A walk can work wonders

Wellbeing SA is encouraging South Australians to discover the benefits of walking. There are many simple ways to add a walk into your day. Every move counts!

Every move counts

If you want to start exercising more but aren’t sure where to begin, we have plenty of ideas to get you moving.

How you can add a short walk into your day

Taking a walk is an easy way to be active and it also provides a break from the rush of daily life. Here are a few ideas for fitting a short walk into your day.

Take a walk on the wild side

South Australians are lucky to live in a state full of diverse and interesting walking paths and trails. There is something to suit everyone’s interests.

There’s over 750 places to walks on our website, from a 1 hour walk near your home with your dog, to a half day hike in a national park, or a longer trail further afield, you’re only ever two feet from some of the best places in South Australia. View some of our shortlists of bests walks.

Join us exploring two sections of the Adelaide100 trail

As part of A Walk Can Work Wonders we here at Walking SA are hosting two events to explore sections of the new Adelaide100 trail. Each event will have a short 3km walk and a longer 8km+ walk.

Sun 28 May 2023
West Beach
2.3km and 9.2km options
Join Uncle Moogy Sumner and Walking SA to Walk for Reconciliation and be a Voice for our Generation. Ngarrendjeri / Kaurna Elder, Uncle Moogy, will start our event with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony.
Read more

Sun 18 June 2023
Happy Valley Reservoir
3.5km and 9.6km options
Read more

Launch of the Statewide Trails Strategy 2023-2033

At Sunday’s Hiking Expo Deputy Premier Hon. Susan Close launched the Statewide Trails Strategy. The Statewide Trails Strategy has been created to map the strategic priorities over a 10 year timeframe by maximising the potential of our existing trails network and identifying opportunities for new trail development or improvements.

A major focus of the strategy is to develop and promote trailbased activities that are accessible to many different groups for an inclusive experience for a wide range of trail users.

SA Walking Strategy – launched!

On Friday 14 January, Walking SA Chair Tuesday Udell attended the launch of the South Australian Walking Strategy 2022-2032, which focuses on three priority areas, to realise the vision of more people walking, more often, of all ages and abilities:

  • plan walkable neighbourhoods, towns and cities
  • build connected, safe and pleasant walking environments for all
  • create a South Australian walking culture.

Walking is considered the most equitable form of physical activity and human transportation, as it is inexpensive, can be done almost anywhere and can be easily incorporated into most people’s lives.

Scientific evidence shows walking as part of regular physical activity can help improve people’s physical, mental, and social wellbeing. We know that finding time in our busy lives to add more physical activity can be hard. So we are working collaboratively to provide solutions to make it easier to walk places, so everyone can add a short walk into their day.

The strategy is a 10 year blueprint to encourage people in South Australia to walk more. Developed in partnership with the Heart Foundation, the strategy involves cross sector and multi agency collaboration and commitment, with an aim to create long term and effective behaviour change and increase the number of South Australians who walk regularly. The strategy also includes a three year action plan, to strengthen policy, environments and programs that support increased walking for all people in South Australia.

Co-designed through community engagement and expert advice, the strategy provides a practical guide for what needs to be done to get more people walking. Wellbeing SA will oversee progress of the action plan, working closely with key departments and organisations.

Trail Surfaces We Love to Hate

What kind of trail surface do you prefer to walk on?

When heading out a walk, what kind of trail do you like walking on?

Some might say they don’t like hills, and that’s OK. But when we ask this question what we really mean is, what kind of trail surface do you prefer?

With the increase in new trails popping up all over our local urban areas and in our conservation and national parks, it’s not something you really think about until you walk on well, a really uncomfortable one.

So what makes a walking trail – uncomfortable?

Some trails are concreted and no longer offer the natural surfaces that can sustain the huge number of walkers that use this trail every day

Trails that are made of bitumen asphalt, concrete or compacted rubble can be particularly harsh to feet, knees and hips. Particularly when carrying overnight packs on long distance trails – this unforgiving surface can make for much more discomfort than a bush trail of soil, loose stone or sand. Kind of makes us want to find the hills really.  But beware. Some hilly trails are concreted (Waterfall Gully to Mt Lofty summit hike for example) because the natural surfaces that can no longer sustain the huge number of walkers that use such trails every day.

Most bushwalkers include a demographic of middle age and older people or people who have walked – a lot. Their joints that have experienced more wear and tear than most and its noticeable when the surface hardens and is probably why so many choose nice long walks on bush trails.

When plans are put forward for a new trail, the strategy is often to create a trail that is:

  • multi use for walkers, cyclists
  • accessible for wheelchairs, strollers and prams
  • built to last (forever)

It’s a one-size-fits-all model and with good reason, it’s all about getting more people outdoors and as inclusively as possible too. We love seeing this but it might also mean we are less likely to choose the trail for a long-distance pack carrying trip. This features a lot on urban trails.

When we are looking at long distance trails for multi day adventures, comfort is paramount. Often these trails have to traverse national and conservation parks, state forests, private property and of course, roads. Not always is it going to be the same surface and that is OK – this is what makes a trail even more appealing. Adventurous even.

Sometimes road sections are unavoidable when creating long distance trails. These are often the sections we all remember as being harder physically and sometimes mentally too. Hang in there, I say.

So when planning long distance trails, planning for a walker friendly surface is essential but not always possible. Looking at road sections on our longer trails in SA such as Heysen Trail and Walk the Yorke, these are often the sections we all remember as being harder physically and sometimes mentally too. The flat never-ending straight-line sections. We’ve all been there. There is no escaping these kinds of trails but long repetitious sections like this can be what leads people to give up on those lovely big through-hikes. Hang in there, I say.

On the other hand, the long stretches of sand so soft you wonder if you will ever reach the end of the beach are also features of many long-distance coastal trails. Mother Nature decides how “hard” to make the walk on any given day – its luck of the tides.

