Walk of the month: Murray Park and Dorset Street Reserve, Murray Bridge

In May 2021, Graham Hallandal takes you on a tour of two back street parks little known to many locals.

This post was contributed by Graham Hallandal.

How many cemeteries are located in Murray Bridge?

The answer from most local residents would be “two”.

You may be surprised to know there are three – the least-known just 400 metres from the prominent Adelaide Road cemetery.

This month’s walk takes you to the first and smallest cemetery in Murray Bridge.

There are two sections in this month’s walk that can be undertaken together or separately.

Unfortunately for the mountain bike riders, neither are suitable for bikes, though dogs on a lead are permitted at both locations.

Part one of the walk is at Murray Park.

Entrances into Murray Park are located on Thomas Street, Eleanor Terrace and Albert Terrace, with the main interpretive signs located at gate one on the corner of Thomas Street and Eleanor Terrace.

A loop trail of 0.8 kilometres, taking about 20 minutes, and numerous other trails offer many options on flat terrain through native bushland.

There are toilet facilities on the loop trail on Thomas Street.

Murray Park has shallow topsoil over limestone, so only plants adapted to those conditions live in the park.

The park is an important haven for many native species of birds, with more than 50 species recorded; insects, including 21 varieties of butterfly and moth; and many other animals once widespread in the region.

They provided resources for the Ngarrindjeri people.

You will also see the pale limestone rocks that were used in the construction of building materials for early European settlers.

As you follow the trails, find out about the different plants, birds and animals from interpretive signs scattered throughout the park.

Trails, places of interest and information on fauna are clearly marked with trail and interpretive sign upgrades – recently installed by the Murray Bridge council – improving the experience.

Murray Bridge’s first cemetery is located in the centre of Murray Park.

The first burial took place on February 17, 1885.

Five adults, 13 children under the age of five and two stillborn children are buried here, a reflection on the high child mortality of the time.

A plaque lists their names, ages and dates.

In one small, fenced-off area lies Jane Keough.

She died in a tent on the river bank in bad weather after giving birth to twin daughters, who are buried beside their mother.

The shallow soil over thick limestone made it difficult to dig graves at the site.

Blasting had to be carried out to break through the limestone.

The cemetery was closed on August 10, 1885.

Leave Murray Park by one of the gates on Eleanor Terrace, travel towards Maurice Road, turn left and walk about 200m to Cornwall Street.

Turn right into Cornwall Street and walk one block to Jose Street.

Dorset Street Reserve is to your right, with the entrance a short distance along Jose Street.

A short track meanders through the vegetation.

Dorset Reserve is a flora hot spot.

In most areas, 30 species of native plants is worthy of special consideration for conservation; over 90 species is exceptional, and Dorset Reserve contains more than that.

Among those present in this small reserve are native orchids, including several species listed as rare.

If this is of interest to you, you might like to make regular visits to the area at different times of the year, when various species become prominent.

It is also an important bird corridor.

Please respect the importance of the area so future generations may also enjoy and learn about our natural heritage.

Interestingly, in 2012 a portion of this area was almost lost to the residents of Murray Bridge when the council decided to sell the site to a Queensland developer for housing.

In a battle comparable to the current battle for the Wildens Way shack area, public outcry led by then-Councillor June Phillips forced the council to protect six hectares of the site.

This was a significant victory for the councillor, who had campaigned against the development of the reserve for several years, including in a costly but unsuccessful battle through the Environment, Resources and Development Court.

Our walk ends on Ashbrook Road.

Murray Park is a council biodiversity site and volunteers are welcome to help care for the area.

  • More information: Call 8539 1100.

Coming soon: Murray Bridge News’ first ride of the month

In future, cyclists will be catered for in these monthly articles as well as walkers.

Although many walks we have featured during last year are multi-use, for walking and mountain biking, longer trail lengths for the increasing number of mountain bike and e-bike riders will be catered for, along with suggested rides for road bike owners.

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