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Published June 1st 2017
Take a walk on the wild side
Start of the Wirranendi Interpretive Trail at Wirrarnanthi Park 23
The Wirrarninthi Interpretive Trail is a tranquil walk through part of Wirrarninthi (or Park 23) in Adelaide's south west parklands. The educational trail meanders through a young urban forest, flanked by sculptures and carefully crafted engraved rocks. When I last visited a few years ago the plants were mainly seedlings, but now many are close to mature. Previously known as Wirranendi until 2013, Wirrarninthi or Park 23 (also frequently spelled Wirraninthi) lies between Sir Donald Bradman Drive and the West Terrace Cemetery.
Wirrarninthi Trail is not a well known feature about Adelaide - I only stumbled across it because I stopped to admire the Lie of the Land sculpture on Sir Donald Bradman Drive. After driving past the wurley-like rock mounds many times, I had finally stopped for a closer look.
Lie of the Land Public Art on Sir Donald Bradman Drive
The public art installation comprises 25 stone structures made of Kanmantoo slate, and was inspired by a drawing in the SA Art Gallery of indigenous Australians camped near Adelaide at the time of European settlement.
Upon discovering that I was about to become a human sacrifice on a massive bull ant colony nearby, I leapt for my car but paused briefly to read the Wirranendi sign. Keeping a watchful eye at ground level for more predators, I decided to see the Wirrarninthi Interpretive Trail close up.
Listen to Water Trickling Through the Wetlands in Park 23
It takes around an hour to walk through this area that was once Mallee Box woodland, where Adelaide City Council are restoring local flora and fauna by re-planting with indigenous seedlings. Wetland areas are already populated with wandering wood ducks, while there is plenty of evidence of larger mammals in the form of droppings.
The educational Wirranendi InterpretiveTrail has four elemental themes - earth, wind, water, and fire - each having their own area in the park. Sculptures and other public artworks reflect the theme of each area, while smaller stones have images which school aged children can use to create rubbings.
Follow the Wirrarninthi Interpretive Trail Through a Tunnel of Trees
It's a rather restful area of the parklands, with some distant traffic noise easily drowned out by bird calls from nearby. At its centre is seating adjacent to Poem Rock, which reads:
Walk the Wirranendi Trail look up into silhouettes of branches
where magpies sing tidings
cross the dry plain
Travel between rocks
witness the abyss
follow your self in
close your eyes
still your mind for a while
moon floats high in a white sky
swallow memory and learn
The wind chases spirits through here
There are no toilet or BBQ facilities in this area of the park, although it is a popular park for people walking the dog.
There have been guided tours of the Wirrarninthi InterpretiveTrail in the past run by Conservation Volunteers Australia, but no future tours are currently listed. It's possible that another would be run if sufficient people contacted them. In the meantime you can do a self guided walk of the Wirrarninthi environmental education trail by downloading a map from this page.
The Wirrarninthi (Wirranendi InterpretiveTrail is a pleasant place to visit for a walk if you're looking for something to do, and the interpretive trail has plenty of fun for kids. It may not have a mature urban forest yet, but it is well on the way. I particularly liked the wetland area near the railway line - it's very pretty, with lots of native plants and animals to enjoy.
Find out more about the history of Wirranendi (Park 23) here. I recommend downloading the map and reading the Interpretive Trail guide here before (or when) you visit. These documents help to add a lot of meaning that isn't immediately apparent on a self guided tour of the trail. It's a pity that some of this information isn't also readily available to Wirrarninthi visitors in Park 23.
drove past there many times, stopped once and saw the mounds and never realized that there was a wonderful park all around. been there last w/end and had a very enjoyable time in there. thank you for bringing that to our notice. been reading your articles for some time and always found them inspiring.
thank you for sharing - its great stuff for the "lazy" adventurer, to follow in your foot steps. looking forward to your next article. cheers, alfred
It was great to have info about this location, esp the map and interpretive details; great research on your part. This walk would be ideal for a leisurely warm Sunday afternoon stroll with picnic snacks and drinks on hand for a comfortable stop along the way to enjoy the beauty and serenity. Thanks for posting this in Weekend Notes. Much appreciated!