Fern Gully and the Lake at Mt. Lofty Botanic Gardens.

minismallholding
Mini Smallholding @minismallholdingMarch 2019 · 5 min read

South Australia has three botanic gardens. The one we're most familiar with is the Adelaide one in the central business district. Then there's Mt. Lofty botanic gardens in the Adelaide Hills and quite far south in the suburb of Blackwood is Wittunga botanic gardens.

The other Monday we had a public holiday, so with the rest of the family out having fun with their own pastimes, my youngest, Izzy, and I decided to head off somewhere new to explore. I thought I'd been to the Mt. Lofty botanic gardens once before and hadn't been particularly impressed, but we decided to give it a other go.

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Autumn begins.

Located in Crafers, it's about a 30 minute drive from Adelaide’s centre, but an hour for us. While entry to the gardens is free, the parking is paid ticket parking every day except Sundays and public holidays. It's not a huge cost, $3 for the day or $1 for the first hour (does that mean hourly?). The money raised goes to the upkeep of the gardens. There are two carparks and entrances, an upper and lower one. We ended up at the lower one.

Opening hours vary between 8:30am and 10am, depending on the day and closing time is 4pm in the week, 5pm at the weekend or 6pm during daylight savings. We arrived just before 4pm, so were happy to still be in daylight savings. At 97 hectares, we still weren't going to cover much of it in 2 hours anyway.

From the Lower Carpark

Nothing was looking familiar to me, so maybe last visit we entered through the upper carpark. Toilet facilities were in the carpark near the entrance. Yes, I embarrassed Izzy by taking a photo of it!

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I suspect it's on a septic tank system, because the smell outside was distinctly sewery. Another reason why my daughter didn't want to hang around there. There are actually toilets dotted around the gardens, so I shouldn't have worried so much about not finding another one.

A lookout area from the carpark offered a lovely view of fields, trees and part of the lake.

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From where we were, the easiest part to explore was the area around the lake.

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First we ventured along the pathway above the lake, taking photos as we went.

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An information shelter where visitors can read a bit about the plant life in different seasons.

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Dotted around the gardens are these sculptures which discuss things, from the part water and wood play in ecosystems, to geology.

Interesting Encounters

As we were taking photos of the views and flowers along the path a friendly girl approached Izzy and told her about a dragonfly down in the gully which was being very cooperative for photographing. It was a steep bank to get down there and initially I wondered if we were allowed to explore off the paths, but judging by the bench at the bottom, we were.

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The dragonfly was indeed very amenable and photogenic. For a moment we wondered if it had died there, but on closer inspection we discovered that it was cleaning it's head. It ignored us even when we got really close to it with our cameras.

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Later we discovered what I suspect is a wolf spider home. They build a little fence at the entrance of their tunnels. Izzy was quite happy that it didn't come out to greet us!

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Then a larger animal took us by surprise, just having a munch at the side of the path while waiting for us to pass so that he could get to the grass on the other side.

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He was a powerful looking grey kangaroo, who patiently waited for us to finish photographing him and move on before carefully making his way down the steep slope and across the path.

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Fern Gully

Past the lake we ventured into fern gully, keeping an eye on the time so as to get back to the entrance before closing and not get locked in the carpark. It's a peaceful, picturesque, almost story book place, with paths disappearing into the trees.

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You shall not pass!

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Flowers and Water Lilies

As it was approaching evening it was dropping cool and being in the hills helped speed that up. Izzy, who was in shorts and a sleeveless top, was starting to feel the chill, so we began to head back towards the car via the other side of the lake.

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Killjoys...

On the route back we passed a beautiful pond full of waterlilies. After the extreme heatwave of last month, this was the only area which appeared to have got through it almost unscathed. The grassy area was the only one we'd encountered which didn't have huge brown patches, but the huge leaved plants along the water's edge had sustained some scorched leaves.

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I love water and these gardens didn't fail to bring a beautiful tranquility. I could happily have spent hours there.

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Those huge leaved plants had some interesting fruits/flowers on them

Early autumn brought a stunning variety of colours, not just with the foliage, but the flowers, the berries and even the lichen on a dead bush.

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I'm looking forward to visiting again and seeing what the other areas and seasons have to offer.

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~○♤○~

Photos mostly my own, some taken by @izzydawn, mainly the flowers, berries and kangaroo.


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minismallholding

Small scale suburban farming. Homeschooling. Health.


Looks like a great place to stroll around and soak up the sun. Petty sure I've been once before but didn't have a chance to stay long nd explore; I'll be going back now for sure :)


I didn't realise all that was out there. If I've been there it must have been a long time ago. Beautiful spot to reconnect with nature for a bit. Great post, girls.


I knew it was somewhere there in theory, but never realised the scope of it.


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Dear @minismallholding

Wow I was very impressed by your description but more by the beautiful photos of that botanical garden.

I showed the pictures to my two daughters, they were very impressed by how good the pictures of the kanguro were. They asked me if I can take them to that beautiful place.

I did not lie to them. I told them that at the moment I could not.


Thank you.
It was quite a lovely place and I think we'll have to return to see more of it. I'm sorry your daughter can't see it just yet, but hope that maybe one day she will.


What a lovely walk/venture. And ugh.. spider hole! Once we took a photo with a flash down a hole like that. We could not see the spider in thè dark. When I saw the photo the flash made possible I nearly dropped the camera in fright. In retrospect ... imagine how Mr Spidey felt.


Spidey probably thought he was going to be abducted! Lol! It must have been quite an amazing photo.


Some steep paths if you park in the lower car park but well-worth the effort. We head up there in Autumn and Spring for picnics all the time. Did you check out the gardens at the top car park?


We didn't see much of the gardens at all, really. I think we'll have to make a return trip and arrive earlier next time. A picnic sounds like a good idea. Make a day of it.


It's a nice place. Less populated than others and so more appealing.


I guess it's a bit out of the way. There didn't seem to be an awful lot of car parking spaces to cater for a huge amount of visitors anyway.
Have you ever been to the Wittunga one?


Not been to Wittunga but heard it's decent. Might be one for the Easter break?