The rocky outback Larapinta Trail is known for boot breaking and blister blooming, for even those with worn in boots or new boots, its hard to get away without some kind of foot or equipment failure

Consider the rocky trails of outback Australia and the Larapinta Trail. Known for boot breaking and blister blooming, for even those with worn in boots or new boots, its hard to get away without some kind of foot or equipment failure when walking the full trail with a pack or even day walking sections – I have known walkers to ditch boots and resort to Sketchers. But this trail is using the natural rocky landscape as authentically as possible. So the terrain comes with the territory.

Similarly there are the boulder hopping adventures (Thorsborne Trail, Grampians Peak Trail) where one wrong foot can mean an ankle in plaster. Fun in sections for sure and using the natural landscapes beautifully but can make for challenging terrain over long distances. Still preferred over walking on a road.

Road walking connects us to trail sections that might otherwise be inaccessible due to private property and we can all acknowledge how hard it is for permissions to put trails through private property. It’s not all bad, as long as its not long right?

Compacted rubble can be also particularly tricky to enjoy over long periods but can also cover up slippery clay and sections that become flat boggy wetlands after rain. A cheaper type of trail surface than say constructing a boardwalk.

And then there is the question of sustainability. What items are being used to construct trails to keep it as natural or environmentally friendly as possible?

Building trails is not easy when the strategy to make areas accessible to walkers also means impacting on the space around it to construct it and potentially using items in the natural landscape to support the trails construction or bringing in items that simply don’t fit the landscape but are included with purpose behind it e.g. to protect fragile ecosystems (think plank sections on the Overland Track in Tasmania).

Do stairs on a trail make it harder or easier? There are many trails that perhaps come to mind with lots of stairs (Three Capes) – probably to stop falls and slips and also protect the trail from erosion – but does this mean our enjoyment level drops or do we find gratitude for the gesture of stairs? The jury might be out on that one. Sometimes exiting a beach with stairs is a lot easier than clawing your way up a dune and destroying it in the process.

Long distance walking is a past time that gives you way too much time to ponder on these things. It allows you to find the improvements, compare other surfaces and essentially audit every trail you have ever walked. If you are into walking, you can probably relate.

So where can we send our ideas or improvements to?

It often depends on who manages the trail, what funding exists for its ongoing maintenance if any and where the trail traverses (the most). This can be a number of different local and/or state government and non-government organisations.  Volunteers also do a huge job of maintaining public trails and we would like to acknowledge their hard work and contribution to making these trails accessible to us all.

Not sure how you can support the maintenance of trails in South Australia?

There are a number of organisations you can join to support financially or volunteer with time – Friends of Parks groups, Friends of the Heysen Trail for example. Walking SA is the peak body for walking in South Australia and also do a huge job of cataloging hundreds of trails you can walk in SA – to continue supporting this resource and their work, memberships start from just $22 per year.


Lisa Murphy is the founder of Big Heart Adventures alongside husband Ian. They share a love/addiction for hiking long distance trails both in South Australia and beyond. Apart from running a walking and wellness business, they don’t mind performing the odd trail audit either. Lisa also volunteers with Walking SA and assists on the Sponsorship Committee.

SA Election: Vote with your feet

Download media release (PDF).

Walking SA has today written to all candidates in the upcoming election with a call to invest in our children and ensure we have Safe Streets to Schools.

All children should feel safe to walk and cycle to school, without risking being injured by vehicles.

It is completely unacceptable to have poor walking conditions, that do not consider children’s needs or incorporate design based on children’s abilities, within a 2km catchment of our primary schools.

Parents have no faith in the urban environment to keep their children safe, so they drive them to school, adding more cars to the roads and increasing school traffic.

The Government must make a commitment to active school travel and prioritise children’s health and wellbeing by enabling children to walk and cycle to school.

“Over the past 40 years, children walking and cycling to school has declined from 75 percent to 25 percent,” Dr Helen Donovan, Executive Director Walking SA said. “As physical activity levels decrease, not only do children experience a myriad of problems associated with loss of physical health, but we have also seen levels of anxiety and depression in young people skyrocket. Are we going to accept this as a community?”

In South Australia on average 52 percent of school children live within two kilometres of their school, but only 20 percent actively travel to or from school.

“Walking and cycling to school isn’t just a matter of individual motivation. We need to steadily improve the built environment to ensure it is safe and enjoyable to walk and ride. Children and families must have a viable, safe choice.” said Dr Donovan.

“We commend the government on their genuine, collaborative efforts to develop a state-wide Walking Strategy. Now we need to see some commitment and investment into walking to see this Strategy come to life.”

Walking SA calls on the government to take immediate action:

  • Commit to working in partnership to enable Safe Streets to Schools;
  • Lower the speed limit to 40km/h or less in all local streets and school catchments;
  • Increase funding to local governments to install a network of planned separated bikeways, safe road crossings, greenways, and other supporting infrastructure to create Safe Streets to Schools
  • Create policy to move school drop-off zones away from the front gate to decrease the high traffic volumes immediately in front of schools and thereby decrease the risk of collision with a child.

Walking SA will be calling on our members, supporters and followers to support our call at the next election and vote with their feet for the party who supports more walking more often.

Media enquiries

Helen Donovan, Executive Director Walking SA
helen.donovan@walkingsa.org.au Ph: 0457 006 620


About Walking SA

Walking SA is the not-for-profit peak body that leads, promotes and supports all forms of walking in South Australia, including walking for recreation, transport, health, wellbeing, organised events, adventure, environmental appreciation and fun experiences.

Our vision is to see more people walking more often.

Our members include walking clubs, informal groups, individuals and organisations whose aims, and objectives align with those of Walking SA.

Our Strategy guides us to achieve more walking for recreation, transport, and health as we:

  • Grow walking participation through programs, walking clubs and walking SA supporters.
  • Support the planning of walkable communities and environments.
  • Provide community information and lead annual walking events.

