Horsnell Gully

How do you get there?

Coming from Adelaide, head out of the city on Magill Road.

At the end of Magill Road go straight on, along the Old Norton Summit Road.

After a few kilometres, there is a road to the right called "Horsnell Gully Road", this road is also used for access to the adjacent quarry.

Just before you reach the quarry, is a small track to the right, with the sign pictured right. A short distance from the entrance is a car park.


A short 15 point walking trail.

The coach house

1. As you come and park in the car park, you will see that there are some old ruins and an old stable. These ruins were built in 1910 by the Horsnell family. The gully was originally settled in 1842.

You will also notice that there are many trees that are not natives to the area. These include a walnut tree, osage orange and olives. These trees were planted by Mr Horsnell in his orchard.

The coach house
The coach house
Old Stables
Interpretive Sign
Interpretive Sign

2. Take notice of the sign that outlines the rules of the park. These rules are no horses, bikes or trail bikes. The park permits walking only. We also ask that you stay on the paths to reduce soil erosion and that you take your rubbish with you. Take care to obey these rules and the Park will stay beautiful for a long time to come.

As you walk up the path, you will notice a bridge. Walk across this bridge to your next observation point.

Old mine
Old Mine

3. Up the hill and off the track, there is an old mine. At this point, Mr Horsnell's orchard began.

Elm forest
Elm forest

4. You are now entering the elm forest. Notice the lack of native trees due to an overgrowth of elms. The elms grow thicker and thicker, gradually working their way up the slope and smothering the young native plants. The Friends of Black Hill and Morialta are working on a plan to confine the elms to one area so that native regeneration can occur.

5. You will notice that this part of the park is overtaken with an erect shrub of about head height with a bright yellow flower. This is called broom. It is a real problem in the park as it is not a native and spreads very fast. Friends of Black Hill and Morialta are trying to control the broom in the gully.


6. You have now come to a track junction. You will notice that there is a number of blackberry bushes in this part of the park. They are another weed that the Friends are attempting to control. Although the berries may look big and juicy, you are advised not to eat any as they may have been sprayed.

view up the gully
View up the hill

7. This is a great point to look at the kind of native trees that grow in this part of the park. Look up the hill to your left. There are many endemic trees and plants here.
These include:

  • Blue Gum: Eucalyptus leucoxylon
    This species of Eucalyptus grows up to 30 metres. The buds and fruits usually grow in groups of three or less. The flowers are usually cream but sometimes pink or red.
  • Native Cherry: Exocarpos cupressiformis
    This tree looks much the same as a pine tree. The fruits, which are edible, form on a small puffy red base, giving is a common name of Native Cherry.
  • Golden Wattle: Acacia pycnantha
    This is Australia's floral emblem. The flowers are like small pompoms, and when in bloom they are yellow in colour, giving the tree the traditional colours of yellow and green. The acacia has a lifespan of only 10 years. The seed pods open in very hot temperature, especially after a bush fire.
  • Wirilda: Acacia retinodes
    Also called the Swamp Wattle, this plant grows to a small tree or upright shrub. The small flower balls grow in groups at each leaf base. Wirilda grows well on slopes.
    If you look closely, you can see that to the left of the clump of trees you have been looking at and up the hill a bit further, there is a termite nest. These creatures are common in the park and are the main source of food of Echidnas.
Dusty Miller
Dusty Miller

8. To your left is a very interesting plant:
Dusty Miller: Spyridium parvifolium. This plant has very small flowers. Because of this, it would hardly ever get pollinated as the bees would never see it. But this clever little plant has a way of overcoming this problem. you will notice that some of the leaves are white. In the middle of each three- leafed leaflet is a tiny flower. These leaves are used to attract the bees and they soon find the small flower.

Brown Stringybark
Brown Stringybark

9. You can see ahead of you an arched tree. This tree is called Brown Stringybark: Eucalyptus baxteri. On a quiet day this is a great place to sit and watch the birds.
You have now come to the second creek crossing. Turn and go back to the track junction.


10. At this point, you will notice that the dominating plant is a fern-like plant, called bracken. It grows up to about 1 metre in height.

On return to the junction, turn right and go up the hill.

11. If you would like to take a longer walk, continue up the Rockdale Hill Track. This walk takes approximately 3.5 hours and is a 9.5km return trip.
Look up the hill and a little to the left and you will notice a definite line where the low grassy plants stop and the area starts being overtaken by weeds. This is believed to be where the fence line was for Horsnell's cows. The cows would have encouraged the weeds to grow. Take the lower of the two tracks.

River Redgum
View across the valley of River Red

12. As you stand here, it is a great opportunity to notice the change of vegetation. Look up the valley, and notice that most of the trees are River Red: Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Blue Gums: Eucalyptus leucoxylon. Further up the valley, not visible from this point, the vegetation changes to Stringybark Gum. This is because different plants are adapted to different levels on the slope due to the different soil types.

Erosion Control
Log used for Erosion Control

13. Look down the hill and you will notice a log. This was put there to stop the erosion, caused by people sliding down the hill to the lower path. You will also notice ahead of you, some stones have been put on the path to retain the soil. Please do the right thing and stay on the paths so erosion is reduced.

Old Ruins
The old Milking Shed

14. Look to your right and you will see an old ruin. This was used by Mr Horsnell as a milking shed.

15. You have now completed the nature trail. Now that you have finished, you can sit beneath the beautiful old walnut tree planted by Horsnell as part of his orchard. There are other seats on the opposite side too. These seats are perfect for sitting and watching birds. The most common birds you will see are the little Blue Wrens. These tiny wrens are often very friendly and playful. The males have bright blue heads and black across the eyes while the females called Jennies aren't as colourful with their brown feathers.


Produced by Lee Stewart in conjunction with the Friends of Black Hill and Morialta and Pembroke Scouts. 1995.

Photographs: John Fleming

Coding error corrected 9 December 2015

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