We’ve all been looking for ways to enjoy any outdoor time we can steal in this time of social distancing and one of the greatest escapes has to be to visit a forest to enjoy being in the company of giant trees, breathing in the clean fresh air and seeing nature that looks like it’s come straight out of a fairytale.
In South Australia the Kuitpo Forest Reserve (pronounced kigh-poh) was established in 1898 to provide a sustainable timber resource for the state. Today there are more than 3,600 hectares of pine forest plantations which are also conserving flora and fauna and providing useful and interesting spaces for recreation. Apart from the pine trees there are small native flowering shrubs, lilies, daisies and orchids within the forest and now, in autumn you can also find amazing, weird and wonderful mushrooms popping up of the forest floor.
Kuitpo is around 45 minutes south of Adelaide and has a number of multi use trails for cyclists, walkers and horse riders to use. The trails can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours to walk, or you can just enter the forest from different spots and enjoy a short wander on easy distinguishable trails. Maps showing the various trails, campgrounds, car parking and picnic areas are available from the forest information centre on Brookman Road, not far out of the town of Meadows, or you can download one online.
Autumn is a great time to visit with the cool conditions making it comfortable but not too wet yet to walk through the forest. You will find a heap of different types of fungi and lichen growing in the damp conditions, their brilliant colours make them stand out amongst the green and brown of the forest floor. Some of these mushrooms descriptions are nowhere near as attractive as they look. The common name for the red fungi with white dots is Fly Agaric, because it attracts and kills flies. There are also bright orange ones called Vermilion Grisette which are plentiful in the forest too. There are a number of other types which make for great photos but are poisonous and best left where they are to play their part in the forest ecosystem.
If you visit Kuitpo Forest you can take a picnic or barbecue and campfires are allowed in designated fire pits. Dogs are permitted in the forest but should be kept on a leash at all times especially with poisonous fungi around but also because fox baiting takes place from time to time. There are campgrounds, cottages and huts with basic facilities within the forest which can be hired (when possible) and they can be booked through the Forestry SA website.
Especially while we are still looking for places to enjoy outdoors at the moment where we can distance ourselves from others, think about taking a trip to a forest. It’s a peaceful way to enjoy a day out, enjoying the solitude, indulging all our senses and getting a bit of nature therapy while watching the tall trees swaying with the wind.Cheers