I am a writer living in Adelaide. I love food and travel.
Published September 17th 2020
Unique features dating back to the 19th century
Are you a history buff? If so, then Anstey Hill Recreation Park might just be the place for you. The park, which is much-loved by historians, has unique features that date back to the 19th century. These features tell the story of early colonisation, settlement and mining in South Australia.
Built in 1854, the restored Ellis Cottage was one of the earliest cottages in a once small country town called Steventon (now Tea Tree Gully). The township only had a scattering of small cottages and a few buildings such as a hotel, store, bakery and flour mill. Ellis Cottage was built by landowner John Stevens using local stone, and had timber floors and plastered internal walls. It was later purchased by butcher Richard Ellis.
Not far from Ellis Cottage is the restored Rump's Bakehouse. Erected by local pioneer Joseph Daw in 1854 using local stone, the building had a shingle roof which is still in place today. It was converted into a bakery by Polish settler Charles Rumps, who built an oven into its stone wall.
Venturing further into the park from Gate 6, along Water Gully Track, will bring you to the extensive ruins of Newman's Nursery. The car park at Gate 6 on Perseverance Road is rather hidden, so I would suggest looking out closely for it. Although very tempting, children are advised not to climb the ruins as some parts may be unstable.
Newman's Nursery was established by Charles Newman in the 1860s when the colony still had to import bottled fruit from England. He grew and sold an enormous range of plants, including 300 different varieties of fruit trees. He also exported plants to other colonies. He built highly innovative glasshouses, hothouses, shade houses, stables, barn, hay shed and buggy shed, as well as a house for the family and cottages for the employees. No wonder the nursery became the largest in the southern hemisphere at one point. During springtime, you can see some of the original plantings in flower.
Quarry (short sidetrip from Quarry Views Hike trail)
Besides this successful nursery business, there were also several important quarries throughout the park supplying freestone, quartzite and dolomite in the late 1800s. Buildings such as the Adelaide Town Hall, General Post Office, Supreme Court and St Peter's Cathedral were all built from the fine quality stone that was quarried here.
The easy 650-metre Little Quarry Loop trail will give you a glimpse of one of these quarries. Or, be adventurous and try either Quarry Views Hike or Geological Hike. However, do take note of the lack of signage along the less-visited Geological Hike trail. We, unfortunately, took the wrong turn and had to retrace our steps. In a clockwise direction, after about 700 metres uphill, turn right at the junction and head downhill instead of crossing the fence.