The reserve was originally used in part for grazing but is slowly being restored to its natural condition prior to white settlement and the introduction of livestock. It contains areas of Grey Box Grassy Woodland, and supports a range of flora and fauna not usually seen elsewhere. When I asked my friends about it, no-one had heard of it or been there, so I decided impulsively to take a look.
A little Googling quickly uncovered a map and informative trail guide. There is much useful detail about the history, flora and fauna of the area included in the guide, so I printed a copy to take with me.
An alternative map of tracks was more detailed, but I found it to be a little "busy". It does however show portion of the Yurrebilla Trail which crosses the Waite Reserve as it meanders over 54 kilometers from Belair to Ambers Gully
The weather was quite cold and wet, so dressed in a warm jacket and ugg boots I set off to explore. After driving through a maze of back streets past buildings that look like high tech labs, I found a sign advertising the park at the end of Hartley Grove in Urrbrae. Two trails led away, one pointing south and the other east.
After crossing a stile, I walked south from Wild Dogs Glen along the park boundary for some time, enjoying the crisp air and views to the west overlooking the city to the sea. Fifteen minutes easy walking later, I had passed an area of Grey Box re-vegetation (number 12 in the guide) and found an enclosure with some thoughtfully provided trail guides, and information about working bees by the Friends of the Reserve.
Looking at the gentle climb past these gates, I decided to return to my car. It was getting late in the afternoon and I had no particular objective in mind. But by the time I reached the car my curiosity was properly aroused - I decided to see what the eastern leg of the trail offered.
The Eastern Leg of the Trail The track in this direction was quite a contrast, with lots more trees and no sign of the houses and buildings I had seen while going south. There were regular informative signs, and another box full of trail guides. The walk was much more pleasant, with dappled sunlight filtering through the tree canopies, and occasional seating provided
You Will Find Signs Describing Fauna Along the Trail
It wasn't long before I realised that the down side was the increasing uphill gradient. My smooth soled ugg boots were completely unsuitable for the slippery steps, while my fitness level left me breathing rather heavily!
Despite this I soldiered on to Boobialla (number 2 in the guide) where I found some seating to enjoy a great view west along the valley to the distant sea. At this point I decided I had had enough climbing for now (around 100m altitude), and resolved to leave the remainder of the trail for another day.
Before setting out
Waite Reserve offers enthusiastic walkers rewarding views of the city, some delightful picnic areas to rest and enjoy your surroundings, and the chance to see animals and birds not often seen in the wild.
However, a word of warning - preparation is essential for walking in this area. Some parts of the park are steep and slippery, so good walking shoes are absolutely essential. There are no facilities in the Reserve, so you will need to take adequate water (and food if you get hungry easily).
There is some signage on the tracks, but taking a map and/or a GPS is highly recommended.
If you take an Android smart phone it's a great idea to use something like the free GPS Essentials or Open GPS Tracker apps to keep a record of your trip, and enable you to upload route and photos onto Google Maps. Doubtless iPhones have similar software available.
If you would like to see a record of my walks (with photos) you can see it here on Google Maps.
Be aware that dogs and bikes are not permitted in the Waite Conservation Reserve.. There are signs warning that poisons have been laid for pests, so compliance is important.
The eastern leg of the trail through Waite Reserve offers the same sense of peace. Obviously the signage is a reminder of civilisation. But the unspoilt nature of the environment rewards visitors with a feeling of harmony and pleasure.
Some comments have been made about the reserve being closed:
I have spoken to Jennifer Gardner, Manager of the Reserve who told me that the park needed to be closed for "management purposes".
It will reopen on Sunday 12/8/2012, and Jennifer apologised for any inconvenience to reserve visitors.