One of the beautiful aspects of walking in a forest is the changes in the appearance of the trees and the feel of the forest as the seasons revolve. Bundaleer Forest is no exception, from the rustic colours of the maples, oaks and elms in autumn, to the intense green of the pine trees in winter; there is always something new to experience.
The woolshed on Bundaleer Station, owned at this time by C.B.Fisher. Horse teams are preparing to take wagon loads of wool bales to the nearest port. B1948 State Library of South Australia
Located 9 km south of Jamestown and 207km north of Adelaide, the Bundaleer Forest was established as the first plantation forest in Australia in 1876. Meaning stony place, the name Bundaleer was derived from the traditional owners, the Ngadjuri people. Originally part of the Bundaleer Station, a large pastoral property established in 1841, the forest plantation was originally established as a commercial enterprise to sell hardwood logs, until the sawmill was established in 1910, which saw the production expand to sawn timber. Although Bundaleer is now the smallest pine plantation in South Australia, the timber produced in the forest is of superior strength due to the slow growth of the pines in Bundaleer and critical to the local and South Australian economy.
Today, the combinations of native and exotic tree species create a tranquil and colourful backdrop for walking, cycling and family gatherings. Wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and the occasional deer frequent the forest. Sporting and picnic facilities, surrounded by old gum trees, offer the recipe for a fun day out, or to stay a little longer, camping facilities including Curnow's Hut, the original home of the first nursery worker, William Curnow, are available in the forest from April to November. Dogs on a lead are welcome in the plantation forest and picnic areas. Four walking trails are located within the forest and both the Heysen and Mawson Trails pass through Bundaleer, between Spalding and Georgetown, although some sections remain closed due to the danger of falling trees caused by damage from bushfires.
One of several deer spotted in the forest. Photo:Hazel Cochrane
Commencing from the cast iron gate at the picnic ground, the 1.5km return Maple Walk winds through the plantations of red gums, carobs and blue gums. The trail passes a seasonal creek, which is home to frogs, which can be heard croaking in the winter months, and a quarry. The attractive trail along the slightly undulating path, will keep you busy for approximately 45 minutes.
The shorter 30-minute Sculpture Walk is an 850-metre walk starting at the crossing near the picnic ground. Passing the community art sculptures created as part of the biennial Bundaleer festival, the trail also passes a ruin and the Bundaleer Forest Office and is an easy trail for all levels of fitness.
Starting from the southern end of the picnic area, the 4.6km return Scenic Loop Trail has interesting views of the forest and the surrounding valley as it wanders through the eucalypts and pine trees. The 90-minute circuit trail passes the dry stone wall, built in the 1800s, which follows along the ridge.
A full creek after the winter rain. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The Conservators Walk, a 4.6km trail starting at the Bundaleer Arboretum on Neindorf Road is a walk that takes you back in time as it passes Bundaleer Cottage with stables and the heritage listed Conservators Hut. Built around 1890, the Conservators Hut was used as overnight accommodation by the Conservator of Forests during inspections of the forest. Today, it is available for visitor accommodation when booked through Forestry SA. The moderate walk on the dirt path meanders through the native and European tree species providing vies of the Bundaleer Valley.
After experiencing the forest, you could stay in the picnic ground for a snack or a break. If picnicking isn't for you, Jamestown is an ideal venue for a meal in the bakery, restaurant or one of the hotels. It's just 9km north of the forest.
Although I have driven into the forest...I did not stay...I imagine that now would be the best time to go back again for a days outing and just take a walk.I wonder if the deer were put there on purpose...in places like Japan they roam around the parks freely and do not mind being patted.