I enjoy keeping fit and exploring new places, and a fun way to exercise is to visit off-leash dog parks where there are interesting things to see and do. My dogs are both active animals, and a boring walk in the street does nothing for any of us.
When I first visited Craigburn Farm Shared Use Trails, I noticed Blackwood Hill Reserve signs nearby as I meandered the many trails in the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park. I took a quick look at the reserve near Craigburn Road, but it didn't seem to offer more than the shared trails in the Recreation Park which are very popular for mountain biking.
Commemorative Table With Tiled Mosaic Showing Local History
There are several entrances to Blackwood Hill Reserve, but a good place to start is the Trevor Terrace gate opposite Alison Avenue. Local people including the Blackwood Action Group and Friends of Blackwood Hill Reserve are doing a great job of beautifying this area. Paving leads to a commemorative table created by Mitcham Council and the Mitcham Heritage Research centre. The table is the centrepiece in ruins of a farmhouse which once stood there.
The Farm Ruins at Blackwood Hill Reserve Off Leash Dog Park
Tiled mosaics on the table tell the story of the local area, with pictures of people who once lived there and their homes. I was surprised to discover that there had been a slaughterhouse nearby - where the Blackwood Hill Reserve football oval is now. For around thirty years sheep and cattle were bought at Gepps Cross, and transported by train to Blackwood before being herded here. It seems a few fences were regularly knocked down along the way!
But enough of Blackwood history - the dogs were contentedly lapping from a convenient water bowl as I checked out the Blackwood Hill Reserve trails map. We were ready to set off exploring and followed an easy loop along the Clematis Connector then back along the Trevor Traverse. They are shared use trails and there were plenty of mountain bike tracks in the dust, but I saw nobody.
Mitcham Trails for Mountain Biking and Walking are Signposted
The dogs couldn't believe their luck in exploring a new place, as I listened to bird calls and vainly tried to take photos of the local fauna. I saw plenty of magpies and miner birds, but the many other species of birds here managed to elude me - as did koalas. It is a peaceful and relaxing setting, although I could still hear the low rumble of a goods train across the valley.
We all enjoyed walking the trails so much that I decided to do it again the next day. This time we entered the Mitcham trails network at a different place, a few hundred metres north at the Cassia Street entrance to Blackwood Hill Reserve. The terrain is very different as the walking trails follow Magpie Gully Creek. Even without recent rain, it was still quite green, and was quite unlike the walking trails yesterday. The only reservation I had was that the creek trail was not well marked, and at times I wondered whether I was still on it.
Magpie Creek - a Cool Place to Be in Blackwood Hill Reserve
Blackwood Forest Recreation Park is a favourite dog exercise area, and highly recommended by Walking SA, but variety is important for me. Mountain biking enthusiasts can also use Blackwood Hill Reserve to access the Craigburn Farm shared use trails, getting the best of both worlds.
Craigburn Farm Shared Use Trails for Mountain Biking and Walking