Para Wirra, about 40km north of the CBD in the Adelaide Hills, takes its name from the Kaurna language, with “Para” meaning creek or gully and “Wirra” meaning forest – hence Para Wirra means forest where the creek flows.
The area is rich in Aboriginal and European history. Gold was discovered there in the 1860s, and there are many reminders of the gold rush in the northern area of the park, where you will find old mine shafts, tunnels and the restored Bowden Cottage.
Para Wirra shares a border with Mount Crawford Forest, with nearby towns including Gawler, One Tree Hill and Kersbrook.
Plan ahead as there is a $10 vehicle entry fee and you need correct change for the self-registration stations within the park. Poor planning on my behalf meant we had no cash on the day and had to park outside of the park and extend our walk.
Trail: Combined Wirra Loop Hike and Devils Nose Hike.
Access: Starting from gate 7 on Humbug Scrub Road. You can easily park anywhere along the road near the gate.
Rating: Moderate. Although the inclines on this walk were manageable, there are some steep and also uneven surfaces.
Length: About a 13km loop.
Time: About 3 to 4 hours at a moderate pace.
Alternative: Parking in the park at the trailhead of Devils Nose and just doing the loop would make it about a 10km hike.
Features: Starting our walk from Gate 7, we made our way into the park on Blue Gum Track, which forms part of the Wirra Loop Hike. The tracks are wide, taking you through open bushland towards Para Wirra Lake.
Continuing on for a few hundred meters, we found ourselves in the carpark and trailhead for Devils Nose Track – where we whould have been starting from if we had been more prepared.
The first 1.5km is along a wide track with an easy incline before narrowing and becoming rocky in sections.
Hiking along this long ridge offers amazing views in all directions; look out over the Barossa and Gawler districts.
A signpost announces your arrival at Devils Nose; continue on to climb the highest points of the rocks to get an even better view. The rocks of Devils Nose developed from marine sediments laid down about 800 million years ago, with erosion resulting in the intriguing rock formations throughout the area.
Backtracking slightly to continue the loop, you will need to look for a narrow path near a bench, veering to the left.
The trail is narrow through here, winding down the side of the hill. Recent rains have brought the hillside to life, lining the trails with beautiful wildflowers.
Soon you will come to what feels like an overgrown field, but we could just make out a narrow path. It came to a plateau, and luckily we saw the single signpost marked G6. This signalled us to turn right and make our way up the steep track to The Knob Lookout. Be prepared – this rise is about 1km long.
Winding around the lookout we came to a fork in the road. Take a right behind the vehicle gate on the narrower track; this is signposted as The Knob Lookout Track.
Follow this track until you meet the sealed road. We continued along the road avoiding the barbecue area – the faint smell of sausages was too much at this stage and we didn’t think other park-goers would take too kindly to party crashers.
To return to our car we continued past the park office and took a left at Blue Gum Track, the same track we started on.
Tip: Download the Avenza PDF Map app so you can access interactive maps when you need them. The app allows you to download National Parks SA maps and uses your device’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. You can also download your Para Wirra Recreation Park map here, and keep up to date with latest park alerts.
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