Adelaide Plains

South Australia

Kaurna Country

The River Torrens

The River Torrens

The River Torrens

The River Torrens flows 85km from its source in the Adelaide Hills near Mount Pleasant, across the Adelaide Plains, past the city centre of Adelaide and empties into Gulf St Vincent, via a constructed outlet, between Henley Beach South and West Beach. It runs between the city-centre and North Adelaide, forming the Torrens Lake between the Adelaide Zoo and a weir opposite Adelaide Gaol.

The River Torrens is also known by its native indigenous Kaurna people's name of Karra wirra-parri, which means 'river of the Red Gum forest'. It refers to the dense eucalyptus forest that lined its banks prior to early settlers clearing them.

The River Torrens is fed by numerous seasonal creeks, which are dry for most of the year. The Torrens and its tributaries can be highly variable in flow, sometimes a raging torrent, damaging bridges and flooding city areas, to trickles and dry in summer. Since settlement the Torrens has repeatedly flooded, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Due to the river's running through the centre of Adelaide, transport necessitated the construction of many bridges. Most of the early timber built bridges were destroyed by floods and new ones were constructed.

The park running alongside the River Torrens is 35 km long with numerous playgrounds walkways and bicycle tracks.With construction of parks along the river, native species have been replanted. Since European settlement the river has been a popular tourist attraction. The river is often used for recreation, with the footpaths on the riverbanks often busy with cyclists and joggers. Rowers also use the lake for training all year round and many rowing regattas are held on the Torrens Lake course in the summer months of each year.

The Torrens lake forms a centrepiece of many Adelaide events and postcard scenes. On the south bank of the lake adjacent to the Adelaide Festival Centre, in Elder Park, there is an 1882 iron rotunda bandstand mainly Glasgow built & funded by Sir Thomas Elder Smith, who the park was named after. Elder Park is also used for the annual Tasting Australia festival, mass singing of christmas carols at the annual "Carols by Candlelight", and other public events throughout the year.

The Adelaide Pontoon on the River Torrens has been reborn as the city's newest summer entertainment venue with movies, live music, food and wine on Riverbank.  The Adelaide Pontoon is open from 5pm to midnight Tuesday to Thursday, 4pm to midnight Friday, and 11am to midnight Saturday and Sunday, until Sunday, February 4.

The privately owned "Popeye" boats are recreational ferries that operate on the lake between Elder Park and the Adelaide Zoo. The Popeyes had a brush with royalty in March 1977 with Popeye 5 ferrying Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip followed by a choir in Popeye 4. The wooden Popeyes I, II and III were replaced in 1982.

In places the steep banks of the river are an ideal habitat for long-necked tortoises. Native waterfowl are common along the river with Pacific black ducks, Australian wood ducks, black swans, ibis, egrets and herons amongst the more than 100 species seen. River red gum and blue gum trees are found along the riverbanks. Also present are Sheoak, native cherry, native pine and golden wattle which is Australia's floral emblem.

The River Torrens Map   





29 Mar 2018

Other Things to See in South Australia

  • Admirals Arch

    Admirals Arch

  • Brighton Beach

    Brighton Beach

  • Rundle Mall

    Rundle Mall

  • State Library of South Australia

    State Library of South Australia

  • The Pink Roadhouse

    The Pink Roadhouse

  • Victoria Square Fountain

    Victoria Square Fountain