What a great place to escape to from the city.
The Mt Lofty Botanic Garden is one of three botanic gardens managed by the South Australian Department of the Environment and is by far the largest but still very manageable in that you could see nearly all of it in a day and get a great flavour of the Garden in much less time. Do allow at least a few hours though.
The other two botanic gardens in the Adelaide area are:
These offer a very different experience to the Mt Lofty Garden and I will say at the outset that they are better suited to the more time poor or less mobile given the rather hilly nature of the Mt Lofty Garden and the need for you to get of the sealed road to enjoy the best it has to offer. If physically challenged don’t let me put you off though as there is still plenty to see and do, but do enter from the lower car-park.
This Garden, for me, really is about walking whether it be a leisurely stroll or vigorous trek. One of the oldest sections of the 1,200kms long Hysen Trail passes through the Garden.
Mt Lofty Botanic Garden was opened in 1977 (though it suffered very badly from the 1983 Ash Wednesday bush-fires) and encompasses an area of 97 hectares on the eastern slopes of Mount Lofty in the Adelaide Hills, east of Adelaide. It specialises in cool temperate plants with plants from South East Asia, New Zealand, the Americas, East Africa, China and off course Australia.
While anytime is good to visit, spring and autumn are both stunning (and you avoid the very hot summer temperatures) with mass displays of rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias many nestled in beautiful tranquil gullies. If you do come in summer enjoy the relative coolness walking under some fantastic three canopies and become a kid again and let the watering sprinklers cool you down!
In the northern corner of the Garden you will fine the Heritage Rose Garden which specialises in native species – a real delight for rose lovers at any time and for the rest of us in spring and summer when the roses are in flower.
The Garden is well laid out with numerous walking trails (many with steep gradients) the names of which give you an indication of what to expect; so you have Fern Gully (pictured above), Magnolia Gully (best Aug- Sept), South American Gully, Rhododendron Gully (best Aug-Oct) and so on. Most of the trails lead to, or close to, the main lake situated towards the lower entrance to the Garden. A nice spot to relax while you contemplate the hike back up to the upper car park, if that’s where you left your car!
One of the longer walks is the Bank SA (how I hate advertising in places like this!) Nature Trail – allow a couple of hours. This walk gives you a great insight into the native plants of the Garden in addition to great views into the adjacent Piccadilly Valley. While all the walks in the Garden are reasonably well marked this one is very well marked so no danger of getting lost.
Free guided walks depart from the lower car park at the end of Lampert Road at 10.30am every Thursday.
Do pick up a park brochure from stand in either car-park or better still download one before you arrive. This gives you a good overview of the walks and other things to do within the garden. If you end up without a brochure carefully study the large map at the entrance (take a picture!) as the Garden layout is confusing at times.
Toilets are available at the upper and lower car-parks and within the Garden. There are no restaurant or other retail outlets in the garden so you need to be self-sufficient food-wise noting that barbeques and fires are not permitted. There is a shop and food outlet at the nearby Mount Lofty Summit and Cleland Wildlife Park the former and the later, if your thing, both well worth a visit too.
Monday – Friday 8.30am – 4pm.
Weekends and public holidays 10am – 5pm (extended to 6pm in summer)
Note that the gardens close when fire danger rating is classified severe or above and guided walks do not operate when temperatures are anticipated to be above 36 degrees centigrade.
Free but you do have to pay a small amount for parking.
Wear sensible shoes and carry drinking water.
Access – via car or bus
By Car – from the city (20-30mins) take Glen Osmond Road to the South Eastern Freeway, take the Crafers turn off and head up Mount Lofty Summit Road and you will come across the Garden’s upper entrance and car-park a few minutes shy of the summit – well signposted. For the lower entrance and car-park from Crafters take the Piccadilly Road and continue until it to Lampert Road. Enter Lampert Road (left) and continue to the end of the road.
By Bus – To upper car park entrance only – Adelaide bus(route number 823 from Crafters Ramp (stop 24/24A) noting very limited service for this bus). A number of buses from city stop at Crafters ramp eg 840, 860, 863 and 864. Refer http://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/ for route details.Allow an hour with a carefully timed connection – best connections with 864/864F for which, I understand, it waits if necessary.
Address: Mount Lofty
Directions: Details within the review above