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Published April 4th 2017
This is a cool place to be
In the Pine Forest at Blackwood Forest Recreation Park
I love to escape the city to the Adelaide Hills, leaving the rumble of traffic and acrid smells behind me. But sometimes I'm pushed for time and don't want to drive far, and then I head to Coromandel Valley for a change of pace and to unwind.
With only fifteen minute's drive, I can leave a flat and uninspiring suburban setting behind me, and find relaxation in what passes as a foothills country village. The winding streets through the leafy suburb of Coromandel Valley are a sharp contrast to the commercial setting of busy Blackwood with its heavy traffic. Take a detour off the Main Road in Coromandel Valley, and it can be like going back decades in time.
Hot Pastries Menu at Coromandel Valley Bake Bakery
Coromandel Valley Shopping Don't get me wrong. Coro is not an outpost of civilisation - it has a primary school, butcher, baker and a bustling local shopping centre. In fact my first stop today was at the popular Coromandel Valley Bake Bakery, where I obtained provisions for my country travels. My addiction to freshly baked hot pies continues unabated, and I looked for the most unusual pie flavour on the menu. With the Prawn and Scallop pie unavailable, I was happy to settle for a Quiche Lorraine pie, which smelled mighty good.
Had I been with a friend I might have popped into the Duck Inn to fortify myself for the journey with their country fare, but would then have forgotten my original mission. With hounds in tow today, I settled down to a solitary lunch at the very end of the tranquil and leafy Sturt River Linear Park near the Coromandel Valley Institute. My only other companions were magpies, miner birds and a solitary cackling kookaburra.
A Morsel of Coromandel Valley History While the dogs waited patiently for me to finish lunch. I mulled over the difficult lives the first inhabitants must have had. Ten sailors deserted from the ship Coromandel, and hid in the area for a while before surrendering to the authorities. Things must have looked up soon, because Alexander Murray built a biscuit factory mere metres from here back in the 1850's. It thrived for fifty years, but today only a part of the original factory remains as a private house.
A gentle nuzzling of my ear reminded me that the dogs were keen to lose their leads, so we piled back into the car, passing Watchman House en route to our destination Blackwood Forest Recreation Park. Being a weekday, Watchman House - the home of the Coromandel Valley and Districts National Trust was deserted. But on a Saturday morning, the place is abuzz with stories from history, as the local community gathers to contentedly munch another batch of baked biscuits with their coffee.
An Old Photo From Winn's Bakehouse Museum, Coromandel Valley and Districts National Trust
Coromandel Valley National Trust The Coromandel Valley and Districts National Trust are very active custodians of Winn's Bakehouse Museum and Gamble Cottage in Coromandel Valley. Both are open on the third Sunday of the month between February and November, and are conveniently located close to each other.
Winn's Bakehouse Museum is dedicated to telling the story of life in Coromandel Valley since settlement. Displays cover many periods: showing how the bakehouse once operated, another exhibit tells of how World War 1 affected the district using many mementos from wartime, Murray's biscuit and jam factory warrants its own special corner, and there are a range of colour brochures available with more detailed information which are free to take away.
Gamble Cottage Garden Blackwood, Operated by Coromandel Valley National Trust
Over at Gamble Cottage is quite a contrast. The beautiful gardens at the cottage were bursting with colour when I visited, and there is perhaps less emphasis on history. After wandering the scented garden and admiring the work of the Friends Of The Gamble Garden, it's easy to be drawn past the historical displays to the rear of this 19th century home. The aroma of coffee and boundless biscuits and cakes is a rich reward for your dedication in navigating the drier history of Winn's Bakehouse Museum.
Settle down on the verandah and relax with your coffee and cake. Enjoy the view, and cast your thoughts back to the original occupants of this cosy cottage. Coromandel Valley was a distant outpost of Adelaide back then - even travel to Blackwood would have been an effort over muddy roads. How things have changed!
A Dog's Life, Running With the Wind at Blackwood Forest
More Things to See and Do in Coromandel Valley If you've brought kids (or dogs) with you, there's probably little time to relax at Gamble Cottage. Two large green spaces beckon nearby - the Frank Smith Reserve and Blackwood Forest both have quite different appeals.
Today I was content to roam the wilderness of Blackwood Forest, meeting the occasional other dog walker on my travels while families enjoyed a picnic in the autumn sun. I think my favourite moment was pausing in the pine forest. It's a bit of a climb to get there, but you are rewarded with a peaceful silence. The birds that were abundant lower down the hill were left behind, and the pine needles seem to muffle all sound. Even the dogs were quiet - momentarily. It's a lovely place for a romantic tryst, a picnic, or to sit in silent soliloquy.
The Pine Forest Overlooking Blackwood Forest Recreation Park
For families with children, the Coromandel Valley Community Centre has a busy program of fun things to do, with lots of activities for kids on weekends. From camps to cubbies, table tennis to high teas, you can find things to see and do in Coromandel Valley at the Community Centre throughout the year. The Coromandel Valley National Trust also put on a regular program of events through the Community Centre - check the events page for details of these.
If you want to escape the city and its stresses, try the Coromandel Valley attractions as somewhere to enjoy nature. It's easy to visit and has something for almost everybody: like taking a holiday - for just a few hours.
I agree with you Dave.I like this area as well...the bakery I have yet to visit and Winn's Bakehouse on the inside.Particularly enjoy the walk from here along the river as far as the track takes you...especially when the river is flowing.I believe Keith Conlon will be giving a talk in the near future in Blackwood about this valley.Whilst walking in the area a few years back now,I met a man ,his son and dog walking and he told me he had lived overseas and interstate and that this valley was the best place he had lived.