carla Caruso

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For more information, please visit the Department for Environment and Water’s website. (Also visit the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA website.) 

WhatHiking at Sturt Gorge Dam and Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

When:  Anytime (sans fire danger days)

Where:  Sturt Gorge Recreation Park | Flagstaff Hill

Who:Those keen to get lost in nature and explore hidden gems on their doorstep

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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