Mount Barker has one of the most successful and diverse artificial wetlands in Australia, and the only one of its kind in South Australia. Named Laratinga after the Peramangk meaning for Mount Barker Creek, “Flooding Land Creek”, the wetlands are the jewel in the crown for the region being the winner of several awards, including the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award. (Aboriginal History – Poonawatta – “The Peramangk were an ‘Indigenous Australian’ people whose traditional lands were primarily located in Adelaide Hills but also in the southern stretches of the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia”).
Three walking trails through the 17 hectares of the Laratinga Wetlands gave my friend and me a real insight into what wetlands are all about and what they can do for local flora and fauna. In fact the name of each of the trails is somewhat a give-away: the chestnut teal, the rosella and the sacred ibis trail. It is not just the 153 recorded species of birds that can be seen at Laratinga, but four frog species can be heard disturbing the sleep of the Common Long Necked Turtle, while the Common Brushtail Possums and the Common Ringtail Possums share a few branches with the birds.
Wetlands not only serve the great purpose of dealing with treated water, but they also resemble a natural ecosystem. Landscaping design with the use of indigenous plant species encourages birds to utilise the wetlands, while migrating birds utilise the safe island habitats. Even beautiful birds such as the rare Yellow Tail Black Cockatoo are encouraged to come back to an area they long since departed.
On the various trails, with numerous information boards, we learned that the Laratinga Wetlands also have a unique feature in that the mudflats are often subject to seasonal drying and re-wetting. This drying of the mudflats over the warmer months aids adaptation and the ecological health of the various species that inhabit and migrate to the wetlands. Laratinga Wetlands are located at the corner of Springs Road and Bald Hills Road. The wetlands are open all year round, and the walking trails are disability friendly. This is a most enjoyable and informative area with all amenities for a family picnic.
The total driving distance from Adelaide to Mount Barker is 21 miles or 34 kms and driving time should be 36 min via National Highway M1.