The Aldgate Valley region once had over 600 native species. These days there are only approximately 300 that remain.
The garden is owned and lovingly cared for by Dr John Wamsley and his wife Proo. Over a number of years, they have removed the weeds and non-indigenous plants from the area and work hard to keep the gardens 'feral free'.
Dr Wamsley is an environmentalist who started the hills sanctuary Warrawong, which now sadly has closed. At Warrawong he eradicated all non-indigenous plants and animals from the sanctuary and erected a surrounding fence to preserve the sanctuary's feral free state.
He gained public attention when he attended a tourism awards ceremony wearing a hat made from the pelt of a dead feral cat. The ensuing controversy led to a change in the law, allowing feral cats to be legally killed.
Over 400 species of native plants can be found in the Wirrapunga garden. There are 40 species that are listed as rare and endangered. The indigenous plants are native to the Aldgate Valley and the whole area is hand weeded.
There is a path that weaves its way past all of the plantings and each site is clearly labelled. You're likely to see many different varieties of native orchids, acacias, lilies, grevilleas and sundews - many of them are rare and endangered. It's great to see them growing and thriving. Anyone of any fitness level would be able to do and enjoy the walking trail.
Opening times: 10am to 4.30pm with talks on the Almanda Creek Project at 12noon and 2pm. Guided walks leave every 15 minutes
7 Williams Rd, Aldgate
$8 (free for children under 18)
How to get there:
Take the Stirling/Aldgate exit off the Freeway. At the roundabout, turn right into Avenue Road; veer left into Longwood Rd, travel to Stock Rd on left, left into Williams Rd.
Last year, the Open Garden days were run by the volunteers of FAME (Foundation for Australia's Most Endangered). They had a sausage sizzle going, hot and cold drinks were available. There was a raffle and light meals could be purchased in the house. I'd assume that there'd be much the same available again this year. The money raised goes to the continuation of their great work.
It's a thoroughly enjoyable and educational day out in the beautiful Adelaide Hills. I would strongly recommend going along, learning something and supporting the people who work so hard to save the natural environment.