A different angle can renew a love affair

Adelaide’s Belair National Park is one of my favourite local parks. It was the first national park established in South Australia, second in Australia and the tenth in the world. It’s an oasis of native vegetation in the Adelaide Hills. Our family has been picnicking among the gum trees here since before I was born. There are childhood, teenage and adult memories scattered from the lake to the railway tunnel and back around past the tennis courts and playground.

But like a favourite painting that’s been hanging on the wall for ever, or an old friend that you see infrequently and only then to relive the golden days, I realised my Belair NP experience was becoming tired. I was taking its beauty for granted. It was no longer exciting to visit. I even began casting my eye towards reserves further afield. My love affair with Belair NP needed renewal.

And so when I recently entered the park with some friends through a new entry point, by foot heading down into the valley from above rather than driving through the main gate, my heart rose. From this new vantage point I was seeing new beauty and noticing things I’d never appreciated before.

There are several gates around the perimeter of Belair NP that are available to walkers. We took the gate further up the hill on Upper Sturt Road where the Tom Roberts horse trail enters the park. There is enough space for six or seven cars to park off the road. We took the Warri Parri Ridge Track and headed clockwise. A map at the gate describes plenty of alternative loops you can take as you head down into the park. The longest route is the Adventure Trail that takes Queen’s Jubilee Drive past Old Government House across to the eastern-most point and then back.

We chose a less challenging route down along Long Gully which ended up being about seven kilometres in total, with a descent of close to 100 metres. At the half-way point we stopped for lunch at the free gas barbecues near the Volunteers Centre, cooking up the sausages and onions that we’d carried in. Sausage in bread went down very well with a beer.

Along the way we encountered an emu, cyclists and joggers, magpies and parrots. We noticed spider webs, blackberries and bee hives, and made a detour to check out Amphitheatre Rock. It was like visiting a new park.

So I can recommend refreshing your love affair with your favourite destination by approaching it in a new way a new. Walk, cycle, or catch public transport? (Next time I might try the entry point near Belair Railway Station.) Try a different time of day – early morning or dusk. Even going to a venue with a visitor or someone other than your usual companion is a good way to refresh. You see things through their eyes as if for the first time.

The Upper Sturt Road entrance to Belair National Park.

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