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Blackwood Forest Recreation Park

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by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. Please click the link to Like my articles, and subscribe to see more. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au
Published July 20th 2014
It's a real urban forest
in adelaide, south of adelaide, parks in sa, adelaide hills, walking and hiking, off leash area, mountain biking, blackwood forest, recreation park, the entrance
The Entrance to Blackwood Forest Recreation Park


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.

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Loquat and Oak Trees in Backwood Forest


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

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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.

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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.

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Park Art in Adelaide


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.

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A Lorikeet Pair, Common in the Adelaide Hills


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.

The Forest

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Walking and Hiking Trails Meander the Pine Forest in the Recreation Park


The pine forest was beckoning. The huge trees stand dark, mysterious and foreboding, daring a casual visitor to enter their domain.

The hot sun had made me perspire and the forest looked inviting. The dappled lighting at the edge of the forest hinted at cool comfort, with the safety of filtered sunlight leaking through.

in adelaide, south of adelaide, parks in sa, adelaide hills, walking and hiking, off leash area, mountain biking, blackwood forest, recreation park, pine forest
It's a Little Eerie Inside the Pine Forest


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.

in adelaide, south of adelaide, parks in sa, adelaide hills, walking and hiking, off leash area, mountain biking, blackwood forest, recreation park
Blackwood Forest Recreation Park Is an Off Leash Area for Dogs


My magical reverie lasted only moments. A light plane buzzing in the distance brought me back to this century, but it was an intriguing feeling while it lasted.

At night the pine grove could be seriously scary.

Coming Down

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Mountain Biking From the Top of the Hill Would Be Fun


After exploring the forest briefly, we headed back west down the hill, roughly following the line of the Minno Creek with its low stone containing walls.

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A Stone Lined Creek Bed in Blackwood Forest


There were some great views of the surrounding hills as you start to descend. We followed the paths where possible to avoid damaging vegetation, but at times the track is not obvious.

in adelaide, south of adelaide, parks in sa, adelaide hills, walking and hiking, off leash area, mountain biking, blackwood forest, recreation park
Parts of This Park in Adelaide Are Quite Overgrown


I saw droppings from a large native animal - perhaps a kangaroo. The park has more than just human visitors.

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Large Animal Droppings, Quite Common in the Adelaide Hills


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

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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.

in adelaide, south of adelaide, parks in sa, adelaide hills, walking and hiking, off leash area, mountain biking, blackwood forest, recreation park, blackwood cold stores
Milk Depot Near Where Blackwood Cold Stores Stood


Produce from the orchards in the area would have been taken on a horse and cart to Blackwood station, and stored in the Blackwood Cold Stores nearby which were built around 1932.

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1951 Goods Train at Blackwood Railway Station (Courtesy State Library of SA)


Steam trains conveyed the produce from Blackwood to Adelaide, and from there some of the apples travelled as far as England.

in adelaide, south of adelaide, parks in sa, adelaide hills, walking and hiking, off leash area, mountain biking, blackwood forest, recreation park, water tank
A Water Tank for Steam Engines, Advertising Amgoorie Special Tea


In 1934 The Chronicle reported a massive fire at the Blackood Cold Stores, with nearly 20,000 worth of stock and plant destroyed. It was a massive blow to growers.

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A Water Outlet for Steam Engines


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.

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Blackwood Forest Recreation Park Looking East


The Blackwood Cold Stores outlived the Blackwood Experimental Orchard by around 20 years. But while the Orchard lives another life, the Cold Stores' were later demolished.

To read about another urban forest, click here. For more parks in SA, see here.
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Why? Get back to nature, or just take your family and play
When: Anytime
Where: 2 Turners Ave, Hawthorndene SA
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Great article David - I live in Blackwood so nice to see you're coming to visit!
by Annie Waddington-Feather (score: 2|186) 2261 days ago
we live in one of those little streets coming off the park ! and love what we feel is a wonderful privilege to have this public yet private place so close.
by jomed (score: 0|8) 1800 days ago
I only just heard about this forest (was mentioned at a kindy meeting as a great place to take kids), so I googled and your article came up. Very handy - thanks.
by Justc (score: 2|139) 1217 days ago
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