To find out about Walking SA, including our database describing over 750 trails in South Australia, visit walkingsa.org.au

Congratulations to our latest BLSA Day Walk Leader graduates – Elise Kennewell, Elaine and Andrew Davies

Elise Kennewell from WEA Ramblers and Elaine and Andrew Davies from ARPA Bushwalkers have recently graduated as Day Walk Leaders through our program to strengthen bushwalking leadership within our clubs. The program was possible through grant support from Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing, with Walking SA partnering with Bushwalking Leadership SA.

The Day Walk Leader Certificate equips people to lead single day group bushwalking trips.

Elise Kennewell, WEA Ramblers

Elise Kennewell has recently graduated as a Bushwalking Leadership SA Day Walk Leader

Elise signed up and commenced the Day walk Leadership Certificate course in October last year. At the time she was not connected to a bushwalking group, she wanted to complete the training for personal, and potentially future employment reasons.

Following the completion of the theory component, she was required to log a number of walks and then undergo assessment practically by planning and leading a walk with a number of participants.

To assist her to get walking, and complete a number of walks and trails around Adelaide, she chose to join the WEA Ramblers group. She had found all their contact details and a walk program with dates and walks on the Walking SA website. She was very warmly welcomed by this group, and she joined them on a number of walks as a guest and then later as a member.

This group were very supportive of her training, and were keen to provide support with her assessed walk by attending and encouraging her in the lead up and on the day.

“I really feel that being a part of this walking group has consolidated and enhanced all that I learnt in the theory of the course. I have learnt a lot more about bushwalking, planning, group dynamics and leadership styles by observing, participating and walking with the group, which contains many very experienced bushwalkers. I have also been able to use my skills in navigating and first aid in real life situations as a part of our regular walks, which has given me practice and confidence.”

“I want to thank this group for all their support and now friendship, and I look forward to many more walks together as I continue to walk with them exploring the many beautiful natural areas in South Australia.”

Elaine and Andrew Davies, ARPA Bushwalkers

Elaine (left) and Andrew Davies (right), pictured with Rod Quintrell, on a Bushwalking Leadership SA Day Walk Leaders training day

Andrew and Elaine Davies were sponsored by ARPA Bushwalkers to participate in the Bushwalking Leadership SA Day Walk Leader Program. They have been members and active participants of ARPA since 2016 when they retired.

Starting by participating in day walks, they have subsequently led (between them) walks in all areas around Adelaide. They’ve led ARPA graded A-grade, B-grade and C-grade walks (ARPA walks are graded from A-grade – the longest and hardest walks, to D-grade – the  easiest shortest walks). They’ve been involved in long distance walks on Kangaroo Island and Victoria’s a

They have also done long distance walks including the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and the Great North Walk from Sydney to Newcastle. They have convened trips including the alpine High Country in Victoria and New South Wales. In January they’re hoping to complete the “Alpine Trifecta” in Mt Buller.

After graduating, Andrew said “I found the Day Walk Leadership Program very instructive and the was process exceptionally good at installing necessary Bushwalking Leadership skills.”

They are appreciating their additional skills to pursue their passion for delivering the best day walk possible.

Their skills will also enhance their work with their work with the Walking Trails Support Group.


You can find out more about upcoming training dates by contacting us or visiting bushwalkingleadership.org.au.

Walking Strategy for South Australia – open for consultation

After working in partnership across-government, engaging with stakeholders and reviewing the best available evidence and evidence-based practice, a draft Walking Strategy for South Australia has been developed. The Strategy will help to guide the planning, building and creation of walkable environments for all South Australians. Community feedback on the draft Strategy is being sought by 17 October 2021 on yourSAy which can be accessed via yoursay.sa.gov.au/south-australian-walking-strategy

Walking is an inclusive and accessible activity that allows people to get from one place to another, can improve their health and wellbeing and provide them with an enjoyable way of spending their leisure time.

When we talk about walking, we also include jogging, running and moving with a pram or pusher, or moving with the aid of a mobility device such as a wheelchair, walking frame or the like.

Supporting more people walking more often; all ages all abilities can lead to multiple benefits to be experienced by all South Australians, including:

  • Social benefits – improved health and wellbeing, increased safety, positive placemaking and increased social cohesion.
  • Economic benefits – increased city attractiveness, boosting the local economy, increased urban regeneration and cost savings; and
  • Environmental benefits – reducing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, increased benefits to people from the natural environment, improved liveability and improved transport efficiency.

The draft South Australian Walking Strategy 2022-2032 has been developed in such a way to unite cross-government departments and agencies, key stakeholders, providers, funders and interest groups to better enable:

  • Walking for Transport – more South Australians making short trips by walking.
  • Walking for Health – more South Australians with better health and wellbeing through walking.
  • Walking for Recreation and Sport – more South Australians accessing green open space for walking.

Get involved

To find out more please:

Have your say

Two recent walking surveys tell the story: If we don’t walk more often, it’s often because we think we don’t have the time

Believing that “what counts, counts”, we are always keen to see data measuring how much walking is being done.  So we were pleased to see two new measures of walking appear recently.

The National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey has been undertaken in 2021.  This continues a biennial series for measuring cycling that began in 2013.  This is the first time that it has also covered walking. This is a telephone survey in which a member of a household who is at least 15 years of age is asked to respond for each member of the household.  In South Australia, this involved 529 households, covering 1,324 households.

Practically all of us (96%) walked for more than five minutes in the week before the survey.  And we walked quite a lot: among those aged 15 and over, the median hours walked in the previous seven days was 3.0 hours, or almost a half an hour a day.

This was slightly less than the 3.5 hours recorded for Australia as a whole.  A cynic might say that this is because parking is easier than in the big cities on the east coast, but we should note that the most popular reason for walking recorded was for recreational/ health purposes.  See the figures reproduced below.  (The lines at the top of each column are the error bars, to indicate the 95% confidence interval.)

