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Published January 31st 2013
A secret garden to behold
Michael Perry Botanic Reserve & Surrounds
Adelaide is a magical little city with many hidden gems. Sometimes the enchantment lies in finding a beautiful spot in the least expected of places. A place that befits this description well is Michael Perry Botanic Reserve.
Encountering Michael Perry Reserve was like a child finding delight in their first taste of chocolate. There was uncontained excitement, sheer pleasure and pure disbelief that such an oasis should exist within an urban sprawl of splendid real estate. If only just for purely selfish reasons I would have kept this spot a little secret to myself. After all it could easily be one of Adelaide's most romantic spots.
One of the many beautiful houses overlooking Michael Perry Reserve
Located in the hilly suburb of Burnside, fifteen minutes from the CBD, Michael Perry Reserve is easily accessible. A splendid way to access it is via Andrew's Walk and a short walk through Willowbridge Reserve. The entrance to Andrew's Walk is directly opposite the T-junction where High Street meets Hallett Road, near Bus Stop 19 on the eastern side of the road.
Also known as Schneider's Alley, Andrew's Walk is a stretch of walkway measuring a few hundred metres connecting Hallett Road to Kurrajong Avenue. Flanked by tall shrubs on both sides, it was once the main driveway of the magnificent gothic style mansion known as Clifton Manor.
Clifton Manor still stands today at 16 Waratah Way and a glimpse of it can be caught through its wrought iron gates. Built in the 1850s, its most recent inhabitants included Dr Michael Schneider who purchased the property in 1926. In 1931, Mr Percy Andrews purchased Clifton Manor and Mrs Percy lived there until her death in 1987. Hence Andrew's Walk came to be named.
Although much of Clifton Manor's original eighty acres of land had been subdivided and sold off, the three hectares of lush gardens along Second Creek have been preserved and now makes up Michael Perry Reserve.
Though the alley itself is rather unremarkable, Andrew's Walk itself generated its fair share of publicity when a Youtube video regarding paranormal activity in the area became viral. Ghost hunters keen to explore the urban legend surrounding Scheider's Alley have ended up scaring local residents, resulting in council enforced curfew hours between 10pm and 5am.
Investigations regarding such claims have been made and it is safe to say any rustling one might encounter in the evening within the gardens is more likely to be some randy possums scrambling over fallen leaves.
About a third of the way into Andrew's Walk from Hallett Road, a trail on the right goes into a small area known as Willowbridge Reserve. Upon stepping in, the trees provide immediate relief from the hot summer sun. It is undeniably a shade cooler in here.
Remnants of original plantings established by Nathaniel Knox, the first owner of Clifton Manor, can be seen particularly in the central parts of this reserve. Amongst the many imported species of plants introduced here are cedar and oak.
Many indigenous plants in the area have been squeezed out by woody weeds. Grey Box, Kangaroo Thorn and Christmas Bush are some of the ones that have survived. Blue Gum woodlands common to this area have been restored by the Burnside Council and are protected along with the aforementioned plants.
A fence off quarry area marks the end of the trail where one can wind back on the opposite side of the creek or retrace one's tracks. Nearby is a shelter built of stone and across from it an old mechanical unit that makes for a bright display.
Further on is an open grass clearing with a park bench to soak in some sunshine or for a pause to enjoy nature at its best. Diverting away from the trail and walking up this grassy slope will take one up to Kurrajong Avenue to the other end of Andrew's Walk.
There is undeniable magic at Michael Perry Reserve. One could imagine how Mary Lennox felt when she discovered her secret garden. Coming here for a stroll or picnic takes one back to a part of history that continues to live on in this botanical reserve.
A great flashback, I had forgotten about that wonderful hidden park. I remember back in around 1985 -1987, a young fella called chris, he almost singley handed returned this once overgrown jungle back into a park that visitors can enjoy. Chris had the occasional help from the Burnside council tree gang and the parks and garden department. Over a period of years and mostly by hand ( I think he was on a government re-employment scheme) he pulled out all the vines and Blackberry brambles that had completely made the park inaccessable. Its a great find and Its especially nice to go on a hot summers day as it is several degrees cooler amongst the leafy trees. Thankyou for the great memory flashback.
My kids and I have frequented "second creek" regularly and they absolutely adore it.it wasthesveneof many a yabbie catching expedition. Local myth says that there is asking hole east of the fence. I've never been there though.