Many residents and visitors to the City of Mitcham are familiar with popular sites such as the Belair National Park. This web page will provide you with information on a few of the other beautiful natural bushland areas in Belair, Bellevue Heights, Blackwood, Brown Hill Creek, Eden Hills, Mitcham and St Marys which are an important part of the open space within the City of Mitcham.
Belair National Park
Blackwood Hill Reserve
Brown Hill Creek Recreation Park
Shepherds Hill Reserve
Sleeps Hill Quarries
Sleeps Hill Quarry Reserve
Sturt Gorge Recreation Park
Windy Point Reserve
End of Gulfview Road, Blackwood
Ashby Reserve is amongst the largest of City of Mitcham's undeveloped woodland reserves. It is situated approximately two kilometres south-west of the Belair Country Fire Service station. The reserve is irregular in shape with residential development on its northern, southern and eastern boundaries. The exception to this is its western boundary, which joins Watiparinga National Trust Reserve ("Watiparinga").
The present day "Ashby Reserve" consists of the former Gulfview Reserve (R513, 4.45 hectares) and Ashby Reserve (R501, 20.23 hectares). An internal Council memorandum on 20th June 1984 from the deputy town clerk states that the two reserves are to be combined and will retain the title R501- Ashby.
In 1881 a syndicate of gentleman had invested in land along the proposed route of the railway and this lead to the subdivision of Blackwood, Eden Hills and Belair. It would appear that land clearing took place during the 1870s for Section 2203 Hundred of Adelaide as the description changed from "house and land" to "grassland" (property description from the Mitcham District Council Rate Assessment Books). During the 1880s and 1890s when the railway line and tunnels were constructed through the Watiparinga Reserve, workers would pass through Ashby Reserve and Watiparinga with bullock teams to the Belair Hotel. These trails are still visible today and some were upgraded to fire tracks within Ashby Reserve and Watiparinga National Trust Reserve. The syndicate attempted to subdivide land around the railway route but were caught in an economic depression and were unsuccessful in that venture. In 1895 a farmer from Alma in the mid-north, Frederick Mableson purchased the sections and the family attempted dairying. Although Frederick died in 1902 the family continue to own the land until 1911 when it was purchased by Ernest C. Saunders and Edwin Ashby. Eden Hills railway station was installed making access to the additional subdivisions more attractive.
The Ashby family purchased the land now known as Ashby Reserve from the Rainer family who utilised the property to graze dry cows, as part of a dairy farm. When purchased in the 1930s the property was predominantly cleared with some patches of remnant vegetation. The Ashby's cleared very little of the land. The property was used in conjunction with Watiparinga for livestock grazing. The Ashby's managed the property as part of the larger Wittunga Farm until the 1960s, which included the Watiparinga land.
By the mid 1960s the subject land became Ashby and Gulfview Reserve as part of a land subdivisional requirement, in which land was set aside for community open space. During the period 1965-1975, little action occurred on the reserve with the exception of some grazing. Ashby Reserve and the former Gulfview Reserve were previously cleared, sown to pasture, fertilised with superphosphate and grazed for many years. The properties were later abandoned as farm land at the time of subdivision. In 1968 the existing bullock tracks used in the 1880s were excavated to make a fire track near Baeckea Crescent, leading into Watiparinga.
During 1975-1994 The National Trust of SA undertook an environmental weed control and revegetation program in Ashby/Gulfview and Sleeps Hill Reserves. Weeds of concern included ash trees, olives, African daisy, boneseed and broom. Early on there was opposition from nearby residents regarding the removal of mature ash trees. Therefore "showy" non-indigenous natives were planted in their place and this appeased the concerned residents. In 1989 small populations of indigenous orchids were discovered.
Belair National Park
Upper Sturt Road, Belair
Belair National Park is an 835 hectare urban national park reserve located just 13 kilometres from the Adelaide City centre.
Belair National Park has important natural, cultural/historical and recreational values and is the birthplace of the national park system in South Australia. The Park was dedicated in 1891, making it the first National Park in South Australia.
The Park lies within the Mitcham and Adelaide Hills Council areas, and forms part of a chain of national park reserves located along the Adelaide Hills-Face zone. The Park is a part of the Department for Environment and Heritage( DEH ) Sturt District which comprises 15 parks. It has become the gateway to other national park reserves in the state, as it is often the first port of call for many of the 250,000 local, interstate and overseas visitors who come here each year.
This park is managed by National Parks and Wildlife. A park and walking guide is available from the Belair District Office. For more information telephone 8278 5466 or visit the website.
Blackwood Hill Reserve
Trevor Terrace, Blackwood
Blackwood Hill Reserve is a 19 hectare reserve located south of the railway line and borders the suburb of Craigburn Farm. Entrances to the reserve can be found on Trevor Terrace and Craigburn Road.
The reserve is full of natural beauty with plenty of open space and bushland which a number of trails pass including the Tom Roberts Horse Trail, which guides the walker through the best parts of the reserve. Many species of bush and plants can be seen, including Blue Gum, Christmas Bush, Rock Ferm Hollyhock and River Bottlebrush.
The land, once owned by William Archibald Jones, had a farmer's house with the surrounding land used for farming and horse agistment. A pony trail riding course was created and still used today. A number of sporting groups use this land including the Blackwood Football Club, Coromandel Cricket Club and Sheoak Pony Club.
Blackwood Hill Reserve has been included in the National Estate Register, which recognises areas of natural heritage significance.
Brown Hill Creek Recreation Park
Brown Hill Creek Road, Brown Hill Creek
Situated in the foothills of the Mt Lofty Ranges, only eight kilometres south of Adelaide City centre, Brown Hill Creek Recreation Park is a popular multi-use recreation area which is also valued for its historic and scenic attractions. Brown Hill's narrow creek, flowing through a steep sided valley with majestic river red gums, some more than 300 years old, was once a favourite camping, hunting and gathering ground for the Kaurna Aboriginal people.
The park is located in the City of Mitcham and can be entered by vehicle from Brown Hill Creek Road or on foot from Northbrook Avenue. The park may be closed on total fire ban days. Admission is free.
Large river red gums line Brown Hill Creek while blue gum woodland climbs the valley slopes which are dotted with golden wattle. Much of the native vegetation was cleared for crops and sheep grazing, along with the introduction of exotic species such as willows, oaks and poplars. Revegetation with native species is gradually progressing.
The creek valley functions as a natural corridor allowing wildlife to move between the foothills and the plains.
More than 40 species of birds and mammals visit the park while others are permanent residents. Kookaburras, bats, possums, water rats, frogs, eastern brown snakes and occasional koalas can be seen in the park.
The first European to settle in the area was Pastor William Finlayson who arrived in 1837. By 1840, agriculture, market gardening and quarrying were important local industries. Concrete pits were used to store horse manure for the market gardens while stone quarries provided sandstone and slate for buildings.
The 52 hectare Brown Hill Creek Recreation Park was dedicated in 1972 (previously National Pleasure Resort from 1915). A Friends of Brown Hill Creek volunteer group, which is assisting National Parks and Wildlife SA staff in the revegetation of the park, was formed in 1985.
Car parking is provided throughout the park. The Mitcham Lions Club picnic area, located within the park, has shady picnic tables and water available. Camping is not permitted within the park but accommodation is available at Brown Hill Creek Caravan Park which has a kiosk. The park also provides walking trails of various lengths and a horse exercise area.
Further information on the park is available from the National Parks and Wildlife SA's Sturt District Office Phone 8278 5477 or visit http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/SA_National_Parks_Guide.
Gulfview Road, Eden Hills
(See Ashby Reserve) Ashby Reserve and Gulfview Reserve were combined on the 20 June 1984.
Northcote Road, Eden Hills
Karinya Reserve, located on Northcote Road, Eden Hills, offers 10 hectares of reserve for community recreation.
The reverse includes a playground and skate park with large open space areas which are managed by a Bush for Life program to preserve native vegetation as well as community facilities such as the Eden Hills Scout Group, Blackwood Rotary Shed and a Soccer Oval.
The Kaurna People occupied and used the land to follow traditional hunting and gathering routes.
Old Belair Road, Mitcham
The Park is located near Torrens Park stretching from Parkers Road and Andersons Avenue in the west to Brownhill Creek Reserve in the east and from Old Belair Road and James Road in the south to Weemala Drive and Mitcham Cemetery in the north.
Randell Park is an excellent place for walking and a number of trails visit the old quarry faces. The park has an impressive range of geological features such as ripple rock, ochre and cliff faces of quarries. Other geological highlights include interbedded felspathic quartzite, siltstone, shale, slate and freestone. The reserve is full of indigenous vegetation such a Grey Box, Drooping Sheoak and Golden Wattle.
Randell Park is named after Peter Lake Randell a former landbroker and Mayor of the City of Mitcham from 1968 to 1971.
Between 1860 and 1950 the quarries in Randell Park were operated extensively supplying stone for local road repairs, road metal, curbing, paving, concrete, street gutters and siltstone for walling in houses and buildings.
Shepherds Hill Reserve
Ayliffes Road, St Marys
Shepherds Hill Recreation Park holds some surprises for first time visitors, thanks mainly to its unpretentious suburban main entrance. A bike jumps track, a pony club, an archery range and a 360 degree view of the Adelaide plains, coastline and nearby hills are just some of the unexpected attractions. Then there are the old railway tunnel, the remains of a viaduct, and two winding creeks to explore.
The park is in Adelaide's southern suburbs only 11 kilometres from the City centre. The main entrance and car park is off Ayliffes Road, St Marys, but the park can also be accessed from Ellis Avenue, Eden Hills. There is no vehicle access for the public and the park may be closed on total fire ban days. Admission is free.
Although past land use practices such as grazing and cropping have impacted upon the once diverse wildlife of the area, the 78 hectares protected by the park supports a variety of habitats. Vegetation includes open Grey Box woodlands with an understorey of Kangaroo Thorn, Golden Wattle, native hopbush and wallaby grass on the hillsides. Old River Red Gums and South Australian blue gums line the park's two creeks. Wattles, teatrees, sedges and rushes also line the banks, providing important habitat for birdlife. Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, blue wrens, Striated Pardalotes and the occasional falcon can be seen. A number of native animals also inhabit the park, including possums, Eastern Brown Snakes, and several species of skinks and shingleback lizards. Koalas are occasionally seen feeding in either Grey Box or River Red Gums.
Before European settlement the Shepherds Hill area was inhabited by the Kaurna Aboriginal people. Although little information has been documented about their occupation, important Aboriginal sites, such as 'scarred trees' have been recorded. As the name suggests, Shepherds Hill has had a long history of sheep grazing, although the park was actually named after William John Shephard who owned a section of local land from 1853 to 1864. During early settlement of the area many trees were felled for fencing and building materials. Some prospecting also took place during the gold rush era of the 1860s.
Shepherds Hill Recreation Park was first proclaimed in 1955.
There are no visitor facilities or amenities. Further information on the park is available from the National Parks and Wildlife SA's Sturt District Office on 8278 5477 or visit http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/sanpr/shepherdshills/index.html.
Sleeps Hill Quarries
High Street, Belair
The name "Sleeps Hill" is derived from Samuel Sleep who was employed as a shepherd by the South Australian Company. Samuel later became a pastoralist in the far north of South Australia but went broke due to a succession of bad years. He died in 1864 during the Great Drought. According to an interpretive sign above Quarry E by the Department of Mines and Energy, quarries were opened in the reserve by A. H. Birt in 1916 and taken over by Adelaide Quarries Ltd in 1919. During the 1920s these quarries were one of the leading producers of crushed rock in South Australia and employed up to 100 men. The rock was used as aggregate and sand for a variety of purposes. After 1930 following the Depression, quarry operations were seriously curtailed and only a few men were employed. Quarrying ceased around 1950.
Over the years the section of reserve adjacent to the old crushing plant has been the focus of a community environmental weed control and revegetation project by the "Sleeps Hill Scrub Landcare Project" and Clapham Primary School. In 1993 the primary school planted 170 indigenous trees and shrubs north-east of the Sleeps Hill tunnel. The Landcare group has received a number of awards to recognise their achievements. In 1996 Trees For Life requested the establishment of three Bushcare sites in the Sleeps Hill Quarry complex, which were approved and funded by the City of Mitcham.
