Engaging more people in the parks of the Mount Lofty Ranges

The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), as the custodians of public parks, gardens and heritage places, play an important role in the contribution tourism makes to our state. Our goal is to provide unparalleled visitor experiences that are enjoyed by locals, interstate and international visitors, and talked about across the world.

The State Government has committed $10.4 million to projects that will engage more people in parks of the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges over the next four years.

What are the commitments?

The funding commitments are spread across three interrelated projects over four years.

  • Connecting northern residents with nature
    • $5.5 million for parks of the north and $1 million for operations and maintenance with an ongoing annual operational budget beyond the four years.
  • Connecting southern residents with nature
    • $2 million for parks of the south and $400,000 for operations and maintenance with an ongoing annual operational budget beyond the four years.
  • Establishing the Mount Lofty ranges as an international tourism destination
    • $1 million to initiate recommendations of the mountain bike tourism technical report and $500,000 for operations and maintenance, with an ongoing annual operational budget beyond the four years.

Engaging the community

The Premier has made it clear that all South Australians have a role to play, and that they be will be given the opportunity to shape the decisions that affect their lives.

In DEWNR we know that we get better, more enduring solutions when we engage in this way. All three interrelated projects will involve a thorough and inclusive community engagement process.

Connecting residents of the north and south with nature

Which areas are covered?

The geographical boundaries of the north and south are not fixed and are still dependant on the community engagement process. The general consensus is that the south spans from Aldinga Scrub CP to Sturt Gorge RP and the north, Black Hill & Morialta CP to Para Wirra RP.

What sort of projects are planned?

The Minister has put a strong emphasis on co-design for this project, giving the northern and southern communities a big say in the projects that are selected. Projects will focus on engaging more people in parks and could include new or upgraded walking or cycling trails, toilets, picnic areas and barbecues, interpretive trails, lookouts, recreational water facilities or new services (on the ground and online).

How will the decisions be made?

A six-stage engagement process is already under way. This includes:

  • Round tables with stakeholder groups. A southern round table was held last year and a northern round table is planned for early March. The round tables bring together Friends of Parks, schools, community groups, sporting associations and other stakeholders to brief them on the project and start them thinking about what infrastructure could be useful and who should be involved in the engagement process.
  • Targeted engagement, including briefings for and input from Friends of Parks groups, and workshops with interested DEWNR staff. Manager Public Lands and Sustainable Landscapes Mike Williams and Senior Project Manager Kain Gardner have already attended some Friends of Parks meetings with more scheduled through liaison rangers. DEWNR staff will be invited to attend workshops to share their ideas in coming weeks.
  • Engaging the community, including an online survey through the DEWNR Have your say page, social media (Twitter and Facebook), newspaper stories and educational activities through primary schools.
  • Establishing co-design teams for the north and one for the south, with members selected from a range of stakeholder groups. They will attend monthly meetings from March to June and ultimately make recommendations on which projects should be considered a priority for funding.
  • Discovery days in selected parks with organised activities appropriate to each park, such as ride with a ranger, mountain biking, kayaking, orienteering, geocaching, bird watching, guided walks, geology presentations, natural treasure hunts and touch tables. Visitors will be invited to complete a survey on what would make them visit the park more often.  Discovery days are planned for Hallett Cove, Onkaparinga River and Sturt Gorge, with involvement in open days already planned for Para Wirra, Cobbler Creek, Belair and the Port River Dolphin Sanctuary.
  • A final report will be prepared for the Minister detailing the engagement process and prioritised recommendations.

When will the decisions be made?

Final decisions on which projects will be funded will be announced in the 2015-16 financial year, with planning and some construction to begin shortly after. Most construction and upgrade work will begin in 2016-17.

 Establishing the Mount Lofty Ranges as an International Mountain Bike Destination

What does the project involve?

Mountain biking is already popular in the Adelaide Hills, but mostly with local riders. Increasing the number of interstate and overseas visitors has the potential to benefit many local businesses, including tour operators, restaurants, vineyards and accommodation providers.

This is a large-scale vision involving a range of state government agencies (DEWNR, SA Tourism, DPTI, SA Water and Forestry SA), local councils, tour operators, sporting and interest groups, and the wider community. The initial phase involves the production of a technical report with recommendations on how Adelaide might position itself as an international mountain bike destination. Consultants with extensive experience in destination planning have recently begun working on this report.

How is the report being produced?

The report is being produced through a process that covers:

  • Examination of current facilities, including the existing trail network and existing tourism products and other attractions such as related tours, food, wine and accommodation.
  • Community engagement. This began last year and includes a round table event, briefings to Friends of Parks (at the same time as briefings on the park infrastructure project), social media, and online engagement with the wider community via DEWNR’s Have your say page and DPC’s Your SAy page. The online response has been strong, with close to 300 responses received already.
  • A high level strategic reference group has been formed to bring together representatives from key state government agencies and local councils, with the first meeting to be held at the beginning of March.
  • Targeted engagement with stakeholders such as Bike SA, the SA Mountain Bike Association and tourism associations.

What might the recommendations include?

They could include things like new link trails, bike access to other land tenures, purpose-built mountain bike trails, creating links with other adventure tourism options and holding mountain bike events.

When will the technical report be complete?

The report will be finished by the end of June 2015.

Updates on this project can be found here.


More information

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges