A Walk in Sturt Gorge Recreation Park
Mr. K has seemed rather pleased with himself lately. He has just discovered, through a newsfeed, research that suggests that slow walkers (me, according to Mr. K’s standards) are more likely to develop dementia, whereas fast walkers (himself) are less likely to be senile in old age. Mr. K informed me with a significant amount of smugness and glee, that he was immune to dementia, but that I wasn’t.
I might add an aside here, that, on further research of my own, I discovered that exercise is good for our brains and neuroplasticity, and that the research relating to the speed of walking and dementia is still inconclusive. Well, I hope it is, for my sake.
And so, I feel blessed that we live in a beautiful part of Adelaide, in the foothills with Sturt Gorge only one street away. Yet, though the gorge is close, our visits to it have been rare – maybe once every couple of years.
The main issues with Sturt Gorge is: 1) snakes which are active in Spring and Summer, and 2) it’s easy to get down into the gorge, but hard work climbing up out of the gorge.
Mr. K and I first hiked in Sturt Gorge in our courting days. In the mid-1980’s, I discovered this hidden gem when, as a student teacher, we took Year 9 students on a school excursion hiking up Sturt Gorge. Those were the days of boundless energy and somehow, not quite sure how, we trekked from the Bedford Park Caravan Park up to the walls of the reservoir. I might add, even in my early 20’s I was a slow walker even then. Guess there’s no hope for me!
Impressed with the walk, I took Mr. K on a hike up the gorge. We cut off a few kilometres by starting our journey somewhere off the streets of Flagstaff Hill. Little did we know then that we would eventually buy our home in this suburb.
Fast-forward to 2005 and an organised youth hike from our place up Sturt Gorge. The river flowed from abundant rains that year causing certain sections of the walk unpassable. We had planned to reach the dam wall, but alas, two boys fell in the creek. With night fast approaching, the youth group trekked back to our house, the two unfortunate boys squelching all the way through the streets.
Another long hiatus between visits to the gorge, as life, the fear of snakes and fast-flowing creeks dampened any enthusiasm to stroll in the reserve.
Then in 2017, Mr. K braved the rugged terrain as he led an expedition with his Swiss relatives into Sturt Gorge. The Swiss relatives hoped to see a kangaroo or koala on their adventure, but both kinds of Australian fauna remained hidden. And fortunately for them, the recent resident streaker remained undercover.
The following year, in September, Mr. K and I ventured to the creek. The friends of Sturt Gorge had widened the path, so no fear of snakes. Care for the recreation park and efforts for native revegetation had encouraged the local frog population to sing in the small creek that fed into the river at the base of the gorge.
A flock of white corella parrots enjoyed the grassy slopes.
Olive trees, though, still dominate the slopes of the Sturt Gorge reserve. It seems our South Australian climate is a paradise for olive trees.
We walked along the path beside the river. Rainfall had been under-average that year, and with the river-levels low, Mr. K and I were able to access a path that had been on our previous visits under water.
[Photo 9, 10, & 11: On the Sturt River trail © L.M. Kling 2018]
By crossing the river with some accommodating stones and line — that same crossing that had almost drowned two boys from youth group — we trekked as far as the Cascades before heading back home.
‘Amazing!’ I remarked to Mr. K, ‘I don’t ever remember seeing the Cascades before. Other times, we’ve gone as far as the flat rocks at the bend in the river, but I never knew the Cascades existed.’
‘I think we went a different way, further up the hill and walked along a higher path to the dam, when we hiked here in the 1980’s,’ Mr. K replied.
‘Yes, that we did.’
With the sun fast sinking towards the horizon and casting a soft orange-golden hue over the trees and houses, we marched the streets of Flagstaff Hill to home. Funny thing, despite my sore feet from hiking and the fact that I’m a “slow” walker, Mr. K didn’t leave me behind. He walked with me.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2019
Feature painting: Walk into Sturt Gorge © L.M. Kling 2019
Dreaming of Adventure?
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