Mines and Energy (Primary Industries and Resources SA) have produced a walking guide to the quarries. Copies can be obtained from Mitcham Community Information on 8372 8812.
Sleeps Hill Quarry Reserve
Located within Belair and Lynton
Sleeps Hill Quarry Reserve consists of approximately sixty-nine hectares which includes Council's former operations depot and landfill. The southern section of Sleeps Hill Quarry Reserve is amongst the largest of City of Mitcham's undeveloped woodland reserves with an area of approximately thirty-three hectares. It is situated approximately 1.5 kilometres south-west of the Belair Country Fire Service station. The reserve is irregular in shape with residential development on its north-eastern, eastern and southern boundaries. The majority of its northern boundary is adjacent to the former Lynton landfill. The Trans Adelaide railway forms the reserve's western boundary. Sleeps Hill Quarry Reserve is part of a larger network of undeveloped woodland reserves across the Mitcham Hills such as Ashby Reserve, Watiparinga National Trust Reserve, Sleeps Hill Reserve (west of railway line), Windy Point, Randell Park and Shepherds Hill Recreation Park.
Watiparinga and Ashby Reserve are in close proximity to Sleeps Hill Quarry Reserve and share many similarities such as vegetation associations.
During the mid 1800s, land in the southern section of Sleeps Hill Quarry was held by absentee landholders and rented out to small scale farmers. Later, land was leased or purchased for quarrying which commenced during the late 1800s. The reserve is known locally as "Sleeps Hill Quarry Reserve" and contains the "Sleeps Hill Quarries Interpretive Trail."
A Sleeps Hill Quarry Reserve Maintenance Plan has been developed to preserve the natural bushland. This plan was released for consultation in September 2003.
Sturt Gorge Recreation Park
Entrance via car park Broadmeadow Drive, Flagstaff Hill
Sturt Gorge Recreation Park is internationally recognised as an area of geological significance. In 1946, Australia's Antarctic explorer, the geologist Sir Douglas Mawson, wrote to the owner of the gorge: 'The occurrence of an extremely ancient glacial deposit on your land makes this locality of outstanding interest to scientists'. The park also protects a wide variety of habitats which can be explored via several walking trails.
Sturt Gorge is located in Adelaide's southern suburbs of Bellevue Heights and Flagstaff Hill, some 13 kilometres from the City centre. Walkers can enter the park via steep trails from Broadmeadow Drive, Bonneyview Road, The Boulevard and Black Road. There is a small car park on Broadmeadow Drive. The park may be closed on total fire ban days. Admission is free.
Some rock strata in the gorge was identified in 1901 as having glacial origins. This formation, known as Sturt tillite, holds the distinction of providing the first definite evidence of such early stage glaciation in the geological history of the world.
Sturt tillite is believed to have been formed from glacial material dropped from ice floating in the ocean that covered South Australia some 800 million years ago. It consists of stones of all sizes, boulders and mudstones.
A later formation, containing slates deposited as sediments in the deep lakes that once covered the area, overlies the Sturt tillite. Siltstones and quartzites are the oldest rocks in the park, occurring in small outcrops in the south-eastern corner.
The gorge contains a diverse range of plant communities, from grasslands to open woodlands. The steep slopes are characterised by drooping sheoak and Grey Box, while the most densely vegetated area is a tall shrubland of large twiggy daisy bush and drooping sheoak. Large River Red Gums line the Sturt River.
The park and its various walking trails also offer the opportunity to observe the diverse range of native fauna which comes to drink at the waterholes along the river.
Little information is available regarding Kaurna Aboriginal occupation and use of the land, although it is know that Aboriginal people used this natural corridor to follow traditional hunting and gathering routes. Adelaide merchant Archibald Jaffray purchased the land in 1849. From 1859 it was leased to several people as grazing land. In 1919 it was purchased as a settlement for soldiers discharged following the end of the First World War. One returned soldier, Edgar Alfred de Rose, leased the property for a 65-year term and named it Sturt Hills. He ran 700 to 800 sheep and leased out the southern section for cropping.