Reasons given for walking

These figures might be an over-estimate.  Because answering is voluntary (48% of households approached agreed to be surveyed), there is probably a self-selection bias toward households that are pre-disposed toward walking and cycling.  Also, the average household surveyed had 2.5 members, compared with 2.4 recorded in the most recent census.  So there was probably a slight bias toward younger/ more active households.

Nevertheless, the key value of the National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey is that it provides a consistent methodology over time, so we look forward to accurate trends in the years to come.

The other recent source of data is survey of members by the Royal Automobile Association (RAA).  624 members responded to a questionnaire about how much walking they do, their attitudes towards walking and what might encourage them to walk more often.  As with the National survey, almost all respondents (in this case 94%) said that they walked for at least five minutes in the past week.  Over a third said that they did this every day.  Half said that on a typical day they walked for at least 30 minutes.

What was striking was the proportions who said that they could easily walk at least a kilometre to access local shops and similar destination: 85% in the case of parks; two thirds to shops, cafes and restaurants.

Three quarters said that they would like to walk more than they do, but the biggest barrier to doing this was the lack of time.

Once again there is probably a self-selectivity bias here: the survey was voluntary.  Nevertheless, the survey suggests that that, with over half of our car trips 3km or less, there is a lot of scope for replacing short car trips with walking.

Survey on Shared Trail Use

Users sharing a trail

Have you ever walked on a ‘Shared Trail’? The purpose of shared trails is to allow for walkers, runners, hikers, bike riders and horse riders to integrate themselves together, using the same trail for the benefit of all users.

Walking SA is currently developing a Position Statement for Shared Trail Use and would welcome your feedback during this consultation phase.

We would appreciate you completing the brief survey below – it should take no more than 5 minutes to complete.

You can read Walking SA’s other Position Statements.

The Importance of Storytelling

In Nilpena Ediacara National Park, Ross showcased one of the most important Ediacaran fossil sites in the world

In Nilpena Ediacara National Park, Ross showcased one of the most important Ediacaran fossil sites in the world

Recently, as a member of the Parks and Wilderness Council, I was afforded the opportunity to visit the Northern Flinders Ranges to learn more about South Australia’s bid for this iconic cultural, geological and biodiverse landscape to be recognised under UNESCO World Heritage.

Ben visiting Sacred Canyon, one of the the great cultural significance of these landscapes to the Adnyamathanha people

Throughout this trip, Council were given opportunities to visit the recently proclaimed Nilpena Ediacara National Park where Ross showcased one of the most important Ediacaran fossil sites in the world. We also made our way through Brachina Gorge and into Sacred Canyon, where Aunty Pauline explained the great cultural significance of these landscapes to the Adnyamathanha people.

It was these opportunities that reminded me of one of the reasons why I love spending time with people, adventuring through the outdoors – storytelling.

For 60,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island People have been doing just that – communally gathering around a campfire to listen to stories from the Dreamtime, or tell of daily happenings, such as what they had learnt, hunted or encountered. Harnessing oral communication, they would speak, sing, dance and/or share in art and craft-making. To me, no group of people have affirmed the value of storytelling like Indigenous people have and continue to do.

Sacred Canyon, one of the the great cultural significance of these landscapes to the Adnyamathanha people

My time in the Flinders Ranges reminded me of how holistically important storytelling is to our lives. As I reflected on the experiences of the stories being shared to me by Aunty Pauline, Ross, or from the many others in our group or the people we met along the adventure, I made the below notes.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful means that we all have to influence, teach, and inspire others.

Stories are what connects us as people between history, experiences, opportunities and ideas. They take even the most beautiful landscapes, adrenalin filling adventures and unique encounters and make them come alive. Stories convey the culture, history, and values that unite people.

When it comes to our communities, our friends and our families, we intuitively understand that it is the stories we hold in common which bind us together.

Stories enable us to learn from others about past experiences and moments in time, connecting the experiences shared between us of the present day and motivating us to create new ones to share with each other in our future.

When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island People share together, they aren’t just entertainers but they are also preserving their culture while educating future generations in the history, values and lore of their people.

Storytelling connects us as humans, whether on the trail, sitting around at camp or enjoying that drink in the next country town. Stories take the words off signage, the paragraphs off pages, the data off the sheets and engages us in that content. Stories make us better active listeners, as we become immersed in a fun, risk-free, and transformative learning opportunity.

Stories connect generation to generation through cultural practices, beliefs, traditions, values, languages, experiences and relationships.

Storytelling helps with learning because stories are easy to remember – I certainly remember a well-told story more accurately, and for far longer, than listening to or reading facts and figures.

Stories ground us in a moment in time. When outdoors, stories allow us to feel the ground beneath our feet, to see the beauty of nature around us, to smell the freshness of the day, to hear the calls of the bush and to taste the opportunity for new experiences.

Storytelling builds an image in our imagination of that moment in time, which can appeal to a diversity of listeners, it allows us to appreciate what it may have been like at that moment and it expands our interests into new areas.

I was certainly encouraged to share in more storytelling as a result of this trip. To me, that is the difference of the experience in any destination, circumstance or opportunity… when storytelling is engaged, we can convey a style of immersive learning that can influence, teach, and/or inspire others.

Congratulations to our latest BLSA Day Walk Leader graduate – Judy McAdam

Judy McAdam, our latest BLSA Day Walk Leader graduateJudy McAdam has recently graduated as a Day Walk Leader. Judy is a member of the Friends of the Heysen Trail, being actively involved with the Friends as an office volunteer, Membership Secretary, Council member and as Co-ordinator of End-to-End 10 when they crossed the finishing stile on the July 16.

The Day Walk Leader Certificate equips people to lead single day group bushwalking trips.

Thanks to grant support from Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing, Walking SA partnered with Bushwalking Leadership SA to strengthen bushwalking leadership within our clubs.

