One of a number of reserves managed by Ipswich City Council, Purga Nature Reserve is the largest protected area of endangered Swamp Tea-Tree forest in the world.
There are two walks at Purga Nature Reserve, both are easy class 2 walks with one partly wheelchair accessible.
Tea Tree Boardwalk
The first walk is called Tea Tree Boardwalk and can be done as a 360m return walk along an elevated boardwalk, or continue along the full circuit for a similar 350m distance.
During wetter months the boardwalk keeps you out of the swampy ground. Wet wasn’t a problem while I was there though, even the frog pond was completely dry.
Information boards explain the building of the boardwalk was part of a Green Corps Program, a federally funded project which provides young people with the opportunity to participate in conservation and preservation projects.
The Swamp Tea-Tree vegetation is only 3% of the original vegetation within the Ipswich boundaries. The clay soils around this area have become agricultural areas supporting cropping and grazing.
The trees have a unique kind of haunting appearance about them in an appealing way, with the peeling papery bark, gangly trunks, and erratic sparse branches.
Local fauna that can be found includes willie wagtail, the beautiful kingfisher, a variety of skinks, and the occasional red-bellied black snake. I wasn’t blessed to see any fauna, possibly due to the wetlands of the swamp that normally attract the fauna was non-existent at the time.
Near the end of the boardwalk is a larger deck area with some bench seats to sit quietly and admire the scenery. If you don’t return along the boardwalk, the circuit trail becomes a raised gravel path looping back to the start.
The other walk is called Melaleuca Circuit, while it is longer it is still only 500m. It starts at the frog pond near the amenities of the reserve, which if it wasn’t completely dry three types of frogs can be found.
The green tree frog is the largest of the tree frogs and commonly recognisable. The eastern sedgefrog, a small frog sometimes called the dwarf green tree frog, and the striped marshfrog can also be found.
The walk continues into the swamp tea-tree forest. The path is a raised gravel path with occasional pipes allowing swamp water to flow past it.
The boardwalk is indicated as being suitable for wheelchairs and can easily access the deck at the end of the boardwalk and return. The gravel paths are fairly level and capable people in wheelchairs may find these to be fine as well.
The amenities are fairly simple, with a couple of picnic tables near the frog pond and a long-drop toilet. There is a water tank but it was as dry as the frog pond and not potable if there was water.
Purga Nature Reserve is a nice easy walk that doesn’t take long to do. It is worthwhile visiting for its protected vegetation values, unique among the other reserves in the area. It near the Plum Flinders Plum Picnic Area and Hardings Paddock Picnic Area , either of which could be combined with Purga Nature Reserve for a day’s outing.
To get there:
Coming from Ipswich head west on Cunningham Hwy from Yamanto. After 2.3km from Yamanto (Ipswich Boonah Rd/Warwick Rd), turn left into Middle Rd with a small brown sign. Follow Middle Rd south for 8.4km, the entrance to the reserve is on the left. A letterbox for number 840 is out the front. The entrance has a 400m drive to the parking area and amenities and the caretakers’ property.
Coming from Willowbank head towards Ipswich on Cunningham Hwy. After going over the bridge for Warrill Ck, continue for another 1.7km and turn right into Middle Rd with a small brown sign. Follow Middle Rd south for 8.4km, the entrance to the reserve is on the left. A letterbox for number 840 is out the front. The entrance has a 400m drive to the parking area and amenities and the caretakers’ property.