Event Profile

Mount Barker parkrun

It’s called Mount Barker but that’s purely for the town this parkrun is in, not because you run up a mountain.

Most parkrunners would be pleased to find it’s flat, but if you want the challenge of an incline then you can always run up the mountain afterwards.

“Several parkrunners run or hike up to the summit regularly where there are spectacular views across the valleys to Mount Lofty near Adelaide, and out to the plains to the east and south,” says co-event director Paul Butler.

Mount Barker is 33km north of Adelaide and is the town nearest to Mount Barker Summit, it’s also the largest town in the Adelaide Hills.

When it started in March 2014 it was the third parkrun in South Australia.

It had 94 finishers and these days averages 156, so the perfect size to not feel lost among runners.


At its 5th birthday in 2019 Mount Barker achieved its current highest attendance of 374.

Mount Barker was the 65th event in Australia.

“We love to catch up with friends and we welcome visitors,” says co-event director Jacqui Johnson.

“It’s a lovely community parkrun and an excellent out-and-back course along the Laratinga Wetlands.”

Mount Barker parkrun was one of the first in the state, bringing parkrun to the Adelaide Hills.

It grew quickly and a very friendly community developed.

“Over the years we have welcomed new Hills parkruns nearby at Charleston, Strathalbyn, Cleland and The Avenues (Kuitpo Forest), and we remain closely connected with them,” says Paul.

“We usually combine with Strathalbyn at Christmas and New Year’s Day.”

The course

“It’s a flat course!! Being called Mount Barker, that surprises a lot of visitors. It follows a creek and then goes alongside lakes where you’ll see plenty of bird life.

“Being an out-and-back course, the community gets to see everyone as they walk, jog or run – and that makes it an extra-friendly morning.”

There’s a meeting area with great facilities and a grassed area under a big old tree for gathering and chatting.

Jacqui says that visitors often comment about how friendly and welcoming the community is, and that the course is a fast one.

Jacqui and Paul both started parkrun when it first came to Mount Barker. The founding event director was Ros Lowe.

“The community is so welcoming and many of us have ventured onto trail running together and other events throughout the hills and beyond,” Paul says.

“We have a fantastic event team of run directors and we make it all lots of great fun!”

parkrun Adventurers

“In March 2020 we hosted PALM 2020 – the parkrun Adventurers podcast Listener Meet-up.

“People came from all over Australia for a weekend of parkrunning, social events and a live recording of the podcast on the grass at the start/finish line.”

Jacqui says parkrun for her is all about the “happy, smiling faces of fellow parkrunners”.

“You see how far they have come from their first ever parkrun, how they make more friends, become more confident and outgoing, feel fitter and healthier.

“We are so lucky at Mount Barker with the gorgeous Laratinga Wetlands, with a view of Mount Barker Summit off to the left as you head out, the superb blue fairy wrens dancing around the side of the path, various water birds, frogs and sometimes even turtles to take in both on the way out and on the way back.

“Being relatively flat it is good for those just starting out in their fitness, as well as those looking to smash a new PB and go all out.


“I recently celebrated my 250th at Mount Barker after starting back in March 2014, and have volunteered 65 times – I think Paul is closer to volunteering over 80 times!

“I also loved it when Jessica Trengove attended on September 23, 2017 and I was Run Director with both my kids getting to meet an Australian Olympian, just as part of their Saturday morning parkrun.

“We all have a lot of fun with our volunteers too, you will see from the videos on our Facebook page that we have had a Mannequin Challenge, done a rendition of Ed Sheeran’s with “I’m in love with my parkrun” .

“We are soooo lucky to have both Paul and Charlie Butler as part of our regular team given their roles as Photography Ambassadors.

“We also had fun taking turns with livestreams during lockdown to keep fellow parkrunners going last year.

“The time put in goes well beyond just a Saturday morning to create that warm, fuzzy atmosphere that is Mount Barker parkrun.”

PALM 2020


Two of Mount Barker run directors are reporters for the podcast – PK (Paul Kitching) and Grette Wilkinson.

PK says the wetlands are “just beautiful” with lots of birdlife and riverlife nearby to admire along the way.

“I love parkrun as it is always encouraging people to be active, is totally inclusive, helps people meet others and gives people a chance to volunteer,” he says.

“One or my best memories was in 2019 when we had a famous South African visitor, Tim Jenkin.

“I was fortunate to take him to parkrun and wrote a blog about it for the parkrun blog.

“In 1978 he was sentenced to 12 years in Pretoria Central Prison but managed to escape using wooden keys he’d secretly made with two other prisoners.

“In April 2019 Daniel Radcliffe was in South Australia filming the movie Escape from Pretoria about Tim’s story.

“Tim was in Adelaide to visit the film set. When he was asked what he wanted to do on Saturday he replied “parkrun.”.

“A fellow parkrunner was working on the film and put Tim in touch with me.

“Tim did interviews in the car on the way up, had a great run, and even hung around for coffee after.”

There is a cafe at the start/finish line, and several cafes in the main street.

Paul says the best thing to get is the coffee!

What to do when at Mount Barker

A visit to Mount Barker Summit is a must do for visitors.

Other activities are the Hills Sculpture Trail, the Ukaria Culture Centre and a variety of artisan food and drink establishments.

These include Prancing Pony Brewery and the Ngeringa Vineyard. Visit nearby Hahndorf, an artisan German village.

Mount Barker is also home to the SteamRanger Heritage Railway, which operates the Southern Encounter steam train to Strathalbyn and Goolwa to Victor Harbor.

As well as the Laratinga Wetlands, which you run through at parkrun, there’s also the Totness Recreation Park to explore.

What’s in a Name…

Mount Barker parkrun is named after the town in which it is found, which is near Mount Barker Summit.

The Summit is a place of historic and cultural significance, and home to the original custodians, the Peramangk people.

The Ngarrindjeri people from the east also used the summit for ceremonial and burial sites.

It was named by Captain Charles Sturt in 1830 in honour of Captain Collett Barker.

This was originally published in Issue 5 of the Runs With A Barcode magazine.

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