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The suburb name Blackwood originally came about in the mid 1800's because of the dark colouring of local native trees, although the Blackwood tree was not one of them.
Perhaps it's appropriate too that the crowning feature of Blackwood Forest is not Blackwoods, but a plantation of majestic pine trees overlooking the park.
Blackwood Forest is easy to miss. It's on the sharply winding Main Road between the bustle of Blackwood and the relative calm of Coromandel Valley south of Adelaide. But fortunately the turnoff is not sharp, so you can manage even if you only see it at the last moment.
At one time there was a large sign on Main Rd to mark the park's previous purpose - the Blackwood Experimental Orchard, but that has long gone.
The entry to the park is only a little way further, and if you haven't slowed enough you'll raise a large cloud of fine dust as you park. Directly in front of you is an old stone building, the former Blackwood Experimental Orchard manager's office built in 1909, with exotic trees including an oak and a loquat still growing nearby.
The office was until recently used by the Seedling Art Space, but nothing seems to be happening there at the moment.
The park is popular in Adelaide for walking and hiking, jogging and horse riding, and it's possible to go mountain biking around although there are no paved paths. People with an interest in nature will enjoy it here too. There are no facilities except for a water tap at the entrance.
The Western End
The Trail Along the Western Boundary, Suitable for Mountain Biking, Walking and Hiking
The park is an off leash area for dogs so we set off north along a lightly wooded path roughly parallel to the main road, as the central cleared area looked less interesting. It follows the Minno Creek although I didn't see any water when I visited. Knowing the Adelaide Hills, I imagine winter time would be quite different.
New Planting in Blackwood Forest South of Adelaide
There was plenty of evidence of new plantings, probably by the Friends of Blackwood Forest. Signs indicated that the re-vegetation plays an important part in the renewal of Minno Creek.
An old shed on the edge of the park showed signs of re-decoration inside - I wasn't sure whether this was related to the Art Space, or whether some local youngsters had found a pack of spray cans to learn street art. As it was confined to the inside of the shed, I guess it isn't an eyesore for neighbours.
There was background ambient noise from the road nearby, but the changing vegetation made the walk interesting for both dog and I. There were plenty of signs of native birds and animals in the area, and the park is clearly returning to nature.
On following the park boundary up the hill toward the pine forest I discovered a couple more park entrances from small side streets.
It was here that I spotted what I thought were rosellas, but the friendly folk at Parks For Us All explained that they are lorikeets. Take a look at their website - it's full of beautiful pictures and stories of our parks, together with helpful advice like what to do with the possum in your garden.
Parks For Us All also has a Facebook page, Like their page and keep in touch with new updates about our beautiful parks in SA.
As I neared the top of the hill, I saw more remnants of the former Blackwood Experimental Orchard - mainly building foundations, and possibly bits of old stone fences.
Walking and Hiking Trails Meander the Pine Forest in the Recreation Park
We took the plunge and entered. Fallen trees lay at crazy angles, some resting drunkenly on their neighbours.
It was only after going some way that I realised I heard no sound. The traffic noise had disappeared, and the tall trees and the thick blanket of pine needles totally absorbed all aural stimuli from the outside. It was just the dog and I.
Blackwood Forest Recreation Park Is an Off Leash Area for Dogs
At the bottom we discovered the water tap, and a bowl helpfully in place for dogs.
It clearly is popular here - there were always other cars in the car park, although we didn't actually meet anyone until we left. Two car loads of young children arrived, and their dogs were off in a flash.
Blackwood Forest History
Former Manager's Office - Blackwood Experimental Orchards
Blackwood Experimental Orchard operated from 1908 until the 1960's as a research facility servicing orchardists. While it had a strong focus on apples and pears, it had an enormous collection of fruit trees - believed to have been the largest in the world at that time.
In 1928 the Experimental Orchard had these tree varieties:
Almond 44, Apple 1557, Apricot 114, Cherry 213, Citrus 112, Fig 137, Loquat 18, Nectarine 82, Olive 42, Peach 371, Pear 891, Persimmon 40, Plum 368, Quince 33
For much more information about the Blackwood Experimental Orchard, read here.
In later years as Blackwood became more urbanised and other areas in the Adelaide Hills opened up, orchardists slowly moved away from the Blackwood area.
The Cold Stores were later rebuilt, as The Hills and Valley Messenger reported last year that in 1951 they performed an unusual service. The Cold Stores kept 40 bags of couch grass from the Glenelg Golf Course fresh until they were planted later at the Blackwood Oval.