Onkaparinga River National Park is in South Australia (Australia), 32 km south of Adelaide and incorporates the Onkaparinga River Recreation Park.
The lower reaches of the Onkaparinga River were inhabited by the Kaurna Aboriginal people, and the name of the river is taken from the Kaurna name meaning "women's river". European settlement and farming in the district began about 1840 leading to the rapid displacement of the Aboriginal inhabitants. Kaurna people still have strong ties to the area through cultural practices and religious beliefs. Many local place names such as ‘Onkaparinga’, ‘Noarlunga’ and ‘Willunga’ have their origins in the Kaurna language. The town of Noarlunga (renamed Old Noarlunga) was the service centre with farm produce being transported 10 km down river to Port Noarlunga.
The remains of Pingle Farm, built in 1862, can be seen in the section of the park west of Main South Road. In 1878, several additional structures were built, including an underground water tank, a stone barn and a shed. The farm was occupied by the Jared family until the early 1970s when it was sold to the South Australian Government.
In the early hours of November Thirtieth 2008, a twenty two year old man fell approximately thirty metres from the top of a ravine into waters only a metre or two in depth and containing many boulders. His fall was interrupted on the way down by an outcrop which failed to prevent his fall, caused his right foot to fracture slightly and bruised a few vertebrae in his spine. He was airlifted by the local emergency services, after one of his companions ran to find a phone, chancing upon a local surgeon (who remains anonymous) who was likewise bushwalking. Once in hospital the man was found to have only the most minor of injuries and remarked that even the slightest change in direction of the fall, lower amounts of rain or higher temperatures could all have killed him as recent rains had left the regularly shallow water slightly deeper than would be expected at that time of year.
Flora and fauna
The vegetation of the park has been greatly perturbed by human activity, but remnant patches remain. The most intact area is the Hardy's Scrub section of the reserve. 160 years of livestock grazing, timber harvesting and cropping has cleared most of the reserve of native understorey species and in many areas invasive grasses are the main vegetation type. Remnant Eucalypts are the most noticeable native species in the reserve. Eucalyptus microcarpa (Grey Box), Eucalyptus fasciculosa (Pink Gum), Eucalyptus porosa (Mallee box), Eucalyptus Cameldulensis (Red Gum), and Eucalyptus leucoxylyn (Blue Gum) all occur in the reserve. The European Olive (Olea europaea) is a noxious weed in South Australia and has invaded the park, although generally individuals are not as large as in older parks in the Mount Lofty Ranges like Belair NP but will continue to be a problem unless managed. Over the last twenty years accessible areas of the gorge have been revegetated by contractors working for National Parks SA. The oldest area of revegetation in the park was conducted with tubestock, predominantly of Eucalypts. Recent efforts have focused on the direct seeding method where seed of native species is ploughed into a scraped trench. Insect activity includes butterflies (Lepidoptera) and dragonflies (Anisoptera). Kangaroos are common among the open hillsides with abundant grasses.
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