Outings: Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens

After a day of working in the shed and garden, Tuesday 30 April was time for a day outing. On hearting reports of the magnificent autumn colours and the variety of bird life that can be found there, we opted to got to Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens. Setting off from home, the weather was shaping up to be warm and sunny, but on arriving at our destination, it was anything but!

The previous day was the start of the new school term, with the two week break finished, so we were confident that the gardens would not be as packed as they were reported to be the previous week. However, the trade-off was that the colours had passed their best, albeit still quite vibrant in a limited sort of way.

With our usual packed morning coffee and lunch, we arrived at about 09:45. On opening the car door, an icy wind blasted it way through the car and, on getting out, we wished we had brought jackets. Without any obvious signs of a picnic table, we had our morning cuppa in the car before braving the cold.

Now, I thought we had learned our lesson about researching our destinations. On this occasion, this was limited to planning how to get there with the help of Apple Maps. What we were not aware of was that the gardens are on the steeply sloping side of Mount Lofty and there are two car parks – one at the top and one at the bottom (where all the interesting areas are located). Unfortunately, the map guidance took us to the top car park where not only it caught the force of the wind, but it also meant a long walk down a relatively steep walkway.

We took the nature trail along the Boundary Loop to the Main Lake. Although still very colourful, this gave us an idea of what the colours were like the previous week. It was also interesting that a section of this loop formed a very small part of the Heysen Trail. It was a blessing to arrive at the lake with its flat walkway and shelter from the cold wind. But that was short lived as we started to make our way back to the car via the Woodland Garden and the steep incline of the Rhododendron Trail. This took as past the very picturesque Duck Pond, but avoided the free shower from the rather aggressive sprinklers on the parallel track that, I am sure were designed to catch out the less observant visitor.

The Duck Pond

Towards the top of the trail, K spotted an Eastern Spinebill in a Luculia tree. This meant a stop of about 10 minutes (which I was quite happy with as I was able to catch my breath). Back up at the car park, after our two hour visit, K spotted another Spinebill and managed to get a much better shot.

That brought us to the end of our very enjoyable visit due to deciding to go the top of the Mount for lunch. For the next visit, we will definitely use the lower car park and perhaps choose the time of year a bit better.

On arriving at the peak car park, we discovered that the fee was $5.50. As we were only stopping for a quick 20 minute lunch, we decided to give it a miss and move on. We ended up sitting at the bus stop in the car park of Cleland Wildlife Park. Apart from the delicious filled rolls, the highlight was a mother kangaroo and her offspring. They were clearly well used to having people around as they came right up to us, sniffing out those delicious filled rolls (which the local crow was also very interested in). Although, they realised that rolls were not on the menu they hung around and for a while and the youngster quenched its thirst with a long drink from mum’s pouch.

From there we headed home via Hahndorf where we found a great independent supermarket selling all sorts of fresh fruit and veg and other normal provisions. Of course, no visit to Hahndorf is complete without a visit to the Beerenberg factory shop and the purchase of a few overpriced items.

Closer to home we spotted the entrance to Cox Scrub Conservation Park. A quick detour into the car park and a check out of the walking trails added this to the growing list of places to return to.

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