A leafy suburb in the foothills of the Adelaide Hills, Belair was established during the settlement of Adelaide as a source of timber. Parts of Belair have views of the city of Adelaide, the Adelaide Plains and the coast. Belair National Park is one of the major attractions of the suburb, and Windy Point (formerly known as Observation Point) provides a 230 degree panorama making it one of the best lookouts over the city, the plains and the coast. Belair is approximately a fifteen-minute drive from the Adelaide city centre. Belair railway station is the terminus of the suburban Belair railway line.

The origin of the name 'Belair' appears uncertain. Gustav Ludewigs, who subdivided the area, may have named the suburb after Bel Air, Martinique, being his wife Maria's birthplace. Another theory is that it was named in 1849 after Eugene Bellairs, a Government surveyor who lived in the area.

There are numerous mountain biking tracks throughout Belair, and the City of Mitcham is currently expanding and formalising these tracks. In November 2010 a two-metre-wide bitumen track opened between Caroline Avenue, Belair, and Beagle Terrace, Lynton, providing a viable commuter trail for cyclists as an alternative to the dangerous curves of Belair Road. There are other tracks leading down to Lynton Train Station and Mitcham. Windys, Andos, Gloucesters, Brown Hills, Mark II and DB's are some of the code names for the tracks in the area.

Valley Loop, Belair National Park

Belair National Park
Belair National Park is an 835 hectare urban national park reserve located just 13 kilometres from the Adelaide City centre. It has important natural, cultural/historical and recreational values and is the birthplace of the national park system in South Australia. The Park was dedicated in 1891, making it the first National Park in South Australia.

The Park lies within the Mitcham and Adelaide Hills Council areas, and forms part of a chain of national park reserves located along the Adelaide Hills-Face zone. The Park is a part of the Department for Environment and Heritage Sturt District which comprises 15 parks. It has become the gateway to other national park reserves in the state, as it is often the first port of call for many of the 250,000 local, interstate and overseas visitors who come here each year. This park is managed by National Parks and Wildlife. A park and walking guide is available from the Belair District Office. For more information telephone 8278 5466

Shepherds Hill Recreation Park

Shepherds Hill Recreation Park
Shepherds Hill Recreation Park holds some unexpected attractions, with an old railway tunnel, the remains of a viaduct, as well as 360 degree views of the surrounding Adelaide plains, coastline and hills. You can ride your bike on roads open to the public or use the specific cycling trails and tracks on offer in the park. If you are a bit more adventurous with your bike riding, the park offers a bicycle jumps-track.

The Shepherds Hill Recreation Park is home to a pony club, and many horse riders like to use it too. Fortunately I haven't seen any signs of horse droppings on the walking trails in the park. Dogs are permitted throughout the park but must be kept on leash and under effective control. Mountain bike riders need to take care and keep a good lookout though, as some dog owners do let their dogs off leash here.

The park supports a variety of wildlife habitats, although past land use such as grazing and cropping have had an impact on the diversity of native wildlife. Be on the look out for the blue wrens, black-faced cuckoo-shrikes and the occasional falcon as you walk beside the creeks that weave through the park.

Shepherds Hill Recreation Park is located 11km south of Adelaide. Access is via Ayliffes Road, St Marys and Ellis Avenue, Eden Hills.

The original Adelaide to Melbourne railway line

Eden Hills railway tunnel

Watiparinga Reserve adjoins Shepherds Hill Recreation Park. Watiparinga Reserve contains remnants of the original Adelaide to Melbourne railway line, including the original single-track tunnel and concrete viaduct buttresses. The South Australian Railways bought some of the land for the single-track railway line and viaduct in 1880. By January 1887 the line was completed and it was possible to travel to Melbourne by rail, though there was a change of trains at Serviceton as the approaching lines had different gauges. The section of the line up and over Mount Lofty was a massive engineering feat costing the lives of at least six men.

The Viaduct Trail leads to the and the ruins of the Eden Hills viaduct that was built in 1883 and remained in use until 1919. At that time a new alignment was build around Sleeps Hill as part of the duplication of the line. This involved a new double track tunnel being built to replace two tunnels and two viaducts. Thie railway viaduct on the original line was a massive structure that bridged the valley, but became redundant when the second railway line was needed. Remnants of the Eden Hills viaduct supports that were not used by the Army for demolition practice during World War 2 still remain today.

