Peace and quiet is hard to find in the modern world and the search for tranquility and an escape from the noisemakers is what drives many people into the outdoors.
Unfortunately, it is not prized by all who step into the outdoors, including the crowds tackling the walking trails in Morialta Conservation Park on the fringes of Adelaide, South Australia, one fine summer’s day. So many of the locals and tourists were yelling, talking loudly, wearing headphones or, in one instance, carrying a stereo in a backpack and blasting out some funky electro-pop. There was so much noise on the main trails that it was hard to hear any bird life or any sounds of nature.
The noise and the crowds drove me off the main trails and onto some of the more arduous paths – and it was there that I claimed my reward. Free from aural bombardment, I heard a gravelly, guttural noise emanating from the right of the trail. At first I felt shocked and threatened, all too aware of the number of dangerous feral species which inhabit the Australian bush. I stopped, looked right and saw nothing. There it was again – the same guttural call. Still I saw nothing as my eyes scanned the dry bush. Should I stay, should I run – what is that noise? I scanned upwards, into the tops of the gum trees, and I found the origin of the call – a cute, cuddly koala.
I stepped off the trail a mere ten metres and there I was able to sit under the tree and watch the koala go about its business for at least 30 minutes. It wasn’t particularly exciting. Koalas are some of the most docile animals in the world and spend most of their days eating and sleeping – like many Australians during the summer holidays. There is also an urban myth that the amount of eucalyptus leaves that koalas consume plunges them into a drunken stupor most of the time – again, like many Australians during the summer holidays.
I enjoyed my time with the koala. When I finished the hike and walked back to the car, I saw groups of people reaching excitedly for their phones to snap a selfie with the koalas in the trees near the car park. Many were overjoyed at seeing a koala in the ‘wild’, but had they embraced the peace and quiet of the outdoors, they could have observed a koala in solitude without jostling for the best photo position or stepping out into the path of a car.
Don’t go chasing waterfalls..
Don’t hike to waterfalls during an Aussie summer – you’ll be disappointed. The waterfall hike in Morialta Conservation Park is a rewarding hike in itself as it offers walkers the chance to immerse themselves in the rugged Australian bush just 10km from the Adelaide CBD, but the reward for the physical strain is meagre during the dry Adelaide summer. At each of the three waterfalls, there were steep rock faces, there was water, and it was falling, but it was a mere trickle and had no right to call itself a waterfall.
Despite the dryness and the heat, the walks in Morialta park are impressive for a recreation area that it so close to the centre of the city. Many of the lookout points boast views back to the city and to the ocean and there are enough trails to suit many ability levels.
Late winter and early spring would seem to be an ideal time to visit this park, when the temperature is more conducive to hiking and the winter rains have filled the waterfalls. A mid-week visit would make it easier to avoid the crowds and to witness waterfalls and koalas in peace.