Waite Arboretum | Rustic Nature Play | Review

Waite Arboretum

Waite Arboretum, Urrbrae

Review by Catherine Leo

The Waite Arboretum is part of the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus in Urrbrae. It’s a wonderful spot to have a rambling walk with your youngsters of all ages and is open free to the public every day of the year except those of extreme fire danger.

Waite Arboretum

Spread over 30 hectares, it contains more than 800 species of plants, with every tree labelled – so not only is it beautiful, it can also be an educational experience as you look out for wildlife also.

Waite Arboretum

There are artistic elements throughout, with the work of Adelaide sculptor Greg Johns existing alongside magnificient Gums.  Stopping and interpreting the work would be a fun thing to do with older children. Waterbird sculptures form part of a mini wetland too so my 2 year old enjoyed getting up close and personal to them, just before he attempted to feed some nearby ducks a scattering of bark chips.

Waite Arboretum4

Waite Arboretum5

We felt soft leaves and sharp ones, climbed on logs and rocks, discovered a crazy cluster of caterpillars and carried fallen branches for awhile. It’s much more rustic and ‘natural’ in feel to the Botanic Gardens, so you do feel a sense of the wild.

Waite Arboretum

We rested on one of the picnic benches that has been placed there in dedication to someone who has passed away and I thought if my older children were with me it would have been a nice opportunity to chat about why people choose to remember someone in that way. To sit and reflect in that serene space would be a lovely way to connect with someone who has passed away, I think and there are many benches scattered throughout.

Waite Arboretum

Before we entered the incredible labyrinth, my toddler cuddled the dog statue (part of a work by Silvio Apponyi) before starting to step his way round on the wooden circles. According to a nearby information page, the purpose of the labyrinth is:

to be an aesthetically pleasing element linking the gardens and the Arboretum and to provide a beautiful, tranquil setting for contemplative walking – but feel free to skip or dance it!

It suggests that visiting at dawn or dusk is a beautiful chance to hear the birds singing. I’ll definitely return for this.

Waite Arboretum

Up some steps from the labyrinth, you enter the manicured rose gardens of Urrbrae House which didn’t have many flowers at this time of year but I visited in Summer and it was blooming.  There were still flowers to find amidst the little pathways and we had a lovely time exploring and finding the pond.

Waite Arboretum

Waite Arboretum

I adore this place to just let your kids lead the way. There are a few hazards to keep watch for – spiky plants or the water in the wetland and I imagine in summer you’d be watchful for snakes, but I honestly felt very relaxed and happy as my toddler wandered through and with a picnic, you could easily spend an hour or so here.


This playground review was written and photographed by Catherine Leo, professional family photographer and a Play & Go mum who regularly visits playgrounds with her children. See the Catherine Leo Photography website here and Facebook page here.

things to do in Adelaide for families

More information about the Arboretum can be found on the University of Adelaide’s website.

What:  Waite Arboretum | Rustic Nature Play

When:  Anytime

Where:  Walter Young Avenue (off Fullarton Road), Urrbrae  {Entrance just south of the Cross Road and Fullarton Road intersection} | Map

Who:  Everyone, especially Nature Lovers

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.


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