Newman’s Nursery Ruins Walk
Some mums on Mother’s Day like pancakes in bed or the latest celebrity fragrance. I alternatively used the day as an excuse to drag my family of four on a hike. But as I knew would happen, they enjoyed the experience just as much as I did!
I stumbled across information about the Newman’s Nursery Ruins Walk online. I’d never heard of the hike before; maybe because, for us, it’s a 40-minute car ride away … but Mother’s Day seemed a good excuse to guilt-trip everyone into bundling into our SUV.
The ruins are in the Anstey Hill Recreation Park in Vista and it took about 20 minutes to walk up from the car park, with our snack-laden backpacks. Along the way, my twin sons, aged five, chattered about potentially seeing the internet legend, Slender Man. Naturally, this didn’t happen, though we did spot a koala and a flock of feral sheep.
Reaching the ruins of the plant nursery was quite awe-inspiring, with the vista more like something out of The Lord of the Rings than Adelaide!
While there’s still a Newman’s Nursery on North East Rd, run by fifth-generation descendants, this is the original site.
Charles Newman and his family developed the nursery between 1857 and 1871, assisted over time by their 17 – yes, 17! – children. And it was once the largest nursery in the southern hemisphere. At its peak, it had its own dairy and many glasshouses and hothouses, plus it was a frequent prize-winner at agricultural fairs and exhibitions. However, severe storms in 1913 destroyed buildings and plantings. And bushfires during Ash Wednesday caused further devastation. Now all that remains are its foundations and walls, which are listed on the State Heritage Register.
Intrigue continues to hang over the site, with talk of a ghost child hanging about. As the story goes, the couple’s 14th child, Mary, aged around three, fatally tripped and fell into a pot of boiling water as she ran into the kitchen to greet her father. The family’s matriarch, Mary Ann, however, lived until the ripe old age of 94, and was known for wearing a bonnet with ostrich-feather plumes and lavender ribbons.
For a hike with a dose of history and nature, this one’s well worth it.
This review was written and photographed by Carla Caruso, a women’s fiction author, journo and a Play & Go mum. Check out her website here.
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