During the 1930s depression, timber was cut from the eastern part of the property and sold to bakeries and brickmakers. Silver, lead, zinc and copper were mined in the gorge. Sturt Gorge Recreation Park was first proclaimed in 1955.
There are no visitor facilities or amenities. Further information on the park is available from the National Parks and Wildlife SA's Sturt District Office on 8278 5477 or visit http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/Adelaide/Sturt_Gorge_Recreation_Park.
Entrance via Shepherds Hill Recreation Park, Ellis Avenue, Eden Hills or Ayliffes Road, St Marys
Watiparinga Reserve is a National Trust of SA property in the Adelaide foothills. It is 32 ha of mainly steeply sloping land clown to an ephemeral creekline. It is part of a number of adjoining open space reserves with different owners such as the Mitcham City Council, SA National Parks and Wildlife Service and National Railways. It was a gift donated in 1957 by Alison Ashby, from part of the family farming property owned from 1922. The vegetation had originally been a Eucalyptus mmzicrocarpa/Eucalyptus leucoxylon/Allocasuar na verticillata open grassy woodland but had been modified by woodcutting, removal of wattles for tannin industry, grazing with sheep and cattle, and top dressing with superphosphate by hand.
The panorama down the hills face and all the way to Glenelg and the gulf is priceless, and that makes the wooded gullies below priceless. In this case, however, we are not talking dress circle real estate prices, because this is Watiparinga Nature Reserve, kept in trust by the National Trust of South Australia for your grandchildren and beyond. Regular train trippers on the hills line get a glimpse of these hidden deep pockets of scrub on their way up to Eden Hills station. Linking up with the Shepherd's Hill Recreation Park down the creek, Watiparinga creates a green corridor from hills suburbs right down to the plain.
There is a bonus geological lesson along some of the tracks, providing an illustrated guide to a half-billion years of sediments and erosion, with occasional heavy duty buckling and lifting that has produced picturesque waves of exposed layered rock. It is the bushland, however, that is the star of the show here. On the high side, there is classic open woodland dominated by gray box - twisting, multi-trunked eucalypts - that would have stretched over vast areas of Adelaide and the lower foothills two centuries back. At the bottom of steep gullies, the smooth white bark of tall river red gums stands out in the shade.
The surprise in Watiparinga is that all this is a result of a quiet miracle - and an extraordinary family. As the early railway pictures of the area show, this was once the almost completely cleared and well-grazed Wittunga farm.
While Watiparinga borders quiet backstreets of hills suburbs, a state-owned green space links to it and opens on to the plain to meet the enormous traffic corridors heading south. On one side of them are the Mitsubishi car plant and automotive component suppliers that symbolize twentieth century urban life, while opposite, the entrance to the park marks the point where the bush rules and it is walkers only on the network of tracks along Viaduct Creek and its tributaries. Late each afternoon and on weekends a steady stream of joggers and strollers (many with four legged friends) swap suburbs for scrub just ten kilometres from the GPO. Horse riding, bike jumps and archery fit in too, on land brought exactly fifty years ago to become a "national pleasure resort". With more modest aims, it is now one of our well used state parks.
There is some very attractive open woodland in the park, and keen walkers push on up the creek and through into Watiparinga as the gully narrows and the track crosses the stream and starts to climb towards some surprising railway history relics. The chosen route for the line through the Mt Lofty Ranges involved tunneling under the westward reaching ridges here. It also called for two tall viaducts across two steep gullies. "Too flimsy!" they cried, as the construction was completed, but the spidery steel from Delaware in the US withstood the trials. Exactly 120 years ago, then, the first steam trains headed up for Mt Lofty Station, and continued to do so for more than three decades until the new tunnel and cuttings took the route that is still in use today.
The old concrete foundations are still there, strange relics amid the bushland...well, most of them, because the army blew up a couple for munitions practice in World War 2. The old disused railway tunnel came in handy then, too, housing precious Art Gallery paintings. After that, commercially grown mushrooms thrived within.
Windy Point Reserve
Belair Road, Belair
Windy Point is an outstanding local landmark which provides a superb vantage to view the City of Adelaide.