At a Glance

  • Open 7.30am - 5pm (standard time), 7.30am - 8pm (daylight saving time). Closed on Total Fire Ban Days and for operational activity (gates will be closed).
  • Car park
  • Walking/running/hiking
  • Cycling (mountain biking)
  • Kayaking/canoeing
  • Fishing - permit required
  • Picnicking
  • Wildlife and birdwatching
  • No dogs
  • Accessible toilets

Activities and facilities

Before visiting, please check the conditions of access.


Walking/running/hiking

With a range of tracks on offer, you can explore on foot through a changing landscape of native bushland and plantation forests. The paths are graded as a moderate hike and are suitable for most ages and fitness levels. There are some steep sections and rough/rocky surfaces.

From the entrance to the north west peninsula is 2.9km, or you can head to the south west peninsula (2.5km) and south peninsula (2.1km). Pack a picnic and explore these shared use trails leading to water views. The reserve boasts a total of  8.7 km of trail.

You can also walk along the reservoir's winding shores, taking in stunning views of the water and lands beyond. Look out for waders, cormorants and pink eared ducks, a rare sight in the Mount Lofty Ranges.


Navigate the reserve with the free Avenza app

Download the South Para Reservoir Reserve map


Fishing

With a fishing permit, you can drop a line in the from the shoreline in the public access area or on the water from a kayak or canoe. Be sure to take your insect repellent.

The reservoir is stocked with Murray cod (catch and release), golden perch and silver perch. Fishing limits are detailed on PIRSA's website.


Cycling

The shared use trails offer intermediate mountain biking suitable for riders with a moderate level of skill and fitness. Explore the trails as they pass through a changing landscape of native bushland and plantation forests. You will catch glimpses of the water through the trees before arriving at one of many vantage spots at the water's edge.


Navigate the reserve with the free Avenza app

Download the South Para Reservoir Reserve map


Kayaking/canoeing

Choose your experience with a kayak or canoe, from a short meander to a full day's kayaking adventure exploring the twists and turns of this hidden gem from the water.

During the warmer months when the reservoir's level can be low, bring a trolley to get your kayak or canoe to the water's edge more easily.

Suggested routes include:

  • to the north west peninsula - 3.6km return, approx. 1.5 hours
  • to the south west peninsula - 6.2km return, approx. 3 hours
  • to the south peninsula - 10.4km return, approx. 4.5 hours
  • to the old bridge - 14km return, approx 6 hours.

Be sure to take your insect repellent.


Picnicking

The two picnic spots offer a place to sit back and enjoy the water views. Walk, run, ride or kayak to the south west peninsula and the south peninsula for a picnic, with toilets available at the south west peninsula.


Dogs are not welcome at reservoir reserves as they can carry harmful organisms that can easily contaminate the water and they pose a threat to local native birds and wildlife. Assistance animals are accepted.


Blue-green algae

Algae is a common occurrence in open water sources, including reservoirs and the River Murray, especially during warmer months of the year when conditions are favourable for growth.

SA Water samplers, operators and scientists actively monitor and test the source water and connecting water networks during these times and adjust treatment processes as needed. This ensures they continue to supply safe, clean drinking water to their customers.

Some blue-green algae species produce compounds which can be harmful to humans and animals. Contact with untreated water in a reservoir where algae are present can be harmful to your health.

When blue-green algae levels are increasing, and related water treatment or algal management activities are being conducted, the site will be closed to visitors until 1pm that day. There will be clear signage at the entrance and on this website page.

To find out more, read SA Health’s information about blue-green algae health impacts and how to avoid illness

Free offline maps

Use the free Avenza app to navigate around the reservoir reserve, record your GPS tracks or enjoy other features. Download the map to your mobile device and you can access it even without mobile coverage.

Download the South Para Avenza map here.

Click map and map details below for a print-friendly version.

Extended trail network

Click here for a print friendly version of the extended trail network at South Para and Warren Reservoir Reserves

What sets South Para Reservoir apart

Capacity: 44.8 gigalitres (there are one billion litres in a gigalitre), which would fill  Adelaide Oval with water about 90 times

Built: 1949 - 1958

While construction on South Para Reservoir began in 1949, it wasn't finished until 1958 due to the huge demand on funds and resources following the World War II. It was built to support industrial development and population growth in the north of Adelaide in the 1950s. With the establishment of Elizabeth in 1955, the north of Adelaide was booming.

Between 1933 and 1958, annual water consumption in Adelaide increased by 30 per cent, rising from 28,500 million litres to more than 93,000 million litres.

South Para also supported water supply in the Barossa as it fed into the Barossa Reservoir increasing supply to the areas it served.

You can check current reservoir levels at SA Water’s website.

Little known fact about South Para Reservoir

Being constructed after the Second World War, the workforce that built South Para dam was transient and varied. It included married men with young families, single men (largely immigrants who had left Europe after the war), single women who worked in the camp’s canteen, inmates from Yatala Labour Prison, and homeless men from Adelaide who were offered the opportunity of employment.

Water Quality

South Para Reservoir is one of 16 across the state that help supply water to more than 1.7 million South Australians.

Water from South Para flows to Barossa Reservoir where it is treated by SA Water at the water treatment plant onsite before being supplied to 85,000 customers in the Barossa region.

Treating drinking water before it’s supplied to homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and more, is important to make sure it is clean and safe to drink straight from the tap. You can learn how SA Water treats water and maintains the quality its customers value and rely upon.