Place Details

Send Feedback

Watiparinga Reserve and adjacent land, Gloucester Av, Eden Hills, SA, Australia

Photographs View Photo Database Record View Photo Database Record
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Registered (28/05/1996)
Place ID 19097
Place File No 3/03/016/0039
Statement of Significance
Watiparinga Reserve is a significant cultural landscape, exhibiting a diverse range of indigenous and introduced flora and providing an early example of nature conservation efforts in South Australia from the 1950s and continuing to the present day. The Reserve also contains historic railway structures and earthworks surviving from the 1880s (Criterion A.3). The Reserve contains twenty-two species of plants that are listed as having particular conservation significance in South Australia's agricultural region. Of these, ten species are uncommon in the Southern Lofty region, nine are rare, two are vulnerable, and one is endangered (Criterion B.1). The Reserve provides a significant and early model for the transition of agricultural land to bushland and illustrates growing community recognition in the 1950s of the importance of Australia's flora and other natural values. Community groups involved with undertaking plantings from the late 1950s include the Society for Growing Australian Plants and the Blackwood and District Tree Preservation and Gardening Society (Criterion A.4). The Reserve is closely associated with Alison Ashby, noted conservationist, naturalist and botanical artist, who donated the site for conservation to the National Trust of South Australia and personally undertook the first plantings to revegetate the area with native plants. This is an early demonstration of the movement in Australia towards revegetation of cleared land. Her work is commemorated in a plaque erected in the Reserve (Criterion H.1). Watiparinga is highly valued by the local community for its natural bushland character, for the attractive seasonal displays of flora, for spectacular geological formations, for viewpoints of panoramic vistas across the Adelaide plains and southern suburbs to the Gulf of Saint Vincent and the opportunities it provides for passive recreation (Criteria E.1 and G.1). The flora and the geological elements of the Reserve have demonstrated significance for research, reference and teaching purposes (Criterion C.2). The Reserve contains several significant historic elements, including the first National Trust plaque to be erected in South Australia unveiled in 1959 and remnants of the original1880s Adelaide to Melbourne railway line, including an original single-track tunnel and concrete viaduct buttresses. The tunnel and viaduct buttresses serve to illustrate the engineering difficulties experienced in constructing this portion of the railway line through steep terrain (Criterion A.4).
Official Values Not Available
It is possible that indigenous cultural values of National Estate significance may exist in this place. As yet, the AHC has not identified, documented nor assessed these values.
Watiparinga Reserve comprises approximately 32ha of land, situated in the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia. The Reserve is part of a series of nature reserves and botanic gardens along the ranges. It falls within the land mass uplifted along the Eden-Burnside Fault and lies close to the fault scarp and is eroded by steep-sided gullies and creeks that deeply dissect this feature. This area of the hillŐs face is perhaps the most indented of the Adelaide Plains-Mount Lofty Ranges interface and is characterized by varying slope and aspect and consequently, habitat. The geology shows folding of late Precambrian Belair subgroup siltstones and quartzites in Watiparinga Gully and shallow caves resulting from the partial collapse of anticlinal folds in siltstone rocks. When Watiparinga was donated to the National Trust in 1957 it formed part of a larger property Wittunga. The area had been logged and cleared over many years. Later, it was sown to pasture (sub clover and rye), fertilized (super-phosphate) and extensively grazed for at least fifty years. The original vegetation was probably an open woodland dominated by greybox (EUCALYPTUS MICROCARPA) and sheoak (ALLOCASUARINA VERTICILLATA) with blue gum (E LEUCOXYLON) on the southern more sheltered slopes and river red gum (E CAMALDULENSIS) lining the water courses. The mid stratum was sparse with ACACIA PARADOXA, A PYCNANTHA, BURSARIA SPINOSA, DODONAEA VISCOSA, OLEARIA RAMULOSA and XANTHORRHOEA SEMIPLANA the most dominant species. The ground flora was predominantly herbaceous with perennial grasses and spring flowering geophytes common. The present vegetation is in a dynamic transitional stage between the improved pasture and the indigenous woodland described above, following the introduction of a careful management regime. There has also been some planting of non-indigenous Australian species, firstly by the donor Alison Ashby and later by community groups, in restricted areas of the reserve. The main Adelaide to Melbourne railway line bisects the reserve. Other historic railway remnants at the site are concrete buttresses which supported the two iron framed 30m high viaducts which carried the train track from the tunnel over the deep, steep-sided Watiparinga Gully.
Watiparinga Reserve was first taken up as farmland in 1850-51. The land changed hands several times before being acquired by Ernest C Saunders and Edwin Ashby in 1911. The South Australian Railways bought some of the land for the single-track railway line and viaduct in 1880, to complete the first rail link between Adelaide and the eastern States. The engineering work was the most difficult yet attempted in South Australia to that time. The Nairne line, as this portion was called, included large embankments, deep cuttings and eight tunnels. A further portion of the land was purchased for the double-track line in 1916. One of the single track tunnels, in use between1883 and 1919, is still present in the reserve. During World War Two this tunnel was used for safe storage of South Australian art treasures and is now used to grow mushrooms commercially. The property was transferred to Edwin Ashby in 1922 and farmed as part of his Wittunga property. Edwin Ashby, a noted early twentieth century South