Mount Lofty

At 727 metres, Mount Lofty is both the highest point in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges and the Adelaide metropolitan area. It is located about 15 km east of the Adelaide city centre, and has panoramic views of the city and the Adelaide plains to the west, and of the Picadilly Valley to the east.

The summit has become a popular spot for tourists to Adelaide, and also for cyclists coming up the old Mount Barker Road through Eagle on the Hill; this former section of National Highway No.1 has been superseded by the Heysen Tunnels. On the ridge near the summit are three television transmission towers (the northernmost being that of the ABC), and the Mount Lofty Fire Tower operated by the Country Fire Service.

The summit can be accessed by road from the South Eastern Freeway at Crafers, and from the eastern suburbs via Greenhill Road and the Mount Lofty Scenic Route. The more enthusiastic can walk up the gully from Waterfall Gully, through the Cleland Conservation Park and from Chambers Gully. The track from Waterfall Gully to the summit is a 4 km uphill trek and one of Adelaide's most popular exercise circuits so the park at the bottom is often busy. The summit provides panoramic views across Adelaide, and a cafe-restaurant and gift shop.

On the ridge near the summit are three television transmission towers (the northernmost being that of the ABC), and the Mount Lofty Fire Tower operated by the Country Fire Service.

Mount Lofty was named by Matthew Flinders on 23 March 1802 during his circumnavigation of the Australian continent. It was first climbed by a European when the explorer Collet Barker climbed it in April 1831, almost six years before Adelaide was settled.

A stone cairn at the summit was originally used to mark the trig point, and in 1885 this was replaced by an obelisk which served as the central reference point for surveying purposes across Adelaide. In 1902 the obelisk was rededicated and renamed as the "Flinders Column".

The Summit was closed to the public during the Second World War, when the obelisk was considered an indispensable navigation aid. A flashing strobe was fitted to the top to improve visibility at night. This strobe was removed after the war, but then re-installed in the 1990s, when the obelisk was repainted and restored during construction of the new kiosk.

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
The minuscule Mount Lofty range, being in the driest state of the driest continent on earth, is the last place one would expect to find a flourishing garden full of the cold climate plants that tend to thrive at its altitude.

The mountain's crowning glory is nestled on its eastern slopes just below Mount Lofty's lofty summit. Only a 20 minute drive from the city centre, Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens offers an unexpected floral experience complete with colours you re unlikely to see in the natural Australian bushland. The 97 hectare site is situated on a fairly steep slope but there are several kilometres of walking trails that give access not only to habitats with names like Fern Gully, the Heritage Rose Garden, Arboretum and Woodland Garden, but also some quite spectacular views.

The gardens take on a different feel as the seasons change. In Autumn (March to May) they are a blaze of greens, reds and oranges, colours not normally seen in such a concentration in Australia's southern climbs. In spring (September to November) colourful displays of native wildflowers and rhododendrons fill the gullies and line the paths. It is different again in summer wheen outdoor performances by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra are held on the grassy slopes below the main dam, at temperatures that are considerably below the heat experienced on the surrounding plains.

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is open every day of the year. Free entry, metred parking.