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Waite Arboretum

Home > Adelaide > Free | Historic Houses | Outdoor | Parks | Walks
by Alicia Strous (subscribe)
I am a Science student with more hobbies than university subjects.
Published December 26th 2012
A green hidden treasure of Adelaide
The Waite Arboretum is a rather unique place in the south-east suburbs of Adelaide, with a collection of plants from which the 'arbor' in the name is derived. This area is of both historical and botanical importance. Peter Waite bequeathed part of his land to the University of Adelaide, with strings attached, and his home - Urrbrae House - still stands.

Urrbrae House
Peter Waite's house by night. This really is worth a look inside for a bit of Adelaide's history.

Urrbrae House is open to the public on certain days and also has guided tours. It is a grand building, three stories high, surrounded on three sides by balconies, and quite interesting to wander through. The interior retains much of the original furnishings, plus art and historical documents. Barn Swallows nest in the eaves, and next to the house is the tranquil Rose Garden.

The Rose Garden near Urrbrae House is always a delight. All year round it remains green and fragrant, with plenty of benches to rest on in the quiet.

In 1928, the first trees were planted for the arboretum, both native and imported species, with the purpose to see how they fared in the local climate. The Arboretum can be explored alone, but the guided walks are highly recommended. Many unique and exotic trees can be found, but the best way to get to know them is with a guide who can expand on the information presented on signs. For instance, one tree flowers yearly, like most trees, but with the difference that only half of the tree will flower at each event. The next year it is the turn of the other half. Dragon Trees are also extremely cool (although not technically trees), and each branch splits into 4 branches every ten years - thus enabling the age to be estimated.

Resting place
Peaceful tree in the Rose Garden

Guided walks take place on the first Sunday of every month at 11 am. The cost is $5, and completely worth it. Meet at Urrbrae House for more astounding information about plants and history than it is possible to remember at one time.

The Self-Guided Walking Trail gives information about plants one can find on the map, and is a great introduction to the size and variety that can be found here. Though not as good as a guided tour, it is a nice way to see the area.

Elm Avenue
Find the Elm Avenue, consisting of 70 trees lining the way from one of the University of Adelaide's main buildings down the slope. Great spot for photos in spring and autumn when the area is lovely and green.

Wildlife is abundant, with koalas in summer, Ringtail and Brushtail Possums at night, and ducks all year round.
No dogs are allowed in the Arboretum in order to protect wildlife. Best seasons to go are Spring and Autumn - mainly because the grass is green and the weather more likely to be pleasant. But for the locals - don't wait! It changes from month to month and there is always something flowering.

Close-up of a flower in the Rose Garden.

The Waite is a great area for picnics, a gentle wander and some time with the kids. It is very quiet all year round and overall a great hidden location to relax and be leisurely.
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Why? Find one of the unknown treasures of Adelaide
When: Open from dawn until dusk daily
Where: Waite Arboretum, City of Mitcham
Cost: Free
Your Comment
My apologies, Dave. I had initially thought to take a different angle on the place, which I searched, then changed my mind. It certainly wasn't intentional, and I'm sorry for encroaching on your equally well written and researched article.
by Alicia Strous (score: 1|37) 2778 days ago
Gorgeous photographs.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|5927) 2770 days ago
Beautiful photography and well written Alicia, but you should read the writer FAQ about duplicate articles to get the best results for yourself.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11307) 2779 days ago
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