Australian naturalist and conservationist, passed on his passion for nature to his daughter Alison who was, in her own right a noted naturalist, conservationist and botanical artist. It was in the late 1950s that Alison Ashby, recognising the need to conserve and promote Australian flora, began planting an area of Watiparinga with thousands of seedlings of Australian plants raised by herself. This historic planting of non-locally indigenous Australian plants remains in the north-west corner of the reserve. She used her extensive botanical knowledge to suit plants to the different habitats resulting from the local topography. Alison Ashby's interest in nature conservation resulted in her becoming one of the founding members of the South Australian National Trust in 1956. She donated Watiparinga to the Trust in 1957 and the following year set up an endowment fund (which she added to over the years) to assist in the revegetation and conservation of the property. The portion of land already planted (about 8ha) was fenced to exclude rabbits and stock from grazing, while some of the remainder continued to be grazed for varying lengths of time. All agistment of stock ceased about 1969. From the late 1950s community groups, including members from the Blackwood and District Tree Preservation and Gardening Society (TP&GS) and the Society for Growing Australian Plants (SGAP), became involved in planting activities. Historic plantings made by SGAP remain in the north-east corner of the Reserve. In 1959 the first National Trust plaque in South Australia was unveiled at Watiparinga by Governor Sir Robert George. The plaque remains near Dale Road on the Eden Hills south-east boundary of the Reserve as testament to the early history of nature conservation in South Australia. A second plaque dating from 1988, specifically commemorating the contribution of Alison Ashby to nature conservation and botanical science, is also present on the reserve. Around 1500 botanical water colour paintings by Alison Ashby are now owned by the South Australian Museum. They are held under controlled atmospheric conditions in the State Herbarium at the Adelaide Botanic Garden. Since its formation in December 1973 the Watiparinga Management Committee (with representatives from the National Trust, TP&GS, SGAP and local residents) has been responsible for managing the Reserve. Under the supervision of committee member, botanist Enid Robertson (a niece of Alison Ashby), a carefully co-ordinated native vegetation management programme has been instigated. The Watiparinga Management Plan written by Enid Robertson (1984) has been acclaimed as a model for small reserves in an urban situation. For more than twenty years young people (mostly tertiary students in vacation times) have carried out the labour intensive work of fuel reduction (mowing weeds and annual grasses) and pest plant removal (by minimum disturbance techniques). In addition plants of locally indigenous species are carefully positioned to fortify the natural regeneration which is occurring throughout the Reserve. Interest from the Endowment Fund pays the students who get great personal satisfaction from contributing to this conservation project. Numerous guided walking tours of the Reserve are organised in the springtime and cut flowers from the Reserve have won many prizes in the Adelaide Royal Show since 1975. Pedestrians have free access at all times to the Reserve for passive recreation. Many local groups such as scout groups and schools have assisted in weed control programs at the Reserve.
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
Early land practices destroyed most of the natural vegetation of the place. Most of Watiparinga is in a transitional stage between cleared improved pasture land and EUCALYPTUS MICROCARPA woodland. Within restricted areas of the Reserve plantings of non-indigenous Australian plants are maintained. Watiparinga was donated to the National Trust of South Australia as an open space/flora reserve. Since 1974 the Watiparinga Management Committee has carried out a revegetation program using locally indigenous species to fortify natural regeneration of the E MICROCARPA woodland. The regeneration of the E MICROCARPA woodland is proceeding successfully. After the 1961 fire twenty-five indigenous species were recorded; there are now 164 including twenty-seven species of native grasses. Watiparinga is cited as a model for the transition of agricultural land to bushland and was recommended for a Heritage Agreement in 1990 in recognition of its current condition. Watiparinga will continue to be managed by the Watiparinga Management Committee in accordance with the Management Plan. Weed control and fuel reduction programmes are carried out annually and regeneration continues to be documented. The Reserve is used increasingly for passive recreation, resulting in erosion of tracks. This will need to be monitored.
About 41ha, at Eden Hills, comprising Watiparinga Reserve, closed road along the western boundary of the reserve and that part of the Railway Reserve that bisects Watiparinga Reserve, viz between Gloucester Avenue Road Reserve in the north and the general alignment of the southern boundary of Watiparinga Reserve in the south.
DAVIES R.J.P. (1982) The Conservation of Major Plant Associations in South Australia. Conservation Council of South Australia, Adelaide.
FREETH T. (1990). Assessment of conservation value of Proposed Heritage Agreement Area Application No. 90/1035/020 Dept, Environment and Planning, S.A., internal report.
LANG, P.J. and Kraehenbuehl, D.N. (1987), Plants of Particular Conservation significance in South Australia's Agricultural Regions. March 1995 update. Resource Management Branch. Dept Environment and Natural Resources (unpublished).
MOYLE D.W. (ed) (1982). "City of Mitcham Open Space Survey" (City of Mitcham Open Space Survey Co-ord. Comm., Adelaide).
ROBERTSON E.L. (1979). "Ashby Edwin 1861-1941" Entry in Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol. 7 1891-1939.
ROBERTSON, E.L.(1981) in Ling J.K. (ed), Alison Ashby's Wildflowers of Southern Australia, S.A. Museum Board and Botanic Gardens Board, Adelaide.
ROBERTSON E.L. (1984). Watiparinga Reserve Management Plan (National Trust of South Australia).

Report Produced  Sun Sep 21 08:13:35 2014