The Friends of Belair National Park are offering free guided walks in Belair National Park this year - a wonderful opportunity to explore the park and see native flora and fauna with a knowledgeable guide. When I'm out walking trails in parks, I often see plants, insects or wildlife that I would like to know more about: taking guided walks means there is sure to be somebody near who can answer your question.
The Native Orchids Guided Walk on Anzac Day was the first time I had been on a guided walk with Friends of Belair National Park. They are a friendly and cheerful group, and there was a good sized group of non-members of all ages when we met at the national park entrance. This first walk was primarily about native orchids in the park - tiny blooming flowers that stand a few centimetres tall. To celebrate Anzac Day, the walk would finish with a visit to the RSL Walk in the national park.
After a briefing about the route for the guided tour and what to look out for, we set off driving in convoy to a park gate on Upper Sturt Road. Our guide steered us a short distance from the entrance before dropping to his knees and scrambling in short grass. A triumphant cry heralded success - our first Australian native orchid was located. The excitement spread rapidly around the tour group, and before long most of us were on our knees with cameras in action.
The final part of the tour was perhaps the most rewarding. Peter, the tour leader from Friends of Belair National Park took us to a little known valley to commemorate Anzac Day. In 1922 seven hundred exotic Japanese Cherry trees and Crab Apple trees were planted in Sparkes Gully, to commemorate those who served in World War 1. The ravages of fire and time has since reduced that number dramatically.
Worlds War 1 Grove of Japanese Cherry & Crab Apple Trees
In 1962 after World War 2 a grove of California Redwood (Sequoia) trees was planted not far away, in remembrance of Australians and Americans who served and were stationed nearby. A walking trail called the RSL walk was built in 2008 to link these two memorial groves which lie on the banks of Minno Creek. It's a beautiful place in a verdant valley, well suited as a place for remembrance.
As we neared the Sequoia tree grove, the Anzac Day weather set in. A light rain developed which defeated my attempts to take photos of the RSL Walk and Sequoia trees. It was easy to spot who were Friends of Belair National Park, as they all had light waterproof capes at the ready, but luckily I'd stashed an umbrella in my backpack.
Interrupted Lunch for a Couple of Contented Kangaroos
I returned the next day to Belair National Park to try again for photos of the RSL Walk. I got more than I bargained for when walking through a quiet part of the park. A group of kangaroos contentedly consumed lunch a short distance across the valley, and a little later two emus strutted past. There are advantages to walking the national park trails alone!
The Friends of Belair National Park are holding free guided walks monthly on Tuesdays, with the tours repeated the following Sunday. No booking is required, and entrance to the park is free in a vehicle if you mention the Friends' walk. For more information about the walks see the Friends of Belair National Park Facebook page.
Of course every walk along the Belair National Park trails will be different but expect to hear about our native flora and fauna from knowledgeable experts every walk. The walks are not difficult, and are suitable for children too. If you get a chance, take a look at the Belair Maze while you're at the park.
Who Are You Talking To? An Emu in the National Park
The current schedule of walks is below, but do check with the Friends that dates haven't changed before planning to join a walk. If there is heavy rain, strong winds or severe weather forecast then the walk will be cancelled.
Tuesday 25th April, Sunday 30th April
Tuesday 23rd May, Sunday 28th May
Tuesday 27th June, Sunday 2nd July
Tuesday 25th July, Sunday 30th July
Tuesday 22nd August, Sunday 27th August
Tuesday 26th September, Sunday 1st October
Tuesday 24th October, Sunday 29th October
Tuesday 28th November, Sunday 3rd December
I have been going to this park for many a long year.Walking,picnicking,playing tennis and golf etc.I never tire of going there...autumn and spring are best I think.Best to take some food and drink with you, if you intend to do any long walks.Many years ago, there was a kiosk at Long Gully,where you could get drinks,hot pies and sandwiches etc..there was once a stairway to a rail stop as I recall from this spot, as many people once caught the train to here to spend a day at the gully and other paces in the park.There was once caravan kiosk on weekends at the playground..but I have no idea if it is still there.Cars now have to pay an entrance fee to travel into the park...this has resulted in less people going there.There is a very small park at the entrance for free,but it can only take a handful of cars.Light food can be purchased at the Golf Club,which is just a short walk from the entrance.
These guided walks are great. My husband and I did one in a state park near our home and it was so much more rewarding with people who knew the flora and fauna. It's a terrific introduction to bush walking and spending time in patks.
Hello Dave....I like going to this beautiful park....often thought about seeing these cherry trees when in bloom...I imagine they bloom around Sept...I wonder too, how many there are.(perhaps I have seen them when not in flower and did not realize they were cheery blossom trees.)