Watiparinga Reserve

Watiparinga Reserve is a National Trust of SA property in the Adelaide foothills.

Walking and Hiking trails
Shepherds Hill Recreation Park, Ellis Avenue
Eden Hills
Facilities Park
  • Walking trails

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 creek line. 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 microcarpa/Eucalyptus leucoxylon/Allocasuarina 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 grey 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 back streets 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 symbolise 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 tunnelling 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.

Contact Us

Tel 08 8372 8888

Fax 08 8372 8101

Email Us

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Locate Us

PO Box 21

Mitcham Shopping Centre

Torrens Park SA 5062

131 Belair Road

Torrens Park SA 5062


Share this page