Environmental education trail in Wirrarninthi

Last updated 06 Sept, 2021
Suitable for walking or cycling Allow 1.5 to 2 hours Western park lands

What to expect

The 2.1km Wirrarninthi Environmental Education Trail is a chance to learn about the environment, the history of the park and explore a range of natural features. A series of sculptures mark points along the way, prompting explorers (big and small) to think about different elements of the environment around us.

Find this educational trail in Wirrarninthi / G S Kingston Park (Park 23) in the west park lands.

Education trail guide

Wirrarninthi map
Wirrarninthi trail

Download trail guide

In the local Aboriginal Kaurna language Wirrarninthi (pronounced Wirranindi) means ‘being transformed into a green forested area’.

During the last twenty years the park has been improved by planting trees, shrubs and grasses like those that were here prior to European settlement.The site is now used for recreation and is an environmentally valuable area for biodiversity.

This guide to the interpretation trail will help you to look around, explore, investigate, and use your imagination. Ask questions about the things you see. Think about how plants, animals and humans interact to adapt to and shape the environment. Stone markers along the trail with engraved images, words and small creatures cast in bronze will assist your discovery.

The trail is 2.1 kilometres long so you may like to see some of it today and then come again to discover more another day.

The name of the park was officially changed from Wirranendi to Wirrarninthi in 2013 when the Council adopted the revised spellings of the Kaurna language. Wirrarninthi, or Park 23, covers 57 hectares along West Terrace and includes the West Terrace cemetery, the Edwards sports fields, Kingston gardens and picnic area, wetlands and the interpretation trail. Where the trail and wetlands are now, you might have once come across gum trees, open space, campsites, a quarry, horses and cattle grazing and a rubbish tip.

1. Entry Sign and Albatross Chick

Albatross are birds that spend most of their lives far out at sea. They feed on fish and raise their young on islands far from where many people live. This sculpture shows an albatross chick that died on Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean after being fed bits of floating rubbish its parents had mistaken for fish.

  • How do you think the chick’s parents found so much rubbish so far from people?
  • What are some ways we can be more responsible for our waste and recycling?

2. Fire Sculpture

The Fire Sculpture depicts marks that animals and humans have left in Wirrarninthi over time, especially those things that may have remained after periodic fires. The markings on the sculpture show the footprints of animals that may have passed through the area since before European settlement until now. The bones and rubbish around the circular base show how changes in culture and technology have changed the marks people leave on the land.

  • What are some of the pieces of rubbish that you recognise?
  • What are some ways in which the Kaurna people might have used fire as a tool?
  • What are some things we use fire for today?

3. A Punch of Wind

Wind itself is difficult to see. However, we can experience the wind in other ways. Close your eyes and listen to the wind and the sounds in the park, smell the air, feel the breeze in your hair. Imagine how it might feel to be a bird soaring in the sky. What might you see or hear? Wind often brings changes to the environment. How does a bird know when it is time to beat its wings faster to work against the wind, when it must find shelter from the storm, and when it can relax and float upon an updraft?

  • How is the plastic bag depicted in ‘A Punch of Wind’ like the rubbish eaten by the albatross chick?
  • How might some of the plants and animals you have seen so far use the wind?

4. Cat Sculpture

Humans keep cats as household pets, giving them the run of the house and yard. A cat may be trusted to come and go as it pleases, only drawing attention when it brings a dead bird home as a gift. But where did the cat get the bird? Cats are such common animals that people may forget there were no cats in Australia before European settlement. Cats may be cute and cuddly, but they are also highly effective predators and have contributed to the decline of small animals around the world. 

  • How can we be more responsible cat owners? 
  • What are some other animals that have been brought to Australia? 
  • How do you think they might affect Australian wildlife?

5. Possums

Possums are one type of Australian mammal that has adapted well to living in urban environments. They are commonly seen in parks and neighbourhoods throughout Adelaide. In Adelaide, the most commonly encountered possums are the Common Brushtail Possum and the Common Ringtail Possum.

  • What kind of possum do you think this one is?
  • What are some ways in which humans and possums interact?
  • How are urban park lands and natural ecosystems alike? How are they different?

6. Ducks

Wood ducks provide an example of how complex interactions in the environment can be. Wood ducks can help transport other animals and plants between habitats. Sometimes plants and seeds eaten by the ducks survive undigested to grow wherever the birds travel. Eggs of water insects and fish may also stick to a duck’s feet or feathers and be carried to new habitats where they can grow and become part of the ecosystem. As the ducks travel in search of food, they can bring greater biodiversity with them.

  • Have you noticed any bird boxes in the trees? How can bird boxes help wildlife?
  • Have you noticed any hollows in the trees? How can the tree hollows help wildlife?
  • How can human activities have both positive and negative effects on the environment?

7. The Water Sculpture

As clouds, rain, rivers and oceans water brings life to ecosystems as it cycles through the environment. Water shapes the land as it flows, carrying soil and nutrients downstream. Organisms of all kinds flourish in the currents and tides of water. Humans use water for transport, store it for farming, and harness its flow to generate power. Often, water also carries our rubbish and other waste.

The wetlands include native plants, which attract native birds and animals. They filter stormwater and runoff from the city’s air-conditioning systems. The Water Sculpture depicts a variety of aquatic plant and animal species that are often difficult to observe from land.

  • What are some of the plants and animals you can see in the sculpture?
  • Why is water important to all living things?
  • Why is water conservation especially important in South Australia?
  • How can you save water at school and at home?

8. The Earth Sculpture

What did the snake spell out as it slithered across the Earth Sculpture? The Mallee Box woodland in the Earth zone resembles what Adelaide would have looked like before the city was founded. Earth provides a solid base for plants to grow, which in turn provide the start for most food chains. Plants like the many types of wattle trees in the area provide food and shelter for people and animals. In the past, the Kaurna people ground wattle seeds into flour for food. Can you see any wattle trees nearby? Hint: Look for small trees with ball-shaped yellow flowers or small seedpods shaped like pea pods.

  • There are 10 discovery rocks in the Earth zone—can you find them?
  • What kinds of animals are on the discovery rocks? (Be careful not to walk on the mulch around the discovery rocks—many of these animals may be hiding there, and could get hurt if stepped on!)
  • Bush tucker plants are wild plants that can be eaten by people. Why might it be useful to learn to identify bush tucker plants?

9. Poem Rock

Carved into Poem Rock is the poem Wirranendi by Kimberly Mann. Read the words and think about your journey around the trail.

  • How have Fire, Wind, Water and Earth shaped the trail?
  • How have the plants and animals adapted to the environment?
  • How have people changed Wirrarninthi?
  • How do you fit into the environment?