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An arboretum is a botanical garden that is devoted exclusively to trees, and most arboreta are botanical gardens containing living collections of woody plants for scientific study. Of course, they have far more benefits than pure scientific study - people visit an arboretum for their natural beauty, and to see the bird and animal life that a massed planting of trees can support. In South Australia the best-known arboretum is the magnificent Waite Arboretum in the Urrbrae House Historic Precinct south of Adelaide.
You can find another less well-known arboretum in South Australia at Currency Creek, and it's a beauty. The Currency Creek arboretum has the largest collection of eucalypt species in the world! More than 8,000 eucalyptus plants from over 900 species and subspecies have been planted at this 30 hectare privately owned research arboretum.
A Rainbow Over Currency Creek Arboretum (Image: D Nicolle)
Started by Dean Nicolle in 1993, the arboretum is not normally open to the public. However on occasions it is opened to the public free of charge, and here are the dates for 2019: Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 March 2019 Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September 2019
On all dates the opening hours are from 9am until 3pm, and everyone is welcome to see this eucalyptus paradise. It's a fantastic opportunity to learn more about eucalypts, talk to experts, and buy eucalypt seedlings for your own garden.
Bring the family (kids are welcome) and join in free one hour (and extended 2 hour) guided tours of the arboretum with eucalypt expert and arboretum curator Dean Nicolle. The free tours begin twice daily at 10 am and 2 pm, but don't forget a sun hat and good walking shoes to stay comfortable on the walk.
Nectar Eating Birds Like the New Holland Honeyeater Love Flowering Gums
The arboretum is also offering free identifications of eucalyptus trees, advice on growing and managing them, and pruning demonstrations by Dean Nicolle. You'll also find rare eucalypt seedlings for sale on the day.
After seeing the sights and taking a tour, you will probably be needing some refreshments. Fortunately, food snacks and drinks will be available to buy at the arboretum, and you can enjoy them in the shade of one of the many gum trees as you soak up the atmosphere.
Massive Ancient Eucalyptus Tree at Shepherds Hill Recreation Park
Catering will be limited to cakes and biscuits etc, and a small selection of bottled drinks, coffee and tea. Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic to eat at Currency Creek arboretum, or take a 10 minutes drive to Finniss or Goolwa, where there are cafes and bakeries to pamper yourself with fresh country goodness.
The Currency Creek arboretum is about an hour's drive south of Adelaide city centre. Follow the signs from Adelaide Place in Currency Creek, which joins Alexandrina Road (the Goolwa to Strathalbyn road) about 1.5 km north of Currency Creek. It's about 19 km south of Ashbourne, and about 26 km south of Strathalbyn.
You will find more information about the free Currency Creek arboretum open days on their Facebook page and the website.
I think that Dean's website understates the attractions of the arboretum a little. Take a look at this article by Sophie Thompson and Gardening Australia which really brings out the attractions and the natural beauty of Currency Creek arboretum. If you enjoy seeing Australian wildlife, don't forget to bring your camera with you when you visit.