Significant effort has gone into creating a healthier River Torrens/Karrawirra Pari. Connecting communities from the hills to the sea, the river really is the soul of our city. Find out 5 reasons why we love the river.

River Torrens bridge with a heart over the top

We love the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari for the important habitat it provides to local wildlife, recreation and sporting activities it hosts, and opportunities for community connection through accessible paths, picnic areas and playgrounds.

Check out our top 5 reasons why we love the river.

1. Kaurna connection: Karrawirra Pari

The River Torrens has been an incredibly important part of the culture and history of the Kaurna people for the last 45,000 years. In Kaurna language the River Torrens is called Karrawirra Pari, which means Red Gum Forest River.

Originally in the summer, the river was a series of large waterholes and a key area for food and shelter for the Kaurna Meyunna (Kaurna People).

In 1836, when Europeans arrived, Adelaide was selected as the site for settlement because of the fresh water available from the river. Over time, the river gradually became polluted and neglected.

Over the last 20 years though, the river has been transformed into a healthier system. It’s now a top spot for locals and visitors to connect with nature.

Torrens Lake
Torrens Lake in Adelaide's CBD.

2. Linking communities

Running from the hills to the sea, the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari connects communities.

The River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari is 85 kilometres long and is the main river in Adelaide, flowing down from the Mount Lofty Ranges near Mount Pleasant to the sea at West Beach.

Perhaps the most well-known section of the river is the Torrens Lake. It was created in 1881, along with the construction of the Torrens Weir to promote recreational use of the river in the CBD. The lake is located in the middle of Adelaide city, between the weir and Frome Street Bridge and is now used for rowing, dragon boating and powerboat racing as well as for Adelaide’s iconic Popeye trips.

A kookaburra beside the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari
A kookaburra beside the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari

3. Home for wildlife

The River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari is an important home to a range of animals and fish.

It has undergone a transformation, with the health of the system improved thanks to the Urban River Torrens Recovery Project, a partnership between councils, government, Kaurna and the community. The project is tackling stormwater management, weed control, revegetation, stabilising river banks, reducing litter and pollutants and removing large volumes of invasive European carp.

Regular monitoring also helps us to keep an eye on the water quality of the river. This includes fish monitoring, where we collect, measure and record native fish species, and water flow data stations that record the flow along the river and the amount of sediment in the water.

Image of a trail beside a river
Breakout creek / Purruna Pari

4. New spaces to explore

Breakout Creek / Purruna Pari, the stretch of the Torrens where the river meets the sea at West Beach, has been undergoing a major transformation. And now, visitors can reap the rewards.

The entire Breakout Creek redevelopment stretches from Tapleys Hill Road in Lockleys to the Torrens Outlet in West Beach, a total of 2.7 km of river.

Stage 3 has created wetlands to capture and clean stormwater, removed weeds, planted native vegetation to slow and treat water coming down the river and opened the fenced-off space for people to enjoy with trails, picnic areas, signage and art.

From an artificial channel to a stunning, natural-looking waterway, this 1.5 km redevelopment now boasts improved visitor amenities, a dedicated place for Kaurna reflection, habitat pools to aid biodiversity – and a brand new river crossing.

Discover everything you need to know about visiting Breakout Creek / Purruna Pari.


5. Opportunities for rewilding

All of the work being done to help transform the river has brought us closer to a bold rewilding project to bring platypus back to the Torrens.

This iconic Australian animal is what is known to ecologists as an umbrella species – meaning that conserving them and their habitat will result in many other species also being conserved.

So, if platypuses can be successfully reintroduced to the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari, this will mean a healthier ecosystem for other native species like long-necked turtles and native water rats (rakali).

River Torrens at Highbury

Want to know more?

Stretching 85 kilometres – more than 460 times the length of Adelaide Oval – from Mount Pleasant in the Mount Lofty Ranges to the sea at West Beach, the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari is without a doubt the soul of Adelaide.

Discover everything you need to know about the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari.

Banner showing three images of the River Torrens with hearts

This blog was originally published in 2022 as 'Everything you need to know about the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari'.

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