Dairy Farm Nature ParkHot
Formerly a cowshed, the building that is now the Wallace Education Centre was restored and now houses the Wallace Environmental Learning Lab (WELL), and an interpretative centre where visitors can learn about the changing landscapes of Dairy Farm and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve through various exhibits. Established by NParks and Raffles Girls' Secondary School, WELL is a holistic programme where primary and secondary school students will be able to discover Singapore's natural heritage through interesting hands-on activities. With materials developed by Raffles Girls' Secondary School, teachers will be able to self-conduct various educational programmes from half day workshops to overnight learning camps. This is the first time that such programmes are offered in parks. WELL will enable students to explore the trails of Dairy Farm, and conduct research such as water, soil, rock, and insect studies, and carry out data analysis at the Lab.
The Wallace Education Centre, WELL, and the Wallace Trail have all been named after Alfred Wallace, to honour his contributions to natural science. A contemporary of Charles Darwin, Wallace is the other "father" behind the theory of evolution. Wallace had stopped over in Singapore in 1854 during his journeys to the Malay Archipelago, and collected many species of beetles in the vicinity of the Dairy Farm site. At the south-western end of the park lies the Singapore Quarry, which now offers visitors a tranquil setting with a scenic view. In a short time, the transformation of the site into a wetland has attracted many fauna, including the Little Grebe, a critically endangered bird that was known to be found only in Lorong Halus, as well as many species of dragonflies, many of which are rare.
I am not an outdoor person as I am not someone who enjoys physical activity a lot. The hike was on safe grounds, nothing treacherous or challenging but the afternoon sun was so bad! I blame myself for not wearing a hat. I got a lot of mosquito bites. Overall, hiking is just not really my thing. I was there just to accompany and take care of my sister who wants to visit this place after learning about it in school. I kept looking out for rest shelters and they could probably have more of that around! We did not finish the trail because I fell down halfway because I tripped on something. I would only recommend hike enthusiasts or a sporty day out if you are one who likes to soak in the sun and enjoy the nature. Personally, I would not go back there again simply because I am not a hiking or nature person to start with.
Dairy Farm Nature Park to the uninitiated is somewhat a "misnomer". There's certainly no milk , butter or cheese to speak of. Neither is there a farm. The namesake is just a hark back to the area early history. But there is a "cow" at the park visitor centre (a conserved cow-shed) though, except it's of the stiff variety which have no chance of developing any mad cow disease.
The centre is named Wallace Education Centre which also serves as an exhibition and learning facility for visitors. It's a the de-facto place to be enlightened about the history of Dairy Farm Nature Park and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, before commencing on the Wallace Trail hike.
The trail is about 1 km long and should last about 30min of unhurried easy walk. It would be good to bring along mozzies repellant and perhaps a hiking stick. Covered shoes and drinking water would make the hike more pleasant. Shutterbugs should find some good pic opportunity to use their camera macro mode.
Personally, the highlight of the hike would be the rest shelter and look out point at the disused quarry wetland, which is an easy walk from the Wallace Trail ........and free entry and free parking should sweeten the experience that much more....
You can thank/blame/accuse Cold Storage for this fascinating anachronism. All that is left of this doomed venture are a couple of charming old farmer's cottages and the huge dairies. It is a shame they don't do up the cottages as well. Nonetheless the old dairies house exhibits and educational displays covering not just the history of the farm, but, perhaps far more importantly, the Wallace story with its focus on nature.
It is certainly a surprising place to find in a tropical forest. And the black and white moo cow that guards the front entrance (I wonder what her name is?) is great. Perhaps people should start to walk past her and rub her udder for luck. After all, milk, for better or worse, is an important part of our diet.
God help us all if milk drinkers start to turn to powder!
I always cannot understand why the park planning always overlook this important aspect. The parks are always not very accessible by public transport but yet, they do not cater for enough parking lots so how do they expect people to go to the parks.
Since I brought my children, I chose the less difficult path to follow. The path we followed actually led us to a quarry. It was a nice view but the day I went, there were too many people because the park just opened. We did not really enjoy the scenery because there were some people talking very loudly and disturbing the peace. If it had been more quiet and less crowded, it would have been so much more enjoyable.
When I visited the place a few years ago, the whole forest was still very untouched, although steps were already built and paths carved within the forest. With the opening of WELL, there has been a significant increase in the number of visitors, be it small kids or elderly. I would recommend starting your journey at WELL, to gain a deeper understanding of the history of our small rain forest before hiking up the hill.
I strongly advise you to bring enough water to keep yourself hydrated, but not too many bottles because it's senseless to hike with a heavy load. You can take a rest in the hut at the summit, and of course snap photographs of the rock which proves your conquest of the hill. The quarries are worth a visit as well, to marvel at the beauty of the clear water.
Take extreme caution when visiting the nature park after rainy days, because the slopes can get really slippery.
We had to hike through the forests for a bit before reaching the quarry. Some of us complained about mosquito and all but i felt fine when i emerged!
What greeted us was a huge spread of orange quarry and a field of grass that covers the area. I never forgot that very first time i went to a quarry.
I can suggest a 4 to 5-hour slow trek from Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to Dairy Farm Park. This isn’t just for outdoor junkies – anyone who can walk comfortably can try this out. Just bring ample water and trail food (nuts, dried fruits) because there are no vending machines in certain areas. You will however find plenty of huts along the way, with benches to sit on and rest.
When you arrive at the WELL, you will probably feel some relief at seeing civilisation once again. There, you can take a well-deserved break (there are toilets and water coolers) while touring the exhibits and snapping a picture with the cow sculptures.
Of course, you could start from WELL and end up in Bt Timah instead, but I prefer to finish where there aren’t too many people, so I can have my quiet moment of accomplishment. Bt Timah is almost always full of visitors.
While there may not be much sounds, the visuals are interesting enough for you to whip out your cameras for. There are numerous cow-statues (that roughly indicate the past and origins of the park) for you to pose with! As you don’t commonly get to visit the country life, getting a shot with these pseudo-cows would be sufficient for that historical collection of photos you might have.
Apart from the statues and exhibits, the compound itself is suitable for mini expeditions and camps- they have this natural uphill slope where you could also climb up ropes which simulated a kind of an obstacle course. Indeed, this place could fit those outward bound camps fine too. There are also shelters so you need not worry if it suddenly rains.
Getting there could be quite inaccessible- located near Bukit Timah , amidst the highway area. It really gives the impression that calling for a cab might be a bit difficult for non-experienced cabbies. Otherwise, you could simply charter a bus and visit the place as an official class excursion site!