Having walked in her teens Judy returned to the trail to train to walk the Camino for a significant birthday 11 years ago and hasn’t stopped walking since, and doesn’t plan to do so anytime soon.

She found the opportunity to undertake the Bushwalking Leadership Day Walk Leader Certificate was too good to miss.

“I found the course excellent and even though I had a reasonable base knowledge I learned a great deal and dug up some lost knowledge and skills out of the archives of my brain, ” says Judy.

“I must admit while reading through the notes prior to first day I had a chuckle that these were the same things I was taught as a girl guide, oh so many years ago but I quickly came to realise that what was good bushcraft then remains good bushcraft today, and even though there were advances in technology and equipment the fundamentals remain the same.”

“I particularly enjoyed the navigation component and I applied the route planning lessons to the current Heysen trail route and maps and found it beneficial in really appreciating the terrain the group we were leading was facing in final 200k of the trail.”

She strongly recommends the course to all walking clubs and walk leaders.


The next Bushwalking Leadership SA Day Walk Leader Certificate course is in September. The Training Day is Saturday 4th September 2021, with the Workshop on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September 2021. Book via www.bushwalkingleadership.org.au.

You can find out more about upcoming training dates by contacting us or visiting bushwalkingleadership.org.au.

Super Tuesday 2021 Pedestrian Counts

On the assumption that “what is counted, counts”, Walking SA has been looking for ways to measure the amount of walking done, both on hiking trails and in our urban areas.

Every year Bike Adelaide manages the Super Tuesday counts.  Volunteers count cyclists as they ride past particular points from 7am to 9am on the first Tuesday in March.  We’ve been working with Bike Adelaide, both asking our membership for volunteers to count pedestrians, and asking Bike Adelaide volunteers who count cyclists if they could also count pedestrians, at least where they are not too busy.

In 2020 we had 14 locations counted, and this year 35.  Importantly, ten of the 35 were counted in both years, so we are starting to be able to measure trends.  All but one of the 10 locations saw an increase compared with 2021.  The total increase at the 10 locations was 17%.

Here are the figures for locations counted in both years:

Location Pedestrians counted
2020 2021 change
Port Road/ Gaol Road 110 124 13%
Dequetteville Tce/ King William 102 113 11%
Osmond Tce/ William St 100 143 43%
Fullarton Rd/ William St 94 116 23%
Britannia roundabout 45 46 2%
Frome St/ Wakefield St 333 372 12%
West Tce/ Sir Donald Bradman Dr 202 206 2%
West Tce/ Sturt St 98 67 -32%
East Tce/ South Tce/ Beaumont Rd 232 243 5%
Westside Bikeway/ South Road 18 21 17%
TOTAL 1334 1451 17%

The overall increase is interesting given that the counts tend to be in an around the City, and overall numbers heading into the City are probably lower than they were in early March 2020.  One explanation for this might be the increase in walking for exercise that was encouraged by the Covid lockdown.  Also there may well be people walking who previously caught the bus.

But it should also be noted that, with one or two exceptions, pedestrians were not counted in the CBD itself – there are just too many of pedestrians to be counted and in any case counts at these locations the count would probably measure the popularity of the CBD rather than the popularity of walking.

Whatever, it’s good to see more walking in our inner suburbs.

Advice for Bushwalkers to consider Biosecurity

Recently we sought advice from the state government Primary Industries & Regions SA (PIRSA) in regards to issues bushwalkers should consider in relation to biosecurity.

Read the advice from Biosecurity SA – Invasive Species Unit, Primary Industries & Regions SA (PIRSA) in full below.

A major issue for the protection of native vegetation and primary production is the transport of seeds of weedy plants on clothing including footwear, and even coats or backpacks.

Walkers are advised to check their trousers, shoes and socks after walking through a weedy area, then take a moment to get all weed seeds out of their clothes. Staying on established walking trails can make it easier to avoid picking up this plant debris.

Walkers should also consider the potential for their vehicles to carry weeds on roadsides and car parks adjoining the walking trail.

The SA Weed Control App may be useful to walkers.

View as response letter (PDF).


Thank you for your enquiry, and for Walking SA’s interest in supporting the education of bushwalkers about biosecurity.

A major issue for the protection of native vegetation and primary production is the transport of seeds of weedy plants on clothing including footwear, and even coats or backpacks. All these items should be checked for any burrs, grass seeds etc. When camping out, it is also advisable to check swags and tents for seeds that get attached.

High risk declared weeds that may be transported in this way include caltrop, Noogoora burr and khaki weed; and, in the arid zone, buffel grass.

Walkers are advised to check their trousers, shoes and socks after walking through a weedy area, then take a moment to get all weed seeds out of their clothes. Staying on established walking trails can make it easier to avoid picking up this plant debris.

Walkers should also consider the potential for their vehicles to carry weeds on roadsides and car parks adjoining the walking trail.

Risk of vehicles spreading pests and diseases can be lessened by washing down using a hose, high pressure cleaner or spray tank and pump. Be sure to clean all potential seed collection points, and move the vehicle forward to ensure tyres are clean all around the tread. Sweep or vacuum inside the cab to remove seeds and plant debris.

Where no wash-down facilities are available be sure to physically remove all clods of mud and visible plant material in addition to cleaning the foot-well and cabin of the vehicle. Use a brush or scraping implement to remove contaminants such as burrs and clods of mud from tyres, mud guards, ledges and crevices where they could lodge.

Removed seeds should be bagged and taken to where they can be disposed of safely, for example by putting the bags in the ‘red’ garbage bin.

Soil pathogens such as phytophthora may also be carried in soil on footwear, particularly in the winter-spring wet months. Walkers should observe any signs marking known phytophthora infestations. The presence of shrubs that have died with all their dry brown foliage in place, especially yakkas and banksia, may indicate the presence of phytophthora.

