The start of the Stringybark walk has a fairy tale quality about it.
While some of the walks in Deep Creek Conservation Park can
be quite challenging not all require the fitness of a triathlete!
The Stringybark Loop Walk is a great example. At 1.5 km
it is family friendly and can be completed in under 30 minutes.
Smooth Xanthorrhoea leaves dance against a background of course stringybark trunks.
More importantly, the walk takes you past some of the oldest
and majestic examples of sclerophyll forest in South Australia.
Towering Stringybark trees provide a shaded canopy under which
other species such as grass trees (Xanthorrhoea) and delicate ferns flourish.
The spectacular Flaming Fungus is easily overlooked
What is less well known is that this area contains more fungi than
anywhere else in the State. At last count 247 species had been
observed along this trail. The diversity in shape, size and colour
is truly amazing and has to be seen to be believed.
Winter is the ideal time to observe the fungi while spring will
reward you with a beautiful array of wildflowers along this delightful walk.
Fungi emerge in many shapes, sizes and colours along the Stringybark trail
Take a well earned rest at Aaron Creek Cove to absorb its beauty
Named after Aaron Bennett, one of the early European settlers to this area the Aaron
Creek Cove Hike commences from the car park not far from Goondooloo Cottage.
For guests staying at Goondooloo Cottage, there is the added bonus of just being
able to strap on a backpack and walk out the door to commence the walk.
The first thing you will notice on this journey is the abundance of western grey kangaroos
grazing the open woodlands (the first of many photo opportunities). After about 30 minutes
you will reach the lookout at Goondooloo Ridge which offers wonderful views
across the gullies towards Cape Willoughby. This is a great spot to have a rest
and catch your breath on the return leg of your journey.
Goondooloo Ridge Lookout – a great spot to refresh
At the half-way point, the trail passes the Aaron Creek Cascade, a small waterfall that
flows generously in winter but is reduced to a trickle during the warmer months.
The trail then follows the gully floor as it winds its way out to sea crossing the banks
of the creek many times. Along this section of trail you will notice an abundant presence of
the Arum lily, a native to Southern Africa that has invaded large sections of Aaron creek.
Arum lilies – pretty but a pernicious pest
As the trail approaches the coast it briefly ascends to the top of the ridge giving
commanding views of Backstairs Passage. Once at the Cove you will notice
the bright orange lichen on the rock formations of the cliff face which are typical
of many parts of the coast along the Fleurieu Peninsula. The Cove is
the obvious choice for morning tea or lunch before commencing your return journey.
Spectacular lichen rocks at Aaron Creek Cove
For those in a hurry, the hike can be completed in less than 4 hours. However, to do it justice,
absorb the views, take photos and stop for refreshments you should allow more time.
A reasonable level of fitness and proper footwear that offers full ankle support are essential.
The rugged beauty of Deep Creek on full display at Aaron Creek Cove
Blow Hole beach on a winter’s day
As many of our readers would know Deep Creek Conservation Park incorporates
some of the most spectacular sections of the famous Heysen Trail.
Moves are now underway to establish a 3-day / 2-night walking package that
incorporates the highlights of the Heysen Trail through Deep Creek.
A working group has been established with representation from DEWNR, Yankalilla Council,
Tourism Operators and other key stake holders to look at the feasibility of this proposal.
The suggested walk will start at the commencement of the Heysen Trail at Cape Jervis
and conclude at Balquidder Station between Deep Creek and Waitpinga Beach.
New camping platforms would be constructed as part of the proposed walk at Eagle
Waterhole Campground and Tapanappa Campground for ‘walk through’ hikers.
Working group reconnaissance of the proposed trail
For those who would like the same experience but with creature comforts
Southern Ocean Retreats will be putting together a complete package
that includes accommodation, all meals, transfers, and walking notes.
The proposal is still in its early stages but regardless of the outcome, we think an all
inclusive package of this type has merit for those wanting to undertake extended walks
without the hassle of carrying a heavy backpack or organizing carpools for return journeys.
More importantly, the recognition of this spectacular coast line and its potential
to become an iconic walk is long overdue. We will keep you posted as this proposal
unfolds and are looking forward to seeing Deep Creek Conservation Park
established to its rightful place as a must see destination for South Australia.
Imagine a leisurely breakfast after a good night’s sleep before being transferred to the next stage of your walk.
Start of Waterfall walk from Tapanappa Lookout
One of the great joys of walking in Deep Creek Conservation Park is that
most of the walks are not seasonal and trails remain open throughout the year.
So it is with the walk to the Deep Creek Waterfall from Tapanappa Lookout.
The native vegetation remains lush and the waterfall flows at all times.
To illustrate this point we embarked upon this walk on a warm summer’s day morning.
The trail has been realigned in recent years to take full advantage of the natural contours.
This has removed the need for staircases. The climbs and descents are moderate
in most places and well suited for families with a reasonable level of fitness.
A glimpse of the Deep Creek Cove
As you work your way around several ridges you will catch glimpses of Deep Creek Cove where it
meets the Southern Ocean. At approximately the half way mark good use has been made of the
natural landscape to create a stone bench and viewing platform. This is a wonderful opportunity to
pause and take in the scenery across the valley.
Bench overlooking Deep Creek Valley
Upon reaching the valley floor much debris is till strewn across the upper reaches of the creek bed,
a reminder of the heavy rains and storms South Australia experienced last winter.
The mesmerizing sound of cascading water over rocks weaves its magic on those
who allow time to take it all in. The waterfall is a great spot for
a bite to eat and was popular with families on the morning we arrived.
Deep Creek Waterfall in summer
On your return journey keep an eye out for wildflowers that bloom at
different times of the year. Allow at least 3 to 3.5 hours to do justice
to this walk which is graded as moderate to hard depending on fitness levels.
Wildflowers in bloom along the waterfall trail in Deep Creek