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The last time we went to Mt. Lofty Botanic Gardens, we were a bit short on time and didn't really get as long as we'd have liked. This time I tried to give us a bit more time so we weren't rushing as much. Autumn was getting into full swing at the time of our visit and I wanted to get there for the autumn colours before the rains made it less comfortable to be out and about.

We decided to enter from the upper carpark, this time and as it wasn't a bank holiday, I had to put some money in the machine for a parking ticket. Parking fees go towards the upkeep of the gardens and $3 will see you through a full day.

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The Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens is fairly new in comparison to Adelaide’s city gardens. It was only officially opened in 1977, after a few decades of planning. Just 6 years later the devastating 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires damaged much of the upper area, leading to reconstruction and an upgrade of the water storage systems.

From the upper carpark the gardens are less managed looking and more towards woodlands. Paths lead off in various directions and it feels adventurous, but also easy to get lost if it weren't for the signs dotted around to guide you.

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Water sprinklers were coming off and on in various parts of the park while we were there, so we had a bit of fun trying to dodge them as we made our way along the paths. Timing was everything. I wasn't always successful, so I'm glad it was just water and not lasers or arrows!

With the addition of water, this dry climate can host a fair variety of plants it normally couldn't. Little streams appear to funnel off the excess.

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Considering the lush environment that this extra water creates, I was a little puzzled by the lack of wildlife around. Taking a little moment on a bench, I closed my eyes and listened. Occasionally I’d hear a distant kookaburra or parrot, but mostly silence other than the wind in the trees. Normally I'd expect to hear birdsong.

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I soon got a hint as to why this might be.

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Pesticides! This is disappointing. No wonder the birds aren't here if one of their main food sources is being poisoned. I get that they will be growing plants which are foreign to this environment and therefore more prone to pests, but the wildlife is part of the balance which will help to deal with them and this cuts them out. This is also an area where they promote and protect native wildlife like bandicoots, which are insectivores.

I tried to put this disappointment out of my mind and continue to enjoy the park. There was still beauty to be found with quite a few flowers still blooming and the autumn colours in some of the leaves were quite vivid.

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I always think hydrangeas look like clusters of butterflies.

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So soft and fuzzy looking!

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