Further to the above, the Invasive Species Council has produced a useful brochure on minimizing biosecurity risks when visiting natural areas: https://invasives.org.au/how-to-help/keep-gear-clean-wild/

Kangaroo Island is in the fortunate position of being free from many weeds and pests that are established on the mainland, and visitors have a responsibility to protect the island’s biosecurity. In particular, honey and unwashed potatoes must not be taken to Kangaroo Island. More information can be found at the Biosecurity SA website.

The SA Weed Control App may be useful to walkers. It illustrates all the plants declared in SA under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019, and enables a user to report infestations to regional weeds officers with GPS co-ordinates and a photo. The app can be downloaded from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions website at https://pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurity/weeds_and_pest_animals/weeds_in_sa/weed_contr ol_app

Volunteer groups who are installing trails should obtain advice from regional Landscape board staff and land managers regarding biosecurity signage, as part of the approval process for the on-ground works.

Thanks again for your interest in biosecurity issues.

Yours sincerely,
Dr John Virtue
General Manager Strategy, Policy & Invasive Species

Congratulations to our latest BLSA Day Walk Leader graduate – Roxanne Crook

Roxanne Crook has recently graduated as a Day Walk LeaderRoxanne Crook has recently graduated as a Day Walk Leader. Roxanne is a member of Adelaide Bushwalkers and the Friends of the Heysen Trail, and well regarded in the SA bushwalking community.

The Day Walk Leader Certificate equips people to lead single day group bushwalking trips.

Thanks to grant support from Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing, Walking SA partnered with Bushwalking Leadership SA to strengthen bushwalking leadership within our clubs.

The next Bushwalking Leadership SA Day Walk Leader Certificate course is in September. The Training Day is Saturday 4th September 2021, with the Workshop on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September 2021. Book via www.bushwalkingleadership.org.au.

You can find out more about upcoming training dates by contacting us or visiting bushwalkingleadership.org.au.

Our Response to Green Adelaide Draft Regional Landscape Plan 2021-26

Heart Foundation and Walking SA teamed up to write to the Government of South Australia to reaffirm that green streets, parks and urban environments have an important role to play in getting people walking.

Trees in the street are critical in creating an environment that people want to walk in. The benefits for walkers are both aesthetic and practical, with street trees providing shelter from the sun and, to some extent, rain.

FACT – Trees are under threat in our city – greater Adelaide is losing a phenomenal number of trees.

We call on the government to to keep mature trees in new developments and establish guidelines for suitable trees to ensure canopy for our streets.

Our Response

View our response (PDF)

Heart Foundation and Walking SA logos

17 April 2021

Heart Foundation and Walking SA response to Green Adelaide Draft Regional Landscape Plan 2021-26

The Heart Foundation and Walking SA welcome the opportunity to respond to Green Adelaide.

We commend the government’s commitment to a cooler, greener, wilder and climate-resilient city, particularly as this will have significant impacts on how we live, whether we walk, and our health and wellbeing.

This submission will focus on key focus areas G1, G2 and G3 under Green streets and flourishing parklands: increase the extent and quality of urban green cover.

Lack of physical activity is a leading risk factor for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and for poor mental health.1 Only 15% of adults meet all the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines (ABS 2018). Walking is a simple, accessible and equitable physical activity way of reducing key risk factors.

If more people walk for recreation, sport, transport and health for 30 minutes each day, evidence supports there will be a reduction of 35% in cardiovascular disease.2 Unfortunately, more than 85% of Australian adults are not achieving this level of exercise according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.3

We believe that green streets and flourishing parks and urban environments have an important role to play in getting people walking.

Green streetscapes and public spaces

The “green-ness” of our streets and public spaces determines the liveability of our city, suburbs and regions and is ultimately a key determining factor as to whether people will choose to live here in the future.

Cities around the world now regard trees and other vegetation as critical urban infrastructure – as important to how a city functions as the “hard infrastructure” such as roads, and particularly vital to the health and wellbeing of communities.

Our streets are particularly important because they make up a substantial part of the open space available to communities, and can be better utilised as places to play, relax, socialise, grow food, be active, sit and create.

We accept that population growth concentrated in Adelaide and our urban areas is inevitable, and that increasing residential density should be part of the overall plan for South Australian population growth.

As we move towards increases in medium density housing, the success lies in convincing the community of the necessity of smaller private spaces and the challenge is to expand and improve public open spaces nearer to where we live.4 The intensification of development in Greater Adelaide’s urban areas requires that built environment professionals and developers consider the role of streetscapes as not solely the domain of motor vehicles but also for pedestrians and cyclists.

Conventional streets favour and prioritise the movement of vehicles, with the quantity and quality of space for people on foot often only considered as an afterthought.5 Instead, to support walking, the role of the street must be re-considered as a place to be somewhere, not just get somewhere. Our streets are becoming increasingly important as public spaces for social and commercial interaction.

For streets to work as effective public spaces, they need to be ‘lively’ and to foster social interactions. Great streets for people should be pleasant places to walk, should protect us from the weather and should respond to climate change.

It is not enough to accelerate greening of our streetscapes and public spaces. We must have mature trees with canopy that provides shade.

Mature streets trees can encourage walking and promote wellbeing in several ways:6

  • By providing facilitative settings encouraging people to walk for both exercise and transport;
  • By facilitating social interaction and a sense of community;
  • Trees can aid the healing process for those recovering from stress related illnesses;
  • Trees planted along a kerb, especially if closely spaced; define a pedestrian zone separated from vehicular traffic, creating a sense of safety both physically and The perception of safety is an important component of walkability, and trees create a protective barrier which reduces the risk of being hit by a ‘run-off-the-road’ vehicle. –
  • By mitigating the adverse effects created by urban heat islands – ensuring people are still able to walk on hotter days under a canopy of connected trees providing shade, in relative
  • Trees (low-allergen) absorb considerable quantities of airborne pollutants and the resulting cleaner air cuts childhood asthma levels.

