Constructed in 1999, Laratinga Wetlands was designed to address the ecological impact caused by treated water flowing into the Mount Barker Creek. Named after the Peramangk meaning for Flooding Land Creek, (Lartingga-parri), the wetlands have been landscaped with indigenous plants, which have taken several years to reach a balance resembling a natural ecosystem. The project included the construction of an artificial wetland, filtering the treated water and reusing it for local irrigators, parks and gardens. The success of the project has been recognised with the District Council of Mount Barker winning the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award in 2011.
Wetlands area in the Chestnut Teal Trail.Photo:Hazel Cochrane
Linked to the Mount Barker Linear Trail, the wetland comprises three walking trails, as well as picnic and barbecue areas and a cultural exhibition. Entering the wetlands from the Bald Hills Road Car Park, the four murals of the Batpiori Airbrushing Project can be seen in the recreation area. Young Aboriginal students from local schools, mentored by local artist Matt Jonas, completed the impressive artwork. Representing occurrences in the timeline of the original custodians of the land, the artwork was commissioned in the spirit of reconciliation on 10 December 2013.
Batpiori Airbrushing Project Artwork by local Aboriginal students . Photo by Hazel Cochrane
Three walking trails meander through the wetlands on the family friendly paths. Boardwalks, bird viewing areas, seats and footbridges enhance the experience, providing opportunities to get closer to the resident, migratory and nomadic species of birds that visit the wetlands. Before the wetlands were established, few bird species were seen in the area. Now the wetlands have become an important habitat for over 150 species of birds, with up to 61 species present at any one time. Other aquatic residents include the several species of frogs and Common Long Neck tortoises.
The Wetlands have become an important habitat for a range of birdlife. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The Chestnut Teal Trail travels 0.75km around the large pond near the recreation area. The trail features a boardwalk, an ideal place for photo opportunities with a variety of birds, including the Dusky Moorhens, who frequent the pond area. A short 15-minute walk, the trail is also home to a variety of ducks.
Ducks and Aquatic Life abounds on the Wetlands Ponds. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The 2km Rosella Trail incorporates the large pond, as well as many other areas as far as the Martindale Reserve area. Viewing areas and boardwalks feature in this 35 minute walk through the river red gums, hakeas and wattles.
Wetlands View on the Sacred Ibis Trail. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The longer 2.6km Sacred Ibis Trail leads walkers around all the wetland area in about 45 minutes, ultimately returning to the recreation area. Cultural art pieces and environmental sign markers located along the trail provide information to enrich the experience in the wetlands.
Artwork on the Rosella Trail. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
The Laratinga Wetlands is an ideal place to gather the family for a picnic or barbecue, to take a leisurely stroll or to walk the dog on a leash. Plenty of seating is provided around the wetlands and level paths cater for young and older visitors.
The Recreation Area has BBQ and Toilet Facilities. Photo: Hazel Cochrane