Near the viaduct is a disused railway tunnel that was used as a repository for important Government documents and valuable art works in the Second World War and later to grow mushrooms. Today it is used to store wine. It was the third tunnel of eight tunnels on the line from Adelaide and the first to be completed. As with all the tunnels it was 16 feet 6 inches high and 15 feet wide and had been excavated from the roof down to avoid the use of staging. It was the first railway tunnel constructed in South Australia and to celebrate the achievement a banquet was held inside the tunnel, attended by the Governor, Sir William Jervois, and some members of Parliament

Under heavy security provided by the Civil Defence Corps, truckloads of valuable State possessions were stacked on a specially built jarrah platform that ran the length of the tunnel. Nearly eight kilometers of military records were copied onto microfilm, x-ray photographs and newspaper files dating from the first editions of early South Australian journals were included, along with valuable and rare books from the Public Library. The valuables included a 20 square foot picture of King George VI, which was on an Australia-wide tour and happened to be in Adelaide at the time, 41 insect cabinets from the South Australian Museum with drawers of fragile butterflies, together with the rarer mammals, the reserve collection of birds and hundreds of cases of other specimens. In deciding what should be stored and what should remain, the simple step was taken to retain the odd numbers at the Museum and store the even numbers in the tunnel. Side by side with them were the priceless vice-regal treasures from Government House. The packages were dispatched back to their respective homes in 1944.
  • History of the Hills Railway

  • Belair Railway Station

    Belair Railway Station
    Many visitors to the Belair National Park were familiar with the Belair Railway Station, the first of the three the public used to access the park. The park was so popular in the early twentieth century that there was a 'picnic train' and horse-drawn trolleys carried people from the station into the park. The station buildings date from the opening of the railway and, as the station was a secondary station, the buildings were of timber and were the only timber buildings along the line.

    In 1883 the ticket office, telegraph office and signal box were constructed alongside the railway line. In 1886 the wooden platform for passengers to use when they stepped off the train was built. In 1908 the wooden platform was replaced by the current platform and in 1920 the office was removed and the brick toilet was built behind the old ticket office and freight room. The line was upgraded to a double track in 1925 and a new station office built from concrete. The former goods siding and the turntable were removed in 1977 and the signals changed to those used today. Sadly, the heritage listed signal box was destroyed by fire in 2002.

    Wittunga Botanic Garden

    Wittunga Botanic Garden
    The Wittunga Botanic Garden, in the southeastern corner of the suburb of Eden Hills and extending east into Blackwood, was also part of Edwin Ashby's Wittunga property. Originally a formal English garden at Ashby's home, his son Arthur Keith Ashby later included South African and native Australian plants. The garden was donated to the State in 1965, and is now administered as one of the three Botanic Gardens in Adelaide, the others being the Adelaide Botanic Garden and the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.
    Location: Shephers Hill Road, Blackwood. Public transport access via Coromondel railway station.

    Colebrook Reconciliation Park

    Colebrook Reconciliation Park
    Colebrook Reconciliation Park in Eden Hills was established from 1998 as a memorial to the children who were removed from their families and housed at Colebrook Home, a "United Aborigines" mission which had originated in Oodnadatta in 1924, moved to Quorn, then finally relocated to Eden Hills in 1942. At its Eden Hills location, Colebrook Home continued to house children, including prominent Aboriginal Australian health worker and public administrator Lowitja O'Donoghue.[16] By 1956 the property was in poor condition and the home was finally closed in 1972 and demolished in 1973.

    The Reconciliation Park was born out of meetings in the 1990s between a local reconciliation study group and the Tji Tji Tjuta (former residents) of Colebrook Home. This led to memorial works including Fountain of Tears, created in 1998 by Silvio Apponyi and Grieving Mother in 1999.

    Location: Shephers Hill Road between Bellervue Heights and Blackwood. Blackwood.

    Old Government House

    Old Government House and Garden
    The former Vice-regal summer residence of some of the early governors of South Australia dates from the 1850s. Lying in the heart of Belair National Park, Old Government House is a fully restored example of Victorian-style architecture and represents a significant period in the state of South Australia s history. Surrounding the buildings is a re-designed mid-Victorian garden of Anglo-Italian style to complement the restored complex. It features cottage plants and flowers cultivated in Victorian times, heritage roses and mature trees.

    Contact: (08) 8370 1080. Location: How to get there: by car, south along Unley Rd, continue into Belair Rd past Windy Point Lookout into Sheoak Rd, right into Upper Sturt Rd at Belair Railway Stn, enter grounds via The Valley Rd. By rail; train to Belair Station. Walk south along Upper Sturt Rd, left into The Valley Rd.

    Windy Point Lookout

    Windy Point
    Many cities have an isolated, elevated place when you feel like you are all alone on top of the world and looking down on it, where at dusk the setting sun provides a dramatic backdrop to the city below, and at night the twinkling lights shining amid the dark expanse seem to sprinkle a touch of romance into the air, that has been known to evoke a first kiss or light a flame of passion. Such a place is Windy Point, an ideal spot to pause and reflect, by night or by day, as you take in the panoramic views, sweeping from St Vincent s Gulf to the Adelaide Hills.

    Windy Point Restaurant and Cafe enjoy the same panoramic views as the lookout, but through full length 180 degree windows. Location: Belair Road, Belair.

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