The Heart Foundation’s Healthy Active by Design guidelines aim to assist planners, urban designers and related professionals to design healthy urban environments that enable people to make healthy lifestyle choices and in particular incorporate walking and cycling into their daily routine. The guide suggest that planners use tree planting and landscaping to contribute to the functionality of streets and open spaces, improve the microclimate and create attractive and legible routes and spaces that encourage active use.7

Trees and landscaping in the street are critical in creating an environment that people want to walk in, especially for recreation. The benefits for walkers are both aesthetic and practical, with street trees providing shelter from the sun and, to some extent, rain.8 An Australian study found the presence of trees providing shade in open spaces was positively associated with an increased likelihood of being active.9

The big tree argument

Large, mature trees are considered to deliver more significant benefits than smaller stature trees.

Therefore large tree species should be planted, and trees should be allowed to grow to maturity to maximize their benefits. For example, large trees provide greater benefits of improved shade, water quality and air quality than smaller trees.10 Large trees out-perform small trees in moderating air temperatures, blocking UV radiation, conserving energy, sequestering carbon and reducing air pollution, in a manner directly related to the size of the tree canopy.11 A study by McPherson12 estimated that a large tree with a height of 14 metres provides three times the annual environmental benefits of a similarly aged 7 metre high tree, and that the value of benefits increases faster than the costs of managing a larger tree.

Larger trees also have greater visual presence, and are often more highly valued by residents, especially where ‘canopy closure’ over the street is achieved.131415 In one study the single largest factor in determining the attractiveness of a street scene was the size of the trees and their canopies. This was supported by a study in which there was a preference for large canopied trees in a tree replacement program.16 A canopy of mature trees arching over the street and shading properties has defined the character of many urban and suburban communities. In fact it is the enduring nature of large trees in a rapidly changing urban environment that contributes to their high symbolic value and a sense of permanence in our fast changing society.17

We strongly advocate for the value of trees in our communities for health, social economic and environmental reasons.

The benefits of trees in our urban environment are well known and documented.

Adequate space in our streets for trees is critical to ensure that the inherent benefits for our communities are achieved.

The 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide sets a target that urban canopy cover is increased by 20% in metropolitan Adelaide by 2045. This is a target we strongly support.

We draw your attention to the value of trees and refer you to the section “The Value of Trees” on Page 16 of Creating Greener Places for Healthy and Sustainable Communities: Ideas for Quality Green Public Space in South Australia (PDF 7MB).

However, as development intensity continues to place pressure on existing suburbs, private development on private land must accommodate space above and below the ground to ensure a range of tree sizes can be planted, grow, thrive and mature to achieve the State’s target.

Guidance on suitable trees, appropriate root zones, sizes of new trees (height and girth) as well as establishment periods and regimes is also a contributing factor to the establishment of healthy, large and beneficial trees in our streets.

Existing Trees

Trees are under threat in our city – greater Adelaide is losing a phenomenal number of trees – about 1-6% since 2013.18 If this continues, there is no hope of reaching Adelaide’s goal of becoming ‘a green liveable city’;

Urban infill is necessary, we appreciate that our population is growing and the demand for residential properties will mean smaller housing allotment with less space for trees and permeable surfaces to capture rainfall to sustain green cover.

Trees can be challenging to live with, trees need maintenance and can involve risk to a household, but the benefits to the householder and the wider community are worth it.

Retaining trees on a block can be a real challenge when development takes place – some consider it costly to retain trees, yet ‘smart infill’ and careful design to maximise the retention of existing trees and gain the benefits offered by mature trees rather than the small shrubs or immature trees often favoured in new developments is possible.

Our recommended practical solutions aim to balance the current tensions between our planning system and the community’s need for a green liveable city; including:

  • Support for retaining tree canopy on private land that accounts for 80% of metropolitan Adelaide (not just new tree planting on public land).
  • Clearer rules and simpler and quicker processes in Councils and Government for homeowners and developers, and;
  • Help for the tree owners who, as custodians, currently bear all the cost and risk while nearby properties share in the aesthetic and coolness benefits.

We also believe advocacy on the value of trees in contributing to green corridors, connected canopies, cooling benefits and cost benefits within the private homes will change community expectations in achieving the State’s canopy targets.

To assist in developing easy to access and understand information, high quality and accurate mapping of tree canopies, like flood mapping, needs to be made accessible to all. Similarly, mapping of all significant and regulated trees should be considered as a critical overlay in the Code, noting that trees mature and change over time.

The impact of new infill housing development on green streetscapes

Adelaide’s urban infill development is depleting urban street tree canopy and both public and private green space.

Public green spaces are a core facet of urban infill development being attractive, liveable and sustainable. When liveability and attractiveness are considered, urban infill development can deliver many positive health, environment and economic outcomes.

More and more however, we are seeing examples of suburban densification in Adelaide where private owners knock down one house and replace it with two or more smaller houses1. Often this type of development occurs with minimal consideration of integration between the new dwellings and broader street and neighbourhood context. Done on an ad- hoc basis (compared with other larger site development), this style of development has the potential to negatively impact the place-making functions of the street and neighbourhood.

Specifically, poor quality infill may affect:

  • The footpath quality and connectivity
  • The street trees, landscaping and shading
  • The aesthetics of the streetscape
  • The microclimate and heat island effect
  • The safety of pedestrians
  • Accessibility to transport and other local

The legislation must change to give protection to trees. This is imperative for Adelaide to retain its quality urban form, safeguard liveability in the face of a hotter and drier climate, and ensure that the city is a place that is inviting, and supportive of a thriving economic. This matter is too integral to strategic planning outcomes to be left to chance alone.

There must be incentives to keep mature trees in new development through the new planning system.

We must establish urban tree conservation areas such as the Adelaide Parklands and significant tree-lined streets, which protect mature trees from being felled.

Deep soil zones are required to retain existing vegetation on an existing or redeveloped site as well as areas to accommodate new deep root vegetation. Deep soil zones allow for a range of tree species to provide shade, improve evapotranspiration, cooling, increase private canopy cover and soften the appearance of buildings. Our concern is that the design of spaces to allow deep soil zones needs to be considered on a site-by-site basis.

For example, a deep soil zone that is too narrow and along the boundary will not accommodate any trees, so that the quantitative measures might be achieved; however, the qualitative benefits of the tree canopy are never achieved. Therefore, the design of sites is critical.

Therefore, we advocate that deep soil zones need to be considered contextually on a site- specific basis, and to educate on the importance of suitable and adequate planting areas as a fit-for-purpose exercise as part of good practice and is reinforced by various legislative requirements and regulation.

There is also an opportunity for innovation in slab design, house position and orientation, the inclusion of wrap-around courtyards and root trenches that improve the deep root zone of trees. There are also a range of hard surfaces that are designed to be permeable to allow for water penetration to the soil zone (e.g., for driveways). Baseline provisions will not achieve the targets that the 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide sets out.

New and denser developments must include tree planting that will provide a legacy, that are fit for purpose, and address species diversity to ensure the best environmental outcomes.

New developments need to reinforce, reference and mandate the important role that front yards have in connecting green space with streetscapes.

We believe that more than 7% of a site’s area is required for deep soil zones for medium to high rise development and should be included to lead change and support State’s targets.


We recommend the following:

  • Guidelines be developed to include details of minimum tree size and quality at time of installation
  • All landscaping is established prior to occupancy
  • The Botanic Gardens of SA Plant selector and local Council lists used to develop suitable plant species by zone, postcode, or a similar guide
  • Greater focus on larger tree species rather than defaulting to small trees
  • The City of Adelaide recognise and utilise the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy in developing and focussing on the importance of urban
  • That this strategy explicitly describes its importance, relevance and relationship within a framework of other strategies across South Australian government portfolios, including state biodiversity, climate change, water, strategic planning, recreation and open space, education, walking and health and wellbeing strategies.

Thank you for this opportunity and we wish you great success.

As you will know the Heart Foundation has been commissioned by Wellbeing SA to lead the development of a state-wide Walking Strategy. We consider Green Adelaide’s Landscape Plan as one of the key policies that will support the Walking Strategy and we look forward to continuing our conversation with you during the development process.

If you would like any further information, evidence or clarification on this submission please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely
Imelda Lynch
Chief Executive Officer SA/NT, Heart Foundation

Helen Donovan
Executive Director, Walking SA

Contact: Tuesday Udell, Senior Policy Advisor, Tuesday.udell@heartfoundation.org.au

About the Heart Foundation

For over sixty years the Heart Foundation has been fighting for Australian Hearts.

We have a vision of an Australia free of heart disease and our mission is to prevent heart disease and improve the heart health and quality of life of all Australians through our work in risk reduction, support and care, and research.

As part of our work we are committed to seeing more Australians more active, more often.

The Heart Foundation is the leading Australian organisation advocating for environments that promote and support physical activity and work in partnership with a range of industry, government, non-government and academic organisations to create environments that support healthier living through better planning, built environments and transport solutions.

About Walking SA

Our vision is to see more people walking more often.

Walking SA is the not-for-profit peak body that leads, promotes and supports all forms of walking in South Australia, including walking for recreation, transport, health, wellbeing, organised events, adventure, environmental appreciation and fun experiences. Our vision is to see more people walking more often. Our members include walking clubs, informal groups, individuals and organisations whose aims, and objectives align with those of Walking SA.


1 Also known as knock down rebuild = teardown rebuild = two for one = three for one = housing intensification.

1 World Health Organisation. Global Action Plan on Physical Activity, WHO, Geneva, 2018. 2 UK Chief Medical Officer. 2019. UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines. United Kingdom Government: United Kingdom

3 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, National Health Survey: First results, 2017-18, cat. no. 4364.0.55.001, December. ABS: Canberra.

4 Udell T, et al. Does density matter? The role of density in creating walkable neighbourhoods. Melbourne: National Heart Foundation of Australia. 2014.

5 Government of South Australia, National Heart Foundation of Australia. Streets for People. A Compendium for South Australian Practice. Adelaide 2012.

6 Heart Foundation SA: Position snapshot: Making the case for investment in street trees and landscaping in urban environments. 2012.

7 National Heart Foundation of Australia. Healthy Active By Design https://www.healthyactivebydesign.com.au/

8 Vic Walks http://www.victoriawalks.org.au/trees/

9 Timperio, A., et al. Features of public open spaces and physical activity among children: Findings from the CLAN study. Preventive Medicine, 2008; 47(5), 514–518.

10 McPherson, J. R., et al. (2005). Municipal Forest Benefits and Costs in Five US Cities. Journal of Forestry(December).

11 Nowak, D. J. (2004). Assessing environmental functions and values of veteran trees. Proceedings of the International Conference on the Protection and Exploitation of Veteran Trees, Torino, Italy.

12 McPherson, E. G. (2005). “Trees with benefits.” American Nurseryman 201(7).

13 Kalmbach, K. L. and J. J. Kielbaso. Resident attitudes toward selected characteristics of street tree planting. Journal of Arboriculture. 1979; 5(6): 124-129.

14 Schroeder, H. W. and W. N. Cannon. The aesthetic contribution of trees to residential streets in Ohio towns. Journal of Arboriculture. 1983; 9: 237-243.

15 Sommer, R., et al. Household evaluation of two street tree species. Journal of Arboriculture. 1989; 15: 99-103.

16 Heimlich, J., et al. Attitudes of residents toward street trees on four streets in Toledo, Ohio, U.S. before removal of Ash trees from Emerald Ash borer.” Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry 34(1): 47-53.

17 Dwyer, J. F., et al. (2003). “Sustaining urban forests. Journal of Arboriculture. 2008; 29(1): 49-55.

18 Conservation Council SA. What’s happening to Adelaide